Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cartwright: Budget cuts could force a return to the draft - News - Stripes

Cartwright: Budget cuts could force a return to the draft - News - Stripes

The Pentagon is considering massive changes to the force — including a draft — amid fears that new and far deeper budget cuts are looming just over the horizon, a top military official said Thursday.

Marine Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, offered a timeline for how deep cuts will affect the force during the next decade, including big reductions in operational budgets, slashing the size of the active-duty force and even scaling back entitlements such as retirement and health care, according to the Military Times newspapers.

President Obama has proposed cutting $400 billion from the defense budget over the next 12 years, but Cartwright said the military is bracing for even deeper cuts...

--- bth: I think a lot of talk like this, re-instituting the draft and stuff, is a bunch of bull and is doing the service a disservice as it beggars credibility.

Pakistan: Military intelligence claims Afghanistan hosting terrorist safe havens - Adnkronos Security

Pakistan: Military intelligence claims Afghanistan hosting terrorist safe havens - Adnkronos Security

Islamabad, 15 July (AKI/DAWN) - Inter-Services Public Relations Director Gen. Athar Abbas has claimed that there are terrorist safe havens inside Afghanistan.

In an interview with British media, Abbas said terrorists from Swat had found Kunar and Nuristan in Afghanistan to be safe havens and from there they launched cross-border attacks inside Pakistan.

Gen Abbas said militants and their leaders – Fazalullah, Faqir Muhammad, Abdul Wali and Hakimullah – had hideouts in these areas, adding that when Nato was pulling out its troops from the areas, Pakistan had conveyed its well-founded concerns....

-- bth: while the timing of this is a propaganda push by Pakistan when their ISI director is in Washington, the fact is, that their statement is true.

In Shadow of Death, Iraq and U.S. Tiptoe Around a Deadline -

In Shadow of Death, Iraq and U.S. Tiptoe Around a Deadline -

...All things being equal, the Iraqis would prefer an agreement between the two governments for a continued troop presence without the political complications that would come from submitting it to Parliament. The Americans have insisted that any deal must be ratified by Parliament because their lawyers have decided it is the only way to secure legal immunities for soldiers who stay.

To make this palatable to the citizens of Iraq and the United States, the public relations game is to draft language that is politically acceptable yet obscures the reality that American soldiers will continue to face an enemy, will need to defend themselves and will almost certainly continue to die.

-bth: is this a scenario worth perpetuating?

Turkey charges 14 militants with anti-US plot - Yahoo! News

Turkey charges 14 militants with anti-US plot - Yahoo! News

...The state-run Anatolia news agency reported Saturday that one of the suspects had carried out surveillance around the U.S. Embassy in Ankara and some other foreign missions, including taking photos. Police have seized 1,500 pounds (700 kilograms) of chemicals along with bomb-making instructions, assault rifles, ammunition and maps of Ankara, it said.

Police captured the suspects after tracking one of them for six months, according to Anatolia. The police captured the suspect less than a week ago on a street in Sincan, a town on the outskirts of the capital where he is believed to have received weapons training. The others were rounded up on Tuesday.

In June, police arrested 10 suspected al-Qaida militants in the southern Turkish city of Adana, which is home to the Incirlik Air Base used by the United States to transfer noncombat supplies to Iraq and Afghanistan. Authorities have said Muslim militants tied to al-Qaida planned to attack Incirlik in the past but were deterred by high security...

-- bth: al Qaeda certainly seems determined to prove it is still relevant.

World Blog - Afghan women rally, turning men red-faced with anger

World Blog - Afghan women rally, turning men red-faced with anger

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‪Gun Trucks in Vietnam‬‏ - YouTube

‪Gun Trucks in Vietnam‬‏ - YouTube

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Afghhanistan to return to narco state 2014

WFP: Three Million in Afghanistan Will Need Food Aid | Asia | English

Wheat harvests are down according to NPR.

The World Food Program estimates 2-3 million drought victims in Afghanistan will need food assistance this year. WFP, which is suffering from a serious shortfall in funding for its regular programs, warns many people will go hungry unless International donors come up with the cash needed to assist them.

