Thursday, July 30, 2009

DTN News: India ~ Long Voyage Ahead For New Nuclear Submarine INS Arihant

DTN News: India ~ Long Voyage Ahead For New Nuclear Submarine INS Arihant *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - July 30, 2009: India joined an elite club of six nations last week with the launch of its own nuclear-powered submarine, but experts say it could be years before the prototype is transformed into a strategic asset. INS Arihant (Destroyer of Enemies) begins trials this week with its builders slating 2015 as the date for the commissioning of the 6,000-tonne vessel with a 85-megawatt nuclear reactor. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Sunday's launch as a "historic milestone," and experts here agreed that the Arihant lays down an important military and strategic marker. Militarily, if the trials go according to plan, it offers India an underwater nuclear launch option to match its existing land and air launch capabilities. Strategically, India's ability to built its own nuclear sub -- albeit with substantial Russian input -- adds an attention-grabbing dimension to its growing global stature. "In one respect, this represents India's coming of age," said Alex Neill, head of the Asia security programme at the independent, London-based think-tank, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). "A nuclear submarine is a badge of honour -- a benchmark, if you like, for any aspiring great power," Neill said. First to react was long-time rival and nuclear-armed neighbour Pakistan, which warned that the launch was "detrimental" to regional stability and vowed to take "appropriate steps" to maintain a "strategic balance" with India. Indian analysts, however, said Pakistani concerns, as well as the tub-thumping welcome the Indian media gave to the launch, were both premature. "We agree it is a very symbolic first step," said Uday Bhaskar, director of the National Maritime Foundation, set up to sharpen India's coastal security after last year's attacks on Mumbai. "But chest thumping is not valid at this stage as the launch of such a submarine is a very arduous task," Bhaskar said, noting neighboring China took 12 years to set up a credible nuclear submarine force in 1986. "Arihant's builders will first need to achieve criticality of its reactor and then propulsion and the real challenge will be when it goes for full sea trials," he told AFP. Finally, there will be more tests of plans to put 12 nuclear-tipped short-range missiles on the 111-metre (367-foot) Arihant, which can hit a top underwater speed of 44 kilometres an hour (24 knots). "We should hope for the best but we should also be cognisant that there can be some challenges that may take a little more time than the timeline we are looking at," Bhaskar said. The Arihant is a key part of a highly ambitious military modernisation programme by India, which hiked its military budget in the current financial year by 24 percent to 28.4 billion dollars. The submarine launch came two months after India became the first South Asian power to own Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) and just before it starts testing 126 warjets it wants to acquire. India plans to build five nuclear submarines as part of a 2.9-billion-dollar project to reinforce its 16 diesel-powered fleet of Russian and German origin. It will also acquire six Franco-Spanish Scorpene submarines between 2012 and 2017, and plans to lease one nuclear-powered Russian submarine soon. While Pakistan was the first to react, many analysts feel development of the Arihant is aimed more at countering the threat from the region's undisputed naval power, China. "The sea is increasingly becoming relevant in the context of India's security interests and we must readjust our military preparedness to this changing environment," Premier Singh said at the launch. Bharat Karnad, an analyst with the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research think-tank, said Arihant was a long way from matching the potency of its Chinese counterparts. "The Arihant will have a small range of missiles and compared to China's nuclear armament these are fire-crackers," Karnad said. "India needs to develop inter-continental ballistic missiles fitted in submarines," he said, while also stressing the importance of developing more powerful nuclear warheads. RUSI's Neill said the key question was how India intended to use the Arihant and others like it, given a nuclear fleet's potential for force projection beyond the Indian Ocean. "I think India will find itself under the magnifying glass over its intentions, particularly from Pakistan and China, and I'm sure it's a question we will see raised prominently in commentaries in the official Chinese media," he said.

