Saturday, September 08, 2012

EW Gear Gets Smarter, Smaller | Defense News | defensenews.com

EW Gear Gets Smarter, Smaller | Defense News | defensenews.com

... 
As Army electronic warfare acquisitions officials field quick reaction capabilities, one priority is making the gear smaller, lighter and more energy efficient.
“It’s not only ‘can we make it man-packable,’ but ‘how can we fit it on a small UAV?’ That’s what our teams are looking at today,” Ryan said.
• Thor III and iCREW. One system for use by soldiers on foot is the Thor III, a counter-IED jammer for use by a squad of 12. It’s divided into three backpacks that, together, create a bubble of electromagnetic protection over that squad.
To extend that bubble over soldiers at the fringe of the squad, the Army wants to offer an Individual Counter Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare (CREW) device, dubbed iCREW. Still in development, iCREW would be lightweight and wearable, programmed to counter a narrow selection of known threat signals over a smaller range. The Army has just started its source-selection process, and the system is expected to be fielded in spring 2013.
• Wolfhound Handheld Threat Warning System. Another portable technology, the Wolfhound Handheld Threat Warning System, is used to reveal enemy spotter positions and observation posts. Six hundred have already been fielded.
Wolfhound fits on a backpack and can detect and geo-locate enemy communication signals, whose coordinates can be relayed to infantry platoons and bomb disposal teams.
“That helps us in the kinetic piece, where we can send in guys to kick down the door and collect the enemy, so to speak,” Ryan said.
• GATOR. The Ground Auto Targeting Observation/Reactive jammer is a fixed-site technology for a forward operating base, and is meant to surgically identify and target enemy communications. It consists of a shelter, a transceiver and a 107-foot mast antenna.
Last year, the Army fielded three GATOR systems, and the plan is to begin fielding from its requirement of 21 systems.
• CEASAR. The Army’s Rapid Equipping Force has fielded an aerial capability called CEASAR, or Communications Electronic Attack with Surveillance and Reconnaissance. Situated on C-12 twin-engine turboprop aircraft, it provides beyond-line-of-sight command, control and communications jamming ability. The Army plans to develop a smaller version for a UAV, Ryan said.
• Duke V2 Electronic Attack. Meanwhile, the Army is continuing to field vehicle-mounted EW systems like the Duke V2 Electronic Attack, a new version of a system soldiers may know primarily as an IED jammer.
The V2 offers an offensive capability, jamming roadside bombs, as well as insurgent command-and-control networks, particularly push-to-talk radios. The V2 is also a sensor, detecting and logging enemy signal sets.
“We have 25,000 sensors on the battlefield, where we can not only protect those vehicles and personnel, but we can collect information,” Ryan said.

Jihadists join Aleppo fight, eye Islamic state, surgeon says | Reuters

Jihadists join Aleppo fight, eye Islamic state, surgeon says | Reuters


... In an interview with Reuters in his central Paris apartment on Saturday, the 71-year-old said that contrary to his previous visits to Homs and Idlib earlier this year about 60 percent of those he had treated this time had been rebel fighters and that at least half of them had been non-Syrian.
"It's really something strange to see. They are directly saying that they aren't interested in Bashar al-Assad's fall, but are thinking about how to take power afterwards and set up an Islamic state with sharia law to become part of the world Emirate," the doctor said.
The foreign jihadists included young Frenchmen who said they were inspired by Mohammed Merah, a self-styled Islamist militant from Toulouse, who killed seven people in March in the name of al-Qaeda.
Assad himself has consistently maintained that the 17-month-old insurgency against him is largely the work of people he refers to as "foreign-backed terrorists" and says his forces are acting to restore stability.
During his previous visits to Syria - in March and May - Beres said he had dismissed suggestions the rebels were dominated by Islamist fighters but he said he had now been forced to reassess the situation....


...Beres, who entered Syria via Turkey's northern border, said he had also seen signs that Ankara was trying to stop Syrians crossing the border.
Showing his muddied surgical case, shoes and clothes, Beres said that Turkish forces had flooded the Reyhanli border area with water making it difficult for refugees to cross unnoticed.
"We were caught by the Turkish army. It took us 20 hours to cross the border and I was fined $500 for crossing the border illegally. They flooded the border completely so that they can hear who is crossing. Those they do catch they are sending back," he said.

War-weary US is numbed to drumbeat of troop deaths

War-weary US is numbed to drumbeat of troop deaths

WASHINGTON (AP) — It was another week at war in Afghanistan, another string of American casualties, and another collective shrug by a nation weary of a faraway conflict whose hallmark is its grinding inconclusiveness.







After nearly 11 years, many by now have grown numb to the sting of losing soldiers like Pfc. Shane W. Cantu of Corunna, Mich. He died of shrapnel wounds in the remoteness of eastern Afghanistan, not far from the getaway route that Osama bin Laden took when U.S. forces invaded after Sept. 11, 2001, and began America's longest war.