Poor rainfall this year has hurt Afghanistan’s wheat crop. The Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock estimates the overall harvest will be 28 percent lower than last year’s.

The expected shortfall of nearly two million metric tons of wheat will affect some 12 million people. The World Food Program says the government will cover most of their needs. But, it notes between two and three million people will require food assistance.

WFP Deputy Country Director in Afghanistan, Bradley Guerrant says his agency would like to help these people, but it lacks the resources to do so.

He notes WFP’s three-year operation to feed more than seven million vulnerable Afghans is in trouble. The program is budgeted at $400 million a year. But, WFP has received only half that amount.
VOA reports poppy production is up and so are prices.
Afghanistan's opium poppy turns up as heroin in cities across the world. It pumps billions of dollars into the Afghan economy and is rivaled only by the billions that come in as foreign aid money. As that aid money starts to shrink, the drug money may overwhelm attempts at a legitimate economy.
Ahmadi's plea comes after years of inconsistent policy in the international community. Past years saw an aggressive campaign to eradicate opium poppy, but more recently, efforts slowed down to keep from driving poor farmers into the arms of the Taliban. These days, many farmers decide year by year whether to grow poppy or legal crops.
Kahir, a farmer in Nangahar province, is one of those on the fence. A year ago, he was looking at a meager profit from raising cattle. Now, he's made about five times as much growing poppy on his small plot.
Kahir is worried that the government might eradicate his crops, so each year, he tries to see how serious the government is about enforcement. He also checks whether it's offering him any alternatives. He's heard about alternate crops, but nothing ever comes through.
"The government, when they lie to us, when they make a promise they do not deliver, and we feel the government has lied to us, then we feel it's right for us to grow poppy," Kahir says.
This year, a blight wiped out some of the poppy crop. That drove the price up a shocking 300 percent — meaning more farmers will be tempted to plant poppy next year.
Afghanistan returns to a narco-terrorist state 2014

Even as authorities set fire to Ahmadi's 11-ton mound of drugs, they were well aware that the economic factors sustaining the drug trade haven't changed for years. They also know one big change that's on the way.
The billions of drug dollars will probably remain constant. But the billions in aid money — the only inflow that comes anywhere near parity with the drug trade — is going away.
"If you're not careful, Afghanistan will become a narco-economy post-2014," says Jean Luc Lemahieu from the United Nations' counterdrug agency in Afghanistan.
He points out that if aid shrinks as expected, along with the American troop drawdown over the next three years, the illicit drug economy could become many, many times bigger than the legitimate economy. Lemahieu says the corruptive power of such money would virtually take over the Afghan state.
Despite the warnings, neither the Afghan government nor the international community has made tackling drugs a top priority, Lemahieu says. In fact, he adds, drugs didn't even make the list of Afghanistan's 22 top issues from last year's conference in Kabul of the Afghan government and donors.

Former NDS Chief Says Foreigners' Talks with Taliban Catastrophic

Former NDS Chief Says Foreigners' Talks with Taliban Catastrophic

Peace talks between foreign forces and the Taliban will end up disastrous to the next government and the Afghan nation, former chief of National Directorate of Security (NDS) said on Wednesday.

Amrullah Saleh, former director of the Afghan spy organisation, said if the Taliban start competing with the government as a political force, this would be victorious for Afghanistan.

Mr Saleh said Pakistan wants the Taliban to remain as a military force against the government.

"Foreigners' engagement in peace talks with the Taliban will be catastrophic for the Afghan nation, system and future," he said in an exclusive interview with TOLOnews.

"If we turn into a careless nation and the US engages in talks with the Taliban then we wouldn't have any effect on the Taliban and the United States. At such a time who will represent the fate of this nation?" he asked....

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Shifting to US guerrilla raids across the Durand Line and a lighter footprint?

The US appears to be shifting toward a strategy of special forces and raids on both sides of the Durand Line between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Asia Times reports:
The United States is beginning an interesting new dimension to the 10-year-old war in Afghanistan. Counter-insurgency efforts will be complemented by an expanded unconventional warfare campaign in many insurgent-controlled areas. This change in approach may have a considerable impact on the stalemate and hasten meaningful negotiations.

