Saturday, July 26, 2008

YouTube - Mini Tracked Vehicle

YouTube - Mini Tracked Vehicle: ""

Minstrel Boy

Minstrel Boy

Minstrel Boy

Minstrel Boy

YouTube - tracked vehicle speed test

YouTube - tracked vehicle speed test: ""

YouTube - tracked vehicle

YouTube - tracked vehicle: ""

YouTube - tracked vehicle/2

YouTube - tracked vehicle/2: ""

Future Combat Systems Ground Vehicle Shift – Robot Wars and FCS - Popular Mechanics

Future Combat Systems Ground Vehicle Shift – Robot Wars and FCS - Popular Mechanics: "Pentagon"officials today announced big changes for its closely watched Future Combat Systems (FCS) program, aiming to bring combat sensors and robots to the battlefield more quickly.

The new emphasis rests on delivering gear to infantry fighting guerilla groups in war zones, rather than developing new armored vehicles and artillery to thwart traditional, better-equipped foes. The recalculated time line makes FCS much less of a far-out plan, with new equipment now set to reach forces in Iraq and Afghanistan in late 2010—about five years earlier than originally planned.

Today’s priority shift will push the manned ground vehicles toward the back of the line while fast-tracking communications systems for intrusion detection, plus platoon-level unmanned aerial vehicles (like the Micro Air Vehicle) and small unmanned ground vehicles (similar to the PackBot from iRobot).

“We’re listening to our soldiers and commanders in the field, and we are giving them the capabilities they need—as fast as we can so that they can win in the current fight,” says Army Chief of Staff George W. Casey, Jr. “We’re able to do this because of the developmental efforts that have matured technology over the last few years.”

The FCS system is controversial for its large price tag—already at $160 billion and growing—and complaints that is does not address the needs of today’s battlefields. This heat comes not just from the system’s consistent foes but also from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Gates has been pushing the Pentagon away from buying equipment for future wars to better address the needs of current fights. While arguing to curtail the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter program in May, he called the tendency to fund advanced weapons systems “nextwaritis.”

The House Armed Services Committee, meanwhile, recently recommended cutting $200 million from FCS, in part because members said the money is needed for current conflicts.

Leading Democrats on the HASC today released a statement saying the move was “a positive step toward improving the FCS program,” but added that they have concerns that “this new plan may not allow for adequate testing of the equipment due to its very tight schedule. In addition, the overall FCS program remains far over budget, far behind schedule and unaffordable in the long term.”

Starting next month, a brigade of soldiers at Fort Bliss will begin tests on UAVs and small ground robots from Boeing and SAIC before deciding whether the Army should purchase them. The future, it would seem, is coming faster.

World War Robot Contests – MOD Grand Challenge, TechX Challenge Previews - Popular Mechanics

World War Robot Contests – MOD Grand Challenge, TechX Challenge Previews - Popular Mechanics: "It"could be a rule of modern urban warfare: Send the robot in first. After all, it’s better to risk an unmanned air or ground vehicle than an infantry squad. While the United States has already deployed thousands of robots in Iraq and Afghanistan, its allies are lagging behind. Following the lead of DARPA’s high-profile Grand Challenge and Urban Challenge, both Singapore and the United Kingdom are staging robotics competitions this August to develop their own autonomous war machines.

In the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) Grand Challenge, scheduled for mid-August, 14 teams will send unmanned systems through the Copehill Down training village in southwestern England. Their mission is to locate improvised explosive devices, snipers, weaponized 4x4 trucks and armed troops. The robots range from flying saucers and mini helicopters to modified remote-control toy cars. Most teams will rely on swarms of robots rather than on solo machines—Stellar Team’s Saturn system includes a small unmanned ground vehicle and two unmanned aerial vehicles, while Mindsheet plans to deploy a fleet of up to five toy-size ground robots.

The goal of Singapore’s TechX Challenge isn’t a robot scout, but a full-fledged soldier. “Singapore is a small country with limited manpower and resources,” says Philip Chan, research director for the nation’s Defence Science and Technology Agency. “We need to leverage technology.” A half-dozen ground robots will attempt to climb stairs, operate elevators and navigate hallways without human assistance. The winner of the Singapore contest will get $1 million. The MOD Grand Challenge is only awarding trophies, but the real payoff could be bigger—officials say that any team with a capable system could land a government contract on the spot.

New England | NECN

New England | NECN

The Raw Story | Probe of irregularities in defense contract audits: Pentagon

The Raw Story | Probe of irregularities in defense contract audits: Pentagon: "A"Pentagon agency that oversees billions of dollars in defense contracts said Friday it has asked for a review of allegations that supervisors sought to pressure auditors to favor major contractors.

The Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) took the step following a scathing report by a congressional audit agency this week that found numerous irregularities in a review of 14 DCAA audits between 2003 and 2007.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) also charged that DCAA managers took actions against staff, "attempting to intimidate auditors, prevent them from speaking with investigators, and creating a generally abusive work environment."

DCAA director April Stephenson said she had asked the Defense Department's inspector general to conduct a review of the allegations.

"We take the GAO report very seriously," she said in a statement. "It is crucial that we have a clear understanding of any problems associated with our audit effort."

The GAO report said it found numerous examples where the DCAA had failed to comply with generally accepted accounting rules.

It said contractors and Defense Department officials had improperly influenced the scope, conclusions and opinions of three audits, which the report said was "a serious independence issue."

It also found evidence that working papers did not support reported opinions, that supervisors dropped findings and changed audit opinions without adequate evidence for the changes, and that insufficient work was done to support audit opinions and conclusions.

"DCAA did not agree with the 'totality' of GAO's findings, but it did acknowledge shortcomings with some audits and agreed to take corrective action," the GAO said.

The GAO report did not identify the contracts in which irregularites were found.

Brzezinski: Surge In Afghanistan Risky, Some McCain Backers Want World War IV

Brzezinski: Surge In Afghanistan Risky, Some McCain Backers Want World War IV: "All"of a sudden, everyone seems to be in favor of sending more troops to Afghanistan. As Barack Obama encourages Europeans to dispatch more NATO forces and John McCain says that U.S. troops could be sent in greater numbers, the idea that a bigger military footprint is needed has become something of a consensus in the political mainstream.

But Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski is not on board -- though it's not the first time President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser has cast a skeptic's eye on the usefulness of dispatching great numbers of troops to the country. In an famous 1998 interview with France's Le Nouvel Observateur, Brzezinski admitted his own role in funding Afghanistan's Mujahadeen in 1979, thereby "increasing the probability" that the Soviets would invade a tough, demoralizing, mountainous theater for combat.

And it's with a similar perspective that Brzezinski now doubts the that the answer to what ails Afghanistan is more troops. "I think we're literally running the risk of unintentionally doing what the Russians did. And that, if it happens, would be a tragedy," Brzezinski told the Huffington Post on Friday. "When we first went into Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban, we were actually welcomed by an overwhelming majority of Afghans. They did not see us as invaders, as they saw the Soviets."

However, Brzezinski noted that just as the Soviets were able to delude themselves that they had a loyal army of communist-sympathizers who would transform the country, the U.S.-led forces may now be making similar mistakes. He said that the conduct of military operations "with little regard for civilian casualties" may accelerate the negative trend in local public opinion regarding the West's role. "It's just beginning, but it's significant," Brzezinski said.

His own program for improving the state of affairs in Afghanistan -- where U.S. casualties have surpassed those in Iraq for two months now -- revolves around pragmatism. He believes Europe should bribe Afghan farmers not to produce poppies used for heroin since "it all ends up in Europe." Moreover, he thinks the tribal warlords can be bought off with bribes, with the endgame being the isolation of Al-Qaeda from a Taliban that is "not a united force, not a world-oriented terrorist movement, but a real Afghan phenomenon."

Brzezinski, who has endorsed Obama, was far more critical of a few figures now surrounding McCain, who he suggested were pushing the presumptive GOP nominee towards a radical foreign policy on issues such as Iran.

"Well, if McCain is president and if his Secretary of State is Joe Lieberman and his Secretary of Defense is [Rudolph] Giuliani, we will be moving towards the World War IV that they have been both favoring and predicting," he said, calling that an "appalling concept" (and adding that by their lights, the Cold War counted as World War III). "So it depends on who are the principal officers. If it's [Richard] Armitage, or if it were to be Brent Scowcroft, I think it would be very different."

Asked who he would like to see in a potential Obama cabinet, Brzezinski said: "I think [Sen. Chuck] Hagel. I would like to see a bipartisan cabinet. I think we need one very badly -- and we did well in the Cold War when we had one. I would say Hagel and [Sen. Dick] Lugar would be very good Republicans [for Obama]." He also cited Sen. Joe Biden as a potential Secretary of State, in which case it would also be possible to "keep [Secretary of Defense Bob] Gates in the job for a few months."

Brzezinski said such a cabinet would be an important step in redressing the increased partisanship of foreign affairs in recent years, adding: "I think there is a tendency, because of the very complexity of the issues, for solutions to become polarized and more extreme. ... Republicans move toward neocon-ish formulas, and Democrats [follow] idealistically escapist formulas. In either case you don't end up with the necessary mix of idealism and realism."

Former Lobbyist Pleads Guilty to Trying to Destroy Evidence -

Former Lobbyist Pleads Guilty to Trying to Destroy Evidence - "A"former lobbyist and close friend of former representative Curt Weldon pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court to trying to destroy evidence in the federal investigation of the Pennsylvania Republican.

Cecelia Grimes, 43, admitted that she threw out documents sought by FBI agents shortly after they visited her home in Parkesburg, Pa., in 2006 to question her. The agents served her with a grand jury subpoena demanding records connected to her clients, her travel, Weldon and his campaigns. FBI agents later recovered the documents in trash bags in front of Grimes' home, according to charging papers.

