Tuesday, October 26, 2010

US to build £8bn super base on Pacific island of Guam - Telegraph

US to build £8bn super base on Pacific island of Guam - Telegraph

The expansion will include a dock for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, a missile defence system, live-fire training sites and the expansion of the island's airbase. It will be the largest investment in a military base in the western Pacific since the Second World War, and the biggest spend on naval infrastructure in decades.

However, Guam residents fear the build-up could hurt their ecosystem and tourism-dependent economy.

Estimates suggest that the island's population will rise by almost 50 per cent from its current 173,000 at the peak of construction. It will eventually house 19,000 Marines who will be relocated from the Japanese island of Okinawa, where the US force has become unpopular.

The US's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said that this could trigger serious water shortages. The EPA said that dredging the harbour to allow an aircraft carrier to berth would damage 71 acres of pristine coral reefs.

The EPA's report said the build-up would "exacerbate existing substandard environmental conditions on Guam"....

Where were the officers?

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In defense of giant bags of cash - By Steve LeVine | The Oil and the Glory

In defense of giant bags of cash - By Steve LeVine | The Oil and the Glory: "Worries about geopolitical bogeymen can overwhelm good sense. Case in point: today's melee over the discovery that Iran has been regularly handing Afghan President Hamid Karzai fistfuls of cash. Just who is Tehran endangering by keeping Karzai lubricated with pocket change? For one, the fellows U.S. troops are fighting: the Taliban. Karzai calls the payments 'normal,' and he is right. In the case of Afghanistan, Iran is in effect a U.S. ally.

It's useful to keep in mind that Iranian influence in Afghanistan is traditional. The two countries share a language, after all -- making it easy for the Iranians, for instance, to be particularly close to the leaders of the populous Herat and Balkh provinces, in the west and north of the country. Since the mid-1990s, the Iranians have served a useful balancing purpose to the Pashtun Taliban.

Today's alarmism is partly over Karzai's use of some of the Iran money to buy off Taliban leaders. To which one can rightly reply, So what? The strategic payoff is how power operates in Afghanistan. If you want to get rid of this kind of payola, you might as well load Karzai -- or any other Afghan leader, for that matter -- onto a C-130 to Virginia today, because he won't be in power another hour. ...

- bth: what a country. What are we there for again?
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Humiliate, strip, threaten: UK military interrogation manuals discovered | UK news | The Guardian

Humiliate, strip, threaten: UK military interrogation manuals discovered | UK news | The Guardian: "The British military has been training interrogators in techniques that include threats, sensory deprivation and enforced nakedness in an apparent breach of the Geneva conventions, the Guardian has discovered.

Training materials drawn up secretly in recent years tell interrogators they should aim to provoke humiliation, insecurity, disorientation, exhaustion, anxiety and fear in the prisoners they are questioning, and suggest ways in which this can be achieved.

One PowerPoint training aid created in September 2005 tells trainee military interrogators that prisoners should be stripped before they are questioned. 'Get them naked,' it says. 'Keep them naked if they do not follow commands.' Another manual prepared around the same time advises the use of blindfolds to put prisoners under pressure.

A manual prepared in April 2008 suggests that 'Cpers' – captured personnel – be kept in conditions of physical discomfort and intimidated. Sensory deprivation is lawful, it adds, if there are 'valid operational reasons'. It also urges enforced nakedness.

More recent training material says blindfolds, earmuffs and plastic handcuffs are essential equipment for military interrogators, and says that while prisoners should be allowed to sleep or rest for eight hours in each 24, they need be permitted only four hours unbroken sleep. It also suggests that interrogators tell prisoners they will be held incommunicado unless they answer questions.

The 1949 Geneva conventions prohibit any 'physical or moral coercion', in particular any coercion employed to obtain information.

The revelations come after the Guardian published US military documents leaked to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks revealing details of torture, summary executions and war crimes in Iraq....

Stryker unit sought to defend killing at heart of Afghan murder probe

Stryker unit sought to defend killing at heart of Afghan murder probe: ..."Moye - who has not been charged in connection with the shooting - insisted to villagers in blunt language that members of his platoon had killed the cleric only after he attacked them with a Russian grenade, a version that Army investigators now allege was concocted by other soldiers to cover up the crime.

'Not only is it important that you understand that, but that you tell everybody,' Moye said, according to the audio recordings. 'Because this is the type of stuff the Taliban likes to use against us and [expletive] try to recruit people to fight against us.'

Documents from the Army's Criminal Investigations Command show that military investigators later learned that the photojournalist, Max Becherer, had been with the Stryker platoon on May 5 and had recorded soldiers' conversations. Army special agents conducting the killing investigation realized Becherer might possess key evidence: recordings of platoon members at the scene of one of the alleged crimes.

But the documents also show that a higher-ranking officer in the Criminal Investigations Command, Lt. Col. Robert McNeil, ordered special agents not to contact Becherer. The reason: concerns that notifying the journalist might disrupt the serial killing probe, which the Army had sought to keep tightly under wraps.