DTN News: Pak-Afghan-Tajik Axis To Combat Terror

DTN News: Pak-Afghan-Tajik Axis To Combat Terror
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) DUSHANBE, Tajikistan - July 30, 2009: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan Thursday vowed to cooperate in the fight against terrorism and organized crime and also strengthen their trade, energy and communication ties. Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari, Tajikistan's President Imomali Rakhmon, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev and Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai pose for a snapshot in Dushanbe July 30, 2009. Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan agreed to coordinate efforts in their fight against Islamist violence which has threatened to spill over into the broader Central Asia region. Medvedev arrived in Tajikistan on Thursday to meet the trio. Agreement on this came at a trilateral meeting between Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon at Varzob, a picturesque tourist resort some 40 km from here, APP news agency reported. The three leaders, who also signed a joint declaration, discussed the prospects of further promoting friendly ties and cooperating on regional and international issues. Today we will write another page in the history of the region and bring the concept of regional ownership to the war in Afghanistan, Zardari said at a joint press stakeout with the other two leaders after the meeting. We stand together and will face all eventualities, Zardari added, pointing to the threats terrorists posed to national interests. The three countries agreed that terrorism was a regional phenomenon that necessitated a comprehensive, concerted and coordinated approach with full participation of the states and local communities. Militancy, separatism, extremism and organized crimes undermine regional peace and stability and pose a threat to the security of all regional states, a joint declaration signed by the three presidents said. Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan declare their readiness to cooperate in effectively addressing the menace of terrorism and organized crime, the declaration added.

DTN News: Oshkosh Defense’s Past Performance Ensures Timely Vehicle Delivery For FMTV Program

DTN News: Oshkosh Defense’s Past Performance Ensures Timely Vehicle Delivery For FMTV Program *Source: DTN News / Oshkosh Corporation
(NSI News Source Info) OSHKOSH, Wis. - July 30, 2009: With a track record of exceptional service to U.S. Armed Forces that spans decades, Oshkosh Defense, a division of Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE:OSK), brings a history of on-time vehicle delivery to military customers in its bid for the U.S. Army’s Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) competitive rebuy. Having produced more than 67,000 military class vehicles in its U.S. manufacturing facilities since 1942, Oshkosh has the proven capabilities to meet customers’ delivery schedules and surge requirements, as well as successfully integrate new technologies when needed. “We currently provide a range of medium and heavy military trucks to the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps,” said Andy Hove, Oshkosh Corporation executive vice president and president, Defense. “Our manufacturing approach allows us to manage the large variations necessary to deliver a military vehicle program like the Army’s Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles and FMTV while maintaining deliveries on or ahead of schedule. We also can incorporate advanced technologies, such as the Oshkosh TAK-4® independent suspension system, into the vehicles with each delivery order.” Existing Oshkosh manufacturing facilities have available production capacity for all current and proposed military vehicle programs, including FMTV and the recently awarded M ATV contract. These same facilities also can accommodate any surges in production required for the FMTV program. The company continues to refine production plans and technology integration, while delivering outstanding medium and heavy tactical wheeled vehicles to the government. Production processes also have evolved specifically for the FMTV fleet to meet new requirements. The FMTV program is a five-year, multibillion dollar contract award for the production of an estimated 23,000 vehicles and trailers for the Army. The contract includes all FMTV models, with an initial order of more than 800 trucks and 600 trailers expected for fiscal year 2009. Oshkosh Defense has already made pre-award investments in the FMTV production line and the design of an FMTV long-term armor strategy (LTAS)-compliant cab at no cost to the government, ensuring a “hot” start to the program and timely production deliveries. Oshkosh Defense is the only current manufacturer of medium and heavy tactical wheeled vehicles in the U.S. defense industry. The company’s use of an advanced integrated assembly line has allowed for the simultaneous production of as many as 10 vehicle models with 29 variations. A highly skilled in-house engineering team coupled with an experienced production workforce help Oshkosh continually improve vehicle quality levels through design innovations, assembly process improvements and lean manufacturing. About Oshkosh Defense
Oshkosh Defense, a division of Oshkosh Corporation, is an industry-leading global designer and manufacturer of tactical military trucks and armored wheeled vehicles, delivering a full product line of conventional and hybrid vehicles, advanced armor options, proprietary suspensions, and vehicles with payloads that can exceed 70 tons. Oshkosh Defense provides a global service and supply network including full life-cycle support and remanufacturing, and its vehicles are recognized the world over for superior performance, reliability and protection. For more information, visit About Oshkosh Corporation
Oshkosh Corporation is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of a broad range of specialty access equipment, commercial, fire & emergency and military vehicles and vehicle bodies. Oshkosh Corp. manufactures, distributes and services products under the brands of Oshkosh®, JLG®, Pierce®, McNeilus®, Medtec®, Jerr-Dan®, BAI™, Oshkosh Specialty Vehicles, Frontline™, SMIT™, CON-E-CO®, London® and IMT®. Oshkosh products are valued worldwide in businesses where high quality, superior performance, rugged reliability and long-term value are paramount. For more information, log on to

DTN News: Boeing To Bid As Prime Contractor For NASA Exploration Ground Launch Services Contract

DTN News: Boeing To Bid As Prime Contractor For NASA Exploration Ground Launch Services Contract
*Source: DTN News / Boeing (NSI News Source Info) KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., - July 30, 2009: Boeing [NYSE: BA] today announced that it plans to bid as prime contractor for the Exploration Ground Launch Services (EGLS) program to provide ground systems integration and launch operations for Constellation, NASA's next-generation space-exploration initiative. Exploration Ground Launch Services (EGLS) supports the NASA Constellation Program at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), providing ground processing, assembly, test and integration, launch, and recovery services for the Ares launch vehicle and the Orion spacecraft. NASA issued the EGLS request for proposals on July 24, 2009, with the contractor award for EGLS anticipated in April of 2010. EGLS will cover ground processing, assembly, testing, integration, launch and recovery services for Constellation's Ares launch vehicles and Orion spacecraft. “We will bring innovative approaches, decades of experience and best-of-industry elements to supporting NASA as the United States transitions from the space shuttle program to Constellation,” said John Elbon, Boeing vice president and EGLS team leader. “Cost-effective practices, proven in our space, defense and commercial airplane programs, will enable efficient and safe operations.” Current Boeing support for NASA includes serving as prime contractor on the Checkout, Assembly and Payload Processing Services and International Space Station programs and as major subcontractor on the Space Shuttle Program. The company has received contracts from NASA to provide the upper stage of the Ares I crew launch vehicle and the vehicle's instrument unit avionics. Final proposals for EGLS are due Oct. 26 and NASA is expected to award the contract in April 2010. For more information on Boeing and its pursuit of EGLS, visit A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world’s largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $32 billion business with 70,000 employees worldwide.

DTN News: Nigeria Forces Storm Sect Mosque

DTN News: Nigeria Forces Storm Sect Mosque
*Source: DTN News / BBC (NSI News Source Info) MAIDUGURI, Nigeria - July 30, 2009: Nigerian security forces have stormed a mosque where militants from an Islamic sect blamed for days of deadly violence have been hiding out. Reports say scores of fighters were killed in the assault, which came after a third night of gun battles in the northern city of Maiduguri. (Photo on right: Security forces poured into Maiduguri earlier in the week) Many of the militants have now fled, attacking police stations on their way. The group, known as Boko Haram, wants to overthrow the government and impose a strict version of Islamic law. The assault by the security forces came after 1,000 extra soldiers were drafted into the city. Army commander Major General Saleh Maina told the Associated Press that the deputy leader of the sect was killed in the bombardment, which continued on Wednesday night. But he said Mohammed Yusuf, leader of the group also known as "Taliban", escaped along with about 300 followers. An AP reporter who watched the storming of the mosque counted about 50 bodies inside the building and another 50 in the courtyard. 'All necessary action' Army spokesman Chris Olukolade told the BBC's Network Africa programme that law and order had now been restored in Maiduguri. "The enclave of the people causing the problem has been brought under better control and in a short while we believe that everyone will be able to go about his normal duties in that area," he said. The government eased curfew restrictions overnight, allowing people in the city more time on the streets in the evening. The BBC's Caroline Duffield in Nigeria says the state governor has warned that anyone harbouring members of Boko Haram will be dealt with harshly. The latest deaths would mean about 300 people have been killed in four days of clashes since an estimated 1,000 militants began attacking police stations and government buildings in several cities in northern Nigeria. President Umaru Yar'Adua has ordered Nigeria's national security agencies to take all necessary action to contain and repel attacks by the extremists. Security forces flooded into Maiduguri and began shelling Mr Yusuf's compound on Tuesday, after militants had attacked the city's police headquarters. The violence broke out in Bauchi State on Sunday, before spreading to the states of Borno, particularly the state capital Maiduguri, Kano and Yobe. Sharia law is in place across northern Nigeria, but there is no history of al-Qaeda-linked violence in the country. The country's 150 million people are split almost equally between Muslims in the north and Christians in the south.
Related Info. from BBC World

DTN News: Lockheed Eyes More Deals After India-U.S. Defence Pact

DTN News: Lockheed Eyes More Deals After India-U.S. Defence Pact *Source: DTN News / Reuters By Bappa Majumdar
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - July 30, 2009: U.S.-based Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) says it will speed up delivery of six C-130J military planes to India and is negotiating for sale of six more in a deal potentially worth $1.1 billion, a senior official said. A US Air Force Lockheed Martin-made C-130J Super Hercules performs its demonstration flight at Le Bourget, north of Paris, during the 48th Paris Air Show, Friday June 19, 2009. Lockheed, one of the world's largest defence companies, last year sold six C-130J military transport planes for about $1.1 billion, India's biggest arms deal ever with the United States. "We will start delivering the planes from the first quarter of 2011 and work is speeding at the moment to meet deadlines," Jack Giese, a senior manager at Lockheed Martin, told Reuters on Thursday. "The current agreement with the Indian Air Force for six C-130J aircraft has an option for another six and we are holding talks at the moment." A defence pact agreed with the U.S. last week allowing U.S. inspectors to check all defence equipment sold to India periodically, has paved the way for companies like Lockheed to eye the growing Indian defence market. India is one of the world's biggest arms importers, and its government plans to spend more than $30 billion over the next five years to upgrade its largely Soviet-era arsenal to counter potential threats from Pakistan and China. Lockheed is aiming for deals with India worth $15 billion in the next five years and is focusing on winning contracts for fighter aircraft, military transport aircraft, naval helicopters and missiles. Lockheed and Boeing (BA.N) are two big U.S. companies trying to enter the Indian market, but New Delhi's reluctance to sign the defence pact, allowing U.S. inspectors to examine defence equipment sold to other countries was delaying new deals. "It is a landmark agreement and Lockheed is looking forward to a long-term partnership with India," Giese, who is visiting India, said referring to the pact signed last week. Lockheed is also gearing up for field trials in August to win a $10.4 billion contract to supply 126 F-16 fighter aircraft to India. Boeing's (BA.N) F/A-18 Super Hornet, France's Dassault Rafale, Russia's MiG-35, Sweden's Saab (SAABb.ST) JAS-39 Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon, produced by a consortium of European companies, are the other companies in the race. "We are very excited and ready since April for the trials to start and show what the F-16 can do," Giese added. (Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Sanjeev Miglani)

DTN News: Pakistan ~ Former President Pervez Musharraf Snubs Apex Court Hearing In Emergency Case

DTN News: Pakistan ~ Former President Pervez Musharraf Snubs Apex Court Hearing In Emergency Case *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - July 30, 2009: Former President Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday ignored a summons from Supreme Court to explain his decision to impose a state of emergency and controversially sack judges two years ago. The Supreme Court, headed by recently reinstated Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, issued notice to Musharraf to provide testimony as it investigates the decision that ultimately led to the ex-president's downfall. But neither Musharraf, who lost power last year and has been a vocal critic of the current Pakistani administration, nor a lawyer on his behalf addressed the session Wednesday, said an AFP reporter. ‘Is somebody appearing on behalf of general Musharraf?’ asked Chaudhry to a resounding silence in the courtroom. Malik Qayyum, who was attorney general under Musharraf and present in court, did not rise. Musharraf is understood to be in Britain. But one leading Pakistani lawyer brushed aside the significance of both the summons and the no-show Wednesday. ‘Musharraf will not be handed down any punishment if he fails to appear before the court,’ former deputy attorney general under Musharraf, Raja Abdur Rehman, told AFP. The purpose of the summons was for the former ruler, or a lawyer on his behalf, to explain his position on issues being examined by the court. Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup, sacked Chaudhry and dozens of other senior judges in 2007, fearing that the chief justice would disqualify him from contesting a presidential election while in military uniform. Senior lawyer Hamid Khan told the court it was the mindset of the former military ruler, who was a key ally of former US president George W. Bush in the ‘war on terror’, to treat the constitution merely as a piece of paper. ‘The purpose of proclaiming emergency rule and deposing the judges was meant to prevent a judgement from the 11-judge bench which was hearing the disqualification case,’ Khan told the court. ‘All actions, including the imposition of a state of emergency, were in fact an attack on the judiciary and aimed to save the skin of one individual.’ The Supreme Court chief justice said it was ‘unique’ in world history that ‘martial law’ was imposed in a country to curb the judiciary. Musharraf was replaced last year as Pakistan's president by Asif Ali Zardari, whose party won general elections and who reinstated Chaudhry and his fellow judges in March following a protracted political crisis. Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and lawyers organised a march on the capital Islamabad, demanding that Zardari reinstate the judges, during mass protests last March that risked further destabilising the nuclear-armed country. Under Western pressure Zardari conceded to defuse the standoff with Sharif, who had urged the masses to rise up against the government.—

