Saturday, September 03, 2011

Libya: Over 800 killed in battle for Gaddafi's home town of Sirte - Telegraph

Libya: Over 800 killed in battle for Gaddafi's home town of Sirte - Telegraph

The town is Gaddafi's biggest remaining Libya stronghold and rebel commanders know his forces are dug in for a bloody battle.

For now opposition forces have held their positions to the east and west as they wait for tribal elders to negotiate with Gaddafi fighters.

But Shamsiddin Ben-Ali, a spokesman in the rebel city of Benghazi, said 800 people had been killed in the past three days.

"Many of the people of Sirte are on our side now and want to be part of the revolution," he said. "The people with guns though are still resisting."

The death toll raises a bloody conundrum for the country's new leaders: rushing in could spell a military disaster but waiting is costing a very high price in civilian casualties...

-- bth: that is an awful lot of people in 3 days for a war the western media has declared over.


Australia Eyes Assange Arrest as Cables Published -- News from Antiwar.com

Australia Eyes Assange Arrest as Cables Published -- News from Antiwar.com

The Australian government is looking to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange tonight following the publishing of the remainder of the unredacted US State Department cables, saying that at least one member of Australia’s spy agency has been named in the documents....

-- bth: he can't unring the bell.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Turkey expels Israeli ambassador - Israel News, Ynetnews

Turkey expels Israeli ambassador - Israel News, Ynetnews

Israel-Turkey relations sink to a new low: Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto─člu announced on Friday that following Jerusalem's adamant refusal to apologize over the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid, Ankara will be downgrading its diplomatic relations with Israel and suspending key military agreements.

In a dramatic turn of events, Turkey announced that it was expelling Israeli Ambassador Gabby Levy from Ankara. Davutoglu said Turkey's diplomatic representation in Israel would be further reduced to second-secretary level. In accordance, all lower Israeli diplomatic personnel above the second-secretary level have also been expelled. ...

-- bth: this would appear to be a move in which all parties are losers.


Thursday, September 01, 2011

Frost & Sullivan Unmanned Systems Analyst Briefing

Frost & Sullivan Unmanned Systems Analyst Briefing

German Goliath UGVs 1944

Morning Joe: Cheney: As VP, you need thick skin to function

Morning Joe: Cheney: As VP, you need thick skin to function




-bth: My cousin emailed me this afternoon.  She heard this interview on the radio driving to work in Houston.  I had not seen it and had to wait until this evening to watch it.  Our son, John Hart is mentioned by Mike Barnicle in this interview with Dick Cheney at about the 11 minute mark. Cheney is pretty damn smooth I'll give you that. The way he puts it, he was doing us a favor by deceiving us into an unnecessary war in Iraq while Afghanistan fell apart. Its like watching Satan say we screwed up because we trusted him.

NightWatch 20110831 - KGS - on Pakistan Ammonium Nitrate production

NightWatch 20110831 - KGS

Pakistan-Afghanistan: Update. US officials told the media today that the main ingredient in most of the homemade bombs that have killed hundreds of American troops in Afghanistan is fertilizer produced by a single company in Pakistan, where the US has been pushing unsuccessfully for greater regulation. Enough calcium ammonium nitrate fertilizer for at least 140,000 bombs was legally produced last year by Pakistan's Pakarab Fertilizers Ltd., and then smuggled by militants and their suppliers across the porous border into southern and eastern Afghanistan, according to US officials.

Comment: Today's official statement understates the problem. There are two large Pakistani fertilizer factories that produce ammonium nitrate fertilizer and multiple distributors. According to one US official assessment, 95% of all ammonium nitrate fertilizer imported into Afghanistan is used for bomb making.

Only drug farmers use ammonium nitrate as fertilizer because of its price. Other Afghan farmers generally favor urea-based fertilizers and natural fertilizers because they are much less expensive. Only the Taliban and drug syndicates can afford to pay to have ammonium nitrate smuggled into Afghanistan, in defiance of the official ban on ammonium nitrate imports since 2009. Afghan media routinely report that the banned fertilizer enters Afghanistan from Pakistan at border crossing points in truck convoys without restriction.

Afghanistan produces no ammonium nitrate. Thus the apparently inexhaustible supply of IEDs used by the Taliban, which represent the greatest threat to US forces, originate entirely in Pakistan in two locations. Somehow correcting this situation and eliminating this source of threat do not seem to be a significant tactical challenge for US special operations forces. The question for ten years has been why nothing has been done.

Special comment: Readers need to know that US officials have known these facts for more than ten years and taken no effective action to shut down these factories despite rising loss of American lives. The irresponsible incompetence or outright maliciousness of the Pakistani government and business community contradict Pakistani protests that they are doing everything they can to control insurgency.

