Saturday, December 19, 2009

YouTube - B-17 Down

YouTube - B-17 Down

Hacked Predator video no concern: USAF intel chief

Hacked Predator video no concern: USAF intel chief: "A senior US Air Force official says that insurgents did not compromise the military's intelligence system by tapping into video feeds transmitted by Predator unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) to ground troops.

Lt Gen David Deptula, USAF deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, says the hacked videos resulted in no 'significant impacts' on operations and tactics.

During an interview this morning with, Deptula also challenged a reporter for describing the Predator's intelligence data as 'compromised' by the insurgents.

'What do you mean the 'compromise of the data',' Deptula says. 'Nothing is compromised. I want to get information out to the joint forces on the ground, you follow me? If someone does pick [the video feed] up and they don't know the context of how the information is being used, what's the compromise?'

Deptula also says the military has been aware of the vulnerability first reported yesterday by The Wall Street Journal.

'We're talking about interception of signals that are broadcast over the air - duh,' Deptula says."...

[bth: time for a new Lt Gen.]

Breaking-TLAM Warships Strike Al Qaeda « New Wars

Breaking-TLAM Warships Strike Al Qaeda « New Wars:... "The cruise missile strikes, which were first reported by ABC News, took place within a week after it was disclosed that US Special Forces have deployed to Yemen to work with the country’s army. The US has also recently deployed unmanned Reaper strike aircraft in the region, under the guise of supporting anti-piracy operations off of the coast of Somalia. Reapers and Predators are used extensively in the covert US air war in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Since there were Reapers already available, not sure why we expended cruise missiles on the raid, but glad the Navy got in on the show. As we have said all week, these are the type of operations the admirals should plan for, and the use of missiles and UAVs are very cost effective and effective ways of deploying airpower"

Encryption of drone feeds won't finish until 2014, Air Force says

Encryption of drone feeds won't finish until 2014, Air Force says: "It will take at least until 2014 to encrypt video feeds from the U.S. military's Predator and Reaper drones to prevent enemy forces from intercepting the information, Air Force officials said Friday.

Reports this week said U.S. forces had discovered that insurgents in Iraq, using inexpensive, off-the-shelf software, had been able to hack into video feeds from the drones, which are used for surveillance and launching missiles in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some Pentagon officials initially dismissed the reports, saying this was an old problem that had been addressed.

But the Air Force Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Plan acknowledges concern. Work on encryption began this year on the Air Force's fleet, but the report said it will not be finished until 2014 and even then will not 'account for the retrofit of the existing fleet.'

The Army also operates unmanned aircraft and has acknowledged the need to protect the feeds sent from its fleet."...

[bth: This is total bullshit. There is no way it takes to 2014. That is just posturing to get more funding to fix the problem that they have left gapingly open all this time. I'd be thinking we should fire a few Air Force and Army Generals and I suspect that the date would suddenly shrink. Further this king of bull shit timeline was given to congress in 2003 and 2004 when it came to armored ground vehicle production or lack thereof. Within 12 months they were making enough to equal in 1 month the armored humvee production they had estimated for 18 months. This situation is totally unacceptable and I expect Sec. Gates to step up and see that this problem is fixed promptly and without excuse.]

Shanghai Daily | 上海日报 -- English Window to China News

Shanghai Daily | 上海日报 -- English Window to China News: "IT is getting harder for governments to buy United States Treasuries because the US's shrinking current-account gap is reducing supply of dollars overseas, a Chinese central bank official said yesterday.

The comments by Zhu Min, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China, referred to the overall situation globally, not specifically to China, the biggest foreign holder of US government bonds.

Chinese officials generally are very careful about commenting on the dollar and Treasuries, given that so much of its US$2.3 trillion reserves are tied to their value, and markets always watch any such comments closely for signs of any shift in how it manages its assets.

China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange reaffirmed this month that the dollar stands secure as the anchor of the currency reserves it manages, even as the country seeks to diversify its investments.

In a discussion on the global role of the dollar, Zhu told an academic audience that it was inevitable that the dollar would continue to fall in value because Washington continued to issue more Treasuries to finance its deficit spending.

He then addressed where demand for that debt would come from....

[bth: hard to say what point he is trying to make and why is this statement timed now? Is it the healthcare bill or something else?]

'The United States cannot force foreign governments to increase their holdings of Treasuries,' Zhu said, according to an audio recording of his remarks. 'Double the holdings? It is definitely impossible.'

'The US current account deficit is falling as residents' savings increase, so its trade turnover is falling, which means the US is supplying fewer dollars to the rest of the world,' he added. 'The world does not have so much money to buy more US Treasuries.'

China continues to see its foreign exchange reserves grow, albeit at a slower pace than in past years, due to a large trade surplus and inflows of foreign investment. They stood at US$2.3 trillion at the end of September."

Internet Archaeologists Find Ruins Of 'Friendster' Civilization | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Internet Archaeologists Find Ruins Of 'Friendster' Civilization | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Internet Archaeologists Find Ruins Of 'Friendster' Civilization

'Gays Too Precious To Risk In Combat,' Says General | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

'Gays Too Precious To Risk In Combat,' Says General | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

'Gays Too Precious To Risk In Combat,' Says General

Army general in Iraq issues pregnancy ban - Military-

Army general in Iraq issues pregnancy ban - Military- "The Army general of U.S. forces in Northern Iraq has banned pregnancy among military personnel in his command, NBC News reported on Friday.

Anyone who becomes pregnant or impregnates another servicemember, including married couples assigned to the same unit, could face a court-martial and jail time, according to an order issued by Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo."...


Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield

--Ulysses, Alfred Lord Tennyson

Rumor mill: Kerry to Tehran? | The Cable

Rumor mill: Kerry to Tehran? | The Cable: "The Cable is picking up some chatter today around town that Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry is offering to travel to Tehran to try to broker a last-ditch agreement with the Iranian regime regarding its nuclear program.

It's an interesting idea considering Kerry's role in representing the administration after the recent Afghan presidential election. But Iran isn't Afghanistan and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is no Hamid Karzai.

And after all, he does seem to be the administration's point man on negotiations over new Iran sanctions.

One Middle East insider told The Cable that Kerry pitched the idea to the White House and the White House was thinking it over.

National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer couldn't confirm or deny the story and Senate Foreign Relations staff declined to comment.

Kerry is in Copenhagen today. Let's see what happens..."

WPR Article | War is Boring: Dutch Government Mulls Departure from Afghan War

WPR Article | War is Boring: Dutch Government Mulls Departure from Afghan War:... "One Dutch MP who supported the extension insisted the Dutch departure would hurt NATO. 'If the Dutch leave Uruzgan, partner countries are not going to be able to cover the province effectively,' said Raymond Knops, from the Christian Democrat Appeal. 'I have spoken with their diplomats and troops on the ground, and Australia and Canada are ready to leave. If we go, then it will have a domino effect.'

'The Dutch parliament unfortunately uses end dates rather than focusing on end goals,' Knops added. But the parliament is in good company. U.S. President Barack Obama has proposed to begin withdrawing American troops in July 2011, just 11 months after the Dutch start their own exit."...

[bth: NATO allies that are actually willing to fight, the Dutch, Australians, Canadians and Brits are slowly making their way to the exits.]

Al-Qaeda members accused of Africa drug ring: US

The Raw Story | Al-Qaeda members accused of Africa drug ring: US:... "The men are accused of contacting undercover informants in Ghana who were posing as members of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Latin America's longest-standing guerilla outfit.

The men said al-Qaeda could provide protection for the transportation of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from West Africa through North Africa and ultimately into Spain.

They also allegedly discussed the possibility of kidnapping foreign nationals to 'raise money for the cause,' the Justice Department said in a press release."...

Who's in charge in nuclear-armed U.S. ally Pakistan? | McClatchy

Who's in charge in nuclear-armed U.S. ally Pakistan? | McClatchy: "ISLAMABAD — Pakistan, a country that's critical to the U.S.-led war on terrorism, Friday appeared to be sliding toward a judicial coup, in which judges are moving to oust top officials in the civilian government, but without putting the military, or anyone else, in charge.

Courts summoned dozens of senior members of the ruling political party and were on the verge of issuing an arrest warrant for Interior Minister Rehman Malik as they followed up a landmark Supreme Court decision this week that nullified a legal amnesty that had shielded politicians from long-standing corruption charges.

The U.S. relies on Pakistan for transit of most supplies NATO forces in Afghanistan and has pressed the government to crack down on al Qaida and Afghan militants who have sanctuary in the lawless border region, but top U.S. officials are playing down the crisis as an internal matter for Pakistan.

Just who's running this nuclear-armed country of 165 million — the independent judiciary or another arm of the state — is unclear. The government, led by President Asif Ali Zardari, appeared paralyzed, and a creeping change in command seemed to be under way.

'It's complete (judicial) control now,' said Asma Jahangir, the chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent watchdog. 'The issue is whether the (democratic) system is going to pack up again (and go away).' She asked why the judiciary was 'again' letting itself be used by 'the establishment?'"...

Friday, December 18, 2009

YouTube - Annie Lennox- Why

YouTube - Annie Lennox- Why

Pak accountability court issues arrest warrant against Rehman Malik

Pak accountability court issues arrest warrant against Rehman Malik: "An accountability court in karachi on Friday issued an arrest warrant against Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

The warrant has been issued following the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) request to reopen cases against Malik and several other political leaders, who until now were safeguarded by the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

Earlier, the Supreme Court served a contempt-of-court notice on Malik for transferring Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Director, General Tariq Khosa, who was heading an investigation into a case against alleged irregularities amounting to 22 billion rupees on court orders at the time of reassignment.

The three-member court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury, summoned Malik to appear before it on December 24 and file a written reply to the contempt notice."...

Cruise Missiles Strike Yemen - ABC News

Cruise Missiles Strike Yemen - ABC News: "On orders from President Barack Obama, the U.S. military launched cruise missiles early Thursday against two suspected al-Qaeda sites in Yemen, administration officials told ABC News in a report broadcast on ABC World News with Charles Gibson"

One of the targeted sites was a suspected al Qaeda training camp north of the capitol, Sanaa, and the second target was a location where officials said "an imminent attack against a U.S. asset was being planned."

The Yemen attacks by the U.S. military represent a major escalation of the Obama administration's campaign against al Qaeda.

Marines prep for key Taliban offensive in southern Afghanistan - Yahoo! News

Marines prep for key Taliban offensive in southern Afghanistan - Yahoo! News: "Nawa, Afghanistan – Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson is prepping his Marines to launch a major offensive against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan – in what could be a game-changer in the operations here.

Nicholson, the senior Marine commander in Afghanistan, will in the coming weeks receive hundreds of reinforcements, the first wave of forces to deploy as part of President Obama’s surge. That will allow Nicholson to pierce the Taliban stronghold of Marjeh – a 100-square-mile region that must, in the words of another senior Marine officer, be “cracked open.”

The Taliban has been operating in the district of Marjeh since being pushed out of other areas of Helmand Province. There are reportedly opium stockpiles in Marjeh.

“We’re going to go in big,” Nicholson said with panache Thursday, standing on a remote base in Nawa with Marines, Afghan officials, and a gaggle of reporters around him. “We’re going to put the enemy on the horns of a dilemma – again,” he says.

Nicholson’s rhetorical swagger may be nothing more than posturing. But he has reason to be confident, pointing to other areas in Helmand where the population, forced to choose sides, has gone against the Taliban."...

[bth: How about he tell the Taliban what time the attack is going to kick off while he's at it so they can move their opium stash and put new batteries in their IEDs. Jesus. Is this a PR stunt or a combat mission?]

Defence of the Realm: I think we said that

Defence of the Realm: I think we said that:... "Note: 'And one of the major sources of funding for the Taliban is the protection money.' More troops, more supplies, more trucks, more protection money. For the Taliban, the war is self-funding – the donors being the taxpayers of the coalition nations – the US and UK in particular.

As we pointed out – it is all done under a doctrine of 'plausible deniability'. We do not pay the Taliban – oh no! But we build their payments into the contractors' fees, which they then pass on, to ensure safe passage."...

Kucinich: ‘Class war is over, working people lost’ | Raw Story

Kucinich: ‘Class war is over, working people lost’ | Raw Story: "WASHINGTON -- Reflecting on the growing divide between Wall Street and Main Street, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) on Wednesday offered a powerful critique on the state of the economy in an open committee hearing.

'The class warfare is over -- we lost,' Kucinich said before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. 'I want to make that announcement today. Working people lost. The middle class lost.'

The harrowing comments from Kucinich, who is Chairman of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee, come amidst a national unemployment rate of 10 percent, one year and several months after the economic collapse of 2008 has marred the livelihoods of many.

'Don't tell me about class warfare,' he continued. 'Come to my neighborhoods in Cleveland. I will show you class warfare. I’ll show you hollowed out areas. I’ll show you businesses that went down because they don’t have access to capital. And on Wall Street it is fat city. Don’t tell me about class warfare.'"...

YouTube - Tiger Woods - Mistress Plate Collection

YouTube - Tiger Woods - Mistress Plate Collection

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones -

Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones - "WASHINGTON -- Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.

Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes' systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber -- available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet -- to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter."...

PM says committed to promote partnership with US

PM says committed to promote partnership with US: "ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday reiterated the Government of Pakistan’s resolve to promote long-term strategic partnership with the United States.

