Saturday, January 21, 2012

Funds Shift For Electronic Warfare In Europe | AVIATION WEEK

Funds Shift For Electronic Warfare In Europe | AVIATION WEEK

The age-old electronic warfare adage “friend in war, enemy in peace” is about to be tested again.

With the drawdown of military forces in Afghanistan clearly on the horizon, the era of relatively healthy levels of spending on improvised explosive device jammers and helicopter self-protection equipment may be drawing to a close. The potential turning point comes as many technologies are just starting to come into their own, such as two-color missile-warning equipment and detectors programmed to act as hostile fire indicators (HFI) that can alert pilots when they are being fired at by rocket-propelled grenades or small arms.

In Europe, where spending levels and, commensurately, the pace of technical development lags that of the U.S., some of these technologies are on the cusp of entering the market, which could mean that a sharp funding decline would cut those developments off at their knees. Research for HFI detection “will mature in the next few years,” says Steve Roberts, Selex Galileo vice president and chief technology officer for electronic warfare. “We are getting that sorted.”...

-bth: European advanced military R&D is in full retreat across all major areas. I doubt much will remain.

Militants raising funds from kidnappings: FC – The Express Tribune

Militants raising funds from kidnappings: FC – The Express Tribune

QUETTA:

Inspector General Frontier Corps Major General Ubaidullah Khan Khattak has said that incidents of kidnappings have increased in Balochistan at an alarming level and have become a source of generating funds for militants.

Addressing the media at the FC headquarters on Thursday, Khattak said that while Balochistan has witnessed a decline in rocket attacks and bomb blasts – particularly targeting gas pipelines, power pylons and railway tracks – incidents of kidnappings for ransom have increased.

“Militants, whether Taliban or Baloch, are using kidnappings to generate funds. They target foreigners with the intention to get ransom money in dollars,” he said, adding that people from Waziristan entered Balochistan and kidnapped BRSP workers and others....

-bth: interesting that there seems to be a cash squeeze on all elements in Pakistan.

Friday, January 20, 2012

IED FLIPS MRAP IN AFGHANISTAN - FAILED ATTACK - YouTube

IED FLIPS MRAP IN AFGHANISTAN - FAILED ATTACK - YouTube



bth: note the disturbed area to the right of the vehicle just before the blast

One Mexican State Bordering The US Was Deadlier Than All of Afghanistan Last Year | CNSnews.com

One Mexican State Bordering The US Was Deadlier Than All of Afghanistan Last Year | CNSnews.com

... Per capita, a person was at least nine times more likely to be murdered in Chihuahua last year than in Afghanistan. (Chihuahua has 3,406,465 inhabitants, according to Mexico’s 2010 census; the CIA World Factbook reports that in July 2011 the estimated population of Afghanistan was 29,835,392.)...

MIT calculates UAV 'speed limit' | TG Daily

MIT calculates UAV 'speed limit' | TG Daily

Many birds can zip at high speed through a forest without crashing into trees. But, say MIT researchers, there's a top speed at which this is possible, and it's an important factor in designing drones.

Currently, most UAVs fly pretty slowly, particularly if navigating around obstacles, mainly so that they can stop within the field of view of their sensors.

"If I can only see up to five meters, I can only go up to a speed that allows me to stop within five meters, which is not very fast," says Emilio Frazzoli, an associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT.

If the northern goshawk, for example, used this strategy, it would travel a lot more slowly, says Frazzoli. Instead, he suggests, the bird likely gauges the density of trees and speeds past obstacles, knowing intuitively that, given a certain forest density, it can always find an opening through the trees.

Frazzoli points out that a similar intuition exists in downhill skiing.

"When you go skiing off the path, you don't ski in a way that you can always stop before the first tree you see," he says. "You ski and you see an opening, and then you trust that once you go there, you'll be able to see another opening and keep going."

Frazzoli and his team developed mathematical models of various forest densities, calculating the maximum speed possible in each environment...

-bth: this seems like a very clever. The same problem applies to unmanned ground robots, sensor range, speed/mass and avoidance of obstacles.

APNewsBreak: Pakistan’s closure of supply routes costs US 6 times more for new route - The Washington Post

APNewsBreak: Pakistan’s closure of supply routes costs US 6 times more for new route - The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is paying six times as much to send war supplies to troops in Afghanistan through alternate routes after Pakistan’s punitive decision in November to close border crossings to NATO convoys, the Associated Press has learned.

