Friday, April 06, 2012

Pentagon Pushes Crowdsourced Manufacturing - NYTimes.com

Pentagon Pushes Crowdsourced Manufacturing - NYTimes.com

Designing and building things for the United States military is a notoriously slow-moving and costly endeavor. The time from idea to manufacturing for a new armored personnel carrier or a tank is typically 10 to 20 years.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants to change that, and drastically so. It seeks to cut the design-to-production cycle  to  two to four years.
So how are they going to do it? Crowdsourcing and prize contests are crucial ingredients in the speed-up recipe.
The crowdsourcing effort will rely on a software initiative, called Vehicleforge.mil, which will be a Web portal for gathering, sharing and testing ideas.
G.E. Research
Darpa, a government-sponsored research program, has enlisted scientists from the Georgia Tech Research Institute, Vanderbilt University, University of Pennsylvania, and a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and General Electric. The work is getting under way in earnest now, with the first of three prize challenges scheduled for next...

-bth: if it works it may generate a whole new way of product and system development.  Fantastic idea.

Report: Osama bin Laden helped plan Mumbai attacks - The Long War Journal

Report: Osama bin Laden helped plan Mumbai attacks - The Long War Journal

Osama bin Laden was in close contact with Hafiz Saeed, the wanted chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and helped plan the 2008 Mumbai attack, according to a report in the Hindustan Times. Citing Bruce Riedel, a former advisor to President Obama on Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Hindustan Times says that documents recovered in bin Laden's Pakistani safe house prove the extensive relationship between al Qaeda's deceased emir and LeT.
"The documents and files found in Abbottabad showed a close connection between Bin Laden and Saeed, right up to May 2011," Riedel told the newspaper. Riedel added that the captured files "suggested a much larger direct al Qaeda role in the planning of the Mumbai attacks than many assumed" and bin Laden may have seen surveillance reports prepared by David Headley, the LeT operative who scouted out locations for the Mumbai siege.
The revelation of Hafiz Saeed's ties to bin Laden led the US to offer a $10 million bounty for the LeT chieftain, according to the report. [For more on the reward, see LWJ report, US offers $10 million bounty for capture of Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed.]
Such collusion would hardly be surprising. Al Qaeda and LeT have had a strong relationship for more than two decades. Abdullah Azzam, a mentor to bin Laden and co-founder of Maktab al Khadamat, a forerunner to al Qaeda, also helped found the LeT organization. In more recent years, the LeT's network helped al Qaeda operatives flee Afghanistan in late 2001 and early 2002 after the fall of the Taliban. Al Qaeda terrorists have trained in LeT camps, and LeT members have fought alongside al Qaeda and the Taliban against Coalition forces in Afghanistan....

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Details Emerge on Coming U.S. Offensive in Eastern Afghanistan - Yochi J. Dreazen - NationalJournal.com

Details Emerge on Coming U.S. Offensive in Eastern Afghanistan - Yochi J. Dreazen - NationalJournal.com


A campaign that will likely be the last major U.S. offensive of the Afghan War is set to begin later this year in eastern Afghanistan, the region where the conflict began and where senior NATO officials hope their involvement will effectively come to an end.
U.S. officials in Kabul and Washington have provided National Journal an array of details about the coming push, which represents a high-stakes -- and politically complicated -- attempt to better secure Kabul as well as Afghanistan’s porous border with Pakistan before the American exit from the country accelerates. With Washington planning to shift U.S. troops out of their lead combat role next year, it is also likely to be the last major American offensive of the long war.
That foray will be led by thousands of troops from the 1st Brigade of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, set to deploy to eastern Afghanistan’s Ghazni Province in the coming months. The brigade will be augmented with additional combat, support, and training personnel, which means the new U.S. influx could include roughly 5,000 additional troops. ...

-bth: how about telling the Taliban which day as well.  For goodness sakes, we are telegraphing our moves again.

Village Stability Operations (VSO) and Afghan Local Police (ALP)


 


BBC News - Inside America's Drone HQ

BBC News - Inside America's Drone HQ


graphs

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Anti-Americanism in Pakistan snarls US war efforts

Anti-Americanism in Pakistan snarls US war efforts - Yahoo! News

... 
But a U.S. official said talks on the supply line issue could not start before the parliament had finished debating the recommendations. He said it was unclear when that would be. He didn't give his name because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

Before November, about 30 percent of the nonfatal supplies for foreign troops in Afghanistan were unloaded at the port of Karachi and then trucked across Pakistan to the border. For most of the war, 90 percent of the supplies came through Pakistan, but NATO has increased its reliance on an alternate, so called "northern" route, through Central Asia in recent years.

Increased use of the northern route has removed some of the leverage Islamabad had over the West, but at a cost to the coalition. Pentagon officials now say it costs about $17,000 per container to go through the north, compared with about $7,000 per container to go over Pakistan.

The importance of the supply routes in general will rise, however, toward the end of 2014, when they will be needed to remove equipment from Afghanistan as foreign forces withdraw.

