Thursday, March 04, 2010
DTN News: Singapore Navy Warns Of Threats Against Oil Tankers In Malacca Strait / Tankers Warned Of Terror Threat In Malacca Strait
DTN News: Singapore Navy Warns Of Threats Against Oil Tankers In Malacca Strait / Tankers Warned Of Terror Threat In Malacca Strait Source: DTN News / By Alex Kennedy, Associated Press Writer (NSI News Source Info) SINGAPORE - March 5, 2010: Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia have stepped up maritime and air patrols in the Malacca Strait after receiving a warning that a terrorist group was planning attacks on oil tankers in the waters, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. The navies of the three countries are working together to increase monitoring, and "we are prepared to handle this threat," Malaysia's navy chief. Adm. Abdul Aziz Jaafar told The Associated Press in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. The International Maritime Bureau, a maritime watchdog, said it has urged ships in the region to keep a "strict watch." "We are aware of this terrorist threat affecting Malacca Strait and Singapore," Noel Choong, who heads the IMB's anti-piracy center in Kuala Lumpur. He said the IMB received the warning from a foreign government agency two days ago, and passed it on to authorities in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. He declined to give further details. The Singapore navy issued an advisory Wednesday warning of terrorist attacks against oil tankers in the waters but did not specify which group was suspected. The Malacca Strait is the favorite route of oil shippers between the Persian Gulf and Asian Pacific markets. The strait, just 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) at its narrowest point, was the second-busiest shipping lane of crude in 2006, with 15 million barrels a day passing through, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. Singapore lies at the southern tip of the Malay peninsula, along the strait, and is home to the world's busiest port. Until about a year ago, the strait was infested with pirates that hijacked ships. But joint operations by security forces of countries around the waterway has all but ended such attacks there. Abdul Aziz, the navy chief, also said the terrorist warning came two days ago from a credible intelligence source, but declined to give details. "The terrorists are targeting specific tankers in the Malacca Strait and Singapore Strait. We have beefed up patrols to ensure safety and getting the shipping industry to keep us informed of their whereabouts," he said. He said the warning didn't say which terrorist group was planning the attack or what kind of attack was feared. The Singapore navy's advisory said that a terrorist group was planning attacks on oil tankers and may also target other vessels in the shipping lane off Malaysia's east coast. "The terrorists' intent is probably to achieve widespread publicity and showcase that it remains a viable group," said the advisory from the navy's Information Fusion Centre. "However, this information does not preclude possible attacks on other large vessels with dangerous cargo." Indonesia has not received any information from Singapore about possible attacks but plans to boost air and sea patrols, Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. I Wayan Midio said. "We are committed to increase the awareness and security in the Malacca Strait to anticipate any terrorist attacks," he said. The U.S. 7th fleet, whose area of responsibility includes the western Pacific and is based in Yokosuka, Japan, did not respond to calls for comment. Indonesian police on Thursday charged 14 suspected Islamist militants with planning terrorist attacks after they were captured in raids since Feb. 22 on Sumatra island, which forms the eastern boundary of the Malacca Strait. Their alleged targets weren't disclosed. Police are investigating if militants are linked to Jemaah Islamiyah, one of the most active terror networks in Southeast Asia. Police have blamed the group for suicide bombings of the J.W. Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels in Jakarta in July 2009 that killed seven people and bombings on the island of Bali in 2002 that killed 202 people. The Singapore navy said small fishing boats or speedboats were used in past successful terrorist attacks against ships, and these kinds of vessels could be used in the Malacca Strait. The navy recommended ships add lookouts and lighting, avoid fishing areas and maintain a good speed. ___ Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this story.
DTN News: U.S. Military Questions Karzai's Steps On Corruption Source: DTN News / Reuters (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - March 5, 2010: Afghan President Hamid Karzai must take "significant steps" to fight corruption, the U.S. military's top officer said on Wednesday, suggesting Washington was concerned inaction could undercut the campaign against the Taliban. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it was "too early to tell" what Karzai and other leaders have done to address the issue, underscoring persistent tensions between Washington and the Kabul-based government on the issue. "There have to be significant steps taken on the part of President Karzai and other leaders in Afghanistan to eliminate corruption," Mullen told an audience at Kansas State University in an address broadcast to journalists at the Pentagon. "It's not going to go away overnight," he said of the corruption problem. "But where it has not been addressed before, it is being addressed now, and we can't move forward in a positive way unless it continues to be." "He was duly elected by his people and he now has to perform in this area," Mullen said of Karzai, who has faced his own credibility challenges after voter fraud marred his re-election last year. The Obama administration has been careful not to snipe publicly at Karzai, wanting to show U.S. backing for the new government, particularly as U.S. and NATO forces began a new campaign to push Taliban fighters out of population centers in the South. "The military aspect of this cannot succeed without success in other areas," Mullen said. In addition to the corruption issue, the United States has been critical of several recent moves by Karzai's government, including a decision to block foreign observers from a U.N.-backed election watchdog group and planned curbs on media freedom. (Reporting by Adam Entous; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
DTN News: U.S. Department of Defense Contracts Dated March 4, 2010 Source: U.S. DoD issued March 4, 2010 (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - March 5, 2010: U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) Contracts issued March 4, 2010 are undermentioned; CONTRACTS
AIR FORCE ~Wyle Laboratories, Inc., West Huntsville, Ala., was awarded an $8,917,289 contract which will provide for the Reliability Information Analysis Center which will research, test, develop, and deliver data analysis and interoperability testing results. At this time, $273,000 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity (HC1047-05-D-4005). NAVY ~Lockheed Martin, MS2 Division, Syracuse, N.Y., is being awarded a $24,168,312 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5201) to exercise FY 10 options for Navy’s AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 undersea warfare system. The AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 is a surface ship combat system with the capabilities to search, detect, classify, localize and track undersea contacts; and to engage and evade submarines, mine-like small objects, and torpedo threats. Work will be performed in Lemont Furnace, Pa. (50 percent), Syracuse, N.Y. (25 percent), and Eagan, Minn. (25 percent). Work is expected to be completed by August 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity. ~Northrop Grumman Space & Mission Systems Corp., Reston, Va., is being awarded a $17,437,358 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price contract for the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) common computing environment. The primary goals of the CANES program are to build a secure afloat network required for naval and joint operations, and consolidate and reduce the number of afloat networks through the use of mature cross domain technologies and common computing environment infrastructure. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to an estimated $775,339,532. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif., and is expected to be completed by April 2011. If all options are exercised, work could continue until September 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured with unlimited proposals solicited and four offers received via the Commerce Business Daily’s Federal Business Opportunities Web site, and the SPAWAR e-Commerce Central Web site. The Space and Naval Warfare System Command in San Diego is the contracting activity (N00039-10-D-0028). ~Lockheed Martin MS2 Tactical Systems, San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a $14,999,994 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price contract for the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) common computing environment. The primary goals of the CANES program are to build a secure afloat network required for naval and joint operations, and consolidate and reduce the number of afloat networks through the use of mature cross domain technologies and common computing environment infrastructure. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to an estimated $936,902,393. Work will be performed in San Diego and is expected to be completed by April 2011. If all options are exercised, work could continue until September 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured with unlimited proposals solicited and four offers received via the Commerce Business Daily’s Federal Business Opportunities Web site, and the SPAWAR e-Commerce Central Web site. The Space and Naval Warfare System Command in San Diego is the contracting activity (N0039-10-D-0027).
