Sunday, August 15, 2010

DTN News: South Korea, US To Kick Off Annual War Games

DTN News: South Korea, US To Kick Off Annual War Games
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources including The Korea Times By Jung Sung-ki
(NSI News Source Info) SEOUL, South Korea - August 15, 2010: The militaries of South Korea and the United States will start their annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercise Aug. 16 amid growing tension on the Korean Peninsula over North Korea’s continued provocations.
The computerized simulation war games, which will run through Aug. 26, follow South Korea’s independent anti-submarine drills in the West Sea held from July 29 to Aug. 2.
Last month, South Korean and U.S. troops conducted massive air and naval readiness exercises in the East Sea in which a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier participated.
“UFG ’10, like all other major CFC exercises, is designed to improve the alliance’s ability to deter aggression and if deterrence fails, fight tonight and prevail in the ROK,” the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC) said in a statement. “These exercises are designed to help teach, coach, and mentor service members on staff and leadership decision-making processes.”
This year’s UFG was supposed to be a South Korean-led exercise ahead of the previously planned transfer of wartime operational control from the United States to South Korea in 2012. With the postponement of the timeline to 2015 the exercise will be led by American commanders to ensure that the allied troops are prepared to respond to threats across the spectrum of conflict, including North Korean provocations.
“UFG ’10 is the first exercise since President Lee (Myung-bak) and President Obama announced the decision to delay the transition of wartime operational control until late 2015,” CFC Commander Gen. Walter Sharp said in the Aug. 2 “Sharp Point” posted on CFC’s official Website.
“UFG ’10 represents an excellent opportunity to develop the tenets of our Strategic Alliance 2015 Plans as we improve ROK/U.S. combat readiness and joint/combined interoperability,” said Sharp, who concurrently heads the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) and the United Nations Command (UNC).
He continued, “Like our combined exercises in the past, Ulchi Freedom Guardian affords the combined team an opportunity to continue to develop organizational structures and collaborate on command and control relationship between our militaries and our governments.”
The scope of the UFG exercise extends well beyond the peninsula and takes a whole-of-government approach.All of the alliance’s major commands participate, augmented by approximately 3,000 U.S. personnel from the U.S. mainland and U.S. bases in the Pacific region. They join over 500,000 South Korean military and government participants, 27,000 U.S. Joint Forces, and multinational representatives from the UNC.
The forces are connected by communications and computer simulation networks that span from locations in South Korea to Washington, D.C. and U.S. military headquarters around the world.
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News,

DTN News: Israel To Buy World's Most Advanced Warplane

DTN News: Israel To Buy World's Most Advanced Warplane Source: DTN News / AFP
(NSI News Source Info) JERUSALEM, Israel - August 15, 2010: Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday approved the purchase of a fleet of US-built F-35 strike fighters in a move set to ramp up the capabilities of the Israeli Air Force.
The minister "approved in principle" a recommendation by the military to purchase the F-35 or Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), a statement from his office said. Israel is initially expected to buy 20 of the aircraft in a deal worth an estimated 2.75 billion dollars, the top-selling Yediot Aharonot daily said in several reports published last week. Should the deal be approved by the security cabinet, it will be the most expensive weapons deal ever signed by the Jewish state, it said. "The F-35 is the fighter plane of the future which will give the air force better short-range and long-range capabilities which will help state security," Barak said in the statement. Delivery of the first F-35s, which are still not yet operational, is expected only in 2015, the paper said. The price includes the cost of setting up a logistical infrastructure in Israel to allow local firms to assemble the fighter plane and manufacture spare parts for it. Udi Shani, defence ministry director general, said a key element of the deal was an agreement which would allow Israeli industries to get involved in the assembly of the plane and the manufacture of spares. "The considerations for approving the deal were not just about the operational abilities of the plane but the agreements for involving Israeli industries in the assembly of the plane," the ministry quoted him as saying. Acquisition of the F-35, which is made by US aerospace and defence giant Lockheed Martin, will give Israel access to stealth technology that will provide it with air superiority over enemy anti-aircraft defences.


DTN News: Pakistan TODAY August 15, 2010 - Floods In Pakistan's South Take Huge Toll On Farmers

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY August 15, 2010 - Floods In Pakistan's South Take Huge Toll On Farmers
* In Pakistan's Punjab province, rice, sugar cane and mango growers have seen their land submerged, leaving them to ponder how to survive without the crops that sustain them.
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources including Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - August 15, 2010: Here in Pakistan's southern Punjab province, the tawny waters of the Indus and Chenab rivers have swallowed up vast swaths of verdant rice paddies, sugar cane fields and mango orchards that usually feed the nation.
Floodwaters have submerged the village of Basti Dopiwala, leaving farmers and their families stranded on a small patch of dry land to ponder survival without the fields that sustain them. Along the banks of the Chenab, the river gently laps the boughs of mango trees that stretch to the horizon and are a source of national pride.
Pakistan flood

Residents scramble to recover water bottles dropped from a Pakistan Air Force helicopter in Nowshera. (Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images)

