Saturday, February 21, 2009

Iraq: Dirty Jobs Nobody Talks About

Iraq: Dirty Jobs Nobody Talks About
(NSI News Source Info) February 22, 2009: A U.S. backed Neighbourhood Patrol recruit looks at an AK-47 before the start of target practise at a U.S. military camp in Baghdad. A rag-tag band of men toting AK-47s at a checkpoint in Baghdad's Sadr City forms part of a plan to strengthen the Iraqi Army's hold over a bastion of anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Iraqi Army/Police Recruits Trained By U.S. Forces (Warning Foul Language)

Eurocopter Committed To Meet Military Requirements Of The Middle East Region

Eurocopter Committed To Meet Military Requirements Of The Middle East Region (NSI News Source Info) February 22, 2009: Currently more than 650 Eurocopter helicopters fly in the Arab world, with more than 80% of them for military use.
Eurocopter is committed to keep on meeting the specific requirements of the governments and their Armed Forces in the Arab world. The company showcases its military capabilities and expertise at IDEX at the EADS booth in Hall 8, C20 and displays one EC135 Police helicopter in full scale.
'With a strong footprint in the region, we continue to see a demand for our helicopters for military use. Equipped with the latest technology, they are able to perform all their missions in the most severe operational environment and critical situations,' says Xavier Hay, Eurocopter's Vice-President for Middle East and Africa.' Military needs
Eurocopter has the largest line-up of military helicopters in the world, ranging from 2-11-ton class and a solid customer base in the Middle East.
The military proven Fennec AS550 is a multipurpose single engine helicopter suited for extremely hot climates and high altitudes and well adapted for training, observation, fire support, protection and combat mission. In the region, several countries fly the Fennec like the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces. Over 4000 helicopters of the Ecureuil / Fennec family in its single and twin variants have been delivered to over 70 countries.
The light twin, multi-mission Eurocopter EC635 - the military version of the EC135 - is perfectly adapted for troop and/or load transports, training, light armed reconnaissance, Medevac and SAR missions. The EC635 gives a choice of twin engine models-each featuring a Full Authority Digital Electronic Control (FADEC) system for the state-of-the-art power management, providing optimized performance, safety and fuel efficiency. The EC635 is operational in the Kingdom of Jordan (Air Force and Police) and its cutting-edge technology generates keen interest by many countries in the region.
For heavy helicopters, Eurocopter counts on a great history in the Gulf countries with a large Puma and Super Puma / Cougar fleet including more than 110 aircrafts in operation in Kuwait, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Pakistan and other countries. As the latest generation of the family with enhanced multi-role capabilities, the EC725 helicopter is the logical choice of acquisition for the region Armed Forces. It enlarges the scope of missions including Combat-SAR, long distance tactical transport, medical evacuation, logistics support.
The twin-engine EC725 helicopter with 11 metric tons has superior performance. It has been selected by the French Armed Forces and deployed in extreme combat conditions. By end of November 2008, 96 EC725 had been ordered by 17 different countries. The utility/escort and VVIP version EC225 is already flying in the Arab World.
Meanwhile, whereas being well appreciated by the operators, the Puma and Super Puma / Cougar Eurocopter fleet can also be refurbished as it is the case in several Gulf countries having engaged major overhaul programs such as in the UAE. There are plans to increase Puma refurbishments as well in Pakistan in 2009. The Super Puma helicopters are highly efficient in Search and Rescue roles and assist Governments in public services such as police, fire fighting and EMS missions.
Also for tactical transport of troops and anti-submarine warfare combat the 10-metric ton class NH90 is an ideal choice. NHIndustries has received so far 529 orders globally for the NH90 with Eurocopter as major partner Company. The NH90 is offered as Army version (TTH) and as Navy version (NFH). So far 25 NH90 were delivered, 50 are currently under production. It is a fly-by-wire and all-composite construction helicopter with the highest crash-worthiness-standards. The first customer of the NH90 in the Middle East is the Sultanate of Oman. In order to take into account the new military environment in the region, the Tiger is perfectly matching the new stakes as currently being the most modern combat helicopter in the world designed for the scenarios of the 21st century.
In total, 206 aircraft have been ordered by France, Germany, Australia and Spain and 48 Tigers have already been delivered. Based on a core platform which gives flexibility for the weaponry, the Tiger is delivered in various configurations: HAP (French Army), UHT (German Army), ARH for Australian Army and HAD version (France and Spain), which is perfectly adapted to the Middle East region thanks to its enhanced engine. Homeland security & civil missions
Police and law enforcement agencies are prime Eurocopter customers in a large number of Gulf countries. A complete range of Eurocopter light twin helicopters from 2 to 4 tons encompassing the Twinstar AS355, BK117, EC135, EC145 and Dauphin N3 are protecting the population in the Arab world.
The powerful and highly dependable Ecureuil AS350 B3 -that represents unrivalled versatile platform and requires low maintenance - is in operation in the UAE and Jordan and is primarily used for aerial work, training and utility mission like broadcasting.

NATO Willing To Commit More Troops To Afghanistan: Gates

NATO Willing To Commit More Troops To Afghanistan: Gates
(NSI News Source Info) Warsaw - February 22, 2009: US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said that nearly 20 NATO countries are ready to send more troops to Afghanistan to help the government in fighting insurgency.
At least 20 countries announced at one point or another that they would be increasing their contribution in Afghanistan, Gates told a press conference after a two-day NATO meeting in Krakow in Poland Friday. He said that this development is a good start ahead of the NATO summit in Germany and France in April. Till date, only Italy, Germany and Ukraine have publicly announced they would send more troops to Afghanistan. The NATO countries are helping the Afghan government to strengthen its army to tackle terrorism. Currently, the Afghan Army strength is at 79,300 and is expected to grow to 134,000 by 2011. The alliance now has 49 teams to train the new recruits to the Afghan Army, but needs 20 more teams to help in the process. A 25,000-strong US contingent forms the core of the NATO forces in Afghanistan and around 13,000 more US troops are independently involved in counter-terrorism operations. The rest of the 31,000 troops are deployed by NATO countries. President Barack Obama this week ordered an additional 17,000 US soldiers to Afghanistan to tackle the resurgent Taliban in the war-torn country.

NATO: Iran Can Help Stem Afghan Violence

NATO: Iran Can Help Stem Afghan Violence
(NSI News Source Info) February 22, 2009: NATO Chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says Iran can help stabilize Afghanistan, amid a major stalemate in US military efforts in the country. Only a day after Washington offered a grim view on its military operations in southern Afghanistan, Scheffer said Iran should be involved in efforts to secure, stabilize and rebuild the war-torn country. According to Scheffer, a broader regional approach is needed to eradicate insurgency in Afghanistan. Army Gen. David McKiernan, the top US commander in Afghanistan, said the US military has suffered logistical setbacks in its effort to restore security in Afghanistan and is now "stalemated" by the rampant Taliban insurgency. "I'm not here to tell you that there's not an increased level of violence, because there is," he said, adding that an additional 17,000 troops are slated to join an estimated 38,000-strong US force already in Afghanistan A leaked draft of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), revealed in October that US military operations in Afghanistan have failed to block the 'downward spiral' of corruption, drugs and insurgent violence in the war-ridden country. The Washington Post recently quoted a senior US military official as saying that the Obama administration should seek Iran's help in a bid to stem the increasing violence in Afghanistan. "The Bush administration has kept Tehran at arm's length, but as we look to the future, it would be helpful to have an interlocutor to explore shared objectives," said the senior US military official on condition of anonymity. Washington's former special envoy to Afghanistan, James Dobbin, has also acknowledged Tehran's major contributions to Washington's war against the Taliban in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the US soil. According to Dobbin, Few countries were as helpful to the United States - in its early involvement in Afghanistan - as Iran. "Now coalition and Afghan troops are losing ground against the same insurgents they confronted in 2001, in a war that the United States is unlikely to win unless it rethinks its relationship with Iran," he added. The Islamic Republic has emerged as a leading opponent of the Taliban during its five-year reign over Afghanistan. The radical regime nearly sparked a war with Iran in 1998, after its forces killed nine Iranian diplomats in the central Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Disable Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons

Disable Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons It is dangerously delusional for the west to go on pretending the nuclear weapons in this imploding nation are perfectly safe
(NSI News Source Info) February 22, 2009: Pakistani leaders often blame outsiders for their problems, but Pakistan is a country defeated by its origins. Created for India's Muslims on the premise that, in Pakistan, no Muslim would be killed for being Muslim, it bred an atmosphere where Muslims are today being killed for not being "good Muslims". Legitimising religious exclusivism promoted militant puritanism. So it is hardly surprising that Pakistan's president, Asif Ali Zardari, went on television last week to admit that his country was fighting for its survival against religious extremists. "The Taliban [are] trying to take over the state of Pakistan," he told CBS's Steve Kroft. "We are fighting for the survival of Pakistan." Last year, the Taliban struck at the heart of Islamabad, reducing the Marriott Hotel, redoubt of Pakistan's rich and powerful, to rubble; and the CIA believes that Benazir Bhutto's assassination a year before was helped by tribal leaders in the Swat region aligned with the Taliban. Yet, unable to prevail by force, a day after the interview's broadcast Zardari's government struck a deal with the Taliban in the Swat region, effectively ceding authority to its principal nemesis in an area that is only 100 miles away from Pakistan's capital. Having made incremental gains over many years, the Taliban are now at the gates of Islamabad – and Islamabad possesses at least 55 nuclear warheads. Anticipating such an event, the Bush administration had moved to safeguard Pakistan's nuclear arsenal by offering to share with Islamabad the sophisticated Pals ("permissive action links") technology, which would have linked Pakistan's nuclear weapons to secret codes that would control their activation. Legal restrictions prevented this from happening. But in a country where the civilian government is in a sempiternal struggle for supremacy against its powerful military and intelligence services – and where elements within the military and intelligence services have a proven track record of sponsoring terrorism against countries the civilian government has taken pains to befriend – even the Pals would have proved inadequate. Rebuilding Pakistan with long-term fiscal aid has been a top priority so far, but Islamabad's paymasters in the west must now seriously consider the option of comprehensively de-nuclearising Pakistan. It is dangerously delusional to carry on pretending that Pakistan's nuclear weapons are perfectly safe when the custodian of those weapons, the president of Pakistan, is vulnerable to terrorist attacks, and when the country itself is on the brink of collapse. The consequences of Pakistan's failure have been felt most severely by Pakistanis; and India, as Ashley J Tellis noted, has unfortunately become the "sponge" that has protected the west by absorbing many of the attacks emanating from Pakistan. But the implications of nuclear-armed Pakistan's instability, and the results of its decades-long flirtation with religious fundamentalists, go beyond the subcontinent. As Gordon Corera has documented in his book Shopping for Bombs, it was Pakistan that supplied nuclear secrets to bidders in North Korea and Iran, among others. Islamabad is not likely to yield easily to requests to de-nuclearise, but the most plausible way to start the process would be to use the leverage that Pakistan's donors, particularly in Washington and London, have gained over the last decade to begin talks to ship its nuclear weapons out of the country. In return, as Bret Stephens has suggested, the US should promise increased fiscal aid, superior conventional arms and even nuclear protection. Numerous proposals to safeguard Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, indubitably the most vulnerable in the world, have been offered, but western attempts have been repeatedly frustrated by Islamabad. Now, however, things have moved beyond the point at which western inaction can be explained away as deference to Pakistani sensibilities. The price of respecting the supposed sovereignty of an imploding state which in reality is incapable of controlling much of the territory it claims will be too heavy. The west will pay a heavy price if it does not act now.

