Saturday, January 03, 2009

Poland May Send More Troops To Afghanistan - Report

Poland May Send More Troops To Afghanistan - Report
(NSI News Source Info) January 3, 2009: Klich told the Dziennik daily the government would review the Afghan mission`s effectiveness in January.
Poland may send 400-600 additional troops to Afghanistan, raising its total number to 2,000-2,200, Defence Minister Bogdan Klich was quoted as saying on Saturday. Polish soldiers from 12th Mechanized Division march after attending end of mission ceremony in Camp Echo in Diwaniya Klich told the Dziennik daily the government would review the Afghan mission's effectiveness in January and depending on the result may opt for increasing the number of troops. "After the review the government will decide whether to continue our presence with the current strength, or as experts say, whether to raise it by 400-600 soldiers," Klich said. In October, Poland took command of security in the Afghan province of Ghazni, a volatile area two hour's drive southwest of Kabul, freeing up U.S. forces. The United States has made repeated appeals for its NATO allies to send more troops to Afghanistan and allow those there to engage in combat missions without the restrictions that some European nations place on their soldiers. Paris has sent 700 extra French troops to a valley in the east which is a stronghold of Taliban allies. The minister added Poland may also call back 300 soldiers from its Chad and Lebanon contingents.

Israeli Ground Forces Enter Gaza Strip / Israeli Troops Enter Gaza Strip

Israeli Ground Forces Enter Gaza Strip / Israeli Troops Enter Gaza Strip (NSI News Source Info) January 3, 2009: Israeli ground troops have entered the Gaza Strip, clashing with Hamas fighters as they crossed the border under the cover of darkness. Video: Israeli troops move into Gaza (ABC News) Click at ABC News for Video It is the first ground action of Israel's eight-day offensive on Gaza. Earlier, Israel continued its air and artillery attacks, which are estimated to have killed more than 400 Palestinians. Eye witnesses in Gaza say a column of Israeli tanks, some firing their weapons, rolled into the territory under the cover of darkness as combat helicopters fired from above. A Palestinian child was among the early fatal victims with 11 others wounded, Gaza medics said. Hamas replied to the Israeli ground offensive with mortar fire. The Israeli military confirmed the incursion had begun, saying a "large number" of troops had been sent into the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military says its aim is to take control of some of the areas used by Palestinian militants to fire rockets at Israel. Four Israelis have been killed by rocket fire from Gaza. "The objective is to destroy the Hamas terror infrastructure in the area of operations," military spokeswoman Major Avital Leibovitch said. "We are going to take some of the launch areas used by Hamas." In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said the goals of the operation included "dealing a hard blow to the Hamas terror infrastructure and changing the security reality in the south over a long period of time". Tens of thousands of military reservists have been called up on a mission Israel says could last for many long days. "This won't be a school outing," Brigadier Avi Benayahu told Israeli television. "We are taking about many long days."
Witnesses said armoured vehicles crossed into northern Gaza at four separate points, supported by helicopters. Israel has begun a ground operation with troops entering Gaza after a week of air strikes at Hamas targets. Hamas has vowed to turn the Gaza Strip into a "cemetery" for the Israeli army. "Your incursion into Gaza will not be a walk in the park and Gaza will become your cemetery God willing," Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan said, reading a statement on Hamas television. "You do not have any other choice but to unconditionally end the aggression and lift the blockade." Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has "vigorously condemned" the Israeli ground offensive and called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting on the crisis. Air strikes Overnight, Israel continued air and artillery attacks on the territory. Witnesses said an air strike on a mosque in the town of Beit Lahiya took place as people prayed inside. At least 11 civilians, including children, were killed and 50 wounded, Hamas and medical officials said. Rescuers pulled people from the debris and the bodies of victims lay in pools of blood, the witnesses said. Israel has targeted mosques before, saying that Hamas had used them as command posts and fire bases. Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak told a news conference that Israel had restrained itself for a long time but now was the time to fight for peace. "I have said all along that our military activities will widen and deepen as much as needed," he said. "We are not war hungry. But we shall not, I repeat, we shall not allow a situation where our towns, villages and civilians are constantly targeted by Hamas. It will not be easy or short but we are determined." Protests Israel's Gaza offensive has sparked a wave of protests around the world. In Paris, more than 20,000 demonstrators, many wearing Arab keffiyeh headscarves, chanted slogans like "Israel murderer". In London, 10,000 protesters led by singer Annie Lennox carried Palestinian flags and placards with slogans such as "End the siege on Gaza" and "Stop the massacre". Meanwhile, the plight of the 1.5 million Palestinians crammed into Gaza is growing more desperate. Humanitarian agencies have warned that food, water and medical supplies are running short. "Nobody feels safe," an International Committee of the Red Cross worker said in a report on the body's website. "The problem is that we have nowhere to run for shelter." Israel has denied a humanitarian crisis is unfolding and says it has allowed food and medicine convoys into Gaza daily.