DTN News: Libya Imposes 'Total' Trade Embargo On Switzerland Source: DTN News / RIA Novosti (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - March 5, 2010: Libya has decided to impose a "total" economic embargo on Switzerland following Libyan leader Moamer Gadhafi's declaration of holy war on the European nation, government spokesman Mohammed Baayou has said, as quoted by international media. "Libya has decided to impose a total embargo on all economic and commercial exchanges with Switzerland," Baayou said on Wednesday. He said the country would "adopt alternative [sources] for medicines and medical and industrial equipment" imported from Switzerland. Last week, Gadhafi described Switzerland, which recently imposed a ban on the construction of minarets following a national referendum, as "infidel, obscene state which is destroying mosques" and called for the Islamic world to "boycott" the country. "It is against unbelieving and apostate Switzerland that jihad (holy war) ought to be proclaimed by all means," he said in a live television broadcast, adding "any Muslim around the world who has dealings with Switzerland is an infidel [and is] against Islam, against Mohammed, against God, against the Koran." The day after Gadhafi's call, U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said the Lybian leader's declaration reminded him of "one of the more memorable sessions of the UN General Assembly", in which Gadhafi delivered a speech, strongly criticizing the organization. "Lots of words and lots of papers flying all over the place and not necessarily a lot of sense," Crowley said. Earlier on Wednesday, Libya expressed indignation over Crowley's statement and demanded "explanations and apologies" from the U.S. authorities, adding there would be "negative repercussions on economic and political relations between the two countries if no measures are adopted." A total of 57.5% eligible voters and 22 out of 26 Swiss cantons voted in November 2009 to ban the construction of minarets. The country's decision, which is believed to stop the "Islamization of Switzerland", sparked criticism from politicians and religious figures worldwide. Switzerland's row with Libya goes back to July 2008, when Gaddafi's son, Hannibal, and his wife Aline who was 9 months pregnant were arrested in Geneva. They were released on bail after spending two days in custody following a hotel employee complaint of mistreatment by the couple. Related News Libya denies entry for Europeans after Swiss dispute with Qaddafi Russia to sell $1.8 bln in arms to Libya Turkey calls on Muslims to withdraw money from Swiss banks Swiss minaret ban prompts global repercussions
DTN News: Russia Carries Out Successful Test Of Sineva ICBM Source: DTN News / RIA Novosti (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - March 5, 2010: Russia successfully test-launched a Sineva intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine in the Barents Sea on Thursday, a Defense Ministry spokesman said. He said the missile was launched at 7:50 a.m. Moscow time (04:50 GMT) from the Tula (Delta IV-class) submarine. The RSM-54 Sineva (NATO designation SS-N-23 Skiff) is a liquid-propellant submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) designed for Delta IV-class submarines that can carry up to 16 missiles each. The Sineva, which is already in service, is seen as a rival to the troubled Bulava, which has been specifically designed for the new Borey-class submarines but whose future development has been called into question by some lawmakers and defense industry officials over a string of failed tests. However, the Russian military has insisted that there is no alternative to the Bulava and pledged to continue testing the missile until it is ready to be put into service with the Navy. The Bulava has officially suffered seven failures in 12 tests. Some analysts suggest that in reality the number of failures was considerably larger, with Russian military expert Pavel Felgenhauer contending that of the Bulava's 12 test launches, only one was entirely successful.
DTN News: China Unveils Less Aggressive Defense Budget
Source: DTN News / LA Times By Barbara Demick Reporting from Beijing (NSI News Source Info) BEIJING, CHINA - March 5, 2010: After nearly two decades of double-digit hikes in military spending, Beijing's announcement of a relatively modest 7.5% rise is seen as an apparent bid to assuage wary East Asia neighbors.
China announced Thursday the smallest increase in its defense budget in years, in an apparent attempt to assuage international fears that its military is growing too powerful.
Coming after almost two decades of double-digit hikes, the relatively modest 7.5% increase in the budget to $78 billion also highlights the Chinese leadership's stated commitments to channel funding to social programs.
"China is committed to peace," said Li Zhaoxing, a spokesman for the National People's Congress, where the budget figures were released Thursday.