DTN News: Kyrgyzstan Agrees To Host Second Russian Base ~ Kremlin

DTN News: Kyrgyzstan Agrees To Host Second Russian Base ~ Kremlin
*Source: DTN News / RIA Novosti (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - July 30, 2009: The deployment of a Russian military base in southern Kyrgyzstan has been coordinated with Kyrgyz authorities, an aide to the Russian president said on Wednesday. "Everything has been agreed, in principle," Sergei Prikhodko said on the eve of an informal summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), to be held in Kyrgyzstan on Friday. The post-Soviet CSTO security bloc comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Russia earlier offered to deploy a battalion-sized unit as part of the CSTO rapid reaction force in the Batkenskaya region of Kyrgyzstan. "In essence, this is not a Russian base. These are efforts in line with CSTO plans to set up a joint rapid reaction force," Prikhodko said. Russia's security strategy until 2020, recently approved by President Dmitry Medvedev, envisions the CSTO as "a key mechanism to counter regional military challenges and threats." The leaders of the post-Soviet security bloc signed on June 14 an agreement on creating a joint rapid reaction force, which will comprise large military units from five countries - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Russia already operates an airbase in the city of Kant, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) outside the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek. Some 250 Russian officers and 150 enlisted personnel from Russia's 5th Air Army are deployed at the base, as well as Su-25 Frogfoot strike aircraft and Mi-8 transport helicopters. Prikhodko said Moscow was not concerned about the presence of a U.S. transit center in Kyrgyzstan to support an international contingent which is fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan. Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev signed on July 7 a law allowing the U.S. to continue using its Manas airbase for the transit of troops and supplies to Afghanistan. "If the operation of the center is carried out in line with its stated mandate, we will have no formal cause for concern," the Kremlin official said, adding that if the mandate is violated, Kyrgyzstan will have to provide explanations to other CSTO members.

DTN News: US May Send Even More Troops To Afghanistan Than Planned

DTN News: US May Send Even More Troops To Afghanistan Than Planned
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - July 30, 2009: A member of the strategic assessment team working with the new U.S. military commander in Afghanistan says the U.S. government and its allies need to be more realistic about what is needed to win the Afghan war, and he says that may include more troops.
Soldiers from the U.S. Army's Road Clearance Package (RCP) of the 2-12 Infantry, 4th Brigade hold a briefing before a patrol in the Kunar River valley in Afghanistan's Kunar Province July 29, 2009.
Senior Washington analyst Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies says the United States and its allies need to take the Afghanistan war more seriously.
He says they need to be honest about the security and development problems they have allowed to fester in recent years, and about the resources that will be needed to reverse the situation. "This war has been fought without resources, but above all without realism," he said. Cordesman is recently back from Afghanistan, where he joined other experts on a team advising the new U.S. commander, General Stanley McChrystal, on how to move forward.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Cordesman declined to speak directly about the strategic assessment team's deliberations, but he suggested he believes more U.S. troops are needed. "If you don't provide those resources and additional brigade combat teams, if you do not, I think, effectively move the Afghan security forces toward doubling them.
I think unless we're prepared to commit those resources. If we somehow believe that a civilian surge of 700 people and tailoring our force posture to the views of a completely different set of strategic priorities, this is going to win, the answer is no, it's going to lose," he said. President Barack Obama has already approved a near doubling of U.S. forces to 68,000 by the end of this year.
Pressed on the number of troops needed beyond that, Cordesman said it is a difficult calculation that can not be made based on any other counterinsurgency campaign. "This is an experiment. This isn't some historical ratio. There is no way to easily calculate this. You're going to have to make the best guess you can. And we'll probably learn more from what's happening in Helmand right now," he said. The president's national security adviser, James Jones, has urged commanders not to ask for more troops. And Defense Secretary Robert Gates has expressed concern that more troops in Afghanistan could alienate people and be counterproductive. But Cordesman said policymakers in Washington should not limit General McChrystal's options in advance. Rather he says they should wait for the 60-day report the new commander will provide next month, based partly on the assessment in which Cordesman participated. He said the military experts are working hard on the question of how many U.S. troops are needed in Afghanistan. And he says it is particularly important to significantly increase the number of competent Afghan troops. The analyst was sharply critical of the latest Pentagon report on the situation in Afghanistan, saying it does not provide an adequate assessment of the country's insurgency. He said U.S. intelligence services need to focus on that.
In addition, he says the U.S. government needs to deal with what he called the corruption and power brokering in Afghanistan, and must bring integrity to the aid system and work with allies to get more military and civilian help from them. Cordesman says some allies are not honest about their contributions or are not willing to recognize the seriousness of the situation and the need for more effort to fix it. He described the international aid effort in Afghanistan, now in its eighth year, as being conducted as if it were in its first year, and having little impact. "What should be an integrated civil-military effort and a focus on winning the war in the field, is a dysfunctional, wasteful mess focused on Kabul and crippled by bureaucratic divisions," he said. Cordesman says the current U.S. and British military operation in Helmand Province was launched without adequate preparation for civilian aid after the military delivers stability.
But he said it might still be successful, and could become a model for what is called the clear-hold-and-build approach to defeating insurgents. In any case, he says, it will provide valuable lessons as Afghan, U.S. and NATO forces prepare to move into other parts of Afghanistan. Cordesman also urged the allies to adopt more modest goals for Afghanistan, such as establishing stability and keeping al-Qaida terrorists out - similar to the goals President Obama announced in March. But he also said while some progress can be made toward those goals in the short term, with the right resources, the job will likely stretch beyond the president's four-year term. "Can we make a significant level of progress in Afghanistan in the next 12-to-18 months? Yes, we can. It is going to require an effective, concerted effort. If we meet those needs, and we provide the resources, that timeframe of 12 to 18 months to make real progress is very realistic," he said. Senior administration officials have said they want to see at least the beginning of a turnaround in Afghanistan within that time frame.

DTN News: Russian Paratroopers To Get New Weaponry ~ Commander

DTN News: Russian Paratroopers To Get New Weaponry ~ Commander *Source: DTN News / RIA Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - July 30, 2009: Russian paratroopers will receive new weaponry and equipment in 2009 to increase their effectiveness in light of the recent conflict with Georgia, the Airborne Troops commander said on Wednesday. "At the end of August we will receive a battalion of 10 Nona self-propelled guns and two fire-control vehicles," Lt. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov said. "We will also increase the number of wheeled armored vehicles in service with the Airborne Troops," he said, adding that the modernized or even new tracked vehicles, including the latest BMD-4 airborne infantry vehicle, demonstrated limited mobility in the five-day war with Georgia last year. The general said a wheeled armored personnel carrier can sustain substantial damage to its chassis and still continue to accomplish combat tasks, while a tracked vehicle losses the ability to maneuver if its tracks are damaged. "We are planning to modernize and procure the TIGR armored multipurpose vehicle for our reconnaissance units," Shamanov said. The commander also said that in line with current military reforms the Airborne Troops will have reconnaissance battalions armed with spy drones, and will soon adopt a tactical radio communications system with a range of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). "These are weapons and equipment which we certainly lacked in the first and second Chechen war, and in the five-day war [with Georgia]," Shamanov said. The Airborne Troops are considered the most capable mobile assault forces in Russia. Various estimates put the current personnel at about 48,000 troops deployed in four divisions and a brigade. According to Russia's military reform plans, the Airborne Troops will be fully manned by professional soldiers by 2011.

