Saturday, November 05, 2011
...The nukes travel “in civilian-style vehicles without noticeable defenses, in the regular flow of traffic,” according to a blockbuster story on the U.S.-Pakistan relationship in The Atlantic. Marc Ambinder and Jeffrey Goldberg write that tactical nuclear weapons travel down the streets in “vans with a modest security profile.” Somewhere on a highway around, say, Karachi, is the world’s most dangerous 1-800-FLOWERS truck.
Tom Clancy should be suing Pakistani generals for ripping off the basic idea behind The Sum Of All Fears. You’ll recall that Pakistan is home to al-Qaida, a particularly fearsome version of the Taliban, the leadership of the old-school Taliban, its friends in the Haqqani Network and a host of anti-Indian terrorist groups that the Pakistani intelligence service employ as proxies. Sometimes the Pakistani military helps these terrorist and insurgent groups attack U.S. troops in Afghanistan. And any one of these groups would love a chance to wield a nuclear weapon....
-- bth: the thought that Pakistan has its nukes going around town in an unarmored bread truck is terrifying. How long before one of those trucks is hijacked?
Friday, November 04, 2011
... At the agency's Open Source Center, a team known affectionately as the "vengeful librarians" also pores over Facebook, newspapers, TV news channels, local radio stations, Internet chat rooms — anything overseas that anyone can access and contribute to openly.
From Arabic to Mandarin Chinese, from an angry tweet to a thoughtful blog, the analysts gather the information, often in native tongue. They cross-reference it with the local newspaper or a clandestinely intercepted phone conversation. From there, they build a picture sought by the highest levels at the White House, giving a real-time peek, for example, at the mood of a region after the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden or perhaps a prediction of which Mideast nation seems ripe for revolt.
Yes, they saw the uprising in Egypt coming; they just didn't know exactly when revolution might hit, said the center's director, Doug Naquin.
The center already had "predicted that social media in places like Egypt could be a game-changer and a threat to the regime," he said in a recent interview with The Associated Press at the center. CIA officials said it was the first such visit by a reporter the agency has ever granted....
-- bth: why would anyone find this surprising? I think it would lead to data overload and a degradation of usable information very quickly if the tech weenies run the show.
Thursday, November 03, 2011
...Most of the recent suicide attacks in Pakistan have been attributed to the Pakistani Taliban, who share the Haqqanis’ stronghold in North Waziristan. The Pakistani Taliban and the Haqqanis help each other with money, intelligence and suicide bombers.
Some in the Pakistani military have acknowledged this merging of insurgent groups, yet the policy of support for the Haqqanis is unchanged. “We know that the Haqqanis are playing a double game,” a Pakistani military official in North Waziristan said last year. “We support them and they support our enemies, the TTP,” as the Pakistani Taliban are known.
But then, American intelligence officials and numerous observers have long suspected that Pakistan’s intelligence agency has played a double game, too. Though the full substance of the talks between American and Pakistani leaders during the Clinton visit was not revealed, “it looks less and less likely now that Pakistan is going to take any serious action against the Haqqanis,” Mehreen Zahra-Malik, an editor at The News International, Pakistan’s largest English-language newspaper, wrote in an e-mail.
Rather than respond to American demands, “as the pressure has built like never before, establishment circles have come pretty close to admitting the Haqqanis are assets, even if it’s couched in the language of ‘They’re very important for talks,’ ” Ms. Zahra-Malik wrote.
The reason the Pakistani military would take no action against the Haqqanis was simple, she added with a capital-letter emphasis that paraphrased the generals’ thinking. “The bottom line is: WE NEED THEM.”
Iran-Israel: Iran is on "full alert" and ready to retaliate for any strike against the Islamic Republic, Iranian military officials warned Wednesday amid Israeli media speculation of plans for an attack.
"We consider any threat -- even those with low probability and distant -- as a definite threat," said General Hassan Firouzabadi, the armed forces' chief of staff. "We are ready to punish them." The United States also "will suffer serious damages should there be a military attack by the Zionist regime against Iran," the Iranian chief of staff warned.
Comment: The significance of this statement is that it represents feedback to the Israelis that their chest thumping and foot stomping is registering in Tehran. It also makes clear that if Israel ever attacks Iran, Iran will attack US installations in reach as well as Israel....
-- bth: what worries me about this analysis is that it is likely that Israel wants the US drawn into its conflict with Iran and Iran seems willing to accommodate Israel by attacking the US. Graham and McCain are all but calling for war with Iran as well.
...The Apache will be the first aircraft where the pilots will be able to control drones, according tp Lt. Col. Dan Bailey, an Apache pilot who is the Army’s project manager for the new attack helicopter.
“It’s going to make a significant difference on the battlefield,” Bailey said.
Crews flying the older Apaches often communicate with drone operators by radio during missions, said Bailey, who flew Apache missions in Iraq from 2006 to 2007.