Cantu was 10 back then.

Nearly every day the Pentagon posts another formulaic death notice, each one brief and unadorned, revealing the barest of facts - name, age and military unit - but no words that might capture the meaning of the loss.

Cantu, who joined the Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade on Sept. 11 last year and went to Afghanistan last month, was among five U.S. deaths announced this past week, as the Democrats and Republicans wrapped up back-to-back presidential nominating conventions.

American troops are still dying in Afghanistan at a pace that doesn't often register beyond their hometowns. So far this year, it's 31 a month on average, or one per day. National attention is drawn, briefly, to grim and arbitrary milestones such as the 1,000th and 2,000th war deaths. But days, weeks and months pass with little focus by the general public or its political leaders on the individuals behind the statistics.

Each week at war has a certain sameness for those not fighting it, yet every week brings distinct pain and sorrow to the families who learn that their son or daughter, brother or sister, father or mother was killed or wounded.

Cantu died Aug. 28, but the Pentagon did not publicly release his name until Wednesday. He was memorialized by his paratrooper "sky soldier" comrades in Italy on Thursday and honored in his hometown of Corunna, where the high school football coach, Mike Sullivan, was quoted in local news reports as saying the energetic and athletic Cantu had been "the toughest kid I've ever coached — ever known."

He would have turned 21 next month.

His roommate in Afghanistan, Pfc. Cameron Richards, 23, remembers Cantu as a larger-than-life figure, a guy with an infectious smile who took pride in whipping up spaghetti, tacos and other dinners on his portable skillet. It was a knack he attributed to having grown up with five sisters with whom he shared family meal duties.

"He was the type of person you wanted to be around every day," Richards said in a teleephone interview Friday from the brigade's headquarters in Italy, where he returned after being wounded by shrapnel from a hand grenade two weeks before Cantu was killed.

"When he was in the room you knew he was in the room. He'd be the loudest one laughing," he added. "He impacted everybody."

As the war drags on, it remains a faraway puzzle for many Americans. Max Boot, a military historian and defense analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations, has called Afghanistan the "Who Cares?" war. "Few, it seems, do, except for service personnel and their families," he wrote recently. "It is almost as if the war isn't happening at all."

One measure of how far the war has receded into the background in America is the fact that it was not even mentioned by Mitt Romney in his speech last week accepting the Republican presidential nomination. President Barack Obama has pledged to end the main U.S. combat role in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but current plans call for some thousands of U.S. troops to remain long after that to train Afghans and hunt terrorists.

The war remains at the forefront, naturally, for members of the military such as Marine Lt. Gen. John Kelly, whose son, 2nd Lt. Robert M. Kelly, was killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan in November 2010.

"America as a whole today is certainly not at war, not as a country, not as a people," Kelly said in a speech Aug. 28 at the American Legion's national convention. Kelly is Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's senior military assistant.

"Only a tiny fraction of American families fear all day and every day a knock at the door that will shatter their lives," Kelly said.

That knock came this past week for more families, including that of Jeremie S. Border, a 28-year-old Army Special Forces staff sergeant from Mesquite, Texas. His alma mater, McMurry University, said he graduated in 2006 with degrees in sociology and communications. He played four seasons for the school's football team, whose players will wear a helmet decal bearing his uniform number, 28, for the remainder of this season.

The Pentagon said Tuesday that he was killed by small arms fire last Saturday, along with Army Staff Sgt. Jonathan P. Schmidt, 28, of Petersburg, Va., a graduate of Thomas Dale High School outside Richmond. Schmidt was an explosive ordnance disposal expert assigned to a unit based at Fort Bragg, N.C. The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer reported that he joined the Army in 2003 and is survived by his wife and one son.

Marine Lance Cpl. Alec R. Terwiske, 21, of Dubois, Ind., was killed in combat last Monday in Helmand province. He was a reservist with a tank battalion based at Fort Knox, Ky., but in Afghanistan he was assigned to a combat engineer battalion. The Pentagon provided no details about the circumstances of his death.

Army Spc. Kyle R. Rookey, 23, of Oswego, N.Y., died last Sunday in Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan in a noncombat incident. As is standard with noncombat deaths the Pentagon offered no other details pending an investigation. Rookey is survived by his wife, Victoria, and a daughter, Flora, according to a report by CNYCentral.com in Syracuse, which said Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered that flags at all state buildings fly at half-staff Friday in Rookey's honor.

bth: to the Cantu family from some of the gold star families of the 173rd, we remember, share and acknowledge what is happening to your family. Our thoughts and prayers.