The US is training scores of special forces teams to infiltrate into and operate in areas that the Taliban and other insurgent forces have gained control of in the past few years. Such operations have been in effect for a few years now, but the program is enjoying greater support. Many recently retired special forces personnel 
are being asked to return to active duty - a sign that the program is significant and growing....

Night Watch reports Pakistan is withdrawing form the Afghan-Pak border:
...Pakistan: Defence Minister Mukhtar said Pakistan will withdraw its troops from the nearly 1,100 checkpoints along the Pakistani-Afghan border in reaction to the U.S. suspension of military aid, TheTribune Express reported on 12 July.
Mukhtar said $300 million of the aid specifically supports troops along the border and Pakistan cannot afford to deploy its military in the mountains and border areas for long. He said the aid is not for fighting the war but repayment for monies already spent. He said withdrawing troops will sabotage efforts against the Taliban and al Qaida but Islamabad's next step will be to remove all troops from all the border areas.
Comment: Mukhtar's remarks strike at the heart of the fundamental discontinuity between the US and the Pakistanis. Pashtun fighting against the Afghan government, even from bases in Pakistan, is not an issue that Pakistan considers important to its national security.

Ten years on and the fundamental disagreements between the US and Afghanistan and Pakistan remain unresolved. The anti-Afghan Pashtuns pose no threat to Pakistan. Thus, the US or Afghanistan must pay and have paid for lackluster Pakistani security cooperation on the border.

The Pakistani tribal and paramilitary forces on the border essentially are mercenaries. When the money dries up, the border watch ends. That is the significance of today's statement. The US needs Pakistani cooperation a lot more than Pakistan needs anything the US is offering.

 Asia Times reports that the US is decreasing its dependence on Pakistan by shifting to guerrilla operations and shifting logistics supply lines to the north.

Guerrilla operations and the smaller troop levels they require will allow the US to rely less heavily on supply routes winding through Pakistan - a country whose military is now deemed unreliable. A lighter logistical load can be increasingly borne by northern routes from Russia - a country whose commitment to containing Islamist militancy is now deemed quite reliable.

The US has already reduced its reliance on Pakistan for logistics. A year ago, the preponderance of US/ISAF supplies came through Pakistan, but today only 40% do so, and that number is slated to dwindle to 25% by the end of 2011. Pakistan is becoming less important to the US.

Special forces operations will reduce the need for massive firepower, which has long been a source of irritation in the Afghan people and a recruitment attraction for insurgent groups. Heavy fire power will be confined to extracting a beleaguered team or on identifying a sizable insurgent force. ...
Going after Haqqani in North Waziristan.
...Special forces teams might be used in cross-border operations into Pakistan, especially into the North Waziristan tribal area where the Haqqani network, al-Qaeda and kindred groups enjoy safe havens. Another prospective area would be in the northern part of Pakistan's Balochistan province, which is another insurgent base area and only 150 kilometers from the reasonably secure towns of Kandahar and Lashkar Gah.

United States special forces personnel have trained Pakistani militias along the frontier and so already have knowledge of the terrain and the troops operating there. Furthermore, the US has built its own intelligence network inside Pakistan, which has been successful in targeting leaders of the Haqqani network and most notably in finding and killing Osama bin Laden....

NightWatch 20110712 - KGS

NightWatch 20110712 - KGS

...Chinese aid is driven by mutual disdain for India - geography, culture and strategic goals-and a long view of history. Pakistan is China's flank support in the future struggle with India for leadership in Asia. Asian states are maneuvering to take advantage of the forthcoming US withdrawal from South Asia....

- bth: China fills the void as America retreats from South Asia.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Getting Zawahri and cooperating with Paksitan

Pakistan urges U.S. to share intelligence on Zawahri | Reuters

(Reuters) - Pakistani called on the United States on Sunday to share information about new al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he believed that Osama bin Laden's successor was in Pakistan.

During his first trip to Kabul on Saturday as Pentagon chief, Panetta said he believed that the new al Qaeda leader was living in Pakistan's lawless tribal belt on the Afghan border.

The Pakistani military said its troops were already carrying out "intense operations" against al Qaeda and its affiliates as well as "terrorists leadership" and high value targets (HVTs) who pose a threat to Pakistan's security.