DTN News: Spain ~ Car Bomb In Northern City Of Burgos Heavily Damages Police Barracks

DTN News: Spain ~ Car Bomb In Northern City Of Burgos Heavily Damages Police Barracks
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) MADRID, Spain - July 30, 2009: Spanish authorities say a powerful car bomb has heavily damaged a Civil Guard barracks in the northern city of Burgos, lightly injuring about 60 people. Investigators and emergency services work near a giant crater where a car bomb exploded at a Civil Guard barracks in the northern Spanish city of Burgos, early July 29, 2009. At least 46 people were slightly injured, according to emergency services. Part of the barracks facade collapsed into the street when the bomb went off around 4.30 a.m. (0230 GMT). A spokeswoman for the Civil Guard, Spain's paramilitary police force, said the attack was probably carried out by Basque separatist rebels ETA. Spain's Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubacalba blamed the Basque terrorist group ETA for the early-morning attack. The multistory barracks housed members of Spain's paramilitary police force and their families - 120 people, including 41 children. The minister said the perpetrators undoubtedly were trying to kill those inside. ETA has killed more than 825 people since the late 1960s in its push for an independent Basque state in northern Spain and southwestern France.

DTN News: Nigerian Troops Battle Militants, Thousands Flee

DTN News: Nigerian Troops Battle Militants, Thousands Flee
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) MAIDUGURI, Nigeria - July 30, 2009: Fighting continued in northern Nigeria Wednesday as government forces battled members of a radical Islamic sect.
Police sources say the latest clashes have been centered in the regional capital of Maiduguri. Officials say at least 3,000 people have been temporarily displaced by the fighting.
Police stand alongside bodies of dead Islamic militants, in the street in front of police headquarters in Maidugiri, Nigeria, Wednesday, July 29, 2009. Army troops traded fire with Islamic militants Tuesday and deployed armored vehicles to surround the suspected hideout of a radical Muslim leader accused of orchestrating three days of violence in Africa's most populous nation.
On Tuesday, government forces in the city shelled the home of Mohammed Yusuf, the leader of the group thought to be behind a series of deadly attacks across the region that have killed at least 150 people.
The Boko Haram sect - the so-called "Nigerian Taliban" - is believed to be responsible for attacks on police and government officials across the region. The continued fighting comes after Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua told reporters late Tuesday that the situation was under control.
The violence began Sunday when the group attacked a police station in Bauchi state following the arrest of some of their leaders.
The clashes spread across the states of Yobe, Kano and Borno, with the city of Maiduguri bearing the brunt of the fighting. Authorities say the militants also have burned several churches across the region.
The Boko Haram group opposes Western culture and wants to establish a strict Islamic state across all of Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria. A dozen of Nigeria's 36 states have introduced strict Islamic Sharia law in the past decade.
The country is roughly evenly divided between Christians and Muslims, with Islam predominant in the northern part of the country. Periodic clashes between the two populations have left thousands of people dead in recent years.
On Tuesday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced alarm over the deadly clashes. A spokesperson for Mr. Ban said the U.N. chief condemned the "unnecessary loss of human life" and property destruction as a result of the militant attacks.

DTN News: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ~ Gaza Crossings Won't Open Until Israel Defense Forces Soldier Gilad Shalit Is Free