Islamabad shut down two key Pakistan border crossings after a U.S. airstrike killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers in late November, and it is unclear when the crossings might reopen.


Pentagon figures provided to the AP show it is now costing about $104 million per month to send the supplies through a longer northern route. That is $87 million more per month than when the cargo moved through Pakistan.

While U.S. officials have acknowledged that using alternate transportation routes for Afghan war supplies is more expensive and takes longer, the total costs had not been revealed until now. The Pentagon provided the cost figures to the AP on Thursday....

-bth: so I'm guessing the purpose of this release of information by the Pentagon is to set expectations with the Pakistani's regarding a shakedown over what will be 'tariffs' for trucks coming through Pakistan. This article essentially says we will pay something less than $87 million per month and we don't have to have you open the roads, though we would like you to at a price below $87 million per month.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pakistan to re-open NATO route, Taliban talks falter - Yahoo! News

Pakistan to re-open NATO route, Taliban talks falter - Yahoo! News

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan expects to re-open supply routes to NATO forces in Afghanistan, halted after a NATO cross-border air attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November, but will impose tariffs, a senior security official told Reuters Thursday.

The move suggests tensions with the United States and NATO have eased, but more progress is needed for the kind of cooperation necessary to fight militancy in the border region which U.S. President Barack Obama has called the world's most dangerous place.

The official said the fees were designed to both express continued anger over the November 26 attack and raise funds for the state to fight homegrown Taliban militants blamed for many of the suicide bombings across the country.

"The tariffs will cover everything from the port to security to roads, which after all belong to Pakistan," the security official, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters.

No date was given for reopening the supply routes. Pakistan's trade ministry was working out details of the tariffs, said the official...

-bth: as usual it comes down to a shakedown.

Pakistan's "Memogate" – CNN Security Clearance - CNN.com Blogs

Pakistan's "Memogate" – CNN Security Clearance - CNN.com Blogs

... Despite a massive U.S. aid program, a poll by the Pew Research Center last June found that 68% of Pakistanis saw the U.S. more as an enemy, while only 6% saw it more as a friend. Ahmed Rashid, author of "Descent into Chaos: The U.S. and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia," says that anti-Americanism has been fanned by the Pakistani military, despite its close ties with the Pentagon.

Writing in the current edition of the CTC Sentinel, published by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Rashid argues: "As each crisis point with the United States played out, the military ensured that Pakistan's elected, civilian government was sitting under a cloud of uncertainty and paralysis."

U.S. diplomats appear resigned to a long and bumpy process, even as they explore the possibility of talks with the Afghan Taliban. "There is no other solution here other than to work through our differences," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

"We absolutely view Pakistan as an essential partner to this Afghan-led reconciliation process," he added.

Hassan Abbas, author of "Pakistan's Drift into Extremism: Allah, the Army and America's War on Terror," says the U.S. needs to think afresh. "The U.S. – Pakistan relationship is in doldrums as both sides have undue expectations from each other," he says.

"Pakistan is in the process of a major overhaul of its policy towards the U.S. and U.S. policy-makers are advised to re-evaluate, rather than merely 'review', their long-term interests in the region," Abbas adds.

In the CTC Sentinel, Ahmed Rashid sums up the situation in these stark terms. " An already weak and paranoid civilian government....is cowed by the military one day, terrified by an angry public the next," he writes.

"Other days it is defiant and threatens the army, while at the same time it is in danger of being thrown out of office by the Supreme Court."

In the words of another commentator, "In Pakistan, this is the year of living dangerously."

-bth: This article is worth reading in full.

Locating countries on the Middle East Map

This is just scary.

Colbert Super PAC Releases Ad Attacking Stephen Colbert (VIDEO)

Colbert Super PAC Releases Ad Attacking Stephen Colbert (VIDEO)

Coalition limits details on troops killed by Afghans | Detroit Free Press | freep.com

Coalition limits details on troops killed by Afghans | Detroit Free Press | freep.com

Military commanders in Afghanistan have stopped making public the number of allied troops killed by Afghan soldiers and police, a measure of the trustworthiness of a force that is to take over security from U.S.-led forces.

The change in policy comes after at least three allied troops have been killed by the Afghan troops they trained in the past month and follows what appears to be the deadliest year of the war for NATO trainers at the hands of their Afghan counterparts.

The International Security Assistance Force in Kabul had responded to previous requests for details on cases where Afghan troops — screened and trained by ISAF and Afghan officials — have turned their weapons on NATO troops.

Navy Lt. Cdr. Brian Badura said ISAF has a new policy to release only limited information about casualties, leaving the responsibility for detail to the troops' home countries. The policy went into effect in the latter half of 2011, he said....

-bth: when our own government starts hiding the cause of death of our soldiers, then it is time to get the hell out. What an utterly disgusting policy, the implication of which is that our military should now lie to the public because the military knows better.

NightWatch 20120118 - KGS

NightWatch 20120118 - KGS

...Special comment: It bears repetition that the overthrow of secular governments in Arab states in the past year has led to the ascendancy of Islamist political parties that are anti-US, anti-Israel and anti-non-Islamic religious groups. There are now fewer Christian communities in the Iraq that the US Army liberated.

The record is 100% consistent, although the full consequences have yet to play out. Only the Arab monarchies have held the line against the suppression of diverse cults and minority ethnic groups. In the Sunni Arab world, monarchies have survived, but secular civilian governments have not.

Democracy in the US political philosophy does not carry the same meaning in Arab political philosophy. Fundamentalist imams consider democracy to be un-Islamic. Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan said, famously, democracy is a station stop. Most Arabs do not consider democracy - holding elections - an absolute good in its own right. For many, it is a process that leads to an emirate or a caliphate....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Inside the Ring - Washington Times on Saudi-Chinese nuke deal

Inside the Ring - Washington Times

...The agreement was signed by King Abdullah and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and followed earlier public remarks by a senior Saudi prince who said the country should develop nuclear weapons to counter rival Iran’s nuclear arms.

Former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal said Dec. 5 that “our efforts and those of the world have failed to convince Israel to abandon its weapons of mass destruction, as well as Iran. … Therefore it is our duty toward our nation and people to consider all possible options, including the possession of these weapons.”...

-bth: so if Saudi Arabia wanted, it could covertly purchase from cash strapped Pakistan a couple of nuclear warheads. So much of this nuclear news is being hyped to get the scare up. We need to be very cautious.

NightWatch 20120117 - KGS - China and Saudi Arabia and UAE

NightWatch 20120117 - KGS

China-United Arab Emirates: The United Arab Emirates and China announced their intention to form a strategic partnership in various fields, including the military and energy sectors, Xinhua reported, citing a statement released on 17 January during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's official visit to the United Arab Emirates. The two announced a 12-point program to strengthen relations.

Comment: China has maintained a strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia since before the first Gulf War. The closer relationship with the UAE signifies that China intends to be consequential in both Sunni Arab states as well as Shiite Iran.

A recent analysis concluded that Arab states friendly to the US now perceive that the will to use US influence in the Middle East is waning and thus have begun looking for other partners to help ensure their long term security. China is the obvious candidate and is showing that it is prepared to fill any power vacuum the US choses to leave.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Roxette - Listen To Your Heart (video oficial) - YouTube

Roxette - Listen To Your Heart (video oficial) - YouTube

Winston Churchill "finest hour" (best version) - YouTube

Winston Churchill "finest hour" (best version) - YouTube

Thai police seek court order to hold Hezbollah suspect | World | Reuters

Thai police seek court order to hold Hezbollah suspect | World | Reuters

...Hussein was arrested at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport late Thursday and led police to a Bangkok suburb where 4,380 kg (9,656 lb) of urea and 37 litres (8.1 gallons) of liquid ammonium nitrate, a chemical compound, were stored.

Urea and the chemical ammonium nitrate have been used in a number of deadly attacks, such as the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, which killed 168 people, and a car bomb that exploded outside the Norwegian prime minister's office in Oslo in July last year, which killed eight.

But the amounts stored in Bangkok were exceptionally large, roughly seven times bigger than the urea-nitrate and hydrogen mixture used in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York and twice the amount used in the Oklahoma bombing.

Ammonium nitrate and urea are also widely used for home-made bombs to target soldiers and government buildings in Thailand's three Muslim southernmost provinces, where an insurgency has killed nearly 5,000 people since 2004....

Thailand hunting Hezbollah operatives planning terror attacks against Jews, Israelis - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Thailand hunting Hezbollah operatives planning terror attacks against Jews, Israelis - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

... Thai sources said that during his questioning, the detained Hezbollah operative confessed that a terror squad was intending to launch an attack on Israeli targets, including places where Israelis stay.

"The Thai authorities have stationed heavy security at all potential targets," a securing source added.

According to the Thai media, Israel first informed the Thai authorities on December 22 that three Hezbollah operatives had entered the country in order to perpetrate terror attacks. On January 8, Israel received additional information pinpointing this weekend as the time of the attack.

The Americans had also informed the Thai authorities before Christmas that they had received information from Israel about a planned terror attack against Western and American targets in Bangkok.

Three members of the terror cell are Lebanese citizens who also hold Swedish passports, and who visited Thailand a few times in recent months.

The information led the Thai authorities Friday to an apartment near Khao San Road, a popular destination for Israeli backpackers and other visitors to the Thai capital.

Thai security officials raided the apartment but the Hezbollah men had already fled.

They arrested Idris Hussein, 48, a dual Lebanese-Swiss citizen, at Bangkok Airport a few minutes before he was due to board a flight out of the country.

Following Hussein's arrest, nine other countries besides Israel and the United States issued travel advisories against visiting Bangkok.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Way News - Iran warns Gulf Arabs on oil

My Way News - Iran warns Gulf Arabs on oil

CAIRO (AP) - Iran warned Gulf Arab oil producers against boosting production to offset any potential drop in Tehran's crude exports in the event of an embargo affecting its oil sales, the latest salvo in the dispute between the West and the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program.

The comments by Iran's OPEC governor, published Sunday, came as Saudi Arabia's oil minister was quoted the same day denying that his country's earlier pledges to boost output as needed to meet global demand was linked to a potential siphoning of Iranian crude from the market because of sanctions....

-bth: one might expect Iran to begin smuggling oil to Shea allies in Iraq for export from there.

U.S., Israel postpone military exercise amid tension with Iran - latimes.com

U.S., Israel postpone military exercise amid tension with Iran - latimes.com

REPORTING FROM JERUSALEM -- The United States and Israel agreed to postpone a large joint military exercise from this spring to late in the year to avoid aggravating an already tense regional situation driven by conflicts with Iran, Israeli media reported Sunday.

The drill, slated for May and named "Austere Challenge," was announced in November by Andrew Shapiro, U.S. assistant secretary of State for politics-military affairs, at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The exercise as originally planned would include more than 5,000 U.S. and Israeli forces and, among other things, simulate Israel's ballistic missile defense. It would be the "largest and most significant joint exercise in the allies' history," Shapiro had said.

The drill was announced shortly after American military officials reportedly expressed concern that Israel was preparing an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities and would not warn them in advance. Although American and U.S. officials are in close contact on defense matters, especially regarding Iran's disputed nuclear program, Jerusalem and Washington are at odds over how aggressively to approach with the issue....

-bth: postponing this maneuver seems to be a good move toward reducing the level of suspicion with Iran over US intentions.

US killer spy drone controls switch to Linux • The Register

US killer spy drone controls switch to Linux • The Register

The control of US military spy drones appears to have shifted from Windows to Linux following an embarrassing malware infection.

Ground control systems at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, which commands the killer unmanned aircraft, became infected with a virus last September. In a statement at the time the Air Force dismissed the electronic nasty as a nuisance and said it posed no threat to the operation of Reaper drones, but the intrusion was nonetheless treated seriously.

"The ground system is separate from the flight control system Air Force pilots use to fly the aircraft remotely; the ability of the pilots to safely fly these aircraft remained secure throughout the incident," it said.

The discovery of the virus was nonetheless hugely embarrassing for the Air Force. The credential-stealing malware, first reported by Wired, made its way from a portable hard drive onto ground systems, which control the drones' weapons and surveillance functions. Portable disks are used to load map updates and transfer mission videos from one computer to another, Defense News added.

"The malware was detected on a standalone mission support network using a Windows-based operating system," a US Air Force statement at the time explained. "The malware in question is a credential stealer, not a keylogger, found routinely on computer networks and is considered more of a nuisance than an operational threat. It is not designed to transmit data or video, nor is it designed to corrupt data, files or programs on the infected computer. Our tools and processes detect this type of malware as soon as it appears on the system, preventing further reach."

Drone units were advised to stop using the removable drives to prevent another outbreak. ...

-bth: fascinating.


Missed targets prompt US Marine Corps to arm unmanned Shadows

Missed targets prompt US Marine Corps to arm unmanned Shadows

The US Marine Corps will deploy AAI RQ-7 Shadows to Afghanistan armed with classified new gravity bombs in a demonstration that could pave the way for a dramatic expansion in the numbers of weaponised unmanned air vehicles (UAVs).

Although by far the most numerous UAV fleet, the RQ-7 has remained unarmed in the absence of precision, air-dropped weapons small enough for the aircraft to carry.

The lack of armed RQ-7s has frustrated the USMC. On a recent deployment by a single unit, the marines counted 94 "high-value targets" that escaped even though they were spotted by RQ-7s circling overhead, said Steven Reid, vice president of AAI's unmanned systems division....

-bth: this is long over due. Get on with it.

10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free - The Washington Post

10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free - The Washington Post

...An authoritarian nation is defined not just by the use of authoritarian powers, but by the ability to use them. If a president can take away your freedom or your life on his own authority, all rights become little more than a discretionary grant subject to executive will.

The framers lived under autocratic rule and understood this danger better than we do. James Madison famously warned that we needed a system that did not depend on the good intentions or motivations of our rulers: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

Benjamin Franklin was more direct. In 1787, a Mrs. Powel confronted Franklin after the signing of the Constitution and asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got — a republic or a monarchy?” His response was a bit chilling: “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.”

Since 9/11, we have created the very government the framers feared: a government with sweeping and largely unchecked powers resting on the hope that they will be used wisely.

The indefinite-detention provision in the defense authorization bill seemed to many civil libertarians like a betrayal by Obama. While the president had promised to veto the law over that provision, Levin, a sponsor of the bill, disclosed on the Senate floor that it was in fact the White House that approved the removal of any exception for citizens from indefinite detention.

Dishonesty from politicians is nothing new for Americans. The real question is whether we are lying to ourselves when we call this country the land of the free.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro professor of public interest law at George Washington University.

-bth; this excellent article is worth reading in full.

Opium Revenue Rises 133% in 2011

Opium Revenue Rises 133% in 2011

The United National Office on Drugs and Crime said on Friday that revenue from opium production in Afghanistan rose 133 per cent in 2011.

The total revenue retrieved last year from opium production was about $1.4 billion which is one tenth of the total Gross Domestic Product of the country, UN said.

Prices jumped dramatically because of the plant disease that wiped out much of the opium crop in 2010. Although yields returned to normal levels in 2011, prices remained high.

Afghanistan supplies 90 per cent of the world's opium despite the efforts of the government and its international allies to curb production.

The money earned from opium is reportedly used to provide weapons for insurgents.

-bth: how did things become so twisted that the US is on the side of those in Afghanistan that grow opium? A young friend of mine killed himself with heroin recently. Surely it corrupts all involved with it and has taken a terrible toll on Russia, Europe and the US East Coast.

Thai police chief says Bangkok bomb plot called off, though 1 alleged plotter still at large - The Washington Post

Thai police chief says Bangkok bomb plot called off, though 1 alleged plotter still at large - The Washington Post

BANGKOK — An alleged terrorist plot aimed at Bangkok that sparked urgent warnings of danger from the United States and Israel has been thwarted, Thai police said Saturday.

National Police Chief Gen. Priewpan Damapong said the alleged bombing scheme was called off by the alleged plotters — two Lebanese men said to be linked to pro-Iranian Hezbollah militants. One man was in custody for questioning, and the other was at large.

The U.S. Embassy had circulated a warning Friday that there was a “real and credible” terrorist threat against Americans in Bangkok, and Israel issued a similar warning to its citizens. Thai authorities confirmed being informed of a plot, and said they were pursuing the missing suspect.

The warnings came during heightened tension over U.S. and Israeli responses to the prospect that Iran is going forward with developing nuclear weapons.

Priewpan’s remarks came less than 12 hours after police held a hastily arranged news conference late Friday night in which they circulated a sketch of the missing suspect, with a call for the public to help track him down. They said the man in custody told them the plot was supposed to be carried out between Jan. 13 and 15....

Thailand has rarely been a target for foreign terrorists, although a domestic Muslim insurgency in the country’s south has involved bombings of civilian targets.

In 1994, an attempt to bomb the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok was abandoned when the driver of a truck packed with a massive car bomb fled after a minor traffic accident. Several Iranians were arrested in connection with the attempt — which some terrorism experts blamed on Hezbollah — but all were eventually released.

There have been several reported plots against the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok in the past two decades, but no attacks.

-bth: it seems to me this type of response is more indicative of Iran than a straight on closure of the Strait of Hormuz and a direct clash with the US Navy.