“It is our desire to engage closely with the US with a view to enhance cooperation for the achievement of common objectives”, Prime Minister Gilani said while talking to the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen who called on him here at the PM House on Wednesday evening.

During the meeting Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani assisted the Prime Minister.

Talking about the ongoing military operation against the militants, the Prime Minister said that “this is our own war and every effort would be made to eliminate this menace”.

He said that Pakistan would continue to engage with the US and international community in developing a pragmatic and effective approach to address the issues that have endangered security and stability in the region as a whole.

The Prime Minister said that drone attacks in Balochistan would be highly counter-productive and would affect Government of Pakistan’s efforts to confront the challenge of terrorism.

The Prime Minister said that pledges made during the FODP meeting should be fulfilled without any delay to enable Pakistan fight the militancy effectively.

He further said that Pakistan expects the US for timely reimbursement of its claims on account of coalition support fund.

Admiral Michael Mullen informed the Prime Minister that US desires good relations with Pakistan. He also appreciated the role and successes of Pakistan Army in its fight against the militants.

American Ambassador to Pakistan Ms. Anne W. Paterson was also present during the meeting."

[bth: I guarantee you this is about the American aid and who gets it.]

Raytheon turns iPhones into battlefield tools - Yahoo! News

Raytheon turns iPhones into battlefield tools - Yahoo! News: "SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – US defense contractor Raytheon on Wednesday unveiled the first of what it said will be a series of software applications to make iPhones or iPod touch devices into battlefield tools.

One Force Tracker (OFT) software takes advantage of features built into Apple's wildly popular touch-screen mobile devices to let soldiers track whereabouts of allies and adversaries on maps in real time.

'We have developed a situational awareness application based on military messaging standards that provide multimedia access, audio and textual point of interest, free text messaging, collaborative planning, spot reports and emergency call for fire,' said Tushar Patel, director of Advanced Programs and Technology at Raytheon's Network Centric Systems.

'Raytheon is a leader in secured wireless networking. Combining that with Apple's expertise allows us to provide rapid, low-risk and affordable interoperable system solutions.'

OFT capitalizes on iPhone and iPod Touch capabilities including global positioning, high-speed Internet, and accelerometers that let controls respond to twists, tilts or turns."...

[bth: this practical and good idea will bring us up to the friendly forces tracking capability of the London Police department that uses this technique on swat raids. Good move though and about time. Kudos to Raytheon]

Gen. Petraeus Lauds Afghan War as ‘Success’ -- News from

Gen. Petraeus Lauds Afghan War as ‘Success’ -- News from "Over eight years after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, it is non-controversial to call it a disaster. Al-Qaeda’s leadership is long gone and the US has no idea where they are, while Afghanistan is collapsing under the force of a growing insurgency and record violence. Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent, and soon the size of America’s occupation force will near 100,000.

Don’t tell that to CENTCOM commander General David Petraeus, however. The eternal optimist who led the Bush Administration’s train-wreck of a war in Iraq announced today in an interview from Kabul that the war has “been successful” overall.

The only problem General Petraeus sees with the Afghan War is the failure to capture bin Laden, despite “significant focus.” He insists however that other “top 20 extremist leaders” were killed, which made the war a success."...

[bth: Petraeus is prepping for his presidential run]

Lawmakers: Soldiers have problems with combat gear

Lawmakers: Soldiers have problems with combat gear:... "Soldiers are being issued a rucksack made of plastic that is not comfortable or effective in combat situations, Skelton and Ortiz found during a recent trip to Germany and Italy where they met with members of the 503rd Infantry Regiment and the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

Troops carry heavy loads on their backs and the plastic straps cut off circulation to their hands and arms, 'making it virtually impossible to fire their weapons,' they told Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Skelton and Ortiz said many of the soldiers they talked to are using their own money to buy better packs from commercial suppliers.

The M4 carbine, a shorter, lighter version of the M16 rifle, was also criticized. Skelton and Ortiz said they've had long-standing concerns with the M4. Those worries mounted after a study by a military historian found the rifle failed at critical moments during a July 2008 firefight in Afghanistan that left nine U.S. soldiers dead.

'Even though these weapons routinely rank lower than other military weapons in testing, they are still being issued as the Army's weapon of choice,' the letter says.

The Army has said it is improving the M4 to make it more reliable and lethal while also planning to hold a competition for a new combat rifle.

The lawmakers said they were told troops are being taken straight from boot camp and being sent to Afghanistan and Iraq without extensive training at stateside bases.

'Is this a common practice now'? Skelton and Solomon ask. 'And will the upcoming surge into Afghanistan exacerbate this situation?'"...

[bth: when Ike Skelton speaks the Pentagon damn well better start listening, but one has to ask, where has Skelton been? These issues have been ongoing. The 503rd was mauled last year in Wanat, Afghanistan. Is that what it takes to get something done? The fucking M249s overheat and jam. The M4s jam and half the time are out of range for Afghan contact which is often at 500 meters half the time and from above on the mountain sides.]

Pakistan Showing Its Upset by Harassing U.S. Diplomats -

Pakistan Showing Its Upset by Harassing U.S. Diplomats - "ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Parts of the Pakistani military and intelligence services are mounting what American officials here describe as a campaign to harass American diplomats, fraying relations at a critical moment when the Obama administration is demanding more help to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda."...

[bth: further indications of factionalization?]

Pakistan Strikes Down Amnesty for Politicians -

Pakistan Strikes Down Amnesty for Politicians - "ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Supreme Court struck down a controversial amnesty on Wednesday that had dismissed corruption allegations against thousands of Pakistan’s politicians, including President Asif Ali Zardari, effectively restoring the cases against them."...

[bth: enter stage left the religious nuts and the army despots.]

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Navy and RAF pay the price to fund Afghan war - Home News, UK - The Independent

Navy and RAF pay the price to fund Afghan war - Home News, UK - The Independent: "The RAF and Royal Navy will bear the brunt of swingeing cuts in defence spending to pay for the rapidly rising cost of the war in Afghanistan.

The Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth, also announced that 7,500 civil servants will lose their jobs and that the size of the armed forces would be slimmed down."

He set out plans for an extra £900m to support the fight against the Taliban in Helmand and disclosed that the bill for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan now exceeds £14bn.

The extent of the cuts – which will see one RAF base closed and a second mothballed – was spelt out by Mr Ainsworth in a Commons statement. It brought accusations that Britain's defences were being undermined because of "catastrophic economic mismanagement" by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The cost of fighting foreign wars has traditionally been met from central government coffers to ensure that defence budgets were not affected by emergency deployments of troops.

But as Britain's involvement in Afghanistan enters its ninth year, Mr Ainsworth said economies would have to be found in his ministerial budget.

Up to three squadrons of Harrier and Tornado jet fighters will be axed, resulting in the closure of the RAF base in Cottesmore, Leicestershire.

A fleet of Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft will be taken out of service within months – 12 months earlier than expected – and not replaced for several years. The move leaves a question mark over the future of the RAF base at Kinloss, Moray, and the 1,800 service personnel who work there.

The Royal Navy will have a minesweeper and survey ship scrapped early, as well as losing Lynx and Merlin Mk1 helicopters.

The MoD will lose about 7,500 of its 100,000-strong civilian workforce. ...

[bth: UK MOD is coming apart. The public and the government simply are not willing to fund the defense needs of a country at war. UK is going to wind down in Afghanistan just like the Canadians and Dutch are doing and just like UK did in Iraq. Their infantry is brave and well trained but the bucks and the will to keep them equipped and in sufficient force to make a difference in Afghanistan just isn't there.]

Grinding Down the US Army by Tom Engelhardt --

Grinding Down the US Army by Tom Engelhardt -- "Last week, the U.S. Army released its suicide figures for November. Twelve soldiers on active duty were classified as 'potential suicides' for the month, bringing the yearly suicide total to 147, 19 more than for all of 2008, and the fifth year in a row the rate has risen. In the same week, a RAND Corporation study was released which found, not surprisingly, 'that children in military families were more likely to report anxiety than children in the general population. The researchers also found that the longer a parent had been deployed in the previous three years, the more likely their children were to have difficulties in school and at home.'"...

Doughnuts For Dorgan: Drug Reimportation Killed In Deal That Might Get Cheaper Drugs For Seniors

Doughnuts For Dorgan: Drug Reimportation Killed In Deal That Might Get Cheaper Drugs For Seniors: "President Obama and the Senate leadership can't whip up the votes necessary to pass a public option or even a Medicare buy-in compromise, but they didn't have any trouble persuading 30 Democrats to vote against prescription drug reimportation Tuesday night -- thus preserving the deal cut between the Senate Finance Committee, the White House and Big Pharma.

The amendment's sponsor, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), was asked after the vote if Democratic leadership opposed his amendment in order to preserve the deal.

'Well, and they apparently did,' said Dorgan. 'The last seven days, we've seen a lot of votes stripped away. What did we get, 51 votes tonight for my amendment? I believe seven days ago we had sufficient votes to pass it, but I think what is happening in the intervening period is other things developed. It's a great disappointment because it seems to me very hard to do health care reform without doing something about the escalating prices for prescription drugs.'"...

[bth: of course the consequence is that millions of Americans, especially those without insurance, are forced to pay the highest drug prices in the world but then regular main street people don't seem to matter to Washington any more.]

Up to 56,000 more contractors likely for Afghanistan, congressional agency says -

Up to 56,000 more contractors likely for Afghanistan, congressional agency says - "The surge of 30,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan could be accompanied by a surge of up to 56,000 contractors, vastly expanding the presence of personnel from the U.S. private sector in a war zone, according to a study by the Congressional Research Service.

CRS, which provides background information to members of Congress on a bipartisan basis, said it expects an additional 26,000 to 56,000 contractors to be sent to Afghanistan. That would bring the number of contractors in the country to anywhere from 130,000 to 160,000.

The tally 'could increase further if the new [administration] strategy includes a more robust construction and nation building effort,' according to the report, which was released Monday and first disclosed on the Web site Talking Points Memo.

The CRS study says contractors made up 69 percent of the Pentagon's personnel in Afghanistan last December, a proportion that 'apparently represented the highest recorded percentage of contractors used by the Defense Department in any conflict in the history of the United States.' As of September, contractor representation had dropped to 62 percent, as U.S. troop strength increased modestly."...

Abu Sayyaf co-founder arrested: Philippine govt

The Raw Story | Abu Sayyaf co-founder arrested: Philippine govt: "A Filipino who allegedly helped the Al-Qaeda network set up the Abu Sayyaf extremist group in the Philippines was arrested on Wednesday, a government spokesman said.

Abdul Basir Latip was detained at Jakarta airport and taken to Manila, said Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) spokesman Ricardo Diaz."

[bth: interesting cooperation between Indonesia and the Philippines]

The Stoning

US granted Citibank 'massive tax exemptions'

The Raw Story | US granted Citibank 'massive tax exemptions': "The US federal government has exempted Citibank and a number of other financial institutions that received bailout funds from paying billions of dollars in taxes, the Washington Post reported.

The Post said Wednesday that tax exemptions were offered to several companies partially owned by the government, including Citibank, which 'will be allowed to retain billions of dollars worth of tax breaks that otherwise would decline in value when the government sells its stake to private investors.'

'While the Obama administration has said taxpayers are likely to profit from the sale of Citigroup shares, accounting experts said the lost tax revenue could easily outstrip those profits,' the Post said."...

[bth: another scam played on the taxpayer]

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gen. McChystal: The U.S. can’t defeat al-Qaeda unless we capture bin Laden -

Gen. McChystal: The U.S. can’t defeat al-Qaeda unless we capture bin Laden - "Gen. Stanley McChrystal said the United States cannot defeat al Qaeda until Osama bin Laden is captured.

Bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, has eluded U.S. and coalition forces since 2001.

McChrystal said that bin Laden is an “iconic figure” whose survival “emboldens” the terrorist group as a “franchising organization across the globe” and serves as a recruiting tool.

McChrystal and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday afternoon to lend their full support for President Barack Obama’s new war plan."...

[bth: ... after spending 8 years pretending that he isn't important....]

Army Counseling Fights Soldier PTSD and Rising Suicides - TIME

Army Counseling Fights Soldier PTSD and Rising Suicides - TIME: "Neither the U.S. military nor the American public would tolerate a conflict in which U.S. losses mounted for five straight years. Yet, that's what's happening in the Army's battle with suicides. The recently released figure for November show that 12 soldiers are suspected of taking their own lives, bringing to 147 the total suicides for 2009, the highest since the Army began keeping track in 1980. Last year the Army had 140 suicides.

Although Army officials don't blame the spike on repeated deployments to war zones, evidence is mounting to the contrary. Only about a third of Army suicides happen in war zones, officials note, and another third are among personnel who had never deployed. But that means two-thirds of Army suicides have deployed, many returning home with mental scars that make them prone to take their own lives, the Army's No. 2 officer said last week."...

Thai police seize North Korean aircraft carrying 40 tons of heavy weapons - Times Online

Thai police seize North Korean aircraft carrying 40 tons of heavy weapons - Times Online: "The aircraft was Russian, registered in Georgia. Its crew were from Kazakhstan and Belorussia. It was about to fly on to a refuelling stop in Sri Lanka when it was seized by police in Thailand - and found to be carrying 40 tonnes of heavy weapons from Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.

Thai police are now investigating what appears to be the biggest bust so far in the international arms embargo against North Korea – an arsenal of missiles, rockets and grenades bound for an unknown destination. The seizure of the weapons, carried out after a tip-off by the US Government, shines a light on the murky arms trade which is believed to provide a major source of income to the North Korean dictatorship.

The Ilyushin-76 cargo plane was cordoned off on the tarmac at Bangkok’s Don Muang airport, where it had stopped for refuelling on Friday. Its crew of five were arrested, after the cargo which they described as “oil drilling equipment” was found to consist of heavy weaponry."...

[bth: the article later says the suspected destination was Pakistan]

Taliban stalls key hydroelectric turbine project in Afghanistan | World news | The Guardian

Taliban stalls key hydroelectric turbine project in Afghanistan | World news | The Guardian: ..."Two thousand British troops took part in the five-day convoy through enemy territory, which was launched because the main road leading to the dam was too vulnerable to Taliban attacks.

Senior British officers privately say the enormous diversion of scarce military resources for the operation allowed the Taliban to make major gains in other critical areas of the province, including Nad Ali, which subsequently saw some of the most intense fighting between British forces and insurgents.

Within a couple of months of the Kajaki operation, areas close to the British base in Lashkar Gah had deteriorated so badly that troops had to be resupplied by air drop.

The dam continues to be besieged by Taliban fighters and, 15 months after the mission by the UK troops, the turbine's components remain unassembled because huge amounts of cement that are required to install the equipment cannot be delivered safely.

Now the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the wing of the United States government which has so far pumped $47m (£29m) into the project, intended to electrify much of southern Afghanistan, says it is packing the turbine parts away and looking for other energy projects to invest in across Afghanistan.

'Our message is that until we have a secure road we cannot continue with the installation of turbine two,' said John Smith-Sreen, head of energy and water projects for USAID in Kabul.

'When the turbine was moved in by British and American forces it was a huge effort and it was done in a point of time. But we can't move in the large quantity of cement and aggregate that we need in a point of time, we need a sustained effort,' he said.

The road would need to be secured for about half a year.

While the cement required could probably be transported in around half that time, civilian contractors would need to see the road had been secured for about three months to attract them to the project, Smith-Sreen said."...

[bth: I might be wrong but I thought the Taliban had never attacked the dam even when they controlled the country. Perhaps we should consider hiring locals to transport the cement instead of doing it ourselves. The Taliban might need to be paid off but I suspect the world could get done.]

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sic Semper Tyrannis : Counterinsurgency – a much failed strategy?

Sic Semper Tyrannis : Counterinsurgency – a much failed strategy?: ..."Conclusion

COIN is a badly flawed instrument of statecraft: Why?

- The locals ultimately own the country being fought over. If they do not want the “reforms” you desire, they will resist you as we have been resisted in Iraq and Afghanistan. McChrystal’s strategy paper severely criticized Karzai’s government. Will that disapproval harden into a decision to act to find a better government or will we simply undercut Afghan central government and become the actual government?

- Such COIN wars are expensive, long drawn out affairs that are deeply debilitating for the foreign counterinsurgent power. Reserves of money, soldiers and national will are not endless. Ultimately, the body politic of the counterinsurgent foreign power turns against the war and then all that has occurred has been a waste.

- COIN theory is predicated on the ability of the counterinsurgents to change the mentality of the “protected” (read controlled) population. The sad truth is that most people do not want to be deprived of their ancestral ways and will fight to protect them. “Hearts and Minds” is an empty propagandist’s phrase.

- In the end the foreign counterinsurgent is embarked on a war that is not his own war. For him, the COIN war will always be a limited war, fought for a limited time with limited resources. For the insurgent, the war is total war. They have no where to escape to after a tour of duty. The psychological difference is massive.

- For the counterinsurgent the commitment of forces must necessarily be much larger than for the insurgents. The counterinsurgent seeks to protect massive areas, hundreds of built up areas and millions of people. The insurgent can pick his targets. The difference in force requirements is crippling to the counterinsurgents.

What should we do?

- Hold the cities as bases to prevent a recognized Taliban government until some satisfactory (to us) deal is made among the Afghans.

- Participate in international economic development projects for Afghanistan.

- Conduct effective clandestine HUMINT out of the city bases against international jihadi elements.

- Turn the tribes against the jihadi elements.

- Continue to hunt and kill/capture dangerous jihadis,

How long might you have to follow this program? It might be a long time but that would be sustainable. A full-blown COIN campaign in Afghanistan is not politically sustainable.

W. Patrick Lang'"

LEMIR Offers Additional Protection Against IEDs

LEMIR Offers Additional Protection Against IEDs: "The French Command and Support Battalion (BCS) operating in Afghanistan has introduced a new countermeasure designed to pre-detonate improvised explosive devices and mines that are not effected by radio-electronic jammers. The system, designated 'LEMIR' (abbreviation in French for 'Leurre Massique mécanique InfraRouge') is operated by escort vehicles.

They are designed to pre-detonate pressure activated devices, by employing mechanical cutters to eliminate trip-wires, The apparatus also presents a 'bait' ahead of the vehicle, presenting the mass and heat of the vehicle to deceive mines and IED activation devices operating by mechanical pressure, trip-wires or heat sensors."...

GAO battle stats Iraq and Afghanistan

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YouTube - Bruddah IZ ~ Hawai'i Aloha

YouTube - Bruddah IZ ~ Hawai'i Aloha

Volunteer lay wreaths on graves at Arlington -

Volunteer lay wreaths on graves at Arlington - ..."He was one of more than 6,000 volunteers who gathered Saturday morning to place wreaths on the graves at Arlington.

In 1992, Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath in Harrington, Maine, began the tradition when he and several others decided to decorate several hundred graves at Arlington. Morrill and his wife, Karen, make the trip every year, stopping in different cities along the way to host events dedicated to service members and victims of terrorism. The Worcesters also founded the nonprofit organization Wreaths Across America, which has spread the wreath-laying to other states.

This year, volunteers placed more than 16,000 wreaths on graves at Arlington, in areas at the Pentagon, on graves at Fayetteville National Cemetery in Arkansas, at Battery Park in New York City and at the memorial site for United Airlines Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa. For the second year, the Wal-Mart Foundation donated more than $150,000 to pay for and transport the wreaths.

Charleen Hunt, 70, of Westminster said she made the trip to Arlington to honor her late husband, who was career military. Although her husband is not buried at Arlington, Hunt said the wreath-laying is her way of thanking those who sacrificed. 'It's a small way civilians can support our troops,' she said. 'It's like visiting a family grave site.'

Dressed for the cold day, volunteers walked across the cemetery's expansive lawns and hills. They focused on some of the older graves because they are not visited as often as the newer ones, organizers said."...

[bth: as one of the families in section 60 our many thanks to the volunteers that made this possible]

Experts: Somali Islamists improving tactics, bombs | Antiwar Newswire

Experts: Somali Islamists improving tactics, bombs | Antiwar Newswire: "Somali Islamist insurgents have imported terrorist tactics and technology used with deadly results in Iraq and Afghanistan, threatening the African country's beleaguered government and causing alarm as far as Washington.

Somali fighters over the past two years have gone from simply throwing grenades into crowded rooms to building advanced remote-controlled bombs. Analysts fear that the transfer of tactics and technology may strengthen ties between Somali Islamists and al-Qaida.

The Somali insurgents offer refuge to terrorists and may also provide territory for training for a strike on the West, said Juan Zarate, the former U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser for Combating Terrorism. Recruits in jihadist training camps in Somalia are already taught how to use firearms and explosives, according to local and U.S. officials.

The U.S. military wrote an urgent internal report earlier this year after a cache of bomb-making materials with sophisticated triggering devices was found in Somalia.

'People are very concerned that technology from Iraq and Afghanistan is being transferred to Somalia,' said Zarate, who is now a senior adviser at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The increasing sophistication of attacks came amid an influx of hundreds of foreign jihadi fighters to the lawless Horn of Africa state over the last year. Experts are uncertain, however, whether the new tactics and technology are being brought by Somalis who fought abroad, freelance jihadi fighters or al-Qaida-linked figures.

In the latest Iraq- or Afghan-style attack, a suicide bomber wearing women's clothing detonated explosives last week during a university graduation in the tiny portion of Mogadishu under government control. The blast killed 24 people, including three Cabinet ministers.

Somalia's most dangerous militant group — al-Shabab, which has ties to al-Qaida — denied it was behind the bombing. Taliban militants, blamed for most suicide bombings in Afghanistan, also typically deny responsibility for blasts that kill many civilians and cause outrage.

'What happens in Somalia is not original tactics, it is a copy of what happens in Iraq and Afghanistan,' said Somali Information Minister Dahir Gelle. 'We understand where (the insurgents) train and who is sending them ... The coordination and tactics and sophistication comes from al-Qaida.'"...

SNL Mocks Media For Ignoring Political Affairs While Reveling In Tiger's (VIDEO)

SNL Mocks Media For Ignoring Political Affairs While Reveling In Tiger's (VIDEO)