Pakistani Forces Reopen Key NATO Supply Route

Pakistani Forces Reopen Key NATO Supply Route (NSI News Source Info) Jamrud - January 3, 2008: Pakistani security forces partially reopened a key northwest supply route for Western troops in Afghanistan Friday, three days after shutting it to drive militants from the area, officials said. Security forces backed by helicopter gunships, tanks and heavy artillery on Tuesday launched the operation in the rugged Khyber tribal area near Jamrud, the gateway to the famed Khyber Pass linking Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Oil tankers loaded with supplies for NATO forces wait to cross the southwest Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing in Chaman January 2, 2009. Trucks rumbled through Pakistan's Khyber Pass on Friday, resuming the transport of supplies to Western forces in Afghanistan three days after authorities suspended shipments to clear out militants.
The offensive, prompted by a series of attacks on truck depots in and around the city of Peshawar that saw hundreds of NATO vehicles torched, forced the closure of the highway from Peshawar to the Afghan border town of Torkham.
The highway was reopened only from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. when authorities relaxed the curfew in force in Jamrud, the administrator of the Khyber tribal area, Tariq Hayat, told a news conference.
"The road is clear and more secure now - all type of vehicles are using the road and NATO supplies also resumed," another local administration official, Rahat Gul, told reporters.
The officials said it would again be open only during the curfew break on Saturday.
Hayat said the military operation was ongoing, but predicted that the situation would "return to normal in one or two days." The bulk of the supplies and equipment required by NATO and US-led forces battling the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan is shipped to Pakistan's largest port, Karachi, in the south. From there, the containers of food, fuel, vehicles and munitions are taken by truck to depots outside Peshawar before being transported to Afghanistan via the Khyber Pass.
But the fabled road passes through the heart of Pakistan's lawless tribal zone, where militants sought refuge after Afghanistan's hard-line Taliban regime was ousted in a US-led invasion at the end of 2001.
Beyond the looting and torching of NATO trucks, Pakistan's military is also trying to put a stop to a spate of kidnappings for ransom in the border area. "Militant camps and support centers are still being targeted," Hayat said. "The troops will stay in Jamrud until the objectives are achieved."
So far, more than 200 people had so far been detained in the operation, he said.
Pakistani security forces display ammunition they confiscated from miscreants during a crackdown operation in Pakistani tribal area of Khyber near Peshawar, Pakistan, on Friday, Jan. 2, 2009. Pakistan reopened the main supply route for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan on Friday after blocking it for three days during a military operation against militants who have been attacking supply convoys.
Authorities displayed a large quantity of arms and ammunition seized since the offensive began, including light machine guns, grenades and thousands of bullets. Hayat said rocket batteries had also been recovered. Food items stolen from NATO supply trucks were retrieved from militant hideouts, as were "provocative" leaflets from Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud and fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, he said.

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM....An Iraqi MiG-25 Foxbat Found Buried Under The Sand West Of Baghdad

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM....An Iraqi MiG-25 Foxbat Found Buried Under The Sand West Of Baghdad (NSI News Source Info) January 3, 2008: A search team discovers a MiG-25 Foxbat buried beneath the sands in Iraq. Several MiG-25 interceptors and Su-25 ground attack jets have been found buried at Al-Taqqadum air field west of Baghda. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sergeant T. Collins) The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 (NATO reporting name "Foxbat") is a high-supersonic interceptor and reconnaissance/bomber aircraft designed by the Soviet Union's Mikoyan-Gurevich bureau. First flown as a prototype in 1964, it entered service in 1970. With a top speed of Mach 3.2, a powerful radar and four air-to-air missiles, the MiG-25 worried Western observers and prompted development of the F-15 Eagle. The aircraft's true capabilities were not revealed to the west until 1976 when Viktor Belenko, a Soviet MiG-25 pilot, defected to Japan. Subsequent analysis revealed a simple-yet-functional design with vacuum-tube electronics, two massive turbojet engines, and sparing use of advanced materials such as titanium. The MiG-25 series had a production run of 1,190 aircraft. The MiG-25 flew with a number of Soviet allies and former Soviet republics and it remains in limited service in Russia and several other nations.

Sri Lankan Army Captures LTTE's Stronghold Kilinochchi

Sri Lankan Army Captures LTTE's Stronghold Kilinochchi (NSI News Source Info) January 3, 2009: THE SRI LANKAN army finally captured Kilinochchi, the unofficial capital and one of the major bases of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) on Friday (December 2), defeating the rebel forces. The heavy artillery firing by the Sri Lankan army completely destroyed all the defences of the LTTE rebels in Kilinochchi. While speaking to the media, Maithripala Sirisena, the ruling party spokesman and the agriculture minister of Sri Lanka said, “The national flag is now flying at Kilinochchi.” Sirisena further added that capture of the Tigers’ political headquarters, which was considered as the chief target of the latest and largest military offensive was a historic victory for the nation. Surprisingly, the Tigers are still silent on the issue and have not made any comments yet. Pertinent to mention that the Tigers had earlier promised to defend their political headquarter at any cost.A Sri Lankan army soldier signals his colleagues at a defence line in Paranthan December 23, 2008. Sri Lanka's president said its troops captured the separatist Tamil Tigers' headquarters town of Kilinochchi on January 2, 2009, but within an hour of the announcement a suspected suicide bomber killed at least two people in the capital. Troops fought their way into the Tiger stronghold of Kilinochchi deep in the north, in one of the biggest blows for the rebels in years. Details of casualties from the fighting were not immediately available. Picture taken December 23, 2008.
Jubilant Sri Lankans carried national flags as they celebrated the announced capture of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's de-facto administrative capital of Kilinochchi. Because the authorities do not allow journalists to travel freely between government- and rebel-held territory, there was no independent confirmation of the capture of Kilinochchi. Since the last ten years, Kilinochchi has remained the de facto capital of the Tigers’ mini-state in northern Sri Lanka. It is 330 kilometres (206 miles) away from Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka. The concerned officials of the Sri Lankan army said that its ground troops had annihilated the defences of Tigers at two locations in the city. They also confirmed that the Sri Lankan army had taken overall control of the city. Mahinda Rajapakse, the President of Sri Lanka quashed the ceasefire deal between the government and the LTTE in 2008 and ordered the flush-out of the Tigers from their bases once and for all. Though the LTTE rebels went on the defensive after such a presidential order, they eventually lost their stronghold in the east of the island and retreated to the north. President Rajapakse announced even on his New Year’s address to the nation on Thursday (January 1) that the new year 2009 would witness the final and “heroic victory” over LTTE rebels. The LTTE rebels had established their own courts, police and political administration in Kilinochchi. Some agencies of the United Nation and offices of other international aid groups also existed in Kilinochchi, which were pulled out in 2008 at the request of the ruling government. Though the victory at Kilinochchi is being considered as a major achievement by the Sri Lankan army, it is to be kept in mind that the Tigers have the ability to rebound from even the most dire situations. After the Sri Lankan armed forces captured the northern Jaffna peninsula in 1995, the Tigers carried out a full fledged attack on a military base in the northeastern district of Mullaittivu just six months after and killed more than 1,200 Lankan soldiers. The LTTEs also freed their Elephant Pass base at the entrance to Jaffna from the Sri Lankan army’s control in just five days in November 1999, which the Lankan army had captured in a 19-month-long warfare. Every year, the Sri Lankan government spends a huge amount in the conflict. While in 2008, the government spent 1.6 billion dollars on the war effort, an estimated 1.7 billion dollars would be spent in 2009. While speaking to the media in November 2008, LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran said in his annual speech that the LTTE vowed to defend their territory at any cost and suggested all Tigers to revert to guerrilla-style, hit-and-run attacks as their area shrank. He further added, “No sane voice is being raised either to abandon war or to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict.” LTTE is considered as one of the most effective and ruthless guerrilla groups in the world. It has been carrying out surprise and suicide bombings to keep its struggle alive through the decades. LTTE has been declared a terrorist organisation by the United States, the European Union, Sri Lanka and India. Since 1972, tens of thousands of lives have been lost in this LTTE - Sri Lanka conflict.

Somalia: Pirates Still Have The Upper Hands In Spite Of Anti-Piracy Patrol By 20 Warships / Lack of Co-ordination By U.N.

Somalia: Pirates Still Have The Upper Hands In Spite Of Anti-Piracy Patrol By 20 Warships / Lack of Co-ordination By U.N. (NSI News Source Info) January 3, 2009: The twenty or so warships of the anti-piracy patrol have made a difference, with half the number of ships being captured by pirates since the foreigners arrived.This handout photo released by the French Ministry of Defense on January 1, 2009 shows French soldiers arresting presumed Somali pirates in the eastern part of the Golf of Aden off the Somali coast. Eight pirates where apprehended whilst trying to hijack the cargo vessel S. Venus. flying a Panamanian flag and have been placed aboard the French frigate "Premier Ma�e L'Her" before their handing over to Somalian authorities.
There were only two captures in December, while in the months before that, it was about four a month. Most of the warships are escorting convoys of merchant ships through the Gulf of Aden. But many merchant ships don't want to wait for a convoy to form, go it alone, and are most vulnerable to the pirates. Last year, about 120 ships were attacked, and 40 captured. At least 19 of these are still being held. Those that were ransomed are believed to have been paid a total of $30-40 million. The TNG parliament has 30 days to elect a new president, via secret ballot. The TNG was supposed to hold national elections in 2009, but that seems unlikely. Most of the clans negotiated the organization of the TNG, but could not agree on how to run it. Now several factions of the TNG, several factions of Islamic Courts, Somaliland, Puntland and several wealthy pirate warlords up north, all contend for power. Ethiopian convoys have begun leaving Mogadishu, and there is panic in Baidoa (the capital of the TNG) at the thought of Ethiopian troops leaving there as well. African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu are also discussing getting out, rather than face the wrath, alone, of local clans eager to regain their control of the city. The Ethiopians are expected to be all gone by the end of the month, and then there will be more intense fighting, as the clan militias, as is their custom, try to make the most of the new situation. December 31, 2008: In Mogadishu, clan militias loyal to the TNG are planning on leaving with the Ethiopians, not wanting to face the gunmen from local clans alone. December 30, 2008: Fighting has intensified in Mogadishu, where local clans sense that they will be able to return to their neighborhoods, from the refugee camps outside town, because Ethiopian troops are leaving. December 29, 2008: After four years in office, Transitional National Government (TNG) president Abdullahi Yusuf has resigned. He was never able to unite the many factions in the country, even though all those factions, after several years of negotiations, were able to cobble together the TNG. Part of Yusuf's problem was corruption, Much foreign aid flowed to the TNG, and much of it was stolen by Yusuf and his cronies. Those friends, their families, and what's left of the loot, are now fleeing Baidoa for Puntland. December 28, 2008: Al Shabaab was forced out of another central Somali town, by more moderate Islamic fighters. This left another twenty or so dead or wounded. More moderate Islamic Courts militia, some of them allied with the Transitional National Government (TNG), have united to oppose the radical al Shabaab fighters, who are too radical and righteous for most Somalis tastes. December 27, 2008: For the last few days, there has been fighting in Gureil (370 kilometers north of Mogadishu) between radical Islamic fighters (al Shabaab) and local, generally pro-government Islamic Courts group. There have been several dozen casualties, and the al Shabaab group was eventually driven away. December 24, 2008: Yemen is creating a regional anti-piracy center, which will collect and distribute information on piracy and anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden region. The center will be operational in about six months. Many of the "Somali pirates" are actually Yemenis, and the Yemeni coast guard is too small to keep pirates away from the Yemeni coast. However, the government has sufficient control on land to prevent pirates from establishing the kind of bases they have in northern Somalia.