It is an annual ritual for the military budget to be announced at the opening session of the congress. But as the legislature has no real oversight over the People's Liberation Army, the event is largely about what message the Chinese leadership wishes to send.
Western analysts believe as well that the Chinese government significantly underreports its military spending, so the announced modest increase might in fact be more of a signal than a reflection of reality.
"China's double-digit military spending had led to worries from neighboring countries like Vietnam and India," said Ni Lexiong, a defense analyst at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law. "Both of those countries began to purchase planes and submarines from Russia. There were signs of an arms race in East Asia and that would not be good for China."
A slower pace of military spending increases also reflects the ratcheting down of tensions with Taiwan since the 2008 election there of pro-mainland President Ma Ying-jeou. However, at the same time, the threat of restiveness among Tibetans and the Uighurs of the Xinjiang region in the west has grown.
"The sole purpose of China's military strength is to protect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Li said in Thursday's news conference.
Other Chinese officials have said that much of the increase in military spending will go to raising salaries for the country's 2.3 million soldiers, whose wages have not kept pace with the rest of the economy.
An analysis by the U.S. Defense Department given to Congress last year estimated that China's officially disclosed military budget grew an average of 12.9% from 1996 to 2008 -- far ahead of the growth of gross domestic product, averaging 9.6% a year.
The Chinese at times have also tried to flaunt their rising military strength, most publicly during the televised spectacle Oct. 1, when the military strutted the latest weaponry past Tiananmen Square in celebration of the 60th anniversary the People's Republic of China.
DTN News: EADS North America Delivers 100th UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter To The U.S. Army
* Latest Milestone Marks Another Accomplishment for One of the Most Successful Acquisition Programs in U.S. Army Aviation History Source: DTN News / EADS (NSI News Source Info) ARLINGTON, VA and COLUMBUS, MS - March 5, 2010: EADS North America delivered its 100th UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter to the U.S. Army today, marking another on-time and on-budget achievement for a highly successful program that supports America's warfighters and contributes to the nation's homeland security. "The UH-72A Lakota program has progressed on schedule and within budget constraints," said Col. L. Neil Thurgood, the U.S. Army's Project Manager of the Utility Helicopter office. "The aircraft has been well received by Army aircrews and we have maintained a remarkably high operational availability rate combined with an admirable safety record. We especially look forward to fielding even more of these capable aircraft to Army National Guard units throughout the United States," he added. Delivery of the 100th Lakota occurred at American Eurocopter's production facility in Columbus, Miss. where the twin-engine helicopter is produced. The American Eurocopter facility was significantly expanded to accommodate production of the Lakota, which created and supports hundreds of high-value aerospace jobs throughout the United States. "Delivering on our commitments to the U.S. Army has been the industry team's number one priority since being selected for the Lakota program in June 2006," said Sean O'Keefe, EADS North America's CEO. "Our performance of 100 percent on-time deliveries reflects an unwavering commitment to fully support our customers' current and future needs." The 100th Lakota aircraft will be deployed to Germany with the U.S. Army's Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) -- becoming part of this unit's Combat Training Center and further expanding the Lakota's mission applications. "When EADS North America and American Eurocopter decided to invest in Mississippi several years ago -- Mississippians made a commitment to help these companies succeed. When the Army chose EADS North America to supply the UH-72A Lakota, EADS made a commitment to help the warfighter succeed. Today the 100th Lakota helicopter is evidence of that commitment," said Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. "I'm extremely proud of the work they do to support America's men and women in uniform." The U.S. Army plans to acquire 345 Lakotas through 2016, and the service has ordered 182 of the helicopters so far, along with five H-72A versions for the U.S. Navy. Aircraft already delivered to the Army are used in missions that include medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), search and rescue, drug interdiction, VIP transport and support -- with the in-service UH-72A fleet logging more than 25,000 flight hours to date at an operational readiness rate of more than 90 percent. The Navy's five H-72A versions are utilized by the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., for the training of test pilots from the U.S. military and allied countries. "The UH-72A Lakota program is crucial to modernizing the U.S. Army's aviation assets, and the delivery of the 100th Lakota helicopter to the Army is a significant accomplishment for the Mississippians who build these capable aircraft in the Golden Triangle," commented Sen. Thad Cochran, the ranking member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. "This achievement proves that off-the-shelf commercial air frames can be successfully adapted for military applications at a lower cost to the taxpayer. It also reflects well on our state's industrial capabilities and our ability to support the Armed Forces." The UH-72A is a Defense Acquisition Category (ACAT) I major defense acquisition program for the U.S. Defense Department, and the Lakota's service entry in 2007 marked one of the most rapid introductions of a new aircraft in the U.S. Army's history. Deliveries of the aircraft to National Guard units allow aging OH-58 and UH-1 rotary-wing aircraft to be retired, while UH-72As assigned to the active component of the U.S. Army free up UH-60 Black Hawks for assignment to warfighting missions. "Time and again, Mississippi workers have answered the call and produced the tools our military needs to keep our country safe," commented Sen. Roger Wicker. "The Lakota has made a substantial contribution to this important effort. The Lakota program has been delivered on time and on budget. This is a testament to the men and women who build these helicopters, as well as to the Army and EADS North America." The Lakotas' current basing across the continental United States and in Puerto Rico will be expanded during the coming months -- along with the missions they perform -- as Lakotas are deployed to Germany and the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific. "It's a privilege to represent the workforce that has successfully built and delivered 100 Lakota helicopters to the U.S. Army on schedule and on budget," said Mississippi Rep. Travis Childers. "This program represents the hard work and dedication of hundreds of Mississippians, and I commend EADS for its commitment to our national security." For their service in Germany at the Joint Multinational Training Command, the helicopters will be used to train pilots in combat engagements, and are to carry equipment that includes a Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES), a SMart On-Board Data Interface Module (SMODIM), and an electronic data manager. When deployed to the Pacific Ocean's Kwajalein Atoll, the UH-72As will perform transport and support duties. They are to be painted in a high-visibility orange color scheme and outfitted with skid-mounted floats, a life raft and jettisonable cockpit doors for rapid egress. Production of the UH-72A averages three to four helicopters per month at the Columbus, Miss. production site, which is operated by EADS North America's American Eurocopter business unit. The 220,000 square foot facility, located adjacent to the Golden Triangle Regional Airport, is capable of producing up to five aircraft a month. The company continues to meet its goal of creating new job opportunities in the region, with total employment reaching 250 employees as the UH-72A program attains full rate production. For additional information on the UH-72A Lakota, see the dedicated website at: http://www.uh-72a.com/. About EADS North America (http://www.eadsnorthamerica.com/)EADS North America is the North American operation of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services. As a leader in all sectors of defense and homeland security, EADS North America and its parent company, EADS, contribute over $11 billion to the U.S. economy annually and support more than 200,000 American jobs through its network of suppliers and services. Operating in 17 states, EADS North America offers a broad array of advanced solutions to its customers in the commercial, homeland security, aerospace and defense markets.