Grimes also admitted that she put her BlackBerry email device in a trash can near a fast-food restaurant to prevent FBI agents from reviewing some of her emails. The lobbyist told U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. that she threw away the device, in part, because it contained "personal emails I didn't want on the channel 6 news."

Grimes and her attorney declined to comment after the hearing in federal court in the District.

Grimes, who could face between 10 and 16 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, is cooperating with authorities, said prosecutor Howard R. Sklamberg, deputy chief of the U.S. Attorney's Office's fraud and public corruption section.

Federal agents and prosecutors are investigating Weldon's ties to lobbying and consulting firms.

-- Del Quentin Wilber

Friday, July 25, 2008

Editorial - Wounded Warriors, Empty Promises - Editorial -

Editorial - Wounded Warriors, Empty Promises - Editorial - "Staff"members of the House subcommittee who visited numerous warrior transition units June 2007 to February found a significant gap between the Army leadership’s optimistic promises and reality.

Among other things, the Army failed to anticipate a flood of wounded soldiers. Some transition units have been overwhelmed and are thus severely understaffed. At Fort Hood, Tex., last month, staff members found 1,362 patients in a unit authorized for 649 — and more than 350 on a waiting list. Of the total, 311 were identified as being at high risk of drug overdose, suicide or other dangerous behavior. There were 38 nurse case managers when there should have been 74. Some soldiers have had to languish two months to a year before the Army decided what to do with them, far longer than the goal the Army set last year.

Under skeptical questioning during a hearing in February, Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, the Army surgeon general, told the subcommittee that “for all intents and purposes, we are entirely staffed at the point we need to be staffed.” He also said: “The Army’s unwavering commitment and a key element of our warrior ethos is that we never leave a soldier behind on the battlefield — or lost in a bureaucracy.”

That was thousands of wounded, neglected soldiers ago. There are now about 12,500 soldiers assigned to the warrior transition units — more than twice as many as a year ago. The number is expected to reach 20,000 by this time next year.

The nation’s responsibility to care for the wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan will extend for decades. After Tuesday’s hearing, we are left pondering the simple questions asked at the outset by Representative Susan Davis, the California Democrat who is chairwoman of the military personnel subcommittee: Why did the Army fail to adequately staff its warrior transition units? Why did it fail to predict the surge in demand? And why did it take visits from a Congressional subcommittee to prod the Army into recognizing and promising — yet again — to fix the problem?

[bth: say fellas, here's a clue - IT'S A FUCKING LEADERSHIP PROBLEM. It isn't a math problem, it isn't a staffing problem. IT'S A LEADERSHIP PROBLEM. That's why it took a congressional committee - again - to address the problem. Until someone is actually held to account it won't get fixed either.]

100 female U.S. service members have died in Iraq -

100 female U.S. service members have died in Iraq - "The"death of an Air Force technical sergeant in Iraq last week quietly brought a somber milestone: One hundred American female service members have died in Iraq, according to a CNN count of Pentagon figures.

The latest death was Tech. Sgt. Jackie L. Larsen, 37, of Tacoma, Washington, who died of natural causes July 17 at Balad Air Base, Iraq. She was assigned to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale Air Force Base, California, according to the Pentagon.

The death comes during what may be the lowest monthly toll in the war. Pentagon records show that at least nine U.S. troops have died in July. The lowest number in the war was in May, with 19. The total of U.S. service member deaths in the Iraq war now stands at 4,124...

Israel's slap in the face from America - Haaretz - Israel News

Israel's slap in the face from America - Haaretz - Israel News: ..."Israeli"leaders are still hoping that all is not lost, that America is merely making a strategic move here, that Washington is simply dangling a bit of diplomatic bait that will be doomed to fail but which can pave the way for a military strike. But all that is simply wishful thinking. The American public has no stomach today for an additional war and its army opposes the idea of opening up a "third front" in Iran, after Afghanistan and Iraq.

The average American is much more concerned about spiraling gasoline prices than about Iran's nuclear ambitions. Of all the steps U.S. President George W. Bush has undertaken to solve his country's energy crisis, the rapprochement with Iran has emerged as the most effective of all. At a cost of only one airline ticket for William J. Burns, the U.S. State Department's third-ranking official, the administration in Washington achieved an almost-immediate 12-percent drop in oil prices. ...

This is certainly not what somebody who intends to go to war this summer or this fall would say; instead, this is the kind of statement one would expect from someone interested in netting a diplomatic achievement just before leaving office. Jerusalem chose to ignore the signals and to continue issuing threats. In an interview he gave to The Washington Post, Israel's ambassador, Sallai Meridor, spoke of the danger of an Israeli military operation and called for a suspension of gasoline delivery to Iran. According to Meridor, "effective sanctions on the import of refined petroleum products could be a game-changer."

In his view, oil companies "should not sell gasoline that is used by Iran's nuclear scientists and its terror chiefs to drive to 'work.'" Three days later, America's policy underwent a transformation - but in the opposite direction. Now, Jerusalem must also change its approach. Instead of making the mistake of holding on to the false hope that Bush will actually order the bombing of Iran, Israelis should start looking at the positive aspects of an American-Iranian dialogue, while insisting that Israel's vital interests not be undermined. First of all, and most importantly, Israel must thwart any attempt at linking the dismantling of Iran's nuclear capabilities with the idea of shutting down Israel's nuclear reactor in Dimona or any other attempt to weaken Israel's deterrent power.

In addition, the Israelis must demand that the centrifuges' operations be totally suspended and that, should Iran succeed despite everything in developing nuclear weapons, they be provided with suitable compensation in the form of both security guarantees from the U.S. and advanced anti-missile technology. Unlike fighter pilots, diplomats do not receive citations for heroic action; however, they must be given a chance to stop the Iranian nuclear program, as they did in Libya and North Korea.
Informed Comment

TERRORISM SALON: Greg Djerejian on Poverty, Ideology, US Foreign Policy and Occupation - The Washington Note#more#more#more

TERRORISM SALON: Greg Djerejian on Poverty, Ideology, US Foreign Policy and Occupation - The Washington Note#more#more#more: ..."Last" would say the most underestimated cause (per the question prompt) is very likely the occupation of Islamic lands by foreign powers. This has historically been a major cause of Palestinian terrorism (see, over the years, the PLO, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, DFLP etc), and see too Chechnya, Lebanon (Hezbollah notably), and more. This being said, the transnational al-Qaeda variety of terrorism has sought to conflate festering conflicts/occupation/humiliation -- and then somewhat fuse same w/ 'purist' ideology -- so as to thereby be immunized some to the ebbs and flows of localized disputes, the better so there appear to perennially be 'near' and 'far' enemies, the scope of the jihadist playing field is global, and progress in the Middle East peace process, say (were we ever to see any again), would not be a reason to lay down arms.

-- Greg Djerejian

Thursday, July 24, 2008

obama berlin - Google Video

obama berlin - Google Video

Soldiers recount deadly attack on Afghanistan outpost | Stars and Stripes

Soldiers recount deadly attack on Afghanistan outpost | Stars and Stripes: "Everything"was on fire. The trucks. The bazaar. The grass.

It looked surreal. It looked like a movie.

That was what Spc. Tyler Stafford remembered thinking as he stepped onto the medical evacuation helicopter. The 23-year-old soldier would have been loaded onto the bird, but the poncho that was hastily employed as his stretcher broke. His body speckled with grenade and RPG shrapnel, the Vicenza, Italy, infantryman walked the last few feet to the waiting Black Hawk.

That was Sunday morning in eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar province. At a forward operating base — maybe as big as a football field — established just a few days prior.

Outnumbered but not outgunned, a platoon-plus element of soldiers with 2nd Platoon, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team accompanied by Afghan soldiers engaged in a fistfight of a firefight.

After maybe two hours of intense combat, some of the soldiers’ guns seized up because they expelled so many rounds so quickly. Insurgent bullets and dozens of rocket-propelled grenades filled the air. So many RPGs were fired at the soldiers that they wondered how the insurgents had so many.

That was July 13. That was when Stafford was blown out of a fighting position by an RPG, survived a grenade blast and had the tail of an RPG strike his helmet.

That was the day nine Chosen Company soldiers died.

It was just days before the unit was scheduled to leave the base.


The first RPG and machine gun fire came at dawn, strategically striking the forward operating base’s mortar pit. The insurgents next sighted their RPGs on the tow truck inside the combat outpost, taking it out. That was around 4:30 a.m.

This was not a haphazard attack. The reportedly 200 insurgents fought from several positions. They aimed to overrun the new base. The U.S. soldiers knew it and fought like hell. They knew their lives were on the line.

"I just hope these guys’ wives and their children understand how courageous their husbands and dads were," said Sgt. Jacob Walker. "They fought like warriors."

The next target was the FOB’s observation post, where nine soldiers were positioned on a tiny hill about 50 to 75 meters from the base. Of those nine, five died, and at least three others — Stafford among them — were wounded.

When the attack began, Stafford grabbed his M-240 machine gun off a north-facing sandbag wall and moved it to an east-facing sandbag wall. Moments later, RPGs struck the north-facing wall, knocking Stafford out of the fighting position and wounding another soldier.

Stafford thought he was on fire so he rolled around, regaining his senses. Nearby, Cpl. Gunnar Zwilling, who later died in the fight, had a stunned look on his face.

Immediately, a grenade exploded by Stafford, blowing him down to a lower terrace at the observation post and knocking his helmet off. Stafford put his helmet back on and noticed how badly he was bleeding.

Cpl. Matthew Phillips was close by, so Stafford called to him for help. Phillips was preparing to throw a grenade and shot a look at Stafford that said, "Give me a second. I gotta go kill these guys first."