"We expect U.S. intelligence establishment to share available information and actionable intelligence regarding Al Zawahri and other HVTs with us, enabling Pakistan Army to carry out targeted operations," a military spokesman said in a statement....

bth: Cooperating with Pakistan on getting Al Zawahri might be a good idea. Zawahri is out to overthrow Pakistan; Osama Bin Laden was not.
Pakistan has an incentive to get Zawahri that they didn't feel with OBL. Also it wouldn't be a bad thing if Pakistan got itself out of the dog house and the US improved relations with Pakistan by letting them save face and get Zawahri for us. It may very well be he is coordinating attacks along the Afghan/Pakistani border against Pakistan. Food for thought.

Observation on Nuclear Industry in Pakistan

Daily Times - Leading News Resource of Pakistan - Pakistan ready to capture nuclear market: Dr Sultan

SLAMABAD: Pakistan needs to develop a peaceful nuclear programme with enhanced safety measures in order to overcome the existing energy shortage, according to South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI) Director General Maria Sultan.

Dr Maria Sultan said this while addressing a meeting titled “Future of Pakistan’s Nuclear Programme and Nuclear World Order,” in the National Press Club on Saturday. She said that Pakistan has a significant role to play in the new nuclear order.

Only nine countries, which include P-5, China, Italy and Norway, are able to provide nuclear technology and train manpower. She said that Pakistan could exploit the $3 trillion nuclear exports market in the Middle East because it possesses nuclear scientists, knowledge of nuclear technology, and equipment.

The director general said that Pakistan’s nuclear facilities are safe from natural disasters. Revealing details about the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant, she said that the design of its structure gives it a certain degree of protection against natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes. The Karachi Nuclear Power Plant had also been built along similar lines, she said.

She said that nuclear energy is the only option for various countries of the world to fulfil their energy needs and Pakistan can capture this market by offering to share its expertise and services in this field.

Referring to the US-India nuclear deal, she said that the deal had caused structural decay to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Dr Sultan said it has led to the destabilisation of the strategic stability of the region, as India is authorised under the deal to create strategic reserves of fissile materials....

bth: So last week Dr. Khan released documents showing that key Pakistani government officials and generals were paid off by North Korea in exchange for the transfer of key nuclear technology about a decade ago. I have been wondering why he would make his statements now? Why now? Well I think the answer may be found in this article quoted above from Pakistan. What if Pakistan is facing a cash crisis and the US aid money was essentially buying, rather renting, good behavior? Now the cash flow from the US is being reduced or is politically untenable. That leaves Pakistan with a lot of nuclear technology and a cash flow problem. So has Pakistan unshackled its whoring nuclear scientists to sell technology overseas - essentially proliferate nuclear power - to get cash flowing again to correct politicians and generals?

Critical Next Step in Robotics: AI

Everything-Robotic by The Robot Report - tracking the business of robotics

YouTube - ‪Boston Dynamics RHex‬‏

YouTube - ‪Boston Dynamics RHex


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Please Remember Me

Japanese Ball Drone

Seven deminers beheaded in Afghanistan

AFP: Seven deminers beheaded in Afghanistan


HERAT, Afghanistan — Seven deminers kidnapped in western Afghanistan have been beheaded by their abductors, police said Sunday, as NATO announced the deaths of three soldiers in Taliban attacks.

The seven were part of a group of 28 deminers who were snatched on Wednesday in a district that is the focus of the Taliban insurgency in Farah province, but no one has claimed responsibility for the mass kidnapping.

"Seven of the deminers are beheaded. We have recovered the body of one of them and the rest of the bodies are with tribal elders," said Mohammad Ghaws Malyar, the Farah provincial deputy police chief.

He said the fate of the other deminers who were taken in the Bala Buluk district was unknown....

-- bth: I don't understand why the local Afghan population tolerates this kind of behavior against noncombattants.


Brief History of Car Bombs

Afghanistan's Eastern Triangle new home to terror groups – CNN Security Clearance - Blogs

Afghanistan's Eastern Triangle new home to terror groups – CNN Security Clearance - Blogs