The fertilizer plant owners are flagrant war profiteers and should be prosecuted as war criminals. Every intelligence service in the world knows that terrorists use ammonium nitrate, including Pakistani intelligence. The Pakistani Taliban use ammonium nitrate fertilizer in the IEDs they use against Pakistani soldiers and citizens. Incompetent US diplomats involved in stopping the fertilizer plants need administrative sanction and to be replaced.

Destroying the stockpiles and closing the plants would seem to be obvious and easy fixes. However, the Pakistan Army, Incorporated, probably owns the plants. It owns any plants that turn a profit in Pakistan, unless it is owned by the politicians.


-- bth: he is correct there are 2 production plants. Their location and names are known. There is also the prospect of imports from China but it seems virtually all sources in Afghanistan are from these two locations. To say that only drug cartels and insurgents use ammonium nitrate is probably incorrect, but it would not be a surprise to see it as the majority of users. The article also fails to mention that such tonnage has to cross the border in trucks from Pakistan so there is someone in the Afghan government getting paid off to allow this to happen. It would not be outside the realm of possibility if such plants caught on fire given the volatile nature of their product. I have researched their ownership in the past but found no link to the Pak government or military so perhaps this author from K Force has more information on the matter. I wonder what would happen if the US subsidized and reduced the price of alternate fertilizers. Would that flag the remaining users of ammonium nitrate and then presume it was used for no other purpose than to harm Afghan and coalition forces? Crop eradication for users of AN would also make a point.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Afghan police casualties soar - WaPo

the primary long-term solution

...Over the past year, 1,555 Afghan police officers have been killed. That’s more than twice the number of Afghan soldiers who died in the same period, although there are 35,000 fewer officers than soldiers in the country, according to the U.S.-led coalition. In the same period, 474 U.S. soldiers died in Afghanistan. The police death toll in June, 246 officers — a rate of eight a day — was 50 percent higher than in any other month in the past year.
The 135,000 Afghan police officers generally receive less training, more-rudimentary equipment and lower pay than their army colleagues. Although soldiers drive around in armored Humvees, most police officers travel in pickup trucks, even though they are often called upon to operate in areas rife with insurgents. But U.S. military officials are hoping the police can become the primary long-term solution to Afghanistan’s woes, a force they envision as growing even as the more expensive army shrinks in the future.
For now, they remain the weakest, and most regularly hammered, link in the war against the Taliban....



Unique pilotage Su-35 at MAKS-2011 - YouTube

Unique pilotage Su-35 at MAKS-2011 - YouTube


Arlington National Cemetery to create full record of graves - CNN.com

Arlington National Cemetery to create full record of graves - CNN.com

Arlington, Virginia (CNN) -- For the first time in its history, Arlington National Cemetery may soon have an accurate record of all the people buried there. The project involves the creation of a digital database that now is substantially complete, according to officials with the Graveside Accountability Task Force.

"They had chunks of databases along the way," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jamie Wilmeth, who is helping lead the analysis and cross-checking of records that started in the 1800s with handwritten entries in hardbound volumes.

He told CNN, "Now it's gonna be a common database, and it's going to be accurate."

Arlington was tarnished last year by the finding of more than 200 graves that had been misidentified or mislabeled, and by the discovery of dozens of discarded headstones apparently being used to shore up a small stream in a remote corner of the cemetery.

A previous superintendent, John C. Metzler Jr., was punished for poor management after the discovery of numerous instances of bodies being buried in the wrong place and incorrect headstones on graves.

Congress ordered a task force to fully document who's where.

Using a combination of high technology and old-fashioned research, the team is commissioned to compile a verified electronic database with no discrepancies among the records. Their work should be ready for an initial review by the end of September.

During a demonstration Tuesday, U.S. Army troops armed with smartphones took photographs front and back of headstones, and recorded the precise GPS location where the images were taken. An app developed for the project then took the information and e-mailed it directly to a database.

That portion of the project is usually done at night when the lighting on the marble headstones can be controlled for the best quality photograph. Eventually the pictures will be available in a searchable database for the public....

-- bth: this will essentially brings the Army's administration of Arlington up to par with the VA set administering over a hundred other installations without such embarrassment. It took the Congress and the IG to get the Army to straighten out administration of this most sacred cemetery. Keep an eye on Metzler and his right hand. I think they may end up facing criminal prosecution before its all over.


Photos: Mystery Drone Crash in Pakistan (updated) | Defense Tech

Photos: Mystery Drone Crash in Pakistan (updated) | Defense Tech


What on Earth is this little guy? You’re looking at pictures of what’s apparently a small U.S. spy drone that crashed last week in Pakistan. The little drone apparently took off from a U.S. base at Qarar Ga airbase near Spinboldak in Kandahar and went down about 300 meters inside Pakistan near a Pakistani Frontier Corps base, according to press reports.