This was only about 30 to 60 seconds into the attack.

Kneeling behind a sandbag wall, Phillips pulled the grenade pin, but just after he threw it an RPG exploded at his position. The tail of the RPG smacked Stafford’s helmet. The dust cleared. Phillips was slumped over, his chest on his knees and his hands by his side. Stafford called out to his buddy three or four times, but Phillips never answered or moved.

"When I saw Phillips die, I looked down and was bleeding pretty good, that’s probably the most scared I was at any point," Stafford said. "Then I kinda had to calm myself down and be like, ‘All right, I gotta go try to do my job.’ "

The soldier from Parker, Colo., loaded his 9 mm handgun, crawled up to their fighting position, stuck the pistol over the sandbags and fired.

Stafford saw Zwilling’s M-4 rifle nearby so he loaded it, put it on top of the sandbag and fired. Another couple RPGs struck the sandbag wall Stafford used as cover. Shrapnel pierced his hands.

Stafford low-crawled to another fighting position where Cpl. Jason Bogar, Sgt. Matthew Gobble and Sgt. Ryan Pitts were located. Stafford told Pitts that the insurgents were within grenade-tossing range. That got Pitts’ attention.

With blood running down his face, Pitts threw a grenade and then crawled to the position from where Stafford had just come. Pitts started hucking more grenades.

The firefight intensified. Bullets cut down tree limbs that fell on the soldiers. RPGs constantly exploded.

Back at Stafford’s position, so many bullets were coming in that the soldiers could not poke their heads over their sandbag wall. Bogar stuck an M-249 machine gun above the wall and squeezed off rounds to keep fire on the insurgents. In about five minutes, Bogar fired about 600 rounds, causing the M-249 to seize up from heat.

At another spot on the observation post, Cpl. Jonathan Ayers laid down continuous fire from an M-240 machine gun, despite drawing small-arms and RPG fire from the enemy. Ayers kept firing until he was shot and killed. Cpl. Pruitt Rainey radioed the FOB with a casualty report, calling for help. Of the nine soldiers at the observation post, Ayers and Phillips were dead, Zwilling was unaccounted for, and three were wounded. Additionally, several of the soldiers’ machine guns couldn’t fire because of damage. And they needed more ammo.

Rainey, Bogar and another soldier jumped out of their fighting position with the third soldier of the group launching a shoulder-fired missile.

All this happened within the first 20 minutes of the fight.

Platoon leader 1st Lt. Jonathan Brostrom and Cpl. Jason Hovater arrived at the observation post to reinforce the soldiers. By that time, the insurgents had breached the perimeter of the observation post. Gunfire rang out, and Rainey shouted, "He’s right behind the sandbag."

Brostrom could be heard shouting about the insurgent as well.

More gunfire and grenade explosions ensued. Back in the fighting position, Gobble fired a few quick rounds. Gobble then looked to where the soldiers were fighting and told Stafford the soldiers were dead. Of the nine soldiers who died in the battle, at least seven fell in fighting at the observation post.

The insurgents then started chucking rocks at Gobble and Stafford’s fighting position, hoping that the soldiers might think the rocks were grenades, causing them to jump from the safety of their fighting hole. One rock hit a tree behind Stafford and landed directly between his legs. He braced himself for an explosion. He then realized it was a rock.

Stafford didn’t have a weapon, and Gobble was low on ammo. Gobble told Stafford they had to get back to the FOB. They didn’t realize that Pitts was still alive in another fighting position at the observation post. Gobble and Stafford crawled out of their fighting hole. Gobble looked again to where the soldiers had been fighting and reconfirmed to Stafford that Brostrom, Rainey, Bogar and others were dead.

Gobble and Stafford low-crawled and ran back to the FOB. Coming into the FOB, Stafford was asked by a sergeant what was going on at the observation post. Stafford told him all the soldiers there were dead. Stafford lay against a wall, and his fellow soldiers put a tourniquet on him.

From the OP, Pitts got on the radio and told his comrades he was alone. At least three soldiers went to the OP to rescue Pitts, but they suffered wounds after encountering RPG and small-arms fire.

At that time, air support arrived in the form of Apache helicopters, A-10s and F-15s, performing bombing and strafing runs.

When the attack began, Walker was on the FOB. He grabbed an M-249 and started shooting toward a mountain spur where he could see some muzzle flashes. Walker put down 600 to 800 rounds of ammunition.

He got down behind the wall he was shooting from to load more ammo and was told they were taking fire from the southwest. He threw the bipod legs of his machine gun on the hood of a nearby Humvee. A 7.62-millimeter caliber bullet struck Walker’s left wrist, knocking him to the ground. A soldier applied a tourniquet to Walker and bandaged him.

Walker and two other wounded soldiers distributed their ammo and grenades and passed messages.

The whole FOB was covered in dust and smoke, looking like something out of an old Western movie.

"I’ve never seen the enemy do anything like that," said Walker, who was medically evacuated off the FOB in one of the first helicopters to arrive. "It’s usually three RPGs, some sporadic fire and then they’re gone … I don’t where they got all those RPGs. That was crazy."

Two hours after the first shots were fired, Stafford made his way — with help — to the medevac helicopter that arrived.

"It was some of the bravest stuff I’ve ever seen in my life, and I will never see it again because those guys," Stafford said, then paused. "Normal humans wouldn’t do that. You’re not supposed to do that — getting up and firing back when everything around you is popping and whizzing and trees, branches coming down and sandbags exploding and RPGs coming in over your head … It was a fistfight then, and those guys held ’ em off."

Stafford offered a guess as to why his fellow soldiers fought so hard.

"Just hardcoreness I guess," he said. "Just guys kicking ass, basically. Just making sure that we look scary enough that you don’t want to come in and try to get us."

New Apache chopper can kill at 50 miles :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Nation

New Apache chopper can kill at 50 miles :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Nation: "An"unmanned aircraft sails through the night sky, watching enemy soldiers plant roadside bombs ahead of an approaching convoy of American troops.

The craft fires a missile at insurgents, sparing what would have been certain U.S. casualties. The pilot in control of the craft is safely 50 miles away, aboard an Apache helicopter.

By 2011, crews will be able to do just that from the next generation of the aircraft. Remote-control piloting is one of the features of the new Apache, which was unveiled this month in Mesa, Ariz. Boeing Co.’s Mesa factory will begin making 634 of the ultra-high-tech aircraft in 2010. ...

The resourcefulness of the Apaches was further proved during Operation Desert Storm, where they were ideally suited to the rugged terrain and close-quarters combat. The same settings are the hallmarks of today’s wars in the region.

‘‘In Afghanistan and Iraq, the Apache is one of the Army’s key weapons,’’ said Wayne Plucker, a defense industry analyst with market research firm Frost & Sullivan.

Gen. Richard Cody, a certified Apache pilot and the U.S. Army’s vice chief of staff, said he believes the next generation of Apaches will see plenty of action in the Middle East.

Even if the Army draws down the number of troops in the area, the Apaches will be ‘‘the last thing that comes off the battlefield,’’ Cody said. ‘‘It’s a premier fighter that our soldiers depend on.’’ ...

The cockpit will have controls for an unmanned aerial vehicle that can fly ahead of the Apache, relaying back video of combat conditions 50 miles ahead. The UAV will carry missiles that can be fired by the Apache’s gunner. ...

The massive Apache contract was made possible by the Army’s cancellation in 2004 of the $14 billion Comanche reconnaissance/attack helicopter program in favor of upgrading its existing fleet.

Cody was instrumental in making the decision to scrap the Comanche after $6.9 billion was spent to develop it. He said the cost had gotten out of control and that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan created an immediate need to upgrade existing helicopters instead of waiting for a handful of new ones.

Most of the technological advances that were to have been on board the Comanche have been incorporated in the new Apache, Cody said.

[bth: note how economics is driving the upgrade of older systems versus the Comanche and how the integration of manned and unmanned vehicles is taking over the battlespace. The economics just work as does the pace of innovation. See also the discussion going on in Korea in the article below. ... Meanwhile the US Air Force has virtually grounded itself.]

SA unmanned air-vehicle programme set for take-off

SA unmanned air-vehicle programme set for take-off: "South"Africa's Denel Dynamics' Bateleur medium-altitude long-endurance(MALE) Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) project looks set to be developed as a joint programme with Brazil. And, in a purely national programme, the company is also developing a new version of its Seeker tactical UAV.
Negotiations with Brazil regarding the Bateleur project are already under way, confirms Brazilian Air Force Colonel Nelson Silveira. Colonel Silveira is the Brazilian project officer on the joint South African/Brazilian A-Darter programme - the A-Darter is a fifth generation infrared homing air-to-air missile. He reveals that a memorandum of understanding on cooperation on UAVs was signed between the two countries a year ago.

An initial South African proposal regarding the Bateleur was made to the commander of the Brazilian Air Force in mid-May. The Brazilians are expecting to receive a full proposal, including timeframes and cost estimates, from South Africa in the near future.

This joint UAV project would be modelled on the current joint A-Darter project, which is proving highly successful. Should the project go ahead, as both sides hope, the Bateleur would be acquired by the Brazilian Air Force. It is not yet clear what arm or arms of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) would buy the Bateleur. The South African Air Force has a plan to acquire MALE UAVs, perhaps starting in 2010.
Furthermore, the South African Navy is known to be interested in the Bateleur

The Bateleur concept was developed by Denel four years ago, with a mock-up first displayed in public at the Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition in Pretoria in 2004.

Then, the company hoped that the UAV would make its first flight in the first half of 2006, but development stalled as a result of a lack of funding. Despite its promise, there was and is simply not the budget to develop the Bateleur as an exclusively South African programme. Finding a foreign partner willing to invest in the development of the aircraft became essential to get the project going again. Hence the importance of the talks with Brazil.

The original conception for the Bateleur included use of existing and proven systems and subsystems from Denel's Seeker II tactical UAV and Skua high-speed target drone, as well as commercial off-the-shelf equipment, in order to keep development costs down. For example, the idea was that the Bateleur would use the same ground control station as the Seeker II. The original specification of the Bateleur included an endurance of 18 to 24 hours, an operational radius of up to 750 km, a maximum altitude above 8 000 m, a maximum cruise speed of 250 km/h, a minimum loiter speed of 120 km/h and a payload mass of 1 t. The UAV would be equipped with a satellite communications system, and would take-off and land on paved runways like a conventional aircraft, but automatically, and would be equipped with a retractable undercarriage. It was conceived to be of modular, composite, construction, and it would have (in its initial version) a wingspan of 15 m. The idea was that a Bateleur could be fitted into a 6 m ISO container....

[bth: further indication of things to come UAVs developed with off the shelf components, cross border collaboration and integration of older drone control systems in an upgraded manner. See the following story from Korea regarding their conclusion that stealth or semi stealth UAVs combined with F15 generation manned fighter bombers was the best economical and technological decision to make.]

Collins And Allen React To Decision To Scrap DDG 1000 Plans | Portland, ME | Collins And Allen React To Decision To Scrap DDG 1000 Plans: "The"decision by the U.S. Navy may affect the workload at Bath Iron Works.

Senator Susan Collins says the Navy has decided to scrap its newest destroyer after the first two are built.

B.I.W. and Ingalls Shipyard in Mississippi were awarded contracts for the Zumwalt class stealth destroyer last year. Each shipyard will build one of them.

Senator Collins says Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter called her Tuesday to let her know that the top brass at the Pentagon had decided to scrap the Zumwalt after the first two are finished. Winter says the program is just too expensive.

However, Congressman Tom Allen says the Chief of Naval Operations tells him the Navy will reactivate the Arleigh Burke Class destroyer with an initial commitment to order nine additional ships through fiscal year 2015.

Allen says he's confident that will help B.I.W. maintain a stable workforce for years to come.

[bth: Another indication of things to come. The damned ships just got to expensive to build. The navy is wisely, I think, coming to the obvious conclusion.]

Korea Plans to Develop Unmanned Aircraft

Korea Plans to Develop Unmanned Aircraft: "After"years of debate over developing or buying stealth fighter jets, South Korea is turning its eyes toward building an unmanned combat aircraft with foreign partners.

As consensus builds that the KF-X project to develop a fifth-generation stealth aircraft is economically and technically nonviable, the head of the Air Force's combat power development bureau has called for a shift in focus.

``Developing an F-16-class indigenous fighter is meaningless given changing trends in warfare. Developing a full stealth fighter is also beyond our economic power,'' Brig. Gen. Lee Hee-woo said at an international air power seminar in Seoul late last month.

``Now we need a new paradigm of developing and operating both manned and unmanned aircraft suited to future warfare'' and with foreign partners, he said. ``Once unmanned fighter aircraft share missions of manned aircraft, we would not feel any need for full stealth fighters.''

Lee said Air Force plans to buy U.S. stealth jets are also being reconsidered.

Under the new paradigm, Lee said, unmanned stealth aircraft carry out long-endurance tactical surveillance and dangerous suppression of enemy air defenses missions, while manned semi-stealth fighters control the unmanned fleet in a low-risk environment and conduct precision strikes against key targets.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) could take on air-to-ground and air-to-air operations as their avionics and weapons improve, he said at the seminar, hosted by the Korea Defense and Security Forum, a private research institute.

``In general, developing unmanned stealth aircraft is easier than doing manned stealth fighters, which means we can secure economic feasibility,'' said Lee, the one-star general in charge of his service's force improvement plans. ``I believe, in that context, economic efficiency would further increase when we design and develop both manned and unmanned aircraft, and their key systems, including communications systems and data links

He said this comprehensive approach would attract foreign firms.

The KF-X program aims to create a fighter by 2020, build 120 of them to replace the country's F-4Es and F-5Es, then sell more globally. The single-seat, twin-engine jet would be stealthier than either Dassault's Rafale or the Eurofighter Typhoon but not as stealthy as Lockheed Martin's F-35 John Strike Fighter (JSF), said officials from the state-run Agency for Defense Development (ADD), which runs the program.

ADD officials said last year they wanted foreign defense firms to foot some 30 percent of development costs and were considering forming consortiums between domestic and foreign companies.

Late last year, the Korea Development Institute, a private economic policy think tank, concluded the KF-X would cost at least $10 billion but could be expected to reap only $3 billion in economic benefits.

Officials with the ADD and the Defense Acquisition Program Administration still back the program, saying it will help develop or acquire state-of-the-art technology through foreign partnerships.

``Economic feasibility is just a part of decision-making on the KF-X program, and a final conclusion of the fate of the KF-X will be made after the government reviews all aspects of the program,'' said Lee Dae-yeol, head of the agency's aircraft systems development team.

``Developing an indigenous fighter is a must-do project for the so-called advanced nations. I believe our nation deserves this kind of fighter program,'' he said. "We've made strenuous efforts to develop aircraft technologies of our own ... I think now is the time to bear fruit. We should not fall behind other advanced nations any more as to fighter developments.''

An analyst from a state-funded defense institute here disagreed.

``Few countries in the world have succeeded in selling their own fighter aircraft to other nations,'' said the analyst who participated in the Korea Development Institute's feasibility study.

``Cases in point are Japan, Taiwan and Israel. They were unhappy with the results of their indigenous fighter program in the end. I just want to say following in such footsteps is stupid.''

The analyst said there is little global demand for manned fighters, nor could South Korea compete against the JSF.

Seoul should concentrate on developing UAVs, avionics and related systems, and on improving the T-50 and KT-1 trainer planes, he noted

Representatives of Boeing and Saab at the seminar evinced little interest in KF-X, proposing instead that Seoul join their F-15E1 Technology Demonstrator Aircraft or Next Generation Gripen program, respectively.

``Saab offers technology transfer in a partnership of equals, which will allow Korea to manage its own development programs in the future,'' said Tommy Ivarsson, senior president of Saab Aerosystems.

No Stealth Jets At All?

Until last year, at least, Air Force officials planned to request bids in 2011 to supply stealth fighters for deployment between 2014 and 2019.

The F-35 was the leading candidate, since Lockheed's F-22 Raptor may be out of Seoul's reach financially and is currently blocked from export. But many defense experts say the F-35's currently quoted price, between $45 million and $63 million each, is likely to increase as predicted orders fall and tooling prices rise.

Lee expressed skepticism about buying U.S. stealth jets, citing high operational and maintenance costs and ``capabilities trade-offs'' in range, payload, speed, persistence and more areas.

``There are lots of question marks as to the purchase of F-22s or F-35s, given the aircraft's low cost effectiveness, and the fact their performance criteria are beyond that required on the peninsula,'' he said. "Stealth fighters would have a little more advantage than 4.5-generation and other aircraft in air-to-air operations, but in air-to-ground missions, I think those aircraft that can carry large payloads in and outside of the aircraft would be more beneficial, in particular after removing enemy's anti-air defense systems

Boeing, which has in recent years won South Korean orders for batches of 40 and 21 F-15s, wants to capitalize on this change of stance. Brad Jones, Boeing's F-15 International Programs Avionics manager, said in the seminar that his company wanted to sell the F-15K NF III, an upgrade variant of the F-15K, to South Korea.

Technology improvements for the NF III will include active electronically scanned array radar, missile warning and digital electronic warfare systems and newer weapons, he said.

``In 2013, the F-15K NF III configuration will offer the most powerful radar and sensors available; this will provide ROKAF with the ability to dominate all current and known future threats in the region through 2035,'' Jones said in his presentation at the seminar.

[bth: the shape of things to come. Less emphasis on stealth, more on manned and unmanned aircraft working on coordination. The economics are driving the decision. This is a major paradigm shift so wake up and pay attention.]

Plan Would Use Antiterror Aid on Pakistani Jets -

Plan Would Use Antiterror Aid on Pakistani Jets - "WASHINGTON"— The Bush administration plans to shift nearly $230 million in aid to Pakistan from counterterrorism programs to upgrading that country’s aging F-16 attack planes, which Pakistan prizes more for their contribution to its military rivalry with India than for fighting insurgents along its Afghan border.

Some members of Congress have greeted the proposal with dismay and anger, and may block the move. Lawmakers and their aides say that F-16s do not help the counterterrorism campaign and defy the administration’s urgings that Pakistan increase pressure on fighters of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in its tribal areas.

The timing of the action caught lawmakers off guard, prompting some of them to suspect that the deal was meant to curry favor with the new Pakistani prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, who will meet with President Bush in Washington next week, and to ease tensions over the 11 members of the Pakistani paramilitary forces killed in an American airstrike along the Afghan border last month.

The financing for the F-16s would represent more than two-thirds of the $300 million that Pakistan will receive this year in American military financing for equipment and training.

Last year, Congress specified that those funds be used for law enforcement or counterterrorism. Pakistan’s military has rarely used its current fleet of F-16s, which were built in the 1980s, for close-air support of counterterrorism missions, largely because the risks of civilian casualties would inflame anti-government sentiments in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

State Department officials say the upgrades would greatly enhance the F-16s’ ability to strike insurgents accurately, while reducing the risk to civilians. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Congress was weighing the plan, said the timing was driven by deadlines of the American contractor, Lockheed Martin.

Having the United States pay for the upgrades instead of Pakistan would also free up cash that Pakistan’s government could use to help offset rising fuel and food costs, which have contributed to an economic crisis there, the State Department officials said.

