Thursday, November 15, 2012

RANGER AGAINST WAR on Moral Courage

RANGER AGAINST WAR

... If elective invasions, bombing, Predators and Reapers, secret prisons, torture, open-ended detention and more do not raise any hackles amongst the General Officer class, then a penile thrombosis is very little thing in comparison, which is not to say it is nothing.  It is just a logical outgrowth of a corrupt and entitled mindset.

Amidst moral cowardice on such a scale, how do we even discuss Petraeus's moral lapse?  We have divorced morality from the equation when we adopted elective warfare and assumed the mantle of warriorhood.  Petraeus did what warrior-kings do: he took a concubine.


--Jim and Lisa
 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Guardian: Pakistan developing combat drones

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/13/drones-pakistan




Pakistan is on the cusp of joining an elite group of countries capable of manufacturing unmanned aircraft capable of killing as well as spying, a senior defence official has claims.
Publicly, Islamabad, which officially objects to lethal drone strikes carried out by the CIA along its border with Afghanistan, says it is only developing remote-controlled aircraft for surveillance purposes.
But last week, during a major arms fair held in Karachi, military officials briefed some of Pakistan's closest allies about efforts by the army to develop its own combat unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
"The foreign delegates were quite excited by what Pakistan has achieved," said the official, who was closely involved with organising the four-day International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (Ideas). "They were briefed about a UAV that can be armed and has the capability to carry a weapon payload."
The official said Pakistan wanted to demonstrate to friendly countries, principally Turkey and the Gulf, that it can be self-sufficient in a technology that is revolutionising warfare and which is currently dominated by a handful of countries that do not readily share the capability.
...

Huw Williams, an expert on unmanned systems at Jane's Defence Weekly, expressed doubts that Pakistan could have succeeded in progressing very far from the "pretty basic" small reconnaissance drones, which the country publicly exhibited at the weapons show, including the Shahpar and Uqab aircraft developed by the state-owned consortium Global Industrial and Defence Solutions.

"The smaller systems are not greatly beyond that of a model aircraft," he said. "But the larger, long-endurance drones are a step up in technology across the board."

Only the US and Israel are currently believed to have drones that can fire missiles. China and Turkey are also working on large-scale combat drones....

-bth: I received correspondence a few years ago on this blog from a Pak Air Force officer saying that they were using small drones and that they were deploying them from helicopters to give small drones flexibility and extended range.  Namely the strategy was to give the helicopters with the missiles some extra stand off capability.  I would imagine the next step will be to attach pods that can drop modified mortar rounds from the small drones.  This is an effective and simple strategy for building a low cost drone capability used by Israel about a decade ago.

Most of Taliban income comes from illicit drug trade: Malik - Pak Daily Times

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Tuesday said around 70 per cent of Taliban’s income comes from managing and taxing the illicit drug business.

He said this nexus between opium producers, mafia and Taliban has detrimental impact on security of both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Chairing the concluding session of a two-day regional ministerial conference entitled “Counter Narcotics, Enhancing Cooperation for Effective Coordinated and Sustainable Narcotics Control,” the minister said world is facing US $ 58 billion narcotics trade.

He said there is a need to have a long term, collaborate and holistic strategy rather than sporadic destruction of poppy fields.

He said Pakistan is fighting against narco-terrorism with its meagre resources, adding, “Our nation has suffered losses both in term of human lives and material (80 billion dollars loss in economy and over 45,000 people have been martyred in terrorist activities).”

Malik said Pakistan has launched concerted efforts against both the evils (drug and terrorism) simultaneously and added the drug menace being faced by us today requires a concerted action based on principle of common and shared responsibility.

He said Pakistan was major transit route for Afghan opiates as nearly 160 metric ton heroin, which makes up 44 per cent of total Afghan heroin, is transited through its territorial jurisdictions.

“It is estimated that by 2010, total drug users in Pakistan reached about 8.1 million abusing opium, heroin including injecting users and hashish etc,” he said....

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\11\14\story_14-11-2012_pg7_13

Nightwatch: French Recognize Syrian Rebels

France-Syria: For the record. France has become the first Western power to recognize Syria's opposition coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. The move was announced by President Francois Hollande at a televised news conference in Paris.

Syrian opposition groups struck a deal in the Qatari capital Doha on Sunday to form a broad coalition to overthrow President Assad's government.

Comment: The US and the UK also support the new, more inclusive leadership group without extending recognition. France's action provides it a fig leaf under international law for providing arms and other support to a group that still does not control any recognizable territory nor controls most of the fighting groups. A discrete population, definable territory and capability to defend itself are the most important customary criteria that support state recognition.

Probably more important, French action neatly and legally sidesteps the US preference for UN action and sanctions against Syria, which China and Russia steadfastly block in the Security Council. It also serves as a goad to other Western and Middle Eastern powers to get on with toppling Asad, assuming they are serious.

French leaders might judge that this move will put them at the head of the line of countries having influence with a new Arab government. However, the new Arab governments have not shown themselves prone to extend gratitude to countries that supported or at least tolerated strong man governments - like the Asads, Mubarak and Ben Ali --for decades.