Anyone recognize the micro-UAV that’s apparently equipped with two cameras (though the picture above shows what could be four sensor apertures)? I’ve asked several analysts, including Teal Group UAV expert Phil Finnegan, to ID the bird and no one seems to know what it is. Update: Teal’s other UAV guru, Steve Zaloga tells DT that it might be a modified Lockheed Martin Desert Hawk.

It may be a Lockheed Martin Desert Hawk with the tail plane modified to look
more like a bird for camouflage. Just a guess, but the overall size and
other features are in that ball-park. The Desert Hawk is operated mainly by the
British, but the SOF community also operates a lot of small UAVs of
mysterious provenance.

Click through the jump to see more pics of the drone. Come back for updates as we find out more.

I’d like to know how it’s powered and what those two circular pieces of wreckage are (sensors, perhaps).

Aeryon Scout UAV in use with the Libyan Rebels - YouTube

Aeryon Scout UAV in use with the Libyan Rebels - YouTube


bth: people assume that drones are only the domain of large well funded armies.  The Libyan rebels proved this incorrect.  Low cost drones will be game changers on the battle field in the next decade just as the IED was today.  Over 100 countries now make UAVs.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

SMSS Squad Mission Support System Autonomous Unmanned ground vehicle UGV US Army Lockheed Martin - YouTube

SMSS Squad Mission Support System Autonomous Unmanned ground vehicle UGV US Army Lockheed Martin - YouTube


Convoy Active Safety Technology in Dust - YouTube

Convoy Active Safety Technology in Dust - YouTube


Suspected North Korean cyber attack on a bank raises fears for S. Korea, allies - The Washington Post

Suspected North Korean cyber attack on a bank raises fears for S. Korea, allies - The Washington Post

...South Korean investigators said they determined that 10 servers used in the bank incident were the same ones used in previous cyberattack operations against South Korea, including one in 2009 and another in March, that they blamed on the North. Investigators say they determined, for instance, that a “command and control” server used in the 2009 operation was registered to a North Korean government agency operating in China.

Investigators say the April bank attack occurred when a contractor inadvertently downloaded a malicious program onto a laptop computer, giving hackers the ability to control the computer remotely. Then, over a period of weeks or months, the hackers placed malicious code throughout the bank’s network, which allowed them — with the equivalent of a squeeze on a cyber-trigger — to make hundreds of servers crash at once....

-- bth: worth reading in full

Egypt seizes arms on Libyan border: report - Yahoo! News

Egypt seizes arms on Libyan border: report - Yahoo! News

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egyptian border guards have seized a "large quantity" of weapons at the border with Libya, state television reported on Monday.

The Nile News channel gave no more details in its brief report.

Egyptian media have reported a rise in smuggling of arms across the Libyan border since the uprising against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. A senior Israeli official said in July that Libya had become a new source of weapons for the Gaza Strip, which is run by Israel's Islamist foe, Hamas.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Ranger's widow expelled from Rumsfeld book signing | Military News - The News Tribune

Ranger's widow expelled from Rumsfeld book signing | Military News - The News Tribune

Two people were removed from a Donald Rumsfeld book signing Friday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, including the Yelm widow of an Army Ranger who blames the military for her husband’s suicide.

Security officers for the former secretary of defense escorted Ashley Joppa-Hagemann out by the arm, she said Saturday. She and Jorge Gonzalez, the executive director of Coffee Strong, a Lakewood-based anti-war group, confronted Rumsfeld as he promoted his memoir, “Known and Unknown.”

According to an account posted on Coffee Strong’s website: “Mrs. Joppa-Hagemann introduced herself by handing a copy of her husband’s funeral program to Rumsfeld, and telling him that her husband had joined the military because he believed the lies told by Rumsfeld during his tenure with the Bush administration.”

Joppa-Hagemann complained about Rumsfeld’s response Friday to her account of Staff Sgt. Jared Hagemann’s multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and his death at age 25. Hagemann belonged to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

The website said Rumsfeld’s “only response was to callously quip, ‘Oh yeah, I heard about that.’”...


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Suicide Attacks Escalate in Afghanistan Before End of Ramadan - NYTimes.com

Suicide Attacks Escalate in Afghanistan Before End of Ramadan - NYTimes.com

...In the first six months of the year, 1,462 civilians were killed, the report said, a 15 percent increase from the same period in 2010 and more than any comparable period since the war began. Insurgents were responsible for 80 percent of the deaths, the United Nations said, while Afghan and coalition forces were responsible for 14 percent. The remaining 6 percent were unattributed.