Under the original plan sent to Congress in April, the administration intended to use up to $226.5 million of the aid to refurbish two of Pakistan’s P-3 maritime patrol planes, buy it new airfield navigation aids and overhaul its troubled fleet of Cobra attack helicopters. The State Department notified Congress last week that the administration had changed its mind and would apply the funds to the F-16s.

Lawmakers immediately bridled at the shift, questioning whether the counterterrorism money could be spent more effectively. “We need to know if this is the best way to help Pakistan combat Al Qaeda and the Taliban,” Senator Patrick J. Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who heads the appropriations subcommittee on State Department and foreign operations, said in a statement.

Representative Nita M. Lowey, a New York Democrat who heads the House appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, said in a statement, “It is incumbent on the State Department and Pakistan to demonstrate clearly how these F-16s would be used to fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban in order to get Congressional support.”

In a two-page notification to Congress, the State Department said that upgrading the avionics, targeting and radar systems of Pakistan’s older F-16s would “increase the survivability of the aircraft in a hostile environment” and make the “F-16s a more valuable counterterrorism asset that operates safely during day and night operations.” The notification said the modernized systems would also increase the accuracy of the F-16s’ support of Pakistani ground troops, lessening the risks of civilian casualties.

Many Congressional officials remain unconvinced. “Using F-16s this way is like hitting a fly with a sledgehammer,” said one senior Senate Democratic aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the current negotiations. It remains unclear whether any lawmaker will block or postpone the financing, and risk harming relations with Pakistan any further.

Even if approved, the upgraded F-16s would not be available until 2011, said one House aide who had been briefed on the issue, and who spoke on condition of anonymity, raising the question whether the funds could be spent on counterterrorism equipment that could be employed more quickly.

Pakistan agreed to buy about 70 F-16s in the 1980s, and about 40 were delivered before Congress cut off all aid and military sales in 1990, citing Pakistan’s secret development of nuclear weapons....

[bth: this is bull shit. Last year the helicopter repair funds were swiped by corrupt generals, not we're letting the counterterrorism money get diverted. Even if the fighters were upgraded to improve their strike capabilities, it would be 2011 before it could happen. So their benefit in this war is essentially zero. Bottomline the counter terrorism money we dedicated to Pakistan is going to line Lockheed and Pakistani officials' pockets. ... So when their Frontier forces run out of damned ammo again and have to surrender, or don't get paid for months, what does one say?]

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Peace negotiations begin with Taliban in Hangu - The Long War Journal

Peace negotiations begin with Taliban in Hangu - The Long War Journal: "Just"six days after the Pakistani military launched an offensive against marauding Taliban forces in Hangu, the government has initiated peace negotiations with the Taliban.

The government of the Northwest Frontier Province "authorized the jirga [tribal council] to finalize the terms with Taliban to halt the ongoing violence in the area," Daily Times reported based on anonymous sources.

The negotiations were confirmed by provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain. The provincial government ordered the jirga members to keep the terms of the negotiations secret. The Swat Taliban is said to be facilitating the negotiations.

The Hangu operation

The military moved in 1,500 regular Army forces into the region, backed by tanks, artillery, and helicopter gunships on July 16 after a week of unrelenting attacks by Taliban forces in the region. On July 8, a police force detained seven Taliban fighters, including Rafiuddin, a senior Taliban leader and a deputy of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. Rafiuddin’s group is based out of North Waziristan, which borders Hangu to the south.

The Taliban then launched a siege on the police stationwhere Rafiuddin and the other fighters were held. A force comprised of 400 Taliban fighters surrounded the police station, but dispersed after a Pakistani Army battalion was dispatched to lift the siege. On July 15, an estimated 250 Taliban surrounded a fort in the Shinawarai region and ordered the paramilitary troops to leave.

The Frontier Corps paramilitary troops abandoned the fort, which was subsequently looted and destroyed by the Taliban. The Taliban are said to have captured 29 members of the Pakistani security forces during the past week, and threatened to kill them if extremists in custody were not released. The fate of those captured is unknown.

Hangu is part of a pattern

The initiation of negotiations with the Taliban in Hangu is the latest attempt by the Pakistani government to make peace with the Taliban after conducting show of force operations. The recent military operation and subsequent negotiations in Khyber followed the same pattern.

The Pakistani military launched an operation in the tribal agency of Khyber earlier this month after Taliban incursions into the neighboring provincial capital of Peshawar could no longer be ignored. The military conducted ineffectual sweeps, purportedly to defeat Lashkar-e-Islam, Ansar-ul-Islam, and the Haji Namdar group, all extremist groups with ties to the Taliban.

The operation ended after 10 days, in what the government admitted was a "show of force." The government also announced the timetable of the operation as soon as it was launched, indicating the operation was not results driven.

The government then initiated peace talks with the Lashkar-e-Islam, and a peace agreement was signed on July 9. The more than 90 extremists captured during the operation were released.

The government indicated further Potemkin operations were in store in the tribal areas and regions in the Northwest Frontier Province. Yesterday, it was reported that Prime Minister Syed Yusaf Raza Gilani and his cabinet were told that more than 8,000 foreign fighters were operating in the tribal areas.

Interior Ministry Adviser Rehman Malik said further operations may be needed. Malik said the problem would require "a short and effective operation like the one in Bara [in Khyber] recently."

But a report from M. Waqar Bhatti, who recently visited Khyber, shows the operation was anything but effective. Regions of Khyber remain under full Taliban control as security forces are absent.

The Lashkar-e-Islam is enforcing sharia, or Islamic law, and has established a parallel government in contradiction to the peace agreement. Lashkar-e-Islam is forcing families to send one son to fight against the Ansar-ul-Islam, their rival in Khyber. "Their aim: to have full control of the most strategic point along the Afghanistan border," Bhatti stated.

Khyber is the gateway to Afghanistan. More than 70 percent of NATO's supplies pass through the Khyber agency. The Pakistani military is only focused on keeping the supply line to Afghanistan open, Bhatti said, noting heavy patrols and check posts on the main road through Khyber.

Pakistan makes deals with the devil

The government continues to sue for peace in the tribal areas. Yesterday, Gilani met with tribal elders from the seven tribal agencies of Bajaur, Mohmand, Kurram, Orakzai, Khyber, and North and South Waziristan.

Gilani asked for help in dealing with the rising threat of "militancy" in the tribal areas. "I ask you people to tell me how to deal with elements bent upon militancy," Gilani said. "I am deadly against use of force but some elements are compelling the government to take harsh decisions."

But the tribal elders in attendance said negotiations were required "while [the] use of force would further complicate" the situation. The tribal leaders refused to hold the Taliban accountable for problems in the agencies. "Interestingly, the turbaned men, who are known for their straightforward comments, tended to become diplomatic when questioned about the Taliban and Baitullah Mehsud," Daily Times reported.

A tribal leader in South Waziristan said the situation was stable and ignored questions about the murder and beheadings of tribal elders. A tribal leader in North Waziristan said, "99 percent of the tribesmen were supporting Baitullah Mehsud and Mullah Nazir because they considered them loyal citizens of Pakistan." A Mohmand tribal leader said, "the real Taliban are not bad people" and blamed any problems on "criminals."

The security situation in northwestern Pakistan and in neighboring Afghanistan has rapidly deteriorated since the government initiated its latest round of peace accords with the Taliban and allied extremists in the tribal areas and settled districts in the Northwest Frontier Province. Peace agreements have been signed with the Taliban in North Waziristan, Swat, Dir, Bajaur, Malakand, Mohmand, Khyber, and Orakzai.

Negotiations are under way in South Waziristan, Kohat, and Mardan. The Taliban have violated the terms of these agreements in every region where accords have been signed.

The Taliban, al Qaeda, and allied terrorist groups have established more than 100 terror camps in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.

Hezbollah Brigades propaganda specialist captured in Baghdad - The Long War Journal

Hezbollah Brigades propaganda specialist captured in Baghdad - The Long War Journal: "Coalition"special forces teams, likely the terrorist hunter-killer teams of Task Force 88, have captured a Hezbollah Brigades propaganda specialist during a raid in New Baghdad.

The propaganda specialist was positively identified by his wife after the raid, and he later admitted to his role in seeding websites with attack videos.

"The man uploads web sites with imagery and video taken from attacks on Iraqi Security and Coalition forces," Multinational Forces Iraq reported in a press release. "Reports indicate this is part of a propaganda effort in order to earn money and support from their Iranian financiers."

Little information is publicly available on the Hezbollah Brigades, or the Kata'ib Hezbollah. Multinational Forces Iraq indicates the group receives support from Iran and is an “offshoot of Iranian-trained Special Groups."

The logo used by the Hezbollah Brigades is nearly an exact match of the one used by Lebanese Hezbollah, which is directly supported by Iran. The logo shows an arm extended vertically, with the fist grasping an AK-47 assault rifle. US forces captured Ali Mussa Daqduq inside Iraq in early 2007. Daqduq is a senior Hezbollah commander who was tasked with setting up the Mahdi Army Special Groups along the same lines

The Hezbollah Brigades began uploading videos of attacks on US and Iraqi forces this year.

The group has claimed responsibility for the July 8 improvised rocket-assisted mortar attack on Joint Security Station Ur in Sadr City [see video]. One US soldier and one interpreter were wounded after eight of the makeshift "flying IEDs" detonated near the outpost. Shia terror groups have launched a handful of IRAM attacks on US and Iraqi outposts in Baghdad.

Hezbollah Brigades also posted video of an attack on a US patrolwith an Iranian-supplied, armor-piercing, explosively formed projectile, or EFP.

The capture of the Hezbollah Brigades propaganda expert is the latest in a series of raids against Shia terrorists. Scores of Special Groups operatives have been captured over the past month, including senior leaders, weapons smugglers, financiers, trainers, and cell leaders.

[bth: good. I've wondered why the coalition hasn't been able to identify and then terminate these propagandists.] - Resistance Group "Shields of Islam" IED attack on Puppet Interior Min Vehicle (NEW) - Resistance Group "Shields of Islam" IED attack on Puppet Interior Min Vehicle (NEW): ""

ied appears to have been placed in the bridge expansion joint - :hezbollah brigades in iraq:ied vs american humviee in almashtal street aloubaydi area - :hezbollah brigades in iraq:ied vs american humviee in almashtal street aloubaydi area: "" - brand new:HEZBOLLAH BRIGADES:EFP VS AMERICAN ABRAMZ IN OUR STREET IN BAGHDAD - brand new:HEZBOLLAH BRIGADES:EFP VS AMERICAN ABRAMZ IN OUR STREET IN BAGHDAD: "" - brand new:hezbollah brigades in iraq-Ashtar rocktes(the flying IEDS) - brand new:hezbollah brigades in iraq-Ashtar rocktes(the flying IEDS): ""

Remote-controlled RAF Reaper targets the Taleban - Times Online

Remote-controlled RAF Reaper targets the Taleban - Times Online: "It"is the way that the men suddenly scuttle the second before they die that sticks in the mind. What do they hear? The sudden roar of rocket presumably, fired from an invisible unmanned machine 25,000ft (7,600m) above them that captures the flaring, explosive moment of death in granulated infra-red video footage.

Reaper, the RAF's latest high-tech acquisition for the insurgency in Afghanistan, piloted by US operators back in distant Nevada: smart technology, futuristic, remote, impressive even, but as the name suggests, it still kills.

“We fly, operate and fight the aircraft at a height where people on the ground won't know we're there: it's a very quiet aeroplane,” explained one of the two RAF personnel responsible for arming, launching and recovering British Reapers from Kandahar airbase.

“It is remote-controlled warfare, a term we hate but that's very much the truth.”

Purchased from the US the two unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) have been used by British Forces in Afghanistan since September.

Primarily a night-time reconnaissance asset, each is nevertheless equipped with Hellfire missiles and 500lb laser-guided bombs, the same payload as an F16. Unlike jets however, which may only be on call for ground troops for half an hour at a time, Reaper cruises the sky in twelve-hour shifts.

Launched by the two RAF operators using radio antennas linking the machines to a ground-control centre inside Kandahar airbase, once airborne the link is severed and reconnected via satellite to Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, where it is piloted on screen for the duration of each mission before being landed again by the two servicemen in Kandahar.

The control console bears similarities to the inside of a jet cockpit, complete with throttles and control pedals. Yet since the Reaper video cameras point downward, the Kandahar operators, both pilots, have no peripheral vision.

The rules of engagement for the British Reaper operators are exactly the same as for jet pilots. A parallel series of questions are asked addressing whether a strike could be undertaken and should be undertaken.

Commonly a joint tactical air controller (JTAC), already on the ground with forward troops, will have access to the realtime Reaper footage on a battlefield computer.

He will call in the strike, which will be then executed by the Nevada operator. The rules of engagement are different to those of their US counterparts and, unlike the Americans, the British stated that their Reapers did not cross the border to Pakistan.

Though one senior RAF officer was reticent about the exact number of strikes the machines have performed it seems that the Reapers bomb regularly. One RAF Reaper was reportedly to have crashed recently over Afghanistan.

Certain details of this report were omitted at the MoD's request

The Raw Story | Watchdog: Leaked photos show troops fly in squalor

The Raw Story | Watchdog: Leaked photos show troops fly in squalor: "A"government watchdog has uncovered pictures that suggest US troops on their way to battlefields in Afghanistan travel in squalor while top military and government officials are cocooned in "comfort capsules" with reclining leather seats and flat-screen TVs.

Last week, the Project on Government Oversight asked for photos of the dilapidated airline seats; it wasn't long before pictures of torn, moldy, stained seats started rolling in. POGO did not identify the source of its photos, but it said they were taken at Al Udeid Airbase in Afghanistan.

The watchdog, which focuses on exposing waste, fraud and abuse in the US government, recently worked with the Washington Post to expose an Air Force program to spend money earmarked for the War on Terror to upgrade luxury cabins used to ferry top officials. Internal e-mails POGO obtained through a public records request showed "that Air Force generals frivolously blew hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars because they didn't like the color of seat belts, carpet, leather and wood used in work and living space units being developed for use on cargo planes," the group says.

In its request for the photos, POGO said it was "aware" of deplorable conditions in troop transport seats and noted that a program aimed to "remedy the current deplorable state of these seats ... is moving too slowly," as opposed to the plans to upgrade the cabins for top brass, which were known as Senior Leader Intransit Comfort Capsules.

The Post noted that the Air Force already provided top-notch arrangements for VIP travel before seeking the new cabins.

The Air Force already has two trailers, known as Silver Bullets, that can be loaded aboard large transports for use by top military and civilian officers, plus a fleet of about 100 planes specifically meant for VIP travel. But McMahon, who is now the Air Force's deputy chief of staff for logistics, installations and mission support, said the new program was started because the service ferried more "senior travelers" to distant regions after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and identified a "gap" in its capability.
The existing trailers already seem pretty cozy. UK's Metro obtained some pictures of a modified Airstream trailer that took First Lady Laura Bush to Afghanistan recently.

"With wood panelling, plush grey carpet, comfy leather seats and, most importantly, thick window shades, Mrs Bush could forget she was anywhere near the War on Terror being played out below the clouds," Miles Erwin wrote for Metro.

[bth: go to the original article via the link above to see the photos. horrible]

British troops to pull out of Iraq next year - Times Online#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=2015164#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=2015164

British troops to pull out of Iraq next year - Times Online#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=2015164#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=2015164: "Most" Britain’s troops will be out of Iraq in a year, six years after the American-led invasion, Gordon Brown indicated yesterday.

British Forces will remain at their present strength of 4,100 for the remainder of the year but there will be a “fundamental change of mission” in the first months of 2009.

According to defence and political sources, the numbers will be down to a “few hundreds” by next summer.

This emerged after Mr Brown told MPs that the mission would change “as we make the transition to a long-term bilateral partnership with Iraq, similar to the normal relationships which our military forces have with other important countries in the region”. ...

Iran Gives Nations in Nuclear Talks Two Pages and No Ground

Iran Gives Nations in Nuclear Talks Two Pages and No Ground - "PARIS"The Iranians called their proposal a “None paper.”

Indeed, for officials of the six countries sitting on the other side of the table, the paper addressed none of their ideas for resolving the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program.

Instead, the informal two-page document that Iran distributed at nuclear talks in Geneva on Saturday ignored the main six-power demand on curbing Iran’s enrichment of uranium and called for concessions from the other side.

The title of the English-language text had two mistakes. “The Modality for Comrehensive Negotiations (None paper),” it read, according to a copy obtained by The New York Times. (Diplomatic jargon for an unofficial negotiating document is “nonpaper.”)

For the six powers — the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany — the paper’s substance was just as disappointing as its style. Sergei Kisliak, the Russian deputy foreign minister, could not suppress a laugh when he read it, according to one participant. ...

[bth: well I guess this pathway - negotiating via the UN with the curent Iranian clergy/govt. - would appear to be at an unfortunate deadend.]

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: More thoughts on "the next war"

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: More thoughts on "the next war": "In"military journals, midlevel officers' conferences and gatherings around the Pentagon, a growing number have expressed concern that the Defense Department's planning and resources are being trained disproportionately on small guerrilla wars.

At the same time, they fear that important military skills -- storming beaches, fighting tank battles, using air and land power in unison to attack enemy lines -- are beginning to atrophy.

"The military is almost always accused of preparing to fight the last war," said former Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne. "The most interesting part of 'next-war-itis' is that we are being accused of trying to fight the next war."

The military, Wynne said, has the responsibility to prepare for wars against competing nations even as it fights what he calls the war of "choice" in Iraq. "We shouldn't have to pick between this war and the next war," he said. "That is a bad deal."" NY Times


After Vietnam the armed forces, particularly the US Army turned away from all that had been learned by hard experience and study of counterinsurgency (COIN). This subject was resolutely avoided for decades and over time was largely forgotten Counter-terrorism became the principal mission of the community of light forces called, "Special Operations Forces." For a long time, this mission consisted largely of preparation and exercises, but 9/11 brought that to the front of everyone's mind. Counter-terrorism became the "flavor of the month," and these forces have been allowed to operate across the world with a degree of independence that is worrisome to many in the armed forces.

The disastrous miscalculations regarding Iraq were compounded early on by the US ground forces' ignorance and frankly disbelief in the possibility of a serious guerrilla enemy. The inability at that time of many officers to think usefully about insurgency and counterinsurgency without official sanction for such thought should give one pause. Perhaps the right habits of thought are not being inculcated?

Now we have a great ongoing resurgence of counterinsurgency doctrine and practice. In Vietnam and the other COIN wars of the 20th Century, specialists in that field largely ran such wars while the main ground forces of the US remained focused on the Soviet Army and the central German corridor. When brought into Vietnam they thrashed around in the woods looking for the enemy's main forces (the North Vietnamese Army with its divisions, artillery and tanks) and were hardly involved in COIN at all. Now, the main forces of US ground power have been told that COIN is the thing for them to do. Great! I love it that battalion commanders of infantry read learned articles by foreign experts and speak with confidence in the vocabulary of social anthropology (cool) and political science (not cool).

Nevertheless, this is a mixed blessing. I have written earlier of my concern that a cult of generational development in warfare is spreading the idea that warfare develops progressively new forms and that old forms are no longer relevant because the nature of world society has moved "beyond" them. This is a false and misleading notion. War is a process of human social interaction carried out along a broad spectrum of possible forms. The resort to these forms has much to do with local conditions and the relative strength of the adversaries. In other words, many different forms of warfare can exist simultaneously and have generally always done so.

In the era of COIN doctrine ascendancy and the re-organization of the US Army into a brigade based structure largely stripped of mass, and heavy weaponry, the question must be asked, "what happens if we encounter an adversary who has a lot of equipment and who is determined to fight for a long time?" I asked Rumsfeld that question five years ago. His answer was that the crowd of obviously intimidated generals whom he had brought to the meeting had told him that this was not a problem. Maybe that is why I was not invited to any more meetings.

Now, we have a group of officers who are arguing at the risk of their careers that history does not march in lockstep towards the future. They should be heard. A balanced defense policy and forces are what are needed. pl

[bth: a realistic threat assessment is needed. Strategy and equipment follows from there. Africa. Pakistan. Middle East. China/Taiwan. Let's base our decision on current and probable threats not what General Dynamics wants to sell the military.]
Informed Comment
I do wish McCain had finished a little higher in his class at Annapolis

Armchair Generalist: A Dangerous Man

Armchair Generalist: A Dangerous Man: ..."I"keep wondering, who are these nations against which we're going to be fighting? Unless it's China or Russia, I'm not really that worried. I don't see us going up against India, Pakistan, or anyone in Europe. Involvement in Africa's officially out, according to AFRICOM. Don't think that Syria or Egypt's spoiling for a fight. And if Dunlap thinks we're going into Iran or North Korea to "win" and change their regimes, he's insane. And who's to say that urban warfare isn't the wave of the future?

This probably isn't news, that there are two opposing forces fighting over the defense budget: a pro-heavy forces contingent and the current pro-counterinsurgency contingent. I think the Congress and OSD leadership are going to try to have it both ways - plan for current equipment buys for counterinsurgency operations as well as continue heavy, expensive modernization programs more suited for major combat operations. Because, hey, it's just money. Why have these disagreements over simple policy?

[bth: I think your spot on. The issue is the threat we are addressing and the constraint is the budget.]

Judge bars evidence in trial of bin Laden's driver -

Judge bars evidence in trial of bin Laden's driver - "GUANTANAMO"BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) -- The judge in the first American war crimes trial since World War II barred evidence on Monday that interrogators obtained from Osama bin Laden's driver, ruling he was subjected to "highly coercive" conditions in Afghanistan.

But Judge Keith Allred, a Navy captain, left the door open for the prosecution to use statements Salim Hamdan made at Guantanamo, despite defense claims that all of his statements were tainted by alleged abuse including sleep deprivation and solitary confinement.

Hamdan, who was captured at a roadblock in Afghanistan in November 2001, pleaded not guilty at the start of a trial that will be closely watched as the first full test of the Pentagon's system for prosecuting alleged terrorists. He faces a maximum life sentence if convicted of conspiracy and aiding terrorism.

The chief prosecutor for the tribunals, Army Col. Lawrence Morris, said the loss of some of Hamdan's statements will not keep the trial from going forward.

"It does not reduce my confidence in our ability fully to depict Mr. Hamdan's criminality," he told reporters. "We're fine."

The judge said the prosecution cannot use a series of interrogations at Bagram Air Base and Panshir, Afghanistan, because of the "highly coercive environments and conditions under which they were made."

At Bagram, Hamdan says he was kept in isolation 24 hours a day with his hands and feet restrained, and armed soldiers prompted him to talk by kneeing him in the back. He says his captors at Panshir repeatedly tied him up, put a bag over his head and knocked him to the ground.

Michael Berrigan, the deputy chief defense counsel, described the ruling as a major blow to the tribunal system that allows hearsay and evidence obtained through coercion.

"It's a very significant ruling because these prosecutions are built to make full advantage of statements obtained from detainees," he said.

A jury of six officers with one alternate was selected from a pool of 13 flown in from other U.S. bases over the weekend. Hamdan's lawyers succeeded in barring others, including one who had friends at the Pentagon at the time of the September 11 attacks, and another who had been a key government witness as a student.

Monday marked the first time after years of pretrial hearings and legal challenges that any prisoner reached this stage of the tribunals.

The U.S. plans to prosecute about 80 Guantanamo prisoners, including the self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11 attacks and four alleged co-conspirators....

Monday, July 21, 2008

Advocates for the Troops (from the WBUR Newsroom)

Advocates for the Troops (from the WBUR Newsroom):


"BEDFORD"Mass. - July 21, 2008 - The war in Iraq has killed more than 4,100 US troops. Most of their families have grieved, and then tried to get back to their normal lives.

But for one family in Bedford, a town north-west of Boston, the tragic loss has turned their lives into a mission.

Since John Hart died, his parents have been advocating for safer equipment and better medical supplies for soldiers in battle.

WBUR's Monica Brady-Myerov has their story.


MONICA BRADY-MYEROV: The Harts' home in Bedford has an American flag hanging outside with a gold star banner. It signifies their son died in service to his country.

In their living room, Alma Hart has devoted the bay window to him: Army Private First Class John Hart.

ALMA HART: Here's his medals. That's the bronze star for bravery and this is his purple heart.

BRADY-MYEROV: Brian Hart says 20-year-old John was killed in Iraq while on patrol in an unarmored Humvee in October 2003.

BRIAN HART: They were trying to find insurgents that had been firing rockets at a base and the insurgents found them.

BRADY-MYEROV: Anyone who's lost a loved one will say it forever changes their lives. But in the case of the Harts, everything about their mission and purpose has changed. It started a week before their son was killed. John called home from Iraq and asked his father for help to get more body armor and armor for the Humvees he was driving in. His mother Alma remembers the call well.

ALMA HART: As soon as Brian hung up he told me what John had said and he's pacing back and forth across the living room, who should we contact what can we do that won't have feedback on John without getting John into trouble And a week later john was dead and it was ok we can do anything we need to do now. They can't hurt us any more than this.

BRADY-MYEROV: Around this time, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a group of soldiers who were complaining they had insufficient protection, that the army was producing extra armor for Humvees as fast as possible. Brian Hart didn't accept that explanation. He researched the vehicles production, called the plant and spoke with workers who said they were sitting idle.

BRIAN HART: Come to find out the plant had not received the purchase orders, and that was when I made the determination with Alma to resign from my job and become an advocate for equipment for soldiers for what we thought would be a few months. We thought it was a miscommunication and misunderstanding and of course it turned out it wasn't.

BRADY-MYEROV: Hart didn't give up after a few months. He's spent almost five years calling for better equipment for US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hart has worked with powerful allies, including Senator Ted Kennedy. At his son's funeral, he asked the Senator why a third of the troops didn't have body armor and why there were only 440 armored Humvees in Iraq. Kennedy held a Congressional hearing. Six months later all troops had body armor and in about two years there were almost 20,000 armored Humvees in Iraq. And the Hart family found a new calling.

BRIAN HART: It was sort of baffling I mean we built pharmacy automation equipment we had no experience in these matters. But John as a 20-year-old believed you could make a difference as a person and he and the other soldiers who enlisted with him also felt that way. You know we believe that ordinary people can make a difference and that we have an obligation to the country and in particular to the soldiers we sent to a war.

BRADY-MYEROV: More than 4,100 US soldiers have been killed in this war, but only a handful of their relatives have taken on advocacy like the Harts. Roger Charles, a retired Marine Colonel now with the advocacy group Soldiers for the Truth, worked with the Harts on increasing the production of armored Humvees.

ROGER CHARLES: Brian and Alma were really the catalyst and by getting connected with Senator Kennedy and by his making the kind of commitment he were able to make a real difference and people lives were saved.

BRADY-MYEROV: Hart works on issues by thoroughly researching them and posting what he finds on his blog. Then active duty soldiers and National Guard families call him and he encourages them to contact Congress. He also works directly with the staff of several congressional leaders, including former congressman Marty Meehan who was on the armed services committee. Meehan calls Brian a tenacious one man fact-finding mission.

MARTY MEEHAN: With Brian he was very engaging because he knew what he what he was talking about he talked about failing to up armor Humvees. I got a sense from him that his position on the war had changed because of the fact that he felt we weren't doing enough as a country to make sure when we went to war we prepared and we weren't prepared and I think he knew that.

BRADY-MYEROV: The Harts have influenced, in some small part, billions of dollars of defense spending. But they have never received money for their work and haven't set up a non-profit to raise funds. They've been living off their savings and are propelled by the calls and notes of thanks that come from soldiers and their families. Alma picks up a photo in their living room of a soldier in Iraq kneeling in front of a blown up Humvee holding a hand written sign. Here's what it says:

ALMA HART: Thanks to Brian and Alma Hart and Senator Kennedy and everyone who care for our wellbeing and makes an effort. You have saved lives.

BRADY-MYEROV: After bringing the public's attention to unarmored Humvees, Hart worked on getting armor for trucks driven by National Guard soldiers. Then he learned the Army lacked in-field tourniquets. Hart says the Army's own studies showed that 15 percent of casualties could have been saved by the issuing single handed tourniquets and blood clotting agents. Following his advocacy, the army started issuing them to every solider in 2006.

At times, his whole family has joined in on the effort to help the troops. His teenage daughters, Elizabeth and Rebecca, have made care packages for soldiers. Alma works with police and other first responders educating them about the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

ALMA HART: The two signature wounds of this war is PTSD and traumatic brain injury both of which you can walk around with.

BRADY-MYEROV: Now Brian Hart is focusing on getting Congress to investigate why the Marines are canceling orders for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles or MRAPS. They are armored fighting vehicles designed to resist IEDs and ambushes. Defense Secretary Robert Gates credits them with saving lives and has made then a top priority. The Army has ordered 12,000, but Hart says the Marines scaled their order back by nine percent, which he says is indicative of the backward thinking in the military.

BRIAN HART: Believe it or not the Marines have canceled their orders for M-RAPS claiming they are too heavy for an amphibious assault operation as if we were going to somehow invade Iowa Jima again. I mean the reality of the war is that Marine and soldiers needs M-RAP to survive.

BRADY-MYEROV: The Marines say they reduced their order because of the improving security situation in Iraq. Recently Brian Hart, the advocate, got his first defense contract. He and his brother started a company in 2005 building robots to dismantle car bombs and IEDS. In June they received $800,000 from the Pentagon. But Hart says his commercial venture won't keep him quiet on troop safety issues.

BRIAN HART: There's a point where you realize you have nothing to lose and that you can't life in fear if you want to life in freedom and having the courage to act is probably the one thing the dead can't do and it is our obligation, our obligation to the soldiers we sent to war to advocate for them as a citizen in this country.

BRADY-MYEROV: For WBUR I'm Monica Brady-Myerov.
Informed Comment: Global Affairs

The Real News Network: Create Custom Video Embed Code

The Real News Network: Create Custom Video Embed Code: ""

Author: Officials against torture memo feared wiretaps, physical danger

The Raw Story | Author: Officials against torture memo feared wiretaps, physical danger: "According"to Jane Mayer, author of The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals, two top lawyers in the Justice Department who attempted to push back against the authorization of torture by Vice President Cheney's staff became so paranoid that they worried they were being wiretapped and even feared they might be in physical danger.

Mayer told the hosts of MSNBC's Morning Joe that Cheney's staff took advantage of 9/11 to enhance presidential power and that -- in the words of Republican lawyer and former 9/11 Commission director Philip Zelikow -- "fear and anxiety were exploited by fools and zealots."

Mayer added, however, that there were also opponents of torture and other extreme powers within the administration. "Almost from the start after 9/11," she stated, "lawyers in the administration have said, 'That's not the American way, we can't do that, it's criminal, it may be a war crime.'"

Mayer pointed out that "two of the top lawyers in the Bush administration, Jim Comey who was the number two in the Justice Department and Jack Goldsmith who ran the Office of Legal Counsel, were trying really hard to put the country back on what they thought was a legal footing when it came to how to treat prisoners. They were trying to take away the torture memo and replace it with something that was more responsible."

"As they were working on this," Mayer continued, "they became so paranoid that the vice president's office was either trying to push back in some way -- they thought they might be being wiretapped, they thought they might be in physical danger. The fights were that intense. I can't tell you how passionate and hard-fought these fights were inside this government."...

A battle over 'the next war' - Los Angeles Times

A battle over 'the next war' - Los Angeles Times: "WASHINGTON"— Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles J. Dunlap Jr. is not a fighter pilot, wing commander or war planner. But he is waging what many officers consider a crucial battle: ensuring that the U.S. military is ready for a major war.

Dunlap, like many officers across the military, believes the armed forces must prepare for a large-scale war against technologically sophisticated, well-equipped adversaries, rather than long-term ground conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan.

First, however, they face an adversary much closer to home -- Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

For more than 30 years, the Pentagon establishment considered it an essential duty to prepare for a war of national survival. But under Gates, that focus has fallen from favor.

In public speeches and private meetings, Gates has chastised many commanders as ignoring wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while they plan for speculative future conflicts.

"We should not starve the forces at war today to prepare for a war that may never come," Gates said in a stinging address last month, one of a series he has delivered. Gates even has coined a term for what he sees as a military disorder: "next-war-itis."

Spurred by Gates and sobered by setbacks in the Middle East, many commanders have signed on to the Defense secretary's view.

But Dunlap and others are pushing back. They believe that the Iraq war is beginning to wind down and that the United States, chastened by its experience there, is unlikely to ever again become embroiled in a long-term ground conflict where adversaries rely on irregular, "asymmetric" fighting methods.

"We need the bulk of the Army prepared to go toe-to-toe with the heaviest combat formations our adversaries can field," Dunlap said. "For what it is worth, I predict the next big war will be conventional, or I should say symmetrical. In my judgment, we are not going to get into the business of occupying a hostile country of millions of people."

Dunlap, a military lawyer, has emerged as the most outspoken advocate for what many once considered the military's core mission: preparing to fight and defeat countries determined to destroy the U.S. or its interests.

He is not alone. In military journals, midlevel officers' conferences and gatherings around the Pentagon, a growing number have expressed concern that the Defense Department's planning and resources are being trained disproportionately on small guerrilla wars.

At the same time, they fear that important military skills -- storming beaches, fighting tank battles, using air and land power in unison to attack enemy lines -- are beginning to atrophy.

"The military is almost always accused of preparing to fight the last war," said former Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne. "The most interesting part of 'next-war-itis' is that we are being accused of trying to fight the next war."

The military, Wynne said, has the responsibility to prepare for wars against competing nations even as it fights what he calls the war of "choice" in Iraq. "We shouldn't have to pick between this war and the next war," he said. "That is a bad deal."

Wynne and the Air Force chief of staff, Gen. T. Michael "Buzz" Moseley, were fired by Gates last month after an investigation criticized Air Force oversight of the nation's nuclear arsenal. But Wynne believes his philosophical disagreement with Gates over future threats and the weapons needed to counter them played into his ouster.

Many veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan side squarely with Gates. They believe future conflicts will look like the current wars, and argue that the U.S. must not lose its newfound expertise in counterinsurgency warfare.

"I think that nation-state and conventional war is in a state of hibernation," said Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, who commanded U.S. forces in Fallouja in 2004. "I don't think it's gone away, but the most likely threats probably today are not going to be conventional or from another state."

Mattis argues that the current fight is not an interlude.

"I recognize some people want to say: 'Let's hold our breath. The irregular world will go away, then we can get back to good old soldiering again,' " he said. "Unfortunately, in war, the enemy gets a vote."

The debate has real-world implications. Air Force officials have been unable to buy more F-22 fighters, needed for future air power. Gates prefers to spend money on heavily armored ground vehicles to protect soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There are many other ramifications. Marine Corps and Army training centers, for instance, now teach soldiers to fight among urban locals, track down insurgent cells and avoid roadside bombs.

Maxie L. McFarland, the deputy chief of staff for intelligence at the Army's Training and Doctrine Command, predicts the Army will be involved in regional conflicts -- over energy resources, extremist movements or environmental changes -- in places of growing strategic importance, such as Nigeria.

"The Army believes it has to prepare for warfare and conflict among local populations with unfamiliar cultures . . . in urban settings or harsh lawless areas," McFarland said. "We think this environment will require long-duration operations, at extended distances."

Army Lt. Gen. Carter F. Ham, who oversees operational planning for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was not convinced of the value of counterinsurgency operations until he served in Iraq. Now, he believes the Army needs a generation of leaders versed in counterinsurgency.

"When I joined the Army, it was clear there were good guys and bad guys and . . . they wore different uniforms. That is not reality anymore," Ham said. "There are folks who want to do away with our way of life, but they are not states."

But in a series of articles for military journals, Army Lt. Col. Gian P. Gentile, a former commander in Iraq who now teaches at West Point, argued that an excessive focus on counterinsurgency may "cloud our ability to see things as they actually are."

Within the Air Force, many officers believe that the costs of the current wars will discourage similar conflicts in the future.

"If we do another Iraq," said a senior Air Force official, "I think we will get in, do a specific task, and get out of there. We aren't going to stay and bleed." The officer spoke on condition of anonymity when criticizing Pentagon leaders.

Dunlap argues that commanders should fight wars in ways that take advantage of the U.S. military's technological advantages. He pointed to the first phase of the Afghanistan war, which toppled the Taliban through the use of special operations forces and precision bombs.

"We ought to be offering decision makers something more than just deploying massive numbers of young Americans to places where the enemy has a thousand ways to kill them," he said.

A conflict against a technologically advanced power may be in the distant future. But Dunlap argues that cutbacks in high-tech conventional weapons systems might embolden other countries to challenge the United States.

"If you want to avoid war, prepare for war," Dunlap said.

In the middle of the debate is Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Mullen has asserted that the military must find a balance between conventional and irregular wars.

Although largely behind the scenes, the debate within the department has been unusually frank, according to senior Pentagon officials. Unlike his predecessor, Donald H. Rumsfeld, Gates is almost universally seen as willing to give all comers a fair shake in strategic discussions.

"Previous folks were confident they had the answer," said Ham. "And my sense is senior leadership, uniformed and civilian, is saying: 'I am not sure I have the answer, so let's have the discussion.' "

[bth: this is an absolutely critical debate. This is also why MRAPs are getting bad mouthed by anonymous sources in the press. The air force has bet all its funding on WWIII type technologies - fighters and bombers - that aren't in the fight and are so costly and prone to breakdown that they aren't committed to combat. Their disdain for close air support has shown in their choice of equipment - their starvation of UAV platforms - forcing the army and marines to add their own capabilities. The MRAP debate, isn't about MRAPs, its about the military industrial complex leveraging its position to continue funding for Future Combat Systems that have no relevance to this or any other real world war. To say that IEDS are transient and not permanent components of a modern battlefield is just bull crap. To say that MRAPs that are required to defend against IEDs or their more permanent counterparts is also crap. Its reality. It interferes with the military industrial companies that want to sell expensive aircraft, landing craft and ospreys. Its about the money, not about winning wars. Gates is at least putting the discussion on the table. The corporations will simply wait him out. He leaves when Bush leaves.]