Saturday, March 29, 2014

Old friends, new woes - Daily Star

....On Syria particularly, Obama has shown that his words are often meaningless, and his policy in this region is guided by American interests, not Middle Eastern ones.

And Obama’s dithering comes as Saudi Arabia has taken a string of steps, all which meet the interests of the United States. It blacklisted the Nusra Front and Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria as terrorist groups, and it warned its citizens that heavy punishments would await them should they perform jihad in Syria.

And on the very eve of his visit, it appointed Prince Muqrin bin Abdul-Aziz as deputy crown prince, ensuring succession will be smooth.

Obama now needs to do his part to save this relationship. On Palestine and on Syria especially, the U.S. is going to have to make some tough decisions. Saudi Arabia has changed in recent years, and is now more willing to play an active role in the region. If Obama is incapable of making the necessary decisions, he might lose Saudi Arabia as one of its best friends in the Middle East.

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

-bth: Saudi Arabia is outlining what it expects the US to do in Syria. The US public has no appetite for a war with Syria.

Friday, March 28, 2014

1970 Warsaw Pact planned invasion routes

U.S. Military: Sorry, Pakistan. You Won't Get Our Extra Equipment. -The Government Executive

The U.S. military is denying what it calls "inaccurate media reports" that armored vehicles and extra military equipment leftover from the war in Afghanistan could be provided to neighboring Pakistan—after Kabul opposed the move described in the press.

"These reports are not correct," the military said in a statement Thursday. The U.S. military in Afghanistan "does not provide or intend to provide any such equipment, including MRAPs, from Afghanistan to Pakistan."

The military is trying to get rid of equipment it does not want or need—and would be expensive to transport home—as its draws down troops in Afghanistan. The Washington Post reported earlier this month that the Pentagon was considering giving Pakistan some of the $7 billion worth of excess military equipment, and that Islamabad was particularly interested in the Army's mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPs.

But the Afghan government had opposed this move. "Afghan security forces need this type of equipment and that as a strategic partner, the U.S. needs to consult with Afghanistan before making such a decision," a spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai told Voice of America's Afghan service.

The U.S. is still waiting for Afghanistan to sign a security agreement that could allow a contingent of troops to remain in the country past the end of the year—the deadline for the end of formal combat operations. Since the future partnership between the two countries is in limbo until the agreement is signed, it's no surprise the U.S. is seeking to reassure Afghanistan's security forces of its support as it waits for a new Afghan president to be elected this spring....

-bth: it is ridiculous that we are not providing this equipment to Pakistan especially to assist in securing clear supply lines and exit pathways to the south.  This is especially true given the concerns about Russia at this time.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Russian firms offer to modernise India’s T-72 & T-90 battle tanks - Russia & India Report

The Indian defence industry may be getting more competitive, but Russian military enterprises are brimming with high hopes. At DEFEXPO 2014 in New Delhi last month, Russian military firms showcased their prowess, hoping that Russian armoured vehicles would remain the backbone of India’s tank fleet.
India’s inventory in ground forces includes about 600 T-55 tanks, 1,925 T-72M1 vehicles, and 640 T-90S tanks. It also includes 169 Arjun Mk.I tanks designed in India. The fleet is expected to be replenished with another 248 tanks of the next modification – Arjun Mk.II. However, this will not happen until 2025. Until that time, the main strike force will be formed by Soviet and Russian tanks T-72 and T-90....

-bth: this and 60,000 rounds of tank ammunition bought Indian support for the invasion of the Ukraine. If Anonymous hack is correct there may be an aircraft retrofit component as well.

Russian officials dump iPads over spy fears - AFP

Moscow — Russian government officials have swapped their iPads for Samsung tablets to ensure tighter security, the telecoms minister told news agencies on Wednesday.
Journalists spotted that ministers at a cabinet meeting were no longer using Apple tablets, and minister Nikolai Nikiforov confirmed the changeover "took place not so long ago."
He said the ministers' new Samsungs were "specially protected devices that can be used to work with confidential information."
"Some of the information at government meetings is confidential in nature and these devices fully meet these demands and have gone through the strictest system of certification."...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Self-Sufficient Rate of Energy By Country in 2010

Indian Army running low on ammunition - Times of India

NEW DELHI: The world's second-largest standing Army is fast running out of ammunition. Tanks and air defence units, artillery batteries and infantry soldiers are all facing the crunch. The Army is, obviously, tight-lipped on the ammunition shortage. But a simple calculation reveals that at present, it may not have enough ammunition reserves to sustain a full-fledged war for even 20 days.

The norm is that war wastage reserves (WWR) should be adequate for 40 days of intense fighting, with 21 days earmarked for ammunition with shorter shelf-life. But according to a recent statement by Army chief General Bikram Singh, if there is proper budgetary support for the new ammunition roadmap, the Army should have 50 per cent WWR and three years of training ammunition by 2015.

In other words, the Army is at not even 50 per cent WWR right now, which means it does not have adequate reserves to fight a war for even 20 days. It is expected to reach 100 per cent WWR only by 2019....

Sunday, March 23, 2014

U.S. Considers Demolishing Its Vehicles in Afghanistan

U.S. troops could have to destroy thousands of their own “excess” vehicles in Afghanistan if buyers can’t be found and the services don’t reverse course on bringing them home, the top U.S. commandeer said Thursday.
The U.S. has been looking to sell about 4,000 vehicles that the services have said are “in excess” of their needs — MRAPs, Humvees, medium trucks and others – to friendly countries but so far there have been few takers, said Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, commander of the coalition and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan....

-bth: we should be giving this equipment to our weaker allies instead of destroying it. $50K is a huge financial savings vs. $500-1000K vehicles