Norfolk school named for fallen soldier - BostonHerald.com

Norfolk school named for fallen soldier - BostonHerald.com


NORFOLK - A new elementary school in Norfolk has been named in part for a town native and Norwich University alumnus who was killed in Iraq.
U.S. Army Sgt. Adam Kennedy was killed by an improvised explosive device in April 2007 at age 25.
On Saturday, Kennedy’s family and five Norwich students who belong to the Mountain and Cold Weather Company, as Kennedy did, honored him at the dedication of the Freeman-Kennedy School.
The Norwich students also performed a flag detail during the dedication.
The new school is replacing Kennedy’s alma mater.
Kennedy graduated from Norwich in 2004 with a computer science degree.

DoD: Half Of US Military Bases Lack Required Voter Assistance Offices « CBS DC

DoD: Half Of US Military Bases Lack Required Voter Assistance Offices « CBS DC

 A new report by the Department of Defense inspector general reveals that approximately half of U.S. military bases lack legally required facilities designed to assist service members through the voting process....

BBC News - Top Pakistan policeman is shot dead in Quetta

BBC News - Top Pakistan policeman is shot dead in Quetta


A top police officer investigating sectarian killings in the Pakistani province of Balochistan has been shot dead by gunmen on motorbikes in the provincial capital, Quetta, police say.
The car of Superintedent Jamil Kakar was sprayed with bullets as he was leaving his home. His bodyguard was injured.
Sectarian violence has killed hundreds of Pakistanis in recent years....

U.S. Attack on Iran Would Take Hundreds of Planes, Ships, and Missiles | Danger Room | Wired.com

U.S. Attack on Iran Would Take Hundreds of Planes, Ships, and Missiles | Danger Room | Wired.com


Should the U.S. actually take Benjamin Netanyahu’s advice and attack Iran, don’t expect a few sorties flown by a couple of fighter jocks. Setting back Iran’s nuclear efforts will need to be an all-out effort, with squadrons of bombers and fighter jets, teams of commandos, rings of interceptor missiles and whole Navy carrier strike groups — plus enough drones, surveillance gear, tanker aircraft and logistical support to make such a massive mission go. And all of it, at best, would buy the U.S. and Israel another decade of a nuke-free Iran.
There’s been a lot of loose talk and leaked tales about what an attack on Iran might ultimately entail. Anthony Cordesman, one of Washington’s best-connected defense analysts, has put together a remarkably detailed inventory of what it would take to strike Iran (.pdf), cataloging everything from the number of bombers required to the types of bombs they ought to carry. He analyzes both Israeli and American strikes, both nuclear and not. He examines possible Iranian counterattacks, and ways to neutralize them. It leads Cordesman to a two-fold conclusion:
* “Israel does not have the capability to carry out preventive strikes that could do more than delay Iran’s efforts for a year or two.” Despite the increasingly sharp rhetoric coming out of Jerusalem, the idea of Israel launching a unilateral attack is almost as bad as allowing Tehran to continue its nuclear work unchallenged.  It would invite wave after wave of Iranian counterattacks — by missile, terrorist, and a boat — jeopardizing countries throughout the region. It would wreak havoc with the world’s oil supply. And that’s if Israel even manages to pull the mission off — something Cordesman very much doubts.
* The U.S. might be able to delay the nuclear program for up to 10 years. But to do so, it’ll be an enormous undertaking. The initial air strike alone will “require a large force allocation [including] the main bomber force, the suppression of enemy air defense system[s], escort aircraft for the protection of the bombers, electronic warfare for detection and jamming purposes, fighter sweep and combat air patrol to counter any air retaliation by Iran.”...
bth: worth reading in full.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Intelligence Committee Chair Describes Explosive Confrontation Between Netanyahu and American Ambassador - Jeffrey Goldberg - The Atlantic

Intelligence Committee Chair Describes Explosive Confrontation Between Netanyahu and American Ambassador - Jeffrey Goldberg - The Atlantic

...  He went on, "I will say that as a part of their decision point or data point when they go through the process of should we or shouldn't we, it was clear that our American elections have worked its way into one of those data points. I thought, well, maybe that hedges their response until maybe after the election. But what I got out of that, walking out of that, wa,s yeah they're considering it, but at this point they're very frustrated because they don't' know what happens after the election, and their window for impacting the program they believe is starting to close."

Rogers also said that what he calls Obama's uncertainty has caused problems for the U.S. across the Middle East. "You know, it's a very interesting argument when you're in the room and talking about options.The meeting was designed, it was supposed to be between Netanyahu and myself on some intelligence cooperation matters and other matters, when it came to Iran and Syria and other things, and kind of devolved into this meeting where the  ambassador was confronted directly... what was very apparent to me was a lot of frustration with the lack of clarity and the uncertainty about what their position is on the Iranian nuclear program. And that's what I think I saw across the Middle East. The uncertainty about where the United States' position is on those questions has created lots of problems and anxiety that I think doesn't serve the world well and doesn't serve peace well."

Rogers spoke, as well, about the Iranian nuclear timeline: "So the big question is the dash. And the dash is, we know they have an enrichment program, it's highly likely they have a weaponization program. You have to have both of those parts for a nuclear weapon program. And the dash is when does weaponization mean you can put it on a missile and fire it off?
The Israelis are upset because that dash question seems to be shortening and they already believe they have enough enrichment for more than one nuclear bomb. That's why their anxiety is high and the United States position isn't all that clear." Beckmann then asked Rogers how close the Israelis believe that dash period to be. Rogers: "The Israelis believe it's short. I mean, Netanyahu made it very clear he thought it was a matter of weeks. If they decide to do the dash it could be four weeks to eight weeks, which is a month or two months. Our intelligence analysts believe it would be a little longer than that. But the problem is, nobody really knows for sure. But we do know, and I think everyone agrees, including, you know, our European intelligence allies and other things that they are clearly marching down this road."

(Thanks to Armin Rosen for transcribing the radio interview)

bth: this Atlantic article is worth reading in full to be sure.

Analysts: Syrian army in no danger of collapsing from rebel assaults | McClatchy

Analysts: Syrian army in no danger of collapsing from rebel assaults | McClatchy

... 
“At the beginning we were seeing T-72s,” White said, referring to the most advanced tanks, bought from Russia, that the Syrian army possesses. “Now we’re seeing some T-54s and T-55s.”
T-54s and T-55s are Cold War-era tanks that first went into production at the end of World War II.
But the army hasn’t yet deployed some of its heaviest weaponry. Despite punishing artillery and rocket strikes on rebel-held areas, a number of rocket and artillery systems haven’t yet been used.
“To me, that’s the most important advantage the Syrian military has over the rebels,” White said.
He predicted that the rebels eventually will acquire anti-aircraft weapons or learn to use the weapons they have to shoot down jets and helicopters, which the Assad military has begun to use more frequently. The use of jets to bomb rebel positions is among the developments that led the death toll to surge in August to 5,384, more than triple the number of dead recorded in May and the highest monthly total yet of the 18-month conflict.
But that won’t erode the regime’s advantage in artillery, White said. “The one thing they will find it very difficult to deal with is the artillery,” he said of the rebels.
White said that even if the military were to be broken, it probably wouldn’t end the violence. He suggested that some commanders would use the mayhem to set up regions that they’d control. “It isn’t going to be just one outcome for the army,” he said.
Holliday pointed to the shabiha, a pro-government militia whose membership is drawn largely from Syria’s Allawite religious minority, to which Assad and much of the country’s elite belong, as one likely outcome for a dissolved army. The militia has been used as infantry across the country, and human rights groups and the rebels accuse it of carrying out some of the worst atrocities in the conflict to date.
“The shabiha are a big deal, not only because they’re being used as infantry, but it’s also a nightmare scenario for what the army could become,” Holliday said.

-bth: the McClatchy article (one of the only news services that actually does intelligent research)  is worth reading in full. Not discussed is the economics of the Syrian civil war.  Worth a follow on article I think.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Taliban threat: Nuclear site in DG Khan cordoned off – The Express Tribune

Taliban threat: Nuclear site in DG Khan cordoned off – The Express Tribune


LAHORE:  It could be the first-ever security threat to a nuclear facility in Pakistan, and the Army and security forces are taking no risks.
Following ‘serious’ security threats from the homegrown Taliban, the Army and Punjab police have deployed heavy forces at one of Pakistan’s largest nuclear facilities in Dera Ghazi Khan (DG Khan), credible sources told The Express Tribune.
Besides the deployment inside and around the nuclear installation, three divisions in South Punjab have also been asked to launch a crackdown against banned outfits, sources added.
“DG Khan houses one of the largest nuclear facilities in the country, and has faced the first-ever serious security threat from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP),” said a high ranking military officer currently serving at the installation....

Iran says it treats Israeli military threats as American | Reuters

Iran says it treats Israeli military threats as American | Reuters


(Reuters) - Iran makes no distinction between U.S. and Israeli interests and will retaliate against both countries if attacked, an Iranian military commander said on Wednesday.
The comments came after the White House denied an Israeli news report that it was negotiating with Tehran to keep out of a future Israel-Iran war and as U.S. President Barack Obama fends off accusations from his election rival that he is too soft on Tehran.
"The Zionist regime separated from America has no meaning, and we must not recognize Israel as separate from America," Ali Fadavi, naval commander in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency....

-bth: one could see an unfortunate scenario where Israel attacks Iran at some level, probably inconclusively, then Iran retaliates against US bases with missiles and the US responds with its own Iranian attack.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Iran Supplying Syrian Military via Iraq Airspace - NYTimes.com

Iran Supplying Syrian Military via Iraq Airspace - NYTimes.com

...Iraq could take several steps to stop the flights, including insisting that cargo planes that depart from Iran en route to Syria land for inspection in Baghdad or declaring outright that Iraq’s airspace cannot be used for the flights.
Iraq does not have a functioning air force, and since the withdrawal of American forces last December, the United States has no planes stationed in the country. Several airlines have been involved in ferrying the arms, according to American officials, including Mahan Air, a commercial Iranian airline that the United States Treasury Department said last year had ferried men, supplies and money for Iran’s paramilitary Quds Force and Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese group backed by Iran.
One former American official said it was not entirely clear what cargo was being sent to Syria before the flights stopped in March. But because of the type of planes involved, the nature of the carriers and the Iranians’ reluctance to have the planes inspected in Iraq, it was presumed to be tactical military equipment.
At the time the flights were suspended, Iraq was preparing to host the Arab League summit meeting, which brought to Baghdad many leaders opposed to Mr. Assad. Immediately after the meeting, President Obama, in an April 3 call to Mr. Maliki, reinforced the message that the flights should not continue.
Iran has an enormous stake in Syria. It is Iran’s staunchest Arab ally, a nation that borders the Mediterranean and Lebanon, and has provided a channel for Iran’s support to Hezbollah...

-bth: what incentive does Iraq have in cooperating with us at this point versus the benefits they receive from cooperating with Iran?  Can we withhold military aircraft or financial aide to Iraq? One wonders.
... 

Iran Equips Unmanned Combat Drones with Missile Systems | Unmanned Systems Technology

Iran Equips Unmanned Combat Drones with Missile Systems | Unmanned Systems Technology
Iran’s Deputy Defense Minister Mohammad Eslami said Sunday that his country’s defense industries are equipping combat drones with missile systems.

Eslami told the Fars news agency that the recent drills conducted by the Revolutionary Guards employed fighter drones, adding that they are now installing missiles on these Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles UCAVs.

According to the report, this will be Iran’s first long-range unmanned combat air vehicle and it can bomb targets at high speed and has a range of 1,000 kilometers.

Eslami noted that the drone had been built based “covert and overt sources” and mentioned the downing of the US drone by the Revolutionary Guards.

Tehran often claims to have made scientific and military breakthroughs but in most cases fails to produce evidence of this. Consequently, the West does not always take these announcements seriously....

-bth: WWII vintage V2?

NightWatch 20120904 - KGS - Egypt - Hijab trend indicator

NightWatch 20120904 - KGS

 ...Shadi Hamid's comments are cheerleading because Egypt is an economic basket case that relies on Saudi generosity to make its monthly payments. As far as US interests are concerned, Mursi is not a dependable US ally, as was Mubarak. Some consider that progress, others disagree.
President Mursi has appointed 10 new governors, four of them leading members of his fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamist-led upper house of parliament, the Shura Council, also appointed ultraconservative Islamists as members of state-run human rights and media councils.
Comment: This week media outlets reported that three Egyptian female TV news personalities have decided to wear the hijab, Islamic head covering, while on the air. In NightWatch's experience around the world, the women may be relied upon to sense and manifest the direction of the country, from the Far East to the Middle East. Egypt is trending gradually towards an Islamist state....

Commentary on 911 Memorial

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Quadruple amputee soldier fulfills promise: greets his combat unit - Stripes - Independent U.S. military news from Iraq, Afghanistan and bases worldwide

Quadruple amputee soldier fulfills promise: greets his combat unit - Stripes - Independent U.S. military news from Iraq, Afghanistan and bases worldwide


Standing on his new prosthetic legs, wearing artificial arms and dressed in combat fatigues, Staff Sgt. Travis Mills showed up in the pre-dawn darkness to greet soldiers as they stepped off the plane in Fort Bragg, N.C.
He was fulfilling a promise he had made to himself just weeks after an April explosion in Afghanistan left him a quadruple amputee.null
Mills flew last week from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., to North Carolina to meet his fellow paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division. They had just completed a tough seven-month assignment in southern Afghanistan.
He shook hands and received hugs, trying hard to control his emotions. Mills spotted Sgt. Daniel Bateson, the medic who first came to his aid. Mills embraced him. "Here's the guy who saved my life," he shouted.
Mills, 25, who was on his third combat deployment when he was injured, talked about his whirlwind reunion and his road to recovery as one of only five quadruple amputees to survive the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He spoke during a recent visit with his wife's parents in Frisco.
His goal meant he had to work at least as hard at his rehabilitation as his fellow soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. "Honestly, they're working hard overseas every day," he said, "so I better be working hard where I'm at, doing whatever I can do to get better."...

US to hand over Bagram prison next week: Kabul | DAWN.COM

US to hand over Bagram prison next week: Kabul | DAWN.COM


KABUL: The Afghan government said Tuesday it expected to take full control next week from the United States of the controversial Bagram prison, which numbers Taliban fighters among its 3,000 inmates.
President Hamid Karzai’s office made the announcement following talks with some of Afghanistan’s most senior justice, defence and intelligence officials.
“The transition of Bagram prison to Afghan authority is a great success for Afghanistan therefore a splendid ceremony has to take place on September 10 for its full handover,” the palace announced.
A Nato military spokesman in Afghanistan said he was “aware of the statement” but made no other immediate comment.
Afghanistan and the United States signed an agreement on March 9 beginning a six-month transition from American to Afghan control of the jail north of Kabul and just outside Bagram, the largest US military base in the country....

-bth: it will be interesting to see how this evolves.

Camp Lejeune water contamination victim speaks out - News - Stripes

Camp Lejeune water contamination victim speaks out - News - Stripes


...  The Department of the Navy recommended 50 years ago the regulation of many of the worst chemicals that found their way into Lejeune’s water supply, according to 1963’s Manual of Naval Preventive Medicine, which was just recently made public.
But throughout the 1960s and 70s, military and civilian employees poured oil into storm drains, improperly disposed of car batteries and tossed out used tires and countless other items around the base, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which recorded an incident involving the burial of dog carcasses used in radiological testing.
By then, the wells that supplied the base’s potable water swirled with more than 70 toxic chemicals including trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, benzene and vinyl chloride, according to EPA reports.
By 1980, military and civilian scientists were sounding alarms that Lejeune’s water was poisonous, but wells were not closed for another four years and only after state officials became involved, according to transcripts of Congressional hearings on the matter....


Beginning in 1984, military officials began to point publicly to a small, off-base dry cleaner as the source of contamination without disclosing to environmental regulators that depot storage tanks at Hadnot Point aboard base had leaked around 1,500 gallons of fuel into the ground every month for years. When the contamination made headlines, the base’s commanding general assured his Marines and their families that their water was safe when chemical levels were among the highest ever seen in a public water system, according to a series of investigative reports published by newspapers in Florida, which is home to more than 12,000 veterans affected by water contamination--the most of any state except North Carolina.
Trichloroethylene was found at 1,400 parts per billion at Naval Hospital; 1,148 ppb at an elementary school; and 18,900 ppb in a water wellup to 280 times higher than what the EPA considers safe today, according to a review of hundreds of previously safe-guarded military documents made public by the Senate in July.
Lejeune was declared a Superfund site in 1989, giving the EPA authority to clean it up. For the next two decades, veterans fought for answers and help from the government with thousands dying of cancer. Military officials made it difficult for anyone, even federally-funded researchers, to obtain any pertinent information or documentation on the contamination, according to court records and archived reports.
The federal government in 2005 cleared the Marine Corps of any criminal conduct in handling the contamination. An EPA investigator later testified before Congress that he wanted to charge several Lejeune officers with obstruction of justice but had been overruled by a Justice Department counterpart....


Obama: Romney's 'got to let people know' about Afghanistan plans - POLITICO.com

Obama: Romney's 'got to let people know' about Afghanistan plans - POLITICO.com


...Obama used the omission as the hook for the defense of his own foreign policy and a reminder that he’s kept his promises about how he’d handle the nation’s overseas wars.
“When I ended the war in Iraq, he said it was tragic,” Obama said. “But you know what: I promised I would end the war and I did. I said we’d take out al-Qaeda and go after bin Laden and we did.”
Obama added: “I put forward a specific plan to bring our troops home from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. We are in the process of doing that right now. And when I say I’m going to bring ‘em home, you know they’re gonna come home."

-bth: we'll keep this post for future reference and see what we shall see.

Taliban release video of beheaded Pakistani soldiers - The Long War Journal

Taliban release video of beheaded Pakistani soldiers - The Long War Journal


I do not understand how or why the public, the police, the military of Pakistan tolerates such actions by the Taliban against Pakistani soldiers.

Federal Cuts Threaten Live Taps At Long Island Military Funerals « CBS New York

Federal Cuts Threaten Live Taps At Long Island Military Funerals « CBS New York

 Trumpeter playing Taps (file / credit: Henny Ray Abrams-Pool/Getty Images)


CALVERTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - When you go to a military funeral at Calverton National Cemetery or Pinelawn National Cemetery on Long Island, you expect to hear Taps performed live.
However, with federal funding being cut, they may have to switch to a recording as opposed to a live tribute.

A group of business owners, along with the American Airpower Museum in Farmingdale, have teamed up to set up a fund to keep Taps live.
“When you take away the human element and basically turn it into a recording what you’re doing is dehumanizing and taking away the last drop of respect this country can give its veterans,” said Jeff Clyman, president of the American Airpower Museum.
“I think the sacrifice of those who served, in the past, and those who are presently serving for our country, is monumental,” said Jim Pratt, a construction company owner. “I don’t think anybody can make any bigger effort, or any bigger sacrifice.”
He said Taps is a respectful and appropriate way to say goodbye to our military men and women.
“It’s the final salute to someone who sacrificed for their country, whether it was in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, or Afghanistan and Iraq,” he said....

-bth: this symbolism, a live bugler, is important and should not be cheapened or discarded.
...

Monday, September 03, 2012

Iran could strike US bases if Israel attacks: Hezbollah - Yahoo! News Canada

Iran could strike US bases if Israel attacks: Hezbollah - Yahoo! News Canada


BEIRUT (Reuters) - Iran could hit U.S. bases in the Middle East in response to any Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities even if American forces played no role in the attack, the leader of Lebanon's Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah said on Monday.
"A decision has been taken to respond and the response will be very great," Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in an interview with the Beirut-based Al Mayadeen television.
"The response will not be just inside the Israeli entity - American bases in the whole region could be Iranian targets," he said, citing information he said was from Iranian officials. "If Israel targets Iran, America bears responsibility."...

-bth: so if Israel unilaterally attacks Iran, Iran retaliates by attacking US bases?

Stop all ventures in PoK, India tells China - The Times of India

Stop all ventures in PoK, India tells China - The Times of India

 NEW DELHI: China may claim there is "not a single" People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldier in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) but India remains thoroughly unconvinced. Ahead of the delegation-level meeting with visiting Chinese defence minister General Liang Guanglie on Tuesday, India has again asked Beijing to stop expanding its strategic footprint in PoK.

"The government is aware of the infrastructure development by China at the border and their (Chinese) undertaking infrastructure projects in PoK. The government has conveyed its concerns to China about its activities in PoK and asked them to cease such activities," said defence minister A K Antony, in a written reply in Lok Sabha on Monday.

The statement is bound to ruffle the feathers of a prickly China that is already miffed with the new US defence policy to progressively shift 60% of its formidable naval fleet to the Asia-Pacific region, and Washington's description of India as "a linchpin" in this unfolding strategy.

But while India is unwilling to jump onto any US-led bandwagon to "contain" China, and takes adequate care to respect Chinese sensitivities, Beijing continues to expand its presence in PoK and the Gilgit-Baltistan areas in the garb of infrastructure projects.

Moreover, India remains concerned about the ever-expanding Beijing-Islamabad military nexus, which is clearly directed against New Delhi, as well as the massive build-up of military infrastructure by the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) all along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) and its naval forays into the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

China has also helped Pakistan rapidly expand its nuclear and missile arsenals, as also supply it with a whole lot of conventional weaponry that ranges from JF-17 and F-7 fighters to F-22P frigates and early warning and control aircraft....


 

Turkey-Iran cold war

Turkey-Iran cold war

 When we read media reports about Iranian intelligence activities, the PKK's increased activities on the Turkey-Iran border, the PKK's cease-fire with Iran, and Turkish and Iranian officials' statements about each other, we can easily argue that Turkey and Iran are in a cold war.

....Unfortunately, in this war, the Iranian side is in a more advantageous position than Turkey. On the economic front, Turkey depends on Iranian natural gas in the coming winter, which Iran will use against Turkey. Iran considered Turkey an area in which to conduct economic activity while the rest of the world sanctions Iran. Indeed, the Turkish press reported that between January and July Iran had imported gold from Turkey worth $7 billion. On the economic front, both parties have tools that can harm the other.

On the political front, however, Iran has more tools to use against Turkey. Given the fact that Iran is a country best known for its proxy wars, Iran would use tools such as the PKK, and to some degree the Kurdish Hizbullah and other sleeper cells pretending to be Islamists in this country, to destabilize Turkey. Turkey, however, has very limited groups inside Iran which it could mobilize against the Iranian regime. Furthermore, Turkey does not know how to wage a protracted proxy war.

Moreover, there are influential intellectuals among the Islamists, even in the Cabinet, and members of Parliament who have sympathy towards Iran. For this very reason the government, despite the warnings from inside and outside, insists on its policies to support Iran in the international arena and to keep the doors of economic activity open.

Thus, Iran can easily destabilize Turkey if Turkey further deepens the cold war with Iran.


-bth: worth a read in full.  I suspect Iran has given PKK safe haven in order to put pressure on Turkey with regard to Syria.