Obama Must Tell Pakistan That War On Terror Is For Its Own Survival

Obama Must Tell Pakistan That War On Terror Is For Its Own Survival
In the coming weeks, President Barack Obama will have to look at ways to convince Pakistan that the fight against extremists in that country and in neighboring Afghanistan is not a favor being done to the United States, but an exercise aimed at ensuring Pakistans own survival, both in the short and long term.
(NSI News Source Info) New York - February 21, 2009: In the coming weeks, President Barack Obama will have to look at ways to convince Pakistan that the fight against extremists in that country and in neighboring Afghanistan is not a favor being done to the United States, but an exercise aimed at ensuring Pakistan's own survival, both in the short and long term. Supporters of Muslim cleric Maulana Sufi Mohammad arrive in Mingora in the outskirts of Swat valley February 21, 2009. Taliban fighters and Pakistani officials agreed on Saturday to a 'permanent ceasefire' in the northwestern Swat Valley, a senior government official said on Saturday. Obama will have to grapple with a series of very difficult questions, the answers to which will eventually define his administration's success or failure in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, an editorial in the New York Post has said. Obama, according to the editorial, will have to consider whether to keep supporting a central government in Kabul or focus more on cultivating local leaders. The rampant corruption of President Hamid Karzai's government has driven far too many Afghans back to the extremists. Obama has said that he is open to talks with some Afghan militants. In recent weeks, American commanders said they are expanding contacts with so-called moderate members of the Taliban. At this point, there may be no other choice. The editorial says that Obama and his team must quickly come up with a plan to expand and train the Afghan Army (which eventually must replace American and NATO troops) and police force, curb a 720 million dollar Afghan opium industry that finances the Taliban and encourage development along the Afghan-Pakistan border. He will also have to figure out a way to persuade NATO allies to send more troops - with orders to fight - and more money. The editorial says the new American president has rock star ratings in Europe, and therefore, needs to leverage some of that to get leaders there to finally ante up. As far as Pakistan is concerned, that nuclear-armed country faces terrifying problems: political and economic instability, home-grown extremists who are far too cozy with Pakistan's intelligence services, a lawless border region used by the Taliban to execute bloody attacks on Afghanistan. This week the government effectively ceded the Swat Valley - which is in the border region but just 100 miles from Islamabad - to militants in a misguided bid for a false peace. The White House's decision to invite senior Pakistani and Afghan officials to Washington next week is very welcome. Saudi Arabia, Iran and India must also be involved, says the editorial.

Pakistan: Shiite Muslim Killing Sunnis Muslim Amid Sectarian Tensions

Pakistan: Shiite Muslim Killing Sunnis Muslim Amid Sectarian Tensions
(NSI News Source Info) February 21, 2009: Suspected Shiite gunmen killed two members of the rival Sunni Muslim sect Saturday in northwest Pakistan, police said, a day after a suicide bombing at a Shiite leader's funeral killed 30 and set off sectarian riots. A string of sectarian attacks in recent months has undermined already deteriorating security in nuclear-armed, Muslim-majority Pakistan as it tries to defeat al-Qaida and Taliban militants based in tribal regions close to the Afghan border. Pakistan army soldiers stand alert in troubled city of Dera Ismail Khan during a curfew imposed after a bomb attack on Friday, Feb. 20, 2009 in Pakistan. A hospital official says the death toll from a bomb attack at a funeral for a Shiite Muslim leader in northwestern Pakistan has risen to 25. Dera Ismail Khan, a rough and tumble city not far from the tribal regions, has endured both sectarian and militant violence. The shootings Saturday occurred in a market. Three other Sunnis were wounded when the gunmen rode by on a motorbike and fired, area police chief Miran Shah said. The attack occurred despite the presence of troops sent to patrol the city after Friday's suicide attack at a funeral where about 1,000 people had gathered to mourn Sher Zeman, a local Shiite leader gunned down the day before. After the bombing, angry Shiites fired on police and a public bus was torched. Three people were shot dead in the melee, officials said. A mass funeral was planned Saturday for victims of the Friday bombing, which also wounded more than 60. Extremists from the majority Sunni community view Shiites as heretics, and the two groups have long engaged in tit-for-tat killings in Pakistan. The number of attacks have increased in recent years along with violence by al-Qaida and the Taliban, which are also Sunni groups. Taliban-led militants have seized control of pockets of northwest Pakistan despite military offensives and analysts say they are likely directing or supporting the sectarian violence. On Monday, Pakistan announced it would agree to the imposition of Islamic law in the northwest's restive Swat Valley as part of a deal aimed at restoring peace there. The pact was spearheaded by hard-line cleric Sufi Mohammed who is negotiating with the Taliban in the valley to give up their arms. The government has rejected criticism that the pact would create a Taliban sanctuary less than 100 miles (160 kilometers) from the capital, Islamabad. But Richard Holbrooke, the new U.S. envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said Thursday that he raised concern about the deal during a phone call with Pakistan's president. Holbrooke told CNN that President Barack Obama was worried "that this deal, which is portrayed in the press as a truce ... does not turn into a surrender."

Ukraine's MDB Unveils Its BTR-4 8x8 Armoured Personnel Carrier At IDEX'2009

Ukraine's MDB Unveils Its BTR-4 8x8 Armoured Personnel Carrier At IDEX'2009
(NSI News Source Info) February 21, 2009: KMDB, the leader of the Ukrainian armoured construction, will demonstrate the latest variant of its BTR-4 APC with PARUS weapon station. Due to the customer's requirements BTR-4 APC 8x8 can be powered with one of the three possible engines: Ukrainian 3TD, German Deutz, or Italian Iveco.
The layout of the BTR-4 represent a change compared to the older BTR-60/70/80 designed in the Soviet Union. The vehicle has a conventional layout similar to western designs like the German TPz Fuchs with the driver's and commander's compartment at the front part of the hull, the engine and transmission compartment in the middle, and the troop compartment at the rear. The troops enter and leave the vehicle either through the rear doors or the roof hatches, and the driver and the commander are provided with doors located on the sides of the hull. Due to its modular design the BTR-4 can be used for development of the family of fighting vehicles. It also offers high level of ballistic as well as anti-mine protection. Basic protection level can be increased with the help of add-on armour. The vehicle is amphibious and can develop 8-10 km/h speed in water.
The BTR-4 was developed and manufactured as a private venture. The developers hope that the vehicle will be of interest to Ukraine's Ministry of Defence as well as to foreign customers. The new Ukrainian APC has a conventional layout with the driver's and commander's compartment at the front part of the hull, the engine and transmission compartment in the middle, and the troop compartment at the rear. The troops enter and leave the vehicle either through the rear doors or the roof hatches, and the driver and the commander are provided with doors located on the sides of the hull. The BTR-4 can operate in a wide range of ambient temperatures (-40 up to + 55 degrees Centigrade), as well as under dusty conditions, and can move on hard surface roads at a maximum speed of 110 km/h and cross water obstacles at a speed of 10 km/h. The vehicle is powered by a 3TD diesel engine developing 500 hp. At customers' request, the vehicle can be fitted with a Deutz engine developing either 489 or 598 hp. The BTR-4 can be a basis for development of various types of vehicles: fire support vehicle, command vehicle, ambulance, air defence vehicle, combat reconnaissance vehicle, and recovery vehicle. In the standard configuration, the vehicle has a weight of 17 tonnes and provides protection against small arms fire and mine blasts. In the enhanced configuration (with the front armour being able of providing immunity against 30 mm gun rounds), the vehicle weight can reach 27 tonnes. Apart from the BTR-4, the SOE KMDB also demonstrates at the exhibition an improved version of the Dozor-B 4x4 armoured personnel carrier.