Volunteers with Falah-e-Insaniat, the charity wing of banned militant group Jamaat-ud-Dawa, supervise the cooking of food for flood victims in Nowshera, in northwest Pakistan. (B.K. Bangash, Associated Press / August 8, 2010)

"Our mangoes are sweeter than anyone else's. The taste is God-given," said Muhammad Irfan, who owns 100 acres of mango groves along the Chenab. "But the floods also came from God, so there's nothing we can do about it." The floods that claimed more than 1,600 lives and wrecked infrastructure in the country's mountainous northwest have now flowed south to the flatlands and wreaked havoc on agriculture, the backbone of the Pakistani economy.
On Friday, World Bank President Robert Zoellick told reporters in Latvia that the floods may have caused $1 billion in crop damage. The United Nations estimates that flooding has destroyed 1.4 million acres of crops in Punjab province, Pakistan's agricultural heartland. In many places, whole farming villages have been wiped off the map.
Those assessments paint a gloomy picture for Pakistan, a vital U.S. ally in the effort to combat Islamic militancy and stabilize neighboring Afghanistan. The country already suffers from electricity shortages, attacks by militant groups and entrenched political disputes. Pakistan touts its nuclear arsenal and nurtures a budding middle class, but remains largely an agrarian society in which the work is shouldered by millions of poor farmers.
Agriculture accounts for nearly a quarter of the country's GDP and almost half of its labor force. The Finance Ministry has projected that the disaster's effect on agriculture will keep the country from meeting its target of 4.5% GDP growth this year. Without steady growth, Pakistan will continue to struggle to support an expanding population and remain vulnerable to the militants, who exploit the nation's poorest youths.
In Muzaffargarh district, a ribbon of fertile land wedged between the Indus and Chenab rivers, locals say it will take years for farms to recover. The district's administrative chief, Farasat Iqbal, said nearly two-thirds of the region's farmland has been ruined.
"Of the 3.5 million people who live here, 2.5 million were affected by these floods," he said.
The damage done to Muzaffargarh's mango groves reaches deeper than the balance sheet. Mangoes are a source of pride in Pakistan, where the only coffee table conversation more heated than a debate about politics is a tussle over the pros and cons of the 250 mango varieties grown in the country. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton raved about Pakistan's mangoes on a visit in July. "I have personally vouched for Pakistani mangoes, which are delicious," she said.
Irfan, the mango farmer, drove this week past flooded groves that stretched for miles, struggling to take in the vastness of ruin. A relatively wealthy man, Irfan said his crop losses could amount to $64,000 — a hefty amount, but one he probably could survive. The government should compensate him, he said, but what worried him more was the long-term damage the floods inflicted on his farm, which has been in the family for at least three generations.
"We're trying to be patient," Irfan said, scanning the bloated Chenab from a dusty farm road. "But if these waters stay a long time, many trees will die. We never expected it to be this disastrous."
Elsewhere in Muzaffargarh, farmers who eked out an existence on small patches of rented land said the floods had swept away everything — homes, crops and any hope of a steady income for some time.
Water was a problem for the tenant farmers of Basti Dopiwala, even before the floods. They didn't have enough.
The Indus and Chenab rivers had shriveled, the country had been in the grips of an acute water shortage, and landowners had illegally diverted from nearby irrigation canals large amounts of water for their own use, leaving Basti Dopiwala parched.Then, two weeks ago, the skies opened up. The annual monsoon dumped record amounts of rain. Floodwaters destroyed roads, bridges, schools and hospitals in northwestern Pakistan before flowing south. This week, they reached Muzaffargarh.
Government relief efforts upstream have been harshly criticized as slow and disorganized. Officials here say they are still working out a plan to help farmers once the water recedes. Ghulam Abbas Razi, Muzaffargarh district's agriculture chief, said the government is likely to waive land taxes, write off existing farm loans and issue new, interest-free loans.
The government probably will turn to the international community for help in compensating farmers for losses from ruined crops and destroyed homes and belongings, Razi said.
Stranded on a tiny island of dry land for several days with dwindling food and drinking water supplies, the farmers of Basti Dopiwala say they're skeptical that the government will provide much of anything.
Muhammad Ramzan was able to escape with his wife, three sons and two daughters. But the floods submerged his 10 acres of cotton, two acres of rice and six acres of sugar cane, along with his small house and the rest of the village.
Huddling underneath thatched canopies to escape the searing midday sun, they've been relying on small bags of corn, wheat and dates they carried from their flooded village. The government, they say, has yet to supply them with any aid.
"We've been living off of what we could take from the house," Ramzan said. "But we can survive on this only for maybe three more days."
To make matters worse, this area is relatively far from the river. When it floods, the water tends to stay.
"I see a very bleak, gloomy future ahead," said Ramzan. "Farming is all I know, and it could be years before I get back to it."
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News,

DTN News: Today In World ~ In India's Jammu & Kashmir State, Rocks Are Weapon Of Choice