DTN News: Boeing to Offer NewGen Tanker To US Air Force Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) ST. LOUIS, - March 5, 2010: The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] today (March 4. 2010) announced that it will offer the Boeing NewGen Tanker in the competition to supply the U.S. Air Force with a multi-mission aerial refueling aircraft that will meet all the warfighter’s mission requirements for the next several decades. Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, said the Boeing NewGen Tanker will satisfy all mandatory Air Force requirements and offer an American-made tanker that will be capable, survivable, and combat-ready at the lowest cost to the taxpayer. “Having supplied tankers to the Air Force for the past 60 years, Boeing has drawn on its unmatched aerial-refueling experience to thoroughly review and evaluate the KC-X solicitation issued by the Air Force,” Muilenburg said. “We respect and understand the KC-X requirements, and appreciate the importance of this program for the United States and its warfighters. We intend to bid for the honor to work with our Air Force customer to replace the existing fleet of KC-135 aircraft with a new-generation, multi-role tanker in a fair and transparent acquisition process.” Boeing studied the mission requirements closely to determine the optimal airframe size that would deliver the most capability for the lowest cost to own and operate. The result was the NewGen Tanker, a widebody, multi-mission aircraft based on the proven Boeing 767 commercial aircraft, updated with the latest and most advanced technology and capable of fulfilling the Air Force’s needs for transport of fuel, cargo, passengers and patients. The multi-mission aircraft is named NewGen because it includes several state-of-the-art systems to meet the demanding mission requirements of the future. They include: A digital flight deck featuring electronic displays taken directly from the most advanced commercial airliner in existence -- the Boeing 787 Dreamliner -- that show all flight attitude, navigation, engine indication and crew-alerting information on screens 75 percent larger than on a commercial Airbus A330. A new-generation fly-by-wire boom with an expanded refueling envelope and increased fuel offload rate. It will meet the Air Force requirement and simplify refueling operations to reduce workload for the aircrew and improve safety and reliability. Boeing is the only team in the KC-X competition that has invented, manufactured and delivered combat-tested aerial refueling booms. The Boeing NewGen Tanker will be controlled by the aircrew, which has unrestricted access to the full flight envelope for threat avoidance at any time, rather than allowing computer software to limit combat maneuverability. The NewGen Tanker will meet all of the Air Force’s 372 requirements -- including a production rate at whatever level the Air Force determines -- with a low-risk approach to manufacturing that relies on existing Boeing facilities in Washington state and Kansas as well as U.S. suppliers throughout the nation, with decades of experience delivering dependable military tanker and derivative aircraft. “The NewGen Tanker will draw on the experience and talents of an integrated U.S. Tanker Team, including the best of our Boeing defense and commercial businesses and our nationwide supplier network,” said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “It’s a proven team and existing infrastructure that is ready to deliver these NewGen Tankers on Day One.” More cost-effective to own and operate than the larger, heavier Airbus airplane, the Boeing NewGen Tanker will save American taxpayers more than $10 billion in fuel costs over its 40-year service life because it burns 24 percent less fuel. The Boeing NewGen Tanker program also will support substantially more jobs in the United States than an Airbus A330 tanker that is designed and largely manufactured in Europe. Boeing has been designing, building, modifying and supporting tankers for decades. Those tankers include the KC-135 that will be replaced in the KC-X competition, and the KC-10 fleet. The company also has delivered four KC-767Js to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and is on contract to deliver four KC-767s to the Italian Air Force. Three of the four Italian tankers are in flight test, with the fourth airplane in production. The Air Force released its final KC-X Request for Proposal on Feb. 24. Boeing will deliver its proposal by May 10, within the 75-day period set forth in the terms of the solicitation. The Air Force is expected to announce its decision later this year. To watch Boeing’s KC-X offering announcement video and experience an interactive virtual tour of the Boeing NewGen Tanker, visit http://www.unitedstatestanker.com/. This Web site provides the latest information regarding The Boeing Company’s offer for the KC-X tanker competition. A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world’s largest defense, space and security 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 Defense, Space & Security is a $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.
DTN News: Using Intelligence From The al-Mabhouh Hit Source: By Fred Burton and Ben West STRATFOR (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - March 4, 2010: The assassination of senior Hamas militant leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh on Jan. 19 is still generating a tremendous amount of discussion and speculation some six weeks after the fact. Dubai’s police force has been steadily releasing new information almost on a daily basis, which has been driving the news cycle and keeping the story in the media spotlight. The most astounding release so far has been nearly 30 minutes of surveillance camera footage that depicts portions of a period spanning the arrival of the assassination team in Dubai, surveillance of al-Mabhouh, and the killing and the exfiltration of the team some 22 hours later. By last count, Dubai police claim to have identified some 30 people suspected of involvement in the assassination; approximately 17 have been convincingly tied to the operation through video footage either as surveillants, managers or assassins, with the rest having only tenuous connections based on information released by the Dubai police. In any case, the operation certainly was elaborate and required the resources and planning of a highly organized agency, one most likely working for a nation-state. Pre-Operation While the 22-hour period depicted in the video showcased the tactical capabilities of the various teams, it hardly tells the whole story. In order to pinpoint the location of al-Mabhouh on the day of his killing, the organization responsible for this operation would have had to have tracked al-Mabhouh for months, if not years. This can be done in three ways: technical surveillance, utilization of human sources and physical surveillance. Technical surveillance of al-Mabhouh would include monitoring his e-mail, telephone calls and other forms of electronic communications such as online credit-card transactions and travel reservations. This could reveal his physical location and future plans, which would allow the assassination team to anticipate his location and prepare well ahead of time. With such a large team involved in the assassination, careful coordination and planned movements would have been required to ensure that all members were in place without attracting attention. But technical surveillance has limitations. An experienced operative like al-Mabhouh (who had been the target of two previous assassination attempts in as many years) would most likely have taken precautions that would have limited his electronic visibility. The operational team likely used human sources with close ties to al-Mabhouh who could corroborate the information and possibly influence the target’s movements, putting him in place for the operation. Human sources could have included al-Mabhouh’s colleagues within Hamas or a member of a rival group such as Fatah. (Three Palestinians suspected of being members of Fatah were arrested by Dubai authorities in connection with the assassination, indicating that the group may have provided human intelligence to the organization responsible for al-Mabhouh’s assassination.) Other people could have been recruited using a number of incentives (including cash) without their knowing the consequences of their assistance. Both the technical and human intelligence operations would have been run by intelligence officers operating abroad and at locations separate from the operational team. According to Dubai police, physical surveillance was conducted by members of the operational team during al-Mabhouh’s previous trips to the United Arab Emirates. Physical surveillance is a critical part of any effective assault (whether it’s a clandestine intelligence operation or a car-jacking) because it gives the operatives an opportunity to become familiar with their surroundings and recognize their target in his or her “natural” environment. Once all this homework was done to establish al-Mabhouh’s normal routines and determine his approximate location and duration of his stay in Dubai, the intelligence-collection process moved into the deployment phase and an operational team was sent into action. The Operation Prior to Mabhouh’s arrival, surveillance teams set up in the airport and at different hotels to make sure they could obtain a visual confirmation of their target. Based on their intelligence of his prior trips to Dubai, planners placed teams in two hotels to wait for al-Mabhouh approximately an hour before his arrival. They also had a surveillance team waiting for him at the airport to follow him as soon as he entered the country and report his movements to the rest of the team. While it wasn’t captured on video, we suspect that a mobile surveillance group tracked al-Mabhouh from the airport by car. To help ensure a successful outcome, the operational team used overwhelming force to prevent the target from ever seeing the same face twice. When it was established that al-Mabhouh was staying at the Al Bustan Rotana, the team responded by abandoning their other posts and directing their focus to that hotel. Once al-Mabhouh was identified, the team locked on to him at the hotel and started initiating further steps in the operation. The first surveillance team watched al-Mabhouh register at the front desk and then followed him to his room, noting the target’s specific room number. This was relayed to other members of the team, who then placed a reservation for the room across the hall from al-Mabhouh, which gave them direct access to their target. The selection of the room is very interesting for two reasons. First, it was directly across the hall from al-Mabhouh’s room, giving the team a perfect spot from which to monitor his movements. Second, the room was just behind the video camera for that floor and the camera was trained on the emergency stairwell exit, which allowed the assassination team to carry out the attack on his room without being filmed. Meanwhile, down in the hotel lobby, surveillance teams were rotating to monitor the target’s movements in and out of the hotel. At one point, a surveillant is seen following al-Mabhouh out to the street to relay by cell phone the type of vehicle he had entered. These surveillants, operating in teams of two, used disguises such as hats, sunglasses, beards and work-out gear to establish a cover for action and better conceal their identities. While many members of the operational team were identified on closed-circuit television (CCTV), hats and sunglasses helped distort their images and reduce the already low risk of being recognized by the target or any protective team during the operation. Another necessity in any operation like this is communications. Surveillance video of the team involved in this operation shows them using cell phones to send text messages and talk to other members of the team. According to reports from Dubai police, the cell phones used in the operation were dialed to an Austrian number, likely the operations and support center for the team on the ground and any others involved in the operation. This might have been an open conference line into which all members of the operational team could dial to monitor the movement of their target. It is unlikely that the center was actually in Austria; it probably used a proxy phone line to mask its true physical location. Assassination and Exfiltration At approximately 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 19, after al-Mabhouh returned to his hotel room from a meeting, the assassination team moved in. It was important to carry out the killing at a time and in a manner that would give the team the maximum window of opportunity. They suspected that al-Mabhouh was in for the night, which meant that nobody would miss him until early the following afternoon, giving the team ample time to flee the country. The team carried out the assassination smoothly, with video surveillance showing only two operatives casually talking outside the elevator (a cover for monitoring the hall for possible distractions) — in other words, nothing out of the ordinary. The assassination team members also exhibited no unusual behavior when they departed the scene. Demeanor is extremely important, and the ability of the team to act calmly and naturally and not catch the attention of security guards monitoring CCTV ensured that the act remained a secret until hotel cleaning staff found the body more than 17 hours after the entire team had departed Dubai. The assassination team also killed al-Mabhouh in a way that apparently confounded medical examiners trying to determine the cause of death, delaying the announcement of a criminal case for nine days. This delay gave the operational team ample time to cover its tracks, possibly by using third- and fourth-country border crossings, additional false identities and safe-houses, making it much harder for Dubai authorities to track team members to their ultimate destinations. This confusion appears to have been created by the use of a muscle relaxant called succinylcholine (also known as Suxamethonium), which, if used in large enough quantities, can cause the heart to stop, making it appear that the victim died of cardiac arrest. The drug also has a very short half-life, meaning that traces would degenerate and virtually disappear shortly after injection, making it ideal for covert operations such as this one. The team was not able to pull off the operation with complete anonymity — it is virtually impossible to operate in a modern environment without leaving some kind of electronic trace. The Dubai police were able to use video surveillance from the airport, hotels and a nearby shopping center to trace back the movements of the operatives and establish their identities according to the passports that they used. These later proved to be fraudulent passports from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany and France — but they were extremely well-made fraudulent passports that were discovered later, only after video surveillance prompted closer scrutiny; customs officials were unable to detect this when the operatives were arriving or departing. Moreover, the credit cards used by several members of the operation team were linked to a company called Payoneer. The company’s CEO is a former member of Israel Defense Forces special operations, and Payoneer has financial backing from a company based in Israel. Dubai police have announced that they retrieved DNA evidence from at least one of the members on the assassination team and fingerprints from several others, giving authorities pieces of evidence that are unalterable, unlike a passport. However, DNA evidence is only helpful when it can be compared against an exemplar. If Dubai police are unable to find a match to the DNA sample or a fingerprint, then these clues will offer little immediate help. The passports also provide little immediate help in terms of tracking down the suspects. The discovery that fraudulent British, Irish, German and French passports were used has created a diplomatic problem for Israel (Mossad is understandably at the top of the list of suspects), which raises the profile of the operation considerably. This is certainly not what a clandestine operation is supposed to do. Although the operatives will probably never be found and handed over to UAE authorities, the fact that so many details of the assassination have been made public jeopardizes the anonymity that is supposed to surround this kind of operation. Potential Consequences Al-Mabhouh was hardly a likable character. As a senior Hamas military commander, arms smuggler and liaison to Iran, he was already on the terrorist watch lists in the countries that have complained about the use of fraudulent passports. Public indignation is a necessary and expected reaction from these countries to save diplomatic face, but when it comes down to it, there would be few incentives to seriously punish Israel, if it indeed sponsored the hit. The police of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, rightfully frustrated that they are tasked with solving an unsolvable case, will still probably not miss al-Mabhouh. Their efforts to stir up outrage over the assassination are likely fueled by their desire to save face in the Arab world, where the Palestinian cause is of high rhetorical importance but little strategic importance. The fact is that the high level of complexity involved in this assassination, along with the smoothness with which it was carried out, is evidence that the operation was undertaken by an elite covert force, the likes of which could only be sponsored by a nation-state. The ability to conduct preliminary intelligence collection, to muster a large and coordinated team of skilled operatives, to fabricate passports to an exacting degree, to successfully exfiltrate all members of the team — all of this requires a significant and well-funded effort that, we believe, exceeds the current capabilities of any non-state terrorist group. It is worth noting here that the most impressive aspect of the operation was the team’s tradecraft and demeanor. All the members of this team were professionals. Indeed, with so much time having already elapsed, and if the operation was sponsored by a nation-state, it is highly improbable that any of the operatives involved will ever be caught. However, countries around the world are offering their assistance in the case, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Australia. Few officials from these countries actually believe any of the operatives will be apprehended, but that is not the real reason to participate in the investigation. What officials are really looking for are the granular details of how this group of assassins and surveillants operated. These details are extremely valuable in ongoing counterintelligence efforts by countries to thwart foreign intelligence agencies operating on their home turf. The information can provide clues to past and future cases, and it can be used to build databases on covert operatives, so that if any of these people show up unexpectedly at an airport, hotel or embassy in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia or elsewhere, the alarms can be sounded more quickly. 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DTN News: Boeing Awards Harpoon Launch Structure Contract To Danish Aerotech Source: DTN News / Boeing (NSI News Source Info) KARUP, Denmark - March 4, 2010: The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] today announced that it has awarded a contract valued at nearly $1.5 million to civil defense and aerospace company Danish Aerotech A/S to provide the Aluminum Launch Support Structure (ALSS) for ship-based deployment of the Harpoon weapon system. "Danish Aerotech is very proud to be awarded this contract following a global competition with other competent companies," said Danish Aerotech CEO Jan Jørgensen. "Boeing is a market leader in the civil and defense aerospace industry and an important partner to us. We expect this contract to bring us strategic value as we pursue future business opportunities." The Harpoon ALSS contract delivers on opportunities for Danish Aerotech to work with Boeing outlined in an April 2009 memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by the two companies. Other areas of opportunity for Danish Aerotech identified in the MOU include the provision of long-term logistics support for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet -- should the Royal Danish Air Force choose the Super Hornet as its New Combat Aircraft -- and partnering on Performance Based Logistics programs for long-term support of other aircraft. "We look forward to expanding our relationship with Danish Aerotech with this ALSS contract," said Jan Närlinge, Boeing Northern Europe president. "Danish Aerotech already has been an important partner to Boeing and its subcontractors through work on the NATO Airborne Warning and Control System." The Harpoon weapon system provides accurate long-range guidance for both land-strike and anti-ship missions. The Harpoon Block II is produced at Boeing facilities in St. Charles, Mo. Boeing has delivered more than 7,100 Harpoon missiles to the United States and 28 allied partners, including the Royal Danish Navy. Danish Aerotech is a civil defense and aerospace company specializing in the development, production, installation and support of mechanical, electrical and electronic parts and components for aircraft, helicopters, missiles and targeting systems, as well as maintenance, modifications and integration of aircraft, missiles and associated components. A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security 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 Defense, Space & Security is a $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.
DTN News: Iran To Test New Smart Bombs Says Iran's Air Force commander Hassan Shahsafi Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN, Iran - March 4, 2010: With defense and acrimony building in the Persian Gulf, Iran announced plans to test a new laser-guided bomb. Iran's Fars News Agency reported that a prototype of the 2,000-pound smart bomb would be tested "in the near future," the country's air force commander Brig. Gen Hassan Shahsafi said. He said the smart bomb, dubbed Qassed-2, had a longer range and better vision than its earlier version, the Qassed-1. That weapon made its debut four years ago and has since then been in mass production. Qassed is interpreted as "messenger." It was not immediately clear how advanced the prototype is and whether it would be available for mass production. Western military experts seemed skeptical of the announcement, saying the Islamic Republic had a history of declaring military advancements prematurely as a means of saber-rattling. Others speculated that "the announcement of the Qassed-2 is a move of brinkmanship to discourage the Gulf emirate states of Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates from participating in the expansion of the United States' Patriot missile defense system," the Threat Matrix reported. With Washington concerned about Iran's nuclear intentions, the United States opted last month to revamp its defensive stance in the Middle East and deter a possible attack from Iran by moving to deploy anti-missile shields in the Gulf region. Shahsafi opted to downplay the move this week, saying it was nothing more than Washington's status quo. "That is not a new development," he told the Fars News Agency. "They had previously deployed and tested the systems in other places and gained no (positive) results." Experts said that even if the new smart bomb is superior to the Qassed-1, Tehran would need to overcome its problem of installing the new technology on reliable aircraft. That need may precipitate the procurement of fresh jets. In recent weeks, however, Iran has announced a rash of technological advances and military achievements. Last month, Tehran opened two production lines for the construction of unmanned aerial vehicles, supposedly capable of carrying out assaults with high precision. This followed announced plans to create a missile air defense system that the Iranians said is more powerful than the Russian S-300 system it has ordered from Russia but not yet received. It was not clear what purpose the drones would serve. But the drone production announcement came as the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stoked tensions with the West, ordering scientists to enrich stockpiles of uranium to the higher level needed to produce nuclear power.
DTN News: China Announces 7.5 Pct Jump In Defense Spending Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) - March 4, 2010: BEIJING — China announced Thursday a planned 7.5 percent boost in defense spending this year, a smaller increase than expected and the first time in more than two decades the jump has been less than double-digits. The increase will be used to enhance China's ability "to meet various threats," National People's Congress spokesman Li Zhaoxing told a nationally televised news conference. "China is committed to peaceful development and a military posture that is defensive in nature," Li said. He said China's defense budget of 532.11 billion yuan ($77.9 billion) was relatively low. In recent years, the share of China defense spending was about 1.4 percent of gross domestic product. He said the figure in the United States exceeded 4 percent, while Britain, France and Russia all exceeded 2 percent. The increase over actual defense spending in 2009 was 37.12 billion yuan, Li said. Defense spending accounts for 6.3 percent of China's total budget, a decline from previous years, he said. Although smaller than expected, the increase comes amid heightened concerns about China's military plans and questions about the aims of the armed forces' buildup. Many analysts say the official figure accounts for only a part of actual military spending, with estimates on the total figure ranging up to twice or more than Beijing claims. Figures from the Information Office of the Cabinet show that China's last single-digit percentage in defense spending was in the 1980s. Beijing counters its spending remains in line with economic growth and much smaller than the U.S.', both in absolute terms and as a percentage of GDP. Officials say about one-third of spending goes to salaries and improving living conditions for soldiers, with the rest split between replacing equipment and military research and development. The defense spending figure, which is always released on the eve of the opening of the National People's Congress, follows repeated protests recently by Beijing over the U.S. sale of weaponry to Taiwan. These sales are driven by threats from China to use force to bring the island under its control, backed up by an estimated 1,300 Chinese ballistic missiles positioned along the Taiwan Strait. Communist-ruled China split with Taiwan amid civil war in 1949 and continues to regard the self-governing democracy as part of its territory. Beijing has warned of a disruption in ties with Washington if the sale goes ahead, but has not said what specific actions it would take. Li said the use of Taiwan as a wedge against China by some countries was an "unacceptable" interference in China's internal affairs.
DTN News: BAE Systems Combat Vehicles Source: DTN News / BAE Systems (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - March 4, 2010: BAE Systems is the designer, developer and builder of some of the world's most renowned combat vehicles. From Bradley Combat Systems vehicles to Challenger tanks, Warrior fighting vehicles to the CV90 series combat vehicle, we have delivered battle-proven systems that make a real the difference to the troops relying on these vehicles. We are now developing the next generation of combat vehicles and holding key roles in Future Combat Systems in the U.S., the Future Rapid Effects System in the UK and SEP in Sweden. Products and Services
*This article has being complied and posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
DTN News: Pakistan TODAY March 4, 2010 ~ Why Pakistan Is 'Boosting Kashmir Militants' Source: DTN News / By Syed Shoaib Hasan BBC News, Islamabad (NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - March 4, 2010: Pakistan has long been accused of supporting militant groups operating in Kashmir. As a fledgling peace process between India and Pakistan developed in the years since the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US, it was widely believed that Islamabad's support for militancy had declined. This has changed once again. Since 2009 militant activity has been on the increase in the Kashmir region. After the deadly Mumbai (Bombay) attacks of 2008 India called off peace talks. Dialogue resumed in February 2010 but the issue of militancy allegedly supported by Pakistan remains high on India's agenda. Pakistan's government denies any knowledge of Kashmir militant groups increasing their activities. First rebellions Initially militant groups in Kashmir appeared to be operating on their own - but there is evidence to suggest that they are once again under the protection of Pakistan's intelligence establishment. Training camps are once again being set up on the Pakistani-controlled side of Kashmir. Recruitment is also up in Pakistan's Punjab province, which has provided most of the shaheeds or "martyrs" for the militants. In fact, so emboldened have the militants become, that one militant alliance, the