McNeil decided on June 12 that 'the probative value of any information' that Becherer might have 'does not out way [sic] the possible negative impact contacting him may have on this investigation,' according to summary logs of the Army's criminal investigation. ...

- bth: so the Lt. Col McNeil avoided approaching an embedded reporter who was a witness in one death and had audio tapes of soldiers discussing the events including denials that it had happened the way it evidently did because McNeil was afraid of the publicity that might disrupt a serial killing probe. So don't bother him with the evidence, he's got a crime to solve. One concludes that truth or justice had little to do with the CIC's work in this case. The recordings are linked to the original WaPo article.

U.S. says did not under-report Iraq civilian deaths | Reuters

U.S. says did not under-report Iraq civilian deaths | Reuters: ..."WikiLeaks said the documents detailed the deaths of 15,000 more Iraqi civilians than the U.S. military had reported.

Army Chief of Staff General George Casey, who served as the top U.S. military commander in Iraq from 2004-2007, said U.S. forces actually went into morgues to count bodies.

'I don't recall downplaying civilian casualties,' Casey told reporters....

- bth: He did not recall downplaying the numbers , yet the leaked documents show that he did otherwise.

Report: Israel planned explosion at Iranian missile site

Report: Israel planned explosion at Iranian missile site: "An explosion that killed 18 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on October 12 was ordered by the Mossad, French newspaper Le Figaro suggested on Monday. Another cause for the blast mentioned by the paper was a targeted Israeli air raid.

Official Iranian reports stated that the explosion occurred after a fire broke out in a weapons depot.

Le Figaro also alleged that the explosion occurred at a secret missile site for the long-range Shahab-3, capable of being modified to carry a nuclear payload and striking Israel.

The Imam Ali missile base is located in western Iran near the city of Khoramabad.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Note how Assange keeps propping that Vietnam era photo

Students visiting Ft. Benning Robot Rodeo see Black-I Robotics LandShark Series UGV

Here some of the crew from Black-I Robotics show visiting school children robots at the Ft. Benning Robot Rodeo in Oct 2010. These kids get what is going on and the fact that we can control some features of the UGVs with X Box game controllers immediately registers with them. For this young generation robots will be an integral features of their military and civilian lives.

For the generals and colonels that ran the show, well less so. They are just too conservative, too wrapped up in bureaucracies and fears to grasp the bigger picture. It would be like WWI aircraft being stuck with 1915 versions and not developing the Fokker or the Spad which inevitably follow.

I hope it will be American companies that make there products because foreign governments and industries see this potential too and are less inhibited than we are. For example the South Koreans have no such inhibitions.

When the future of America stares you in the face be prepared to address it.

Raytheon Tests New Weapon Designed for Unmanned Aircraft Systems - Oct 22, 2010

Raytheon Tests New Weapon Designed for Unmanned Aircraft Systems - Oct 22, 2010: "YUMA PROVING GROUND, Ariz., Oct. 22, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) successfully flight tested Small Tactical Munition, a new weapon specifically designed to be employed from unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). STM is a 13-pound guided bomb that is approximately 2-feet long, making it the smallest bomb in the Raytheon family of weapons.

The bomb's dual-mode, semiactive laser seeker and GPS-inertial navigation system enable the weapon to engage both fixed and moving targets around-the-clock, regardless of weather conditions.

'Current combat operations have highlighted the need for extremely small, precise weapons that are optimally designed for remotely piloted aircraft,' said Bob Francois, Raytheon vice president of Advanced Missiles and Unmanned Systems. 'STM is part of a portfolio of weapons that meets the warfighter's need in this area.'

Raytheon flight tested two STM weapons on two separate passes from a Cobra™ UAS. The GPS-INS guided the weapons to a mid-course position where the semiactive laser seeker precisely guided the weapon to the target, achieving all test objectives...

- bth: don't you find it interesting that UAVs aren't being weaponized with machine guns

German Army shrinking to size of US Marine Corp

German Committee Recommends Cutbacks in Defense Spending - NYTimes.com: "BERLIN — As major European countries seek to cut military forces in response to the economic slowdown and pressure from finance officials to rein in spending, the Defense Ministry of Germany has been advised to cut its staff by half, close several army bases and slim the armed forces from 250,000 to 180,000.

The recommendations were announced Sunday by Frank-J├╝rgen Weise, the head of a special cross-party commission charged with restructuring Germany’s military.

Mr. Weise’s proposal is likely to bolster efforts by Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who was appointed defense minister just over a year ago, to transform the German military. He has already abolished conscription despite strong opposition from his conservative bloc — the Christian Democratic Union party and the Christian Social Union party.

Mr. Guttenberg has been proposing radical cutbacks in the armed forces in to turn them into highly professional and better trained units. ...