* For a generation of angry young men caught up in a decades-long territorial dispute, lobbing stones in protest has proved deadly, as some Indian forces respond with bullets. Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources including By Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times - Reporting from Srinagar, India(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - August 15, 2010: Down a 15-foot-wide alley of shuttered shops in Srinagar's Batmaloo neighborhood, stone-throwing protesters and police face off under a blazing midday sun. Most of the rocks thrown by demonstrators miss their mark, but when one lands, a loud cheer erupts. Dozens of officers, some with slingshots, answer in kind, roaring with glee whenever their projectiles strike protester flesh.
While this may look like a collection of overgrown children, it's a decidedly deadly game. At least 57 protesters have been killed since early June — including two Saturday — by security forces opening fire who opted for guns over stones against unruly mobs. Hundreds more police officers, paramilitary members and civilians have been injured here in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir, part of a disputed region that's sparked two wars betweenPakistan and India since 1947. "That was a close one," said a policeman as a rock grazed his padded leg. "They're better shots, because we have to lug these guns." Kashmir, which has witnessed more than 47,000 deaths among militants, civilians and security personnel since 1989, is experiencing its worst social unrest in a generation. "A volcano is coming up," said Bashir Siddique, an attorney who has defended 11 stone throwers. "It can anytime burst." The broader dispute over divided Kashmir has been going on for so long, with so many entrenched interests, that few see an obvious solution. This month, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh acknowledged in a speech the pain and anger many Kashmiris feel. He pledged to organize a group of experts to explore political solutions, and he urged economic development to encourage young people to pick up jobs, not stones. Armed militancy in Kashmir, which peaked in 1990, has dropped sharply in recent years as rocks replace guns for a new generation of angry young men. That's left critics here questioning why 650,000 members of the Indian security forces remain — one for every eight residents — and why stones are answered with bullets when other nations routinely defuse civil unrest without fatalities. Of the at least 57 recent civilian deaths, nearly half were minors, one as young as 9. Security officials counter that stone throwers — "gun-less terrorists," said one commander — are well organized and probably directed and funded by Pakistan-leaning insurgent groups. "Police have to fire on instigators," said Taj Mohiuddin, a state minister. "There are interests and external forces responsible for this." Local anger, meanwhile, remains palpable. On a recent morning a few blocks from the Batmaloo faceoff, several hundred young men gathered at a bypass, burning tires, upending planters and yelling "azadi!" — freedom — after a 17-year-old was allegedly fatally shot by police. Several covered their faces to prevent identification by police photographers. "It's not because I'm a militant and have a gun," said a college student, 23, who called himself Sufi. "If I don't wear this mask, the Indian dogs will come to my house and beat us." Protesters now tend to be better educated, informed and adept at using social networking sites, including Facebook's "Im a Kashmiri Stone Pelter," than in the past. Although several Kashmiris lauded the prime minister's speech, they said Kashmir needs results, not more committees. How New Delhi proceeds now could greatly influence a generation at a crossroads, many without outlets or opportunities in this tightly monitored society. "Sometimes I feel they should have boxing rings or some way to work out their anger," said Zulfiqar Hussein, an attorney. "The same guys who can pick up stones can pick up guns. Something has to be done."
Kani jung, or throwing stones in anger, probably dates to caveman days in Kashmir, as elsewhere. Residents probably used gulail, a device that propels stones from bowed sticks, to defend themselves against 16th century Mughal invaders, said M.A. Wani, a medieval history professor at the University of Kashmir. Rival Kashmiri parties have used rocks on each other, and at various times, Pakistan's founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and last British Viceroy Louis Mountbatten received "projectile greetings" during Kashmir visits. "Now women are using stones, not just young men," said Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a University of Kashmir law professor. "And it's transcending generations." One structural problem, analysts said, is that many security officers are trained to kill insurgents, not control crowds. Residents add that many Indians view Kashmiris as spoiled whiners with militant leanings. "Villagers blame us for everything," said a paramilitary member who declined to be identified. "We're here to protect them, but they like Pakistan. We're just trying to feed our family. We don't want a fight." At Srinagar's Nowhatta police station, the preferred tool against rock throwers for years has been an armored vehicle nicknamed Rani, with an iron-netted windshield and a chassis pockmarked with dents. "Hundreds and hundreds of stones were thrown on her, but she never stopped or gave up on me," said officer Nisar Ahmed, 38, who compared the sound inside during attacks to a fierce hailstorm. "I thank Allah, I love her more than my children." Studies suggest that there's no single stone-thrower type, with some motivated by youthful machismo, others by a sense of belonging, others incensed at the death of loved ones. Hoping to blunt this fury, security officials have tried cricket matches, community policing, even debates among Kashmir's mostly Muslim population on whether stone throwing is Islamic. In recent weeks, they have also rounded up at least 932 young men, charging some with attempted murder or public safety violations, allowing for up to two years' detention without trial. Under Indian law, minors must be placed in juvenile detention centers. But Kashmir has none, so some are housed with hardened criminals, even Islamic militants, human rights officials said, and exposed to police mistreatment. American author Arthur Ward once said that stones can be thrown, complained about, climbed over or used for building. After a summer of discontent, many in Kashmir wonder where down what path the stones will take them.
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact: