Saturday, March 03, 2012

On missing sea containers transiting Pakistan

...The chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue, Hafiz Muhammad Anees, and two intelligence officers Saad Iqbal and Jawwad Sultan went to work. They found that from January 1, 2007 to October 15, 2010, 7,922 containers never crossed the Pakistan-Afghan border and were either pilfered or dropped within Pakistan’s limits, causing an estimated revenue loss of Rs19 billion. They identified as a “sample case” two companies - Lunar Products, Kabul and Messrs K√∂pcke Global Trading, Kabul. They found that 52 containers were fraudulently imported in Nato/Isaf’s name.
This team submitted eight progress reports to the Supreme Court and it surfaced that 28,802 commercial and 3,542 non commercial containers never crossed the border....

Friday, March 02, 2012

U.S. General Says Closure Of Pakistan Supply Routes Complicates Afghan Pullout

U.S. General Says Closure Of Pakistan Supply Routes Complicates Afghan Pullout

The U.S. military's top transport commander says overland cargo routes through Pakistan must be reopened to NATO for the United States to complete its pullout from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Pakistan closed overland cargo routes for NATO supplies in November amid deteriorating relations with the United States and the NATO alliance.

U.S. General William Fraser told the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 28 that the so-called Northern Distribution Network, which passes through Central Asia, was unable to handle the large number of shipments or all of the types of cargo that need to be moved out of Afghanistan to keep the withdrawal on schedule.

Fraser said existing agreements with Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan allowed equipment that is now in Afghanistan to pass through their territory as the war draws down -- but not any weapons.

He said the U.S. military was exploring routes to move nonlethal supplies and some types of armored vehicles through those countries....

Suicide bomber sold for Rs2m, says Pakistani minister | Pajhwok Afghan News

Suicide bomber sold for Rs2m, says Pakistani minister | Pajhwok Afghan News

PESHAWAR (PAN): The information minister of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province has said that a suicide bomber can be purchased for Rs2 million ($21,883) in his country.

.... “A suicide bomber is sold in the Waziristan tribal region for Rs2 million. It depends on the buyer how he uses the bomber -- to kill Muslims or non-Muslims,” the KPK minister remarked....

Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah aiding al-Assad in Syria – FSA commander Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English)

Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah aiding al-Assad in Syria – FSA commander Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Free Syrian Army [FSA] commander Brigadier General Hussam Awak, who previously defected from the Syrian Air Force Intelligence Directorate, revealed that an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp [IRGC] armored brigade is fighting alongside al-Assad regime forces in Syria. He also claimed that Hezbollah armed brigades – that specialize in snipers, explosions, and guerilla warfare – are supporting the al-Assad regime in suppressing the Syrian revolution. General Awak stressed that these forces are counteracted by increasing numbers of defectors joining the FSA seeking to overthrow the al-Assad regime....

Afghan soldier and teacher kill 2 ISAF soldiers in south - The Long War Journal

Afghan soldier and teacher kill 2 ISAF soldiers in south - The Long War Journal

... In the past 10 days Afghan security personnel have killed more ISAF soldiers than the Taliban. According to ISAF press releases, three ISAF soldiers were killed in an IED attack in the south on Feb. 21, and another three were killed "during an operation in western Afghanistan" on Feb. 20.

Afghan security personnel have killed "around 70 members of the NATO force ... in 42 insider attacks from May 2007 through January 2012," Reuters reported, based on statistics provided by the US Department of Defense. Fifteen of the ISAF soldiers, or more than 20 percent, have been killed in the last seven weeks, according to press releases issued by ISAF....

Iraq Reveals War Casualty Count as 20 More Iraqis Are Killed -- Antiwar.com

Iraq Reveals War Casualty Count as 20 More Iraqis Are Killed -- Antiwar.com

Spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh today gave the official government casualty figures for most of the last seven years. He said that 69,263 people were killed and 239,133 were wounded in Iraq between April 5, 2004 and December 31, 2011. That includes all violence, including sectarian attacks and military operations. The bloodshed did not stop at the end of last year though. At least 20 Iraqis were killed today and 41 more were wounded....

-bth: this excludes the initial year of the war and probably understates insurgent combatant deaths.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

101st Airborne's 'Strike' Brigade 1st Army Unit Issued M26 Shotgun

101st Airborne's 'Strike' Brigade 1st Army Unit Issued M26 Shotg
un101st Airborne

It weighs 3.5 pounds, has a barrel length of 7.75 inches, fires 12-gauge shells and can be mounted on the M4 carbine or act as a standalone firearm. The M26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System is the latest combat enhancer in Strike's arsenal.

The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, is the first unit in the Army selected to be issued this new weapons system.

-bth: this looks like a very capable system. M4 is probably a better pure shotgun, but the ability to switch off between rifle and shotgun is a real bonus especially if less lethal rounds are added.


Sad Romance in Violin

Israel’s Last Chance to Strike Iran - NYTimes.com

Israel’s Last Chance to Strike Iran - NYTimes.com

... The problem, however, is one of time. Israel doesn’t have the safety of distance, nor do we have the United States Air Force’s advanced fleet of bombers and fighters. America could carry out an extensive air campaign using stealth technology and huge amounts of ammunition, dropping enormous payloads that are capable of hitting targets and penetrating to depths far beyond what Israel’s arsenal can achieve.

This gives America more time than Israel in determining when the moment of decision has finally been reached. And as that moment draws closer, differing timetables are becoming a source of tension.

On Monday, Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel are to meet in Washington. Of all their encounters, this could be the most critical. Asking Israel’s leaders to abide by America’s timetable, and hence allowing Israel’s window of opportunity to be closed, is to make Washington a de facto proxy for Israel’s security — a tremendous leap of faith for Israelis faced with a looming Iranian bomb. It doesn’t help when American officials warn Israel against acting without clarifying what America intends to do once its own red lines are crossed.

Mr. Obama will therefore have to shift the Israeli defense establishment’s thinking from a focus on the “zone of immunity” to a “zone of trust.” What is needed is an ironclad American assurance that if Israel refrains from acting in its own window of opportunity — and all other options have failed to halt Tehran’s nuclear quest — Washington will act to prevent a nuclear Iran while it is still within its power to do so.

I hope Mr. Obama will make this clear. If he does not, Israeli leaders may well choose to act while they still can.

Amos Yadlin, a former chief of Israeli military intelligence, is the director of Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Foiled Delhi blast: Homegrown jihadis Lashkar's latest weapon - The Times of India

Foiled Delhi blast: Homegrown jihadis Lashkar's latest weapon - The Times of India

... "He had with him all ingredients for making a powerful Improvised Explosive Device (IED). He was also carrying detonators and two memory sticks, including the one in which he is being taught to make a bomb. He used this video to construct the explosive. It was our luck that we arrested him hours before the blast. We have information about the twin blasts at Chandni Chowk in Delhi and Srinagar. Lashkar also had plans to carry more attacks in Delhi's markets before Holi," a police officer said.

Earlier, Lashkar took help of sleeper cells for logistical support. "But, Ahtesham did everything on his own. This ensured that only the attacker knew about the mission," said the official. Intelligence agencies had busted several Lashkar modules in the past and this may have triggered a strategy change. ...

-bth: this kind of guy, who works by himself, would be very difficult to track down.

iRobot 710 Warrior Manipulator - YouTube

iRobot 710 Warrior Manipulator - YouTube

NightWatch 20120228 - KGS - on Homs Syria

NightWatch 20120228 - KGS

...A European news outlet published a city map that shows the neighborhoods of Homs based on sectarian residence patterns. The map shows that most of the videos of violent confrontations have been taken in two or three mostly Sunni neighborhoods in the south of the city.

Homs is a large city and most of it appears to experience little to no violence, based on the video footage and the map of neighborhoods. The vast majority of Sunni neighborhoods and the Christian and Alawite neighborhoods report no violence. Life goes on in most of Homs.

If the Homs firefighters and police retain the capability to use fire hoses against demonstrators, then the government remains in control in that city. That is a basic precept of internal instability analysis. Homs still has a functioning government that responds to orders from Damascus.

The point of this comment is that most US news reporting on the struggle in Syria appears aimed at grabbing headlines rather than at providing a balanced view of both sides of the struggle. Non-US news sources present a different view of the unrest. For example, it is difficult to maintain that the opposition dominates Homs, when the fire brigade is secure enough to turn hoses on an opposition rally there. US news analysts completely missed the significance of the fire brigade operations shown in their own videos..

The bottom line is that the opposition holds no ground that it does not physically occupy and then only when government forces are not present or chasing it. Homs does not appear to be under siege or under opposition control, based on German news reporting. Some neighborhoods are and that is worth further research. It also helps explain why the al Asad government exhibits no signs of panic or severe stress commensurate with the urgent statements by the UN, Arab League and US officials. More on this topic later....

Juan Cole compares military of Iran vs Israel

iranisrael



U.S. Sees Iran Attacks as Likely if Israel Strikes - NYTimes.com

U.S. Sees Iran Attacks as Likely if Israel Strikes - NYTimes.com
WASHINGTON — American officials who have assessed the likely Iranian responses to any attack by Israel on its nuclear program believe that Iran would retaliate by launching missiles on Israel and terrorist-style attacks on United States civilian and military personnel overseas. ...

-bth: so this NYT article and analysis, I could have written it along with most high school seniors. Why is stuff like this being printed? Is it to minimize US concern about and Israeli first strike? And it asserts as fact that Iran is building a bomb which our last NIE report contradicts. And its amazing that the NYT forgot the marine barracks and embassy bombings in Lebanon or the mining and even sinking of US ships in the Gulf. This article was written to precede next week's meeting between US and Israeli heads of state.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

U.S., Iran Poised For Mine Warfare In The Persian Gulf

U.S., Iran Poised For Mine Warfare In The Persian Gulf

... Now, both Iran and the United States seem poised to fight it out again. Iran has acquired a stockpile of 2,000 to 3,000 mines, including "smart'' Chinese-built mines that could track and target U.S. warships, according to a report by Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington.The 660-pound warhead carried by one such mine could puncture the hull of a U.S. aircraft carrier, the report says....

-bth: the shape of things to come. Worth reading in full

Trashing Tricare | Washington Free Beacon

Trashing Tricare | Washington Free Beacon

The Obama administration’s proposed defense budget calls for military families and retirees to pay sharply more for their healthcare, while leaving unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits untouched. The proposal is causing a major rift within the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. Several congressional aides suggested the move is designed to increase the enrollment in Obamacare’s state-run insurance exchanges.

The disparity in treatment between civilian and uniformed personnel is causing a backlash within the military that could undermine recruitment and retention.

The proposed increases in health care payments by service members, which must be approved by Congress, are part of the Pentagon’s $487 billion cut in spending. It seeks to save $1.8 billion from the Tricare medical system in the fiscal 2013 budget, and $12.9 billion by 2017.

Many in Congress are opposing the proposed changes, which would require the passage of new legislation before being put in place....

-bth: with unemployment the way it is, the Administration realizes that they can jack the cost of benefits for active personnel and know that they can still fill the ranks.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Jacob Sutton's L.E.D. Surfer - YouTube

Jacob Sutton's L.E.D. Surfer - YouTube

Pak Blockade may Rocket Afghan Pullout Costs | Military.com

Pak Blockade may Rocket Afghan Pullout Costs | Military.com

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – If Pakistani leaders don’t open the military supply lines to Afghanistan in time for the U.S. military to withdraw in earnest, the cost of the pullout could grow four or even five times, a top Army commander said here Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, the Pakistani supply routes for American forces into Afghanistan had been closed for 89 days. With no resumption in sight for normal supply lines, Army leaders are coming to grips with the startling reality the U.S. military might not have access to Pakistan’s ports to haul out the massive infrastructure it has built up in Afghanistan.

The Army is now testing whether soldiers and contractors can drive out the countless metal containers on a route called the Northern Distribution Network, that winds through the countries north of Afghanistan. If they must rely only on that route and air transport, it could as much as quintuple the cost, said Maj. Gen. Kevin Leonard, the head of Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command. ...

Stand-up economist at Caroline's - YouTube

Stand-up economist at Caroline's - YouTube

Remember Us by Archibald MacLeish

The young dead soldiers do not speak.
Nevertheless, they are heard in the still
     houses:
who has not heard them?
They have a silence that speaks for
     them at night
and when the clock counts.
They say: We were young. We have
     died.
Remember us.
They say: We have done what we could
     but until it is finished it is not done.
They say: We have given our lives but
     until it is finished
no one can know what our lives gave.
They say: Our deaths are not ours: they
     are yours,
they will mean what you make them.
They say: Whether our lives and our
     deaths were for
peace and a new hope or for nothing we
     cannot say,
it is you who must say this.
We leave you our deaths. Give them
     their meaning.
We were young, they say. We have
     died; remember us.

by Archibald MacLeish, “The Young Dead Soldiers” from Collected Poems 1917-1982. Copyright 1985 by The Estate of Archibald MacLeish.