United Jihad Council (UJC), held a public meeting for militants in Muzaffarabad in mid-January 2010. The meeting was chaired by, among others, former ISI chief Lt Gen Hamid Gul. It called for a reinvigorated jihad (holy war) until Kashmir was free of "Indian occupation". This call has a long history across the disputed territory of Kashmir. What started as essentially an indigenous popular uprising against Indian rule has undergone many changes. The insurgency began in the 1980s as a peaceful rebellion but soon became an armed uprising. The first armed rebel group was the indigenous Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) but Islamic militant groups proliferated rapidly. These groups were part of the legacy of the Soviet Afghan war which had recently ended and spawned "holy warriors", fired with religious zeal, who sought to carry jihad across the world. Until the cataclysmic events of 11 September 2001, these groups effectively ran the insurgency. Based in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, they found financing and recruited for their activities within Pakistan. Kashmir is at the heart of decades of hostility between India and Pakistan In this regard, they are said to have been aided and guided by Pakistan's intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). But this changed after 11 September when the international crackdown on "jihad" finally caught up with the Kashmir militants. In 2002, Pakistan's then President Pervez Musharraf banned the most violent of the militant groups. He also ordered a reduction in Pakistan's open support for Kashmir militancy. This included restructuring the ISI's Kashmir wing and limiting the movement of militants across the border with India. Even the Indian authorities agreed that infiltration by militants had become minimal - and had almost completely stopped by 2005. This policy remained in force until 2006-2007, when President Musharraf's career began to unravel. Attacks in India Since then, for reasons still not clear, Pakistan's intelligence apparatus has once again allowed militants to restart the Kashmir campaign of militancy. The essential structure of the Islamic militant groups have remained the same. While new groups have emerged from time to time, militancy in Kashmir largely centred around three main organisations. These are the Hizbul Mujahideen (HuM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Harkatul Mujahideen (HM). With the late addition of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), it is these four groups which continue to dominate Kashmir's militant landscape. Not much is known about collaboration between the various militant groups, but most say they are members of the United Jihad Council (UJC). The JEM and the LeT have achieved particular notoriety amongst the Indians. Both are accused of carrying out audacious attacks on the Indian military in Kashmir. They are also accused of involvement in numerous other attacks on Indian territory. The most famous of these are the attacks on the Indian parliament in Delhi in 2001 and those across Mumbai in November 2008. The prevailing political sympathies among Kashmir militants is pro-Pakistani - with a heavy emphasis on religion. However, this may not be entirely true for the separatist political movement represented by the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) - as many of its constituent groups have kept their options open. The APHC is split between a faction which supports negotiations with the Indian government and a faction which is opposed to such dialogue. Such ideological differences can also result in friction between the factions of the separatist movement. Eternal mistrust Many ask why Pakistan appears to be so intent on reviving the Kashmir "jihad"? The answer, according to analysts, lies in the eternal mistrust that has plagued the relationship between the neighbours. Pakistan has cried itself hoarse in recent years about India's involvement in Afghanistan. Pakistani authorities have repeatedly accused India of using its increasing influence with the US to foment insurgencies along the country's western border. In particular, it points to India's alleged support of rebels in Balochistan province. But these words went largely unheeded during the current Afghan war. Now, the argument goes, elements in Pakistan feel the time is ripe to use Kashmiri jihadis as an additional bargaining chip. Hawks argue the only way to get a favourable deal with India is to encourage militancy in Kashmir. That such attacks could in theory lead to a nuclear confrontation between the two sides seems largely overlooked.
WHO ARE THE MILITANTS?
DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY March 4, 2010 ~ Kabul Blames Pakistani Militants For Attack On Indians Source: DTN News / Telegraph.co.uk By Dean Nelson in New Delhi (NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - March 4, 2010: Afghan security sources said Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based militant group behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks, carried out the suicide bomb raid which killed six Indian construction workers at a Kabul guesthouse last week.
The timing of the attack, on the day after India and Pakistan's foreign secretaries met in New Delhi for their first talks since the Mumbai attacks, appears to have been aimed at sabotaging the prospects for a new peace process between the two countries. The talks had been marred by Indian accusations that Islamabad had failed to rein in Lashkar-e-Taiba's leaders and refused to act on evidence showing the involvement of its founder Hafiz Saeed.
India has insisted that Pakistan 'dismantle its terrorist infrastructure' as a condition for progress in any talks, while Islamabad has recently waged a successful diplomatic campaign to reduce Indian influence in Afghanistan, which it regards as a threat to its security. Pakistan's recent successes in capturing the Taliban's main military commander and members of its leadership council are believed to have followed an understanding with the United States that Indian influence in Afghanistan would not be allowed to threaten Pakistan's interests. Last week's attack on Indian workers followed the 2008 suicide bombing of India's Kabul embassy in which 58 were killed, and another strike on the same target, which killed 17, in 2009. The first attack was believed to have been assisted by Pakistani intelligence agents. Saeed Ansari, spokesman for Afghanistan's Directorate of National Security, said the militants who attacked the Indian guesthouse last week were speaking Urdu, Pakistan's official language. "We are very close to the exact proof and evidence that the attack on the Indian guesthouse ... is not the work of the Afghan Taliban but this attack was carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba network, who are dependent on the Pakistan military," he said in a television interview. At last week's talks in New Delhi, Pakistan's foreign secretary said Islamabad remained concerned at Indian involvement in Afghanistan and accused New Delhi of arming and finding Afghanistan-based 'militants' to launch attacks on government targets in its Balochistan province. Senior Indian security analyst B. Raman, a former member of its RAW intelligence agency, said despite this latest claim of Pakistani involvement in terror attacks on Indian interests, the new talks round between the nuclear enemies would continue. "Afghan intelligence have good sources and I take their statement very seriously, but our prime minister Manmohan Singh is keen to keep the dialogue [with Pakistan] going," he said.
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