- bth: not your Daddy's Wehrmacht

TheBayonet.com | 10/22/2010 | Latest technologies unveiled at 2010 Robotics Rodeo

TheBayonet.com | 10/22/2010 | Latest technologies unveiled at 2010 Robotics Rodeo:... "Several robots at the rodeo were operated by hand-held, game-control devices, which offer huge cost savings and easy use because most young Soldiers grew up playing Xbox 360 and PlayStation video games, industry representatives said.

Mr. Brian Hart, president and CEO of Black-I Robotics Inc., said he and his wife, Alma, had personal motivation for getting into the military robotics business. Their son, PFC John Daniel Hart, was killed in 2003 during an ambush in Iraq while serving with the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

Immediately afterward, the couple began lobbying for greater funding of body and vehicle armor, he said. At the time of PFC Hart’s death in October 2003, there were only 400 armored Humvees out of 35,000 in the Army fleet. Five years ago, Mr. Hart started the company with his brother, Richard, and Mr. Arthur Berube.

At the Robotics Rodeo, they showcased the “Land Shark,” a 700-pound robot that can be mounted on a Humvee or pickup truck. With an arm that extends more than 11 feet vertical, it’s capable of disabling car bombs and picking up improvised explosive devices weighing more than 200 pounds, Mr. Hart said.

“Never send a man to do a machine’s job,” he said. “Robots should be weaponized and used for surveillance. … But if we can’t make them robust and affordable, the PFCs and lance corporals never get it. That’s who needs to have it, not just bomb squads.” He said roadside bombs aren’t a “temporary phenomenon but a long-term issue,” so practical robotics has a place in the Army. “Everything that’s been at this show is expendable, repairable and affordable. You can’t replace a human being,” Mr. Hart said. “The technology is definitely here. We just got to get the cost down a little.”

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On the Border of War: An Insurgent's Road Trip from Pakistan to Afghanistan - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

On the Border of War: An Insurgent's Road Trip from Pakistan to Afghanistan - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International: ...."The young insurgent says goodbye. All he is carrying is a plastic bag containing clean clothes for the next two to three days. Then he will be back, in Torkham, driving across the border in his own car, which he will take back to Kohistan. He waves and greets the border guard with a pat on the shoulder and a handshake. The handshake lasts a while, long enough for the banknote to change owners. It is enough to ensure that no papers are asked for.

Rafiullah doesn't look back. He disappears into Afghanistan.

- bth: this is an article about crossing the Paki/Afghan border from the perspective of a Pakistani Pashtun fighter. It is well worth reading in full.

Iran Is Said to Give Top Karzai Aide Cash by the Bagful - NYTimes.com

Iran Is Said to Give Top Karzai Aide Cash by the Bagful - NYTimes.com: "KABUL, Afghanistan — One evening last August, as President Hamid Karzai wrapped up an official visit to Iran, his personal plane sat on the airport tarmac, waiting for a late-running passenger: Iran’s ambassador to Afghanistan.

The ambassador, Feda Hussein Maliki, finally appeared, taking a seat next to Umar Daudzai, Mr. Karzai’s chief of staff and his most trusted confidant. According to an Afghan official on the plane, Mr. Maliki handed Mr. Daudzai a large plastic bag bulging with packets of euro bills. A second Afghan official confirmed that Mr. Daudzai carried home a large bag of cash.

“This is the Iranian money,” said an Afghan official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Many of us noticed this.”

The bag of money is part of a secret, steady stream of Iranian cash intended to buy the loyalty of Mr. Daudzai and promote Iran’s interests in the presidential palace, according to Afghan and Western officials here. Iran uses its influence to help drive a wedge between the Afghans and their American and NATO benefactors, they say.

The payments, which officials say total millions of dollars, form an off-the-books fund that Mr. Daudzai and Mr. Karzai have used to pay Afghan lawmakers, tribal elders and even Taliban commanders to secure their loyalty, the officials said.

“It’s basically a presidential slush fund,” a Western official in Kabul said of the Iranian-supplied money. “Daudzai’s mission is to advance Iranian interests.” ....

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Taliban in Korea

"Members of the Taliban terrorist group were recently caught in Korea and more are believed to be working here in secret, authorities said Friday, sparking security concerns less than three weeks before the international Group of 20 summit in Seoul.

Intelligence officials recently caught terrorist agents of the Islamist group who were seeking to export strategic weapons to Palestine. The Taliban agents were believed to be working in the country, aware of South Korea’s somewhat slack control on strategic arms exports, authorities said.

“We believe more Taliban agents are in the country and are trying to track them down before the G20 summit,” a security official in Seoul said, asking not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.

Working together with Interpol, Seoul authorities confiscated a ship carrying weapons right after it entered Palestine, the official said. ...

t r u t h o u t | Veteran Suicides Outnumber US Military Deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan

t r u t h o u t | Veteran Suicides Outnumber US Military Deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan: "More than 1,000 veterans in California under 35 died after returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan between 2005 and 2008 - three times as many California service members who were killed in conflict overseas, according to a recently published Bay Citizen report....