Russian Carrier-Based Aircraft To Exercise In Greek Airspace

Russian Carrier-Based Aircraft To Exercise In Greek Airspace (NSI News Source Info) ATHENS - January 3, 2009: Deck-based aviation of Russia's heavy aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov will hold exercises in the Greek airspace in January, the Greek National Defense General Staff said on Friday. "The exercises will take place on January 3-4 and on January 8-10 southeast of Rhodes Island and on January 11 south of Crete," the General Staff said. The exercises will be held in international waters but the aircraft will fly in the Athens airspace, the General Staff said. Russia announced in 2007 that its Navy had resumed and would build up a constant presence in different regions of the world's oceans.

P-8A Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft Homebasing Announced

P-8A Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft Homebasing Announced
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - January 3, 2009: The Department of the Navy announced Jan. 2 its decision to provide facilities and functions to base five fleet squadrons of the P-8A Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) with a fleet replacement squadron (FRS) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Fla., four fleet squadrons at NAS Whidbey Island, Wash., and three fleet squadrons at Marine Corps Base Hawaii Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, with periodic squadron detachment operations at NAS North Island.
This decision implements the preferred homebasing alternative 5 identified in the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for the Introduction of the P-8A Multi-Mission Aircraft into the U.S. Navy Fleet (published November 2008).Introduction of the P-8A MMA squadrons is projected to begin no later than 2012 and be completed by 2019.
The notice of availability of the Navy's record of decision (ROD) was published in the Federal Register on Dec. 31, 2008 and the ROD is available for public viewing on the project Web site at along with copies of the FEIS and supporting documents.
This action is needed to transition from existing P-3C aircraft to the P-8A MMA while maintaining the Navy's overall maritime patrol capability supporting national defense objectives and policies without interruption or impediment to operations or combat readiness.Ultimately, this action will include a total of 84 fleet and FRS aircraft.
The Boeing P-8 Poseidon (formerly the Multimission Maritime Aircraft or MMA) is a military aircraft currently being developed for the United States Navy. It is intended to conduct anti-submarine warfare, shipping interdiction, and to engage in an electronic intelligence (ELINT) role.
The aircraft can cruise at high altitude at nearly 926km/hr and loiter at a speed of 333km/hr over the sea at a low altitude of 60m. The P-8A MMA is equipped with the AN/APY-10 maritime surveillance radar and signal intelligence SIGINT system from Raytheon. The planned Initial Operational Capability (IOC) date for the P-8A Poseidon is 2013.
This will involve carrying torpedoes, depth charges, Harpoon anti-shipping missiles, and other weapons. It will also be able to drop and monitor sonobuoys. It is designed to operate in conjunction with the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle. The P-8 is to be built by Boeing's Integrated Defense Systems division from the 737-800.