Two killed in attack on US consulate vehicle in Peshawar | DAWN.COM

Two killed in attack on US consulate vehicle in Peshawar | DAWN.COM


PESHAWAR: At least two people were killed and 19 others injured, including two Americans working for the US Consulate, in a suicide bombing on Peshawar’sAbdara road on Monday, DawnNews reported.
A vehicle of the US Consulate was the target of the attack, sources said, adding that technical and administrative staff of the Consulate were occupants in the targeted vehicle.
The blast took place close to the residential quarters used by the US consulate in the northwestern city and near the office of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) when a vehicle laden with explosives rammed into the consulate’s car.
The consulate vehicle was destroyed in the blast, whereas several other vehicles and five to six nearby buildings were also damaged. The explosion left a four-feet-wide and eight-feet-deep crater on the road and uprooted electricity poles in the vicinity
.peshawar-zahir-shah-670
CCPO Peshawar Imtiaz Altaf confirmed that 110 kilograms of explosives were used in the attack.
Earlier, Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain had told reporters at least four people, including two Americans, were killed in the attack. However, the US embassy denied any US citizens were killed, instead confirming that two Americans working for the consulate were injured and were were shifted to the US Club in another consulate vehicle immediately after the attack.
The blast also wounded two Pakistani employees of the consulate, the US Embassy in Islamabad said in a statement....

-bth: has this even been reported in the US?

NightWatch 20120830 - KGS - India-Pakistan

NightWatch 20120830 - KGS


...As for Pakistan, it is only a small exaggeration to suggest that the Pakistani Taliban would have attempted to take over the government in Islamabad long before now, but for the presence of a US and Western field army in Afghanistan.
After US and allied forces leave Afghanistan, Pakistan will become fair game for the Islamists. Most Pakistan Army soldiers and officers below the rank of brigadier already are Islamists, so the Army is unreliable.
The message is that the US combat forces in Afghanistan have helped protect, indirectly, the elected governments of Pakistan and India, but that protection is coming to an end. That matches what happened in Southeast more than a generation ago. The US fight in Vietnam gave the other countries of Southeast Asia a chance to defend themselves and to develop their economic and political strength.
Pakistan has not taken advantage of the opportunity the US has afforded Pakistan's elite, secular political forces to make Pakistan more stable and safer. As a result, after the US forces leave Afghanistan, India becomes a frontline state in the fight against Islamic extremism. That is how the law of unforseen consequences works....

bth: as usual NightWatch is worth reading in full.  

The Associated Press: 200 US Marines join anti-drug effort in Guatemala

The Associated Press: 200 US Marines join anti-drug effort in Guatemala


GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — A team of 200 U.S. Marines began patrolling Guatemala's western coast this week in an unprecedented operation to beat drug traffickers in the Central America region, a U.S. military spokesman said Wednesday.
The Marines are deployed as part of Operation Martillo, a broader effort started last Jan. 15 to stop drug trafficking along the Central American coast. Focused exclusively on drug dealers in airplanes or boats, the U.S.-led operation involves troops or law enforcement agents from Belize, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama and Spain....

-bth: note subtly we are committing troops to Africa, SE Asia, Central America and Africa. 

Mean Household Income by Quintile in USA

Sunday, September 02, 2012

173rd Airborne BCT major found guilty of sexual assault - News - Stripes

173rd Airborne BCT major found guilty of sexual assault - News - Stripes


VICENZA, Italy — The former signal officer for the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team was found guilty at court-martial of aggravated sexual assault, forcible sodomy and maltreatment of a subordinate.
Maj. Rodney H. Lipscomb pleaded guilty to charges of engaging in a prohibited relationship and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. The jury of five male officers sentenced him Thursday to one year’s confinement and dismissal from the Army.
Lipscomb was found guilty of two of four specifications of sexual assault and forcible sodomy and maltreatment of a subordinate, a private first class, during a shared temporary duty assignment in Bamberg, Germany, on Dec. 5, 2011. Lipscomb, who could have faced life in prison, was found not guilty on the two other specifications of sexual assault. Because of the convictions, he will now be registered as a sex offender in the States...

-bth: unsatisfactory leadership by any measure.

Iran, North Korea sign technology agreement - News - Boston.com

Iran, North Korea sign technology agreement - News - Boston.com

... 
Any technical accord between Pyongyang and Tehran is likely to raise suspicions in the West. The U.S. has repeatedly accused North Korea of providing Iran with advanced missiles capable of targeting Western European capitals.
Last year, Iran denied a U.N. panel report saying that North Korea and Iran appear to have been regularly exchanging ballistic missiles, components and technology in violation of U.N. sanctions.
Iran’s state TV said the agreement was signed in Tehran in the presence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and North Korea’s nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam, by Iran’s Minister of Science, Research and Technology Kamran Daneshjoo and North Korea’s Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Kim, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, that North Korea and Iran have ‘‘common enemies.’’
‘‘Arrogant powers don’t tolerate independent governments,’’ Khamenei told Kim. ‘‘In the march towards great goals, one should be serious, and pressures, sanctions and threats should not cause any crack in (our) determination.’’...

-bth: Iran's dealings with N. Korea who have only one viable export, missiles and nuclear technology,  somewhat belies all protests to the contrary that Iran is developing for only peaceful purposes.