“A [drone] operator would talk us through what he was seeing, such as a building where insurgents were shooting from,” he said, “but a picture is worth 1,000 words.”
Crews in the new Apaches will be able to see the same video that a drone operator sees on their screens. They will even be able to take control of a drone to fly it to way points and zoom its cameras and sensors in on targets, he said.
“We can use the [drone] as a remote sensor to identify hostiles,” he said. “That [drone] is now part of our Apache but it is forward where we might not want to be. I think it is going to be a huge game changer for the Army.”...
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
The latest “Marine Corps” issue of Proceedings has another provocative article from Lt Col Noel Williams, USMC. The Next Wave: Assault Operations for a New Era (subscribers only) advises the Marine Corps and Navy to develop unmanned breacher vehicles (UBVs) to perform the first, most dangerous wave of an opposed amphibious assault. Earlier this year, Williams and Captain Henry Hendrix, USN controversially proposed phasing out big Nimitz and Ford-class CVNs in favor of a much greater number of America/Wasp-class LHA/LHDs. In his new essay, Williams is proposing a robotic replacement for the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV), a project that collapsed in engineering overreach.
The EFV died because the Marine Corps expected it to do too many things. The anti-ship missile threat has pushed the launch point for an amphibious assault out to at least 25 miles from the land. The Marine Corps wanted the EFV to traverse this distance in one hour. On land, the EFV was to be a late-model infantry fighting vehicle, complete with chem-bio protection, able to take on other armored vehicles, network with others, and hopefully survive IEDs. It was an impossible engineering task, at least at an affordable price.
Williams proposes to let robots breach the beach obstacles. An excerpt:
In the 2020s and beyond there will simply be no reason to place 20 Marines in a steel box and drive them through mined waters to land on an area-denied beach. An unmanned breacher vehicle (UBV), or family of unmanned systems, could clear and mark the assault lanes ahead of any manned surface movement. These UBVs could be launched from surface, subsurface, or airborne delivery means—overtly or covertly. UBVs could be given large magnetic and acoustic signatures to trigger influence mines and could be equipped with cameras, remote gun systems, plows, cutters, and/or line charges to clear beach obstacles. Additionally, it would be possible to transition the UBV to convoy reconnaissance and clearing missions once manned vehicles are ashore.
Introducing an unmanned system breaks the tyranny of the hybrid vehicle that we have found to be so costly and that inevitably results in compromises in both operating domains—afloat and ashore.
Under this concept, once the robots have cleared the beach, non-armored but high-capacity landing craft such as LCACs LCUs, and other connectors could bring ashore all of the ground-only vehicles and equipment, such as tanks, the next-generation Marine Personnel Carrier (which could very well be like the Army’s Stryker), trucks, logistics, etc.
In summary, Williams describes the following general phases for an amphibious assault:
- Shaping fires/advance force operations
- Vertical (helicopter) assault of distributed teams
- Unmanned surface assault
- Surface assault
- General off-load as required.
Alma Hart's Speech on Lexington Green to an Army National Guard Unit Preparing for their Battle Road Run Between Lexington and Concord Oct 21 2011
(Reuters) - Pakistan's cabinet unanimously decided Wednesday to grant India Most Favoured Nation (MFN) trade status, a major breakthrough that could bolster efforts to improve relations between the nuclear-armed rivals....
-- bth: a positive step in the right direction for all parties concerned.
Atlanta (CNN) -- Four men charged with plotting to attack government officials with explosives and a biotoxin are scheduled to appear in court Wednesday in Gainesville, Georgia.
Federal officials say the men are part of a fringe militia group.
A government informant recorded the men discussing plans to manufacture ricin, a highly poisonous substance derived from castor beans, and attack Justice Department officials, federal judges and Internal Revenue Service agents, according to court papers released Tuesday afternoon.
Prosecutors said the public was never in imminent danger.
"When it comes time to saving the Constitution, that means some people gotta die," an arrest affidavit quotes one of the defendants, Frederick Thomas, as saying during one recorded conversation.
According to arrest affidavits filed in the case, 67-year-old Dan Roberts and Thomas, 73, agreed to buy a silencer, a bomb and parts to convert a semi-automatic rifle to a fully automatic machine gun from an undercover agent.
Meanwhile, 65-year-old Ray Adams and 68-year-old Samuel Crump worked to obtain castor beans and produce ricin, an FBI agent states in the documents.
"While many are focused on the threat posed by international violent extremists, this case demonstrates that we must also remain vigilant in protecting our country from citizens within our own borders who threaten our safety and security," U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a written statement announcing the arrests.
The affidavits don't identify the "known militia organization." But according to the documents, the men talked about spreading ricin across several cities at once, including Washington, Atlanta, New Orleans and Jacksonville, Florida....
-- bth: So why is it that the 'known militia organization' isn't named specifically?