The parliamentary committee is currently reviewing its recommendations so they can be unanimously accepted by the parliament. One demand of opposition lawmakers is that the restoration of the supply lines be explicitly tied to a halt in drone attacks.

Pakistani lawmakers and government leaders have long campaigned against the strikes, which have been carried out with some level of secret collaboration with the Pakistani army. Opposition to attacks has become a rallying cry for anti-American politicians, who say they violate sovereignty and kill too many civilians.

U.S. officials say they have offered Pakistan notice about impending strikes and new limits on which militants are being targeted. Washington views the attacks as a vital tool in suppressing al-Qaida, and is seen as highly unlikely to agree to end them.

"By linking the resumption with drone attacks, things become unworkable," said Ayaz Amir, an opposition lawmaker who is something of a maverick. "The possibilities of a workable deal are being shortened. They are not going to stop drone attacks, the supply lines are not going to open. We are going to have to suffer the consequences."...

 - bth: at what point do we give up on Pakistan as an ally?

Brotherhood takes on Egypt’s military - FT.com

Brotherhood takes on Egypt’s military - FT.com

... Scepticism about its intentions was already rife last week after the Brotherhood packed the elected panel charged with drafting the post-revolution constitution with devotees. The move provoked a walkout from the panel by representatives of liberal parties, the constitutional court, the Coptic Church, and even al-Azhar, the centre of Sunni religious authority.

Then the Brotherhood dropped a bombshell at the weekend with a decision to nominate Khairat al-Shater, its strategist and most formidable leader, as its candidate in the May 23 presidential election.

The movement’s brazen push for power is a dramatic departure from its decades-old approach of cautious, gradual politics and its more recent preference for sharing in the responsibility of ruling Egypt’s 80m people.

“It’s a turning point in the history of the Muslim Brotherhood,” says Dia Rashwan, analyst at Cairo’s Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies....

-bth: do the Egyptian people really think the future is with the MB?

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Navy's robot firefighter to battle blazes at sea - Technology & science - Innovation - msnbc.com

Navy's robot firefighter to battle blazes at sea - Technology & science - Innovation - msnbc.com


 
 
Fire has proven deadly for sailors throughout the centuries of naval warfare. The U.S. Navy wants to counter that ancient foe with a humanoid robot capable of throwing extinguisher grenades as it nimbly moves about the narrow passages and ladderways of modern warships.
A robot firefighter capable of walking or climbing in the manner of human sailors would present a huge advantage over one of today's military robots — which rely upon wheels or tanklike treads — in operating in the cramped quarters of warships. But the U.S. military also has set its sights on "other potential warfighting applications" in choosing to create a humanoid robot, according to the Naval Research Laboratory....

-bth: very impressive combination.

Israel Estimates 'Only' 300 Deaths in 3-Week War - Defense/Security - News - Israel National News

Israel Estimates 'Only' 300 Deaths in 3-Week War - Defense/Security - News - Israel National News


The heads of Israel’s defense system estimate that if Israel is targeted by missiles from neighboring countries during a theoretical war in 2012, 300 people will be killed in a three week period, according to a Channel 10 News report on Monday.
The report said that the ministers in the Israeli Security Cabinet were given this estimate during a briefing that was held on Sunday. Previous assessments talked about tens of thousands of casualties on the Israeli side....

-bth; but then there the exposed American bases in the gulf and Afghanistan 

Hafiz Saeed Bounty: U.S. Offers $10 Million For Pakistani Militant Chief

Hafiz Saeed Bounty: U.S. Offers $10 Million For Pakistani Militant Chief


ISLAMABAD — The United States has offered a $10 million bounty for the founder of the Pakistani militant group blamed for the 2008 attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai that killed 166 people, a move that could complicate U.S.-Pakistan relations at a tense time.
Hafiz Mohammad Saeed founded Lashkar-e-Taiba in the 1980s, allegedly with Pakistani support to pressure archenemy India over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Pakistan banned the group in 2002 under pressure from the U.S., but it operates with relative freedom – even doing charity work using government money.
The U.S. has designated Lashkar-e-Taiba and its social welfare wing Jamaat-ud-Dawwa as foreign terrorist organizations. Intelligence officials and terrorism experts say the group has expanded its focus beyond India and has plotted attacks in Europe and Australia. Some have called it "the next al-Qaida" and fear it could set its sights on the U.S.
Saeed operates openly in Pakistan, giving public speeches and appearing on TV talk shows. The U.S. also offered up to $2 million for Lashkar-e-Taiba's deputy leader, Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki, who is also Saeed's brother-in-law....

-bth: why now?  What is happening to cause the announcement now?

Monday, April 02, 2012

Hitler Response to the CONOP process - YouTube

Hitler Response to the CONOP process - YouTube

Chinese Insider Offers Rare Glimpse of U.S.-China Frictions - NYTimes.com

Chinese Insider Offers Rare Glimpse of U.S.-China Frictions - NYTimes.com


... In a joint conclusion, the authors say the level of strategic distrust between the two countries has become so corrosive that if not corrected the countries risk becoming open antagonists.