DTN News: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ~ Gaza Crossings Won't Open Until Israel Defense Forces Soldier Gilad Shalit Is Free
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) TEL AVIV, Israel - July 30, 2009: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones in Jerusalem Wednesday evening, for a private meeting on Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the Iranian threat and other issues relating to promoting Middle East peace.
A pedestrian walks past a painting, depicting captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, hung outside a protest tent calling for his release, near the residence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem July 7, 2009. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said on Tuesday he believed the Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants three years ago was well and that he hoped the issue would not take a long time to resolve.
Netanyahu told Jones that Israel would not fully open the Gaza border crossings until captive Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit was released. Shalit was kidnapped by Gaza militants in a June 2006 cross-border raid. Hamas has demanded the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails in return for Shalit's freedom. Jones was in Israel for briefings related to Iran's nuclear program, in the midst of a week of intense U.S.-Israeli diplomacy. General Jones heard updates from several senior Israeli security officials, before meeting with Netanyahu.
Netanyahu briefed Jones on the easing of restrictions on Palestinians Israel has implemented, saying that unlike in Gaza, where restrictions will be eased only for humanitarian cases, Israel sought to ease the lives of the Palestinians living in the West Bank as much as possible.
The national security adviser landed in Israel on Tuesday, heading a 15-member delegation of top U.S. officials who also deal with Iran, including special State Department adviser Dennis Ross and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media as he visits the terminal between Israel and Jordan whose hours of operation are being extended in the Jordan Valley, July 28, 2009 outside Jericho, West Bank. Netanyahu said, 'We are not waiting, we are doing. We are opening roadblocks, we are opening ties, we are opening the roads to peace.' He also said, 'The Palestinian economy is booming partly as a result of what the Palestinians are doing, partly as a result of what we are doing by opening these crossings,' and added, 'This is the highway for peace.'
He arrived on the heels of U.S. President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who were in the region earlier this week. While Mitchell discussed the disagreement over Israeli settlement construction and efforts to move toward a renewal of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Gates' talks in Jerusalem Monday also focused on Iran. Gates' and Jones' separate visits come amid ever rising speculation over whether Israel intends to strike Iranian nuclear facilities.
The hard-line Netanyahu government, which took office four months ago following elections on February 10, has declared preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons a top priority. Israel says it prefers much tougher international sanctions, but Defense Minister Ehud Barak reiterated after his talks with Gates Monday that the military option had not been taken off the table.

DTN News: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates Spends Final Day In Iraq Meeting Kurds

DTN News: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates Spends Final Day In Iraq Meeting Kurds *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) BAGHDAD, Iraq - July 30, 2009: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates sounded an optimistic note about the possibility of speeding up U.S. troops withdrawals from Iraq, Wednesday, after meeting for a second day with top Iraqi leaders and talking with U.S. and Iraqi military commanders.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, left, walks to his plane with the top US commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno as he prepares to depart Baghdad to Irbil, in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, July 29, 2009. Gen. Ray Odierno identified the tension in northern Iraq as the number one driver of instability.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates painted a mostly upbeat picture of the situation in Iraq, indicating that it was possible that more U.S. troops could come home sooner than anticipated.
Gates' stressed that, in any case, he saw no cause for a slowdown in the pace of U.S. troops pullouts, but that any acceleration, would necessarily depend on an assessment of the situation by U.S. Commander Ray Odierno.
"I don't think there's anything in the cards for a slowdown. I think there's at least - and I'm not going into any specifics - but I think there's at least some chance of a modest acceleration [of the troop withdrawal timetable] But, because of the way General Odierno sees things going, that remains to be seen," he said.
Gates added that he didn't "want to put General Odierno into a corner, but that the general was examining "all the possibilities and he's very encouraged.
"Two U.S. brigades are due to be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 2009, but Mr. Gates indicated that an additional brigade may be withdrawn early if the situation warrants. The United States currently has about 130,000 troops in Iraq, and all are scheduled to pull out by 2011. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is greeted by President of the Kurdistan Regional Government Massoud Barzani during a brief visit to Erbil, Iraq, 29 Jul 2009. Gates spent his final hours in Iraqi Kurdistan, meeting with the President of the semi-autonomous region, Massoud Barzani.
Kurdish President Masoud Barazani talks to U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates during his visit to Arbil, 310 km (190 miles) north of Baghdad, July 29, 2009. Gates said on Wednesday the clock was ticking for Iraq's feuding Kurds and Arabs to settle differences before U.S. troops leave by 2012, which may be accelerated as security improves.
The secretary reportedly has been trying to mediate between Kurdish leaders and the central government in Baghdad, over a thorny territorial dispute over the oil-rich region of Kirkuk.Gates noted, Tuesday, that the United States was prepared to work to help resolve the oil and land disputes, which have Kurds and Arabs at loggerheads.
The Iraqi parliament, until now, has failed in attempts to cobble together a bill over oil revenues that would satisfy both Kurds and Arabs.
The issue of a new constitution for Kurdistan, which was removed from the ballot in weekend elections, triggered anxiety in both Washington and Baghdad. The draft constitution laid claim to oil and gas rights that are contested by the central government.