NYT: Afghan Warlord’s Call to Arms Rattles Officials


... Another prominent mujahedeen fighter, Ahmad Zia Massoud, said in an interview at his home in Kabul that people were worried about what was going to happen after 2014, and he was telling his own followers to make preliminary preparations. “They don’t want to be disgraced again,” Mr. Massoud said. “Everyone tries to have some sort of Plan B. Some people are on the verge of rearming.” He pointed out that it was significant that the going market price of Kalashnikov assault rifles had risen to about $1,000, driven up by demand from a price of $300 a decade ago. “Every household wants to have an AK-47 at home,” he said. “The mujahedeen come here to meet me,” Mr. Massoud added. “They tell me they are preparing. They are trying to find weapons. They come from villages, from the north of Afghanistan, even some people from the suburbs of Kabul, and say they are taking responsibility for providing private security in their neighborhood.” Still, there have long been fears about the re-emergence of the warlords, after more than a decade of efforts by Afghan officials and their Western allies to build up an inclusive national government and co-opt some of the factional leaders’ influence by bringing them into it. ... http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/13/world/asia/ismail-khan-powerful-afghan-stokes-concern-in-kabul.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&ref=world -bth: Who could blame them? With the prospect of the coalition leaving and the Taliban coming to power in a new civil war, why shouldn't they prepare to defend themselves. Of particular note is the price of an AK.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

DARPA Pet-Proto Robot


Gen Allen send 10,000 emails per year to Kelley?



ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT — The FBI probe into the sex scandal that led to the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus has expanded to ensnare Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, the Pentagon announced early Tuesday.
  According to a senior U.S. defense official, the FBI has uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of  “potentially inappropriate” e-mails between Allen and Jill Kelley, a 37-year-old Tampa woman whose close friendship with Petraeus ultimately led to his downfall. Allen, a Marine, succeeded Petraeus as the top allied commander in Afghanistan in July 2011....

 The senior defense official said the voluminous collection of e-mails sent between Allen and Kelley occurred between 2010 and this year, but did not give details. The official also declined to say whether Allen sent or received any of the messages from his military or government e-mail accounts, or if classified material was compromised.

bth: this from today's Washington Post means that Gen. Allen would have to send in the neighborhood of 18 or more emails to Kelly every day for 3 years.  What a way to run a war.

Monday, November 12, 2012

For Afghan troops, donkeys are the new helicopters




PECH VALLEY, Afghanistan — Before U.S. forces arrived here in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, the instruments of war were rudimentary things: mud-brick outposts and aging Kalashnikovs. The American invasion brought with it a shiny arsenal of 21st-century technology, including advanced helicopters to navigate the treacherous landscape.


But as the U.S. military drawdown continues, the sky is emptying of the foreign aircraft that have kept remote outposts stocked with food, water and weaponry. Afghan troops are being handed the outposts, but not the sleek helicopters that have soared overhead, delivering supplies.


Afghans searching for a substitute have found an ancient solution: the plodding, dutiful animals that have navigated these high and frigid mountain passes for centuries.


“Donkeys are the Afghan helicopter,” said Col. Abdul Nasseeri, an Afghan battalion commander here in Konar province.


Already, hundreds of donkeys are sustaining the bases that Americans built, fought to defend and, eventually, left. The shift underscores the vast gulf separating U.S. and Afghan forces, and the inevitable technological regression that will occur once American troops leave.


The hopeful take of U.S. officials is that this is the kind of “Afghan sustainable” approach that, though not ideal, will endure even as Western funding tapers off. But Afghan leaders aren’t happy. After a decade of joint operations and exposure to cutting-edge technology, they want their military to look like the American one they have seen up close. U.S. officials say that is impractical and financially un­realistic.

...


Afghans want night-vision goggles, which Americans have refused to buy. They want
more heavy weaponry and equipment to detect explosives. American commanders say those requests are too costly and not essential to the mission.


More than anything, Afghan soldiers want helicopters. As of now, they have 31, a far cry from the vast fleet maintained by the U.S. forces. Without any assurance that the Americans will give them more, a frustrated President Hamid Karzai threatened to acquire aircraft from non-NATO countries.


With the U.S. choppers on their way out, the donkey trade has risen steadily. The animals, many of which have been redirected from farm labor to military duty, transport everything that soldiers need, from rice to ammunition.


Last week, when U.S. troops visited a mountain outpost manned by Afghan soldiers, they saw two Afghan teenagers leading four donkeys. Each animal carried 10 gallons of water. The key fighting position, the Americans learned, was sustained exclusively by donkey....



-bth: in the article a US army officer says he was not trained for this and does not know what to do.  Well for at least half a decade it has been published in open press that donkey's are used and will be used by Afghan troops for resupply.  What planet are these officers from?  The reason the Afghan government doesn't like donkeys is because there isn't enough graft in it for them.  Not the kind a helicopter purchase can provide.  Yet for the average Afghan this makes sense, donkeys and motorcycles made practical sense in this environment.



Iraq prime minister scraps $4.2 bln Russian arms deal, cites graft


BAGHDAD: Iraq said Saturday it had canceled a $4.2 billion deal to buy military jets, helicopters and missiles from Russia, citing possible corruption in the contract. In a confusing exchange, the announcement by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s office was immediately contradicted by the acting defense minister who denied the corruption charges and said the Russian arms deals were still valid. The arms agreements were a sensitive issue for Iraq. U.S. military hardware remains key for Iraq’s armed forces, but the Russian deal had appeared to open a way for Maliki to push back against U.S. pressure by diversifying his arms suppliers. The Russian sale was agreed just as Washington warned Maliki, who is close to Shiite Iran, to curb Iranian flights ferrying weapons through Iraqi airspace to aid Syrian President Bashar Assad in his fight against a revolt there. Maliki’s media adviser Ali al-Moussawi said the decision to renegotiate the agreements was taken after the prime minister was informed about possible wrongdoing in the contract. Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2012/Nov-12/194735-iraq-prime-minister-scraps-$42-bln-russian-arms-deal-cites-graft.ashx#ixzz2C1jm7RtF (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)