The United States is no longer seen as “that awesome, nor is it trustworthy, and its example to the world and admonitions to China should therefore be much discounted,” Mr. Wang writes of the general view of China’s leadership.

In contrast, China has mounting self-confidence in its own economic and military strides, particularly the closing power gap since the start of the Iraq war. In 2003, he argues, America’s gross domestic product was eight times as large as China’s, but today it is less than three times larger....

-bth: worth reading in full.  Two comments.  First why now?  Well this is released just at the time there are rumors of a military/political coup within China.  Second, it should be noted that China has no real allies besides Iran, Albania and similar pariahs.  The US on the other hand has Japan, Australia and probably Russia and India if one considers China as the adversary. Just saying.  The middle kingdom doesn't make friends easily. 

Gen. McChrystal shares insights about campaigns | The Newark Advocate | NewarkAdvocate.com

Gen. McChrystal shares insights about campaigns | The Newark Advocate | NewarkAdvocate.com

...  Citing geopolitical examples, McChrystal alluded to the impersonal effects of relying solely on unmanned warfare.

"Drones and Tomahawk missiles are useful and efficient, but there are dangers," he said. "When we retaliated with Tomahawks after our embassy was hit in Afghanistan, President Clinton said we were 'not at war,' but if we had been on the receiving end of those missiles, we might have seen the situation differently. If there is no risk to us personally, war becomes too easy, and those actions affect our relationships with other countries."
Briefly summarizing the past 65 years of U.S. dealings with Iraq and Iran, McChrystal explored the differing perspectives of those nations and America's, saying each side thinks the other is irrational because their values differ.

Is counter-insurgency viable if it requires a groundswell of troops, asked a student, alluding to McChrystal's own request for additional troops.

"The answer is mathematical," the general replied. "Counter-insurgency requires security. History teaches us that to succeed, we need 20 security forces for each 1,000 people. Afghanistan has 28 million people, so that would require 500,000 security forces. In Iraq we had too few troops and the insurgency was too thin. It takes time and money, and there is no sure outcome, but it (counter-insurgency) is the only way because you have to change the attitudes of the people."...

 - bth: so if we go  by the numbers as McChrystal says, we would have needed 500K troops in each country.  Since to my knowledge we never got above 155K plus whatever the local government could field, we never came close to having enough troops in one country, not counting the other one.

Insurgents' Bombs in Thailand: Bigger and Deadlier - NYTimes.com

Insurgents' Bombs in Thailand: Bigger and Deadlier - NYTimes.com

... 
“Violence is down significantly from its mid-2007 peak, but it has been steadily climbing since 2008,’’ Mr. Abuza said in a comprehensive survey, “The Ongoing Insurgency in Southern Thailand,’’ which was published in September by the Institute for National Strategic Studies.
“On average, 32 people are being killed and 58 wounded every month. Most casualties are from drive-by shootings, but there are also about 12 improvised explosive device (I.E.D.) attacks a month.’’
Security experts say Thai insurgents typically build explosive devices from easily available materials like propane canisters or fire extinguishers filled with ammonium nitrate. The devices usually weigh about 40 pounds.
But Mr. Abuza said, “There is a concern that the average size of I.E.D.’s may be increasing.”
The only discernible new trend in I.E.D.’s is that after years of experimentation, bombs are now routinely detonated by radio devices rather than cellphones,” Mr. Abuza wrote in his study.
“However, there has been a recent sharp rise in the number of time-delayed I.E.D.’s that target first responders. In June 2011, for example, four of the 11 I.E.D’s were time-delayed.’’..

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Man whose WMD lies led to 100,000 deaths confesses all - World Politics - World - The Independent

Man whose WMD lies led to 100,000 deaths confesses all - World Politics - World - The Independent

... But Mr Janabi, speaking in a two-part series, Modern Spies, starting tomorrow on BBC2, says none of it was true. When it is put to him "we went to war in Iraq on a lie. And that lie was your lie", he simply replies: "Yes."
US officials "sexed up" Mr Janabi's drawings of mobile biological weapons labs to make them more presentable, admits Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, General Powell's former chief of staff. "I brought the White House team in to do the graphics," he says, adding how "intelligence was being worked to fit around the policy"...

-bth: worth reading in full.  How my life would have been different.

‘US to rely on NDN in case Pakistan doesn’t resume NATO routes’ – The Express Tribune

‘US to rely on NDN in case Pakistan doesn’t resume NATO routes’ – The Express Tribune

... He added that negotiations with Pakistan regarding reopening of supply routes are still going on.
If Pakistan’s ground routes are not reopened for Nato supply, Lt Gen Panter said the re-deployment timelines will also increase.
Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics Army Lieutenant General Raymond Mason told the subcommittee that “Pakistan’s ground routes are critical and they have been closed since November. The good news is that our logistic situation is in very good shape, because of good planning”
“The NDN is three to four times more expensive, because it is three to four times lengthier,” he added.

-bth: It does not appear that Pakistan has a political mechanism to successfully negotiate a solution with the US.