Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Attrition Rate For U.S. Soldiers In Afghanistan And Failure To Replace Them Is Severely Affecting Ground Operations

U.S. Troops Call Afghan Region 'Vietnam Without Napalm' -- McClatchy News

JELAWUR, Afghanistan — The men of Bravo Company have a bitter description for the irrigated swath of land along the Arghandab River where 10 members of their battalion have been killed and 30 have been wounded since the beginning of August.

"Like Vietnam without the napalm," said Spc. Nicholas Gojekian, 21, of Katy, Texas.

A prime agricultural area of vineyards and pomegranate orchards, the 18-miles of valley that the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment patrols includes Taliban insurgents, booby traps and buried explosives. The troops call the area the "green zone," but unlike Iraq, where it's a fortified area in the heart of Baghdad, this green zone can be a hellish place.

Read more ....

My Comment: These U.S. soldiers are not getting replacements for the men that they lose, and at the same time it appears that their superiors in Washington are still trying to cobble a strategy that they said 6 months ago that they had.

Is there a disconnect here .... if I was a soldier in Afghanistan I would have to say yes.

The Search Continues For Idaho National Guard, Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl,

In this video frame grab taken from a Taliban propaganda video released Saturday, July 18, 2009, Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, 23, of Ketchum, Idaho is shown. U.S. military officials in Afghanistan say they are still searching for 23-year-old Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, who disappeared June 30. (AP Photo/Militant Video)

From AP:

KABUL — The troops hunting for the young private have little to go on: He disappeared near the border with Pakistan, his Taliban captors released a propaganda video of him two weeks later, downcast and frightened. Then, at least publicly, nothing about the only U.S. soldier missing in the Afghan war.

U.S. military officials in Afghanistan say they are still searching for 23-year-old Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, who disappeared June 30 — three months ago on Wednesday — but they reveal little else for fear of jeopardizing the search or his safety.

Read more

My Comment: Afghanistan is a big country, and Pakistan is just as forbidden. He is probably alive, but that is probably all that we know about him at this moment.

Getting Ready For Nuclear Talks With Iran

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili speaks with journalists at Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport ahead of his departure for talks in Geneva. Reuters

Possibility Of A Nuclear-Armed Iran Alarms Arabs -- The New York Times

CAIRO — As the West raises the pressure on Iran over its nuclear program, Arab governments, especially the small, oil-rich, nations in the Persian Gulf, are growing increasingly anxious. But they are concerned not only with the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran but also with the more immediate threat that Iran will destabilize the region if the West presses too hard, according to diplomats, regional analysts and former government officials.

Read more ....

More News On Thursday's Talks

U.S. and Iran Make Offers on Nuclear Talks -- Wall Street Journal
U.S. may speak directly with Iran at talks -- L.A. Times
U.N. Awaits Iran's Word on Nuclear Inspections -- Wall Street Journal
US strategy at Iran nuclear talks: threaten sanctions -- Christian Science Monitor
Six powers, Tehran to discuss Iran's nuclear program in Geneva -- RIA Novosti
Nuclear Issue To Be Focus Of Six-Power Iranian Talks -- Voice of America
Iran Won’t Bend in Atomic Talks With Those It Blames for Unrest -- Bloomberg

EU Report: Georgia Attack 'Sparked South Ossetia War'

Russian soldiers on a tank in Igoeti, Georgia on August 18, 2008.
Justyna Mielnikiewicz for The New York Times

Both Sides To Blame For The Georgia-Russia War -- Time Magazine

After last year's war between Russia and Georgia, which left at least 250 people dead and parts of Georgia in ruin, both countries were eager to point the finger of blame at one another for starting the conflict. On Wednesday, an independent investigating team issued a highly anticipated report saying that neither country can escape fault.

Read more ....

More News On The EU Report On The Russian - Georgian War Of Last Year

EU finds Georgia started war, but Russia allowed atrocities -- McClatchy News
European Report on War in Georgia Finds Fault on All Sides -- New York Times
Report: Georgia Triggered War; Russia Ain’t Clean, Either -- The Danger Room
EU Report Faults Georgia, Russia in 5-day War -- Voice of America
EU report: Georgian attack started war with Russia -- AP
Gerogia started war, Russia shared blame: report -- China View
Uncomfortable conclusions for Georgia -- BBC
War in South Ossetia: Georgia started it -- The Guardian editorial
Georgia started it and Russia continued it – to excess -- The Independent opinion

So What Did Today's Security Team Meeting On Afghanistan Accomplished?

Photo: President Barack Obama holds a strategy review on Afghanistan in the Situation Room of the White House, Sept. 30, 2009. (White House Photo/Pete Souza)

Obama Meets With Security Team on Afghanistan, as White House Battles Criticism -- FOX News

The closed-door meeting marked the first time President Obama has had any interaction with Gen. Stanley McChrystal since the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan asked him to send up to 40,000 more troops to the war-torn country.

President Obama met with his national security team Wednesday in the first of a series of sessions he will attend to review and reshape America's military strategy in the Afghanistan war. The meeting took place as the White House fended off charges that the president has been stalling on Gen. Stanley McChrystal's request for more troops.

Read more ....

More News On Today's Strategy Meeting On Afghanistan

Today's NSC Meeting -- ABC News
Obama Officials Mull Future in Afghanistan -- CBS News
Top officials and Obama advisers study Afghan war -- AP
Obama hears opinions on new strategy in Afghanistan -- Reuters
Pressure increases on Obama over Afghanistan -- CNN
The stakes in Afghanistan go well beyond Afghanistan -- Foreign Policy
Obama and McChrystal Don’t Talk? Good, Says Army Historian -- The Danger Room
Obama convenes high-stakes Afghanistan meeting -- Political Intelligence

My Comment: I expect that this will probably be the first of many such meetings, and the final decision on an Afghan strategy will only be outlined in the next few weeks/months.

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- September 30, 2009

A banquet is held to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing September 30, 2009. China will celebrate on October 1 the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. REUTERS/Li Feng/Pool

What In The World Is China? -- Nina Hachigian, L.A. Times

What better way to celebrate a birthday than to take to the world stage? Last week, Hu Jintao became the first Chinese president to address the U.N. General Assembly, a privilege seemingly reserved for the president of the United States and colorful despots such as Moammar Kadafi. The People's Republic, which turns 60 on Thursday, has evolved from tin-pot polity to powerhouse. And among the spectacular transformations China has undergone, its dramatic turnabout in how it relates to the world stands out.

Read more ....


Still unclear on Hu's successor -- Frank Ching, The China Post

The Autocrats' Learning Curve (China) -- Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Foreign Policy

We've Been Talking to Iran for 30 Years
-- Michael Ledeen, WSJ

Buying Time for Iran -- Amir Taheri, New York Post

Forget The Nukes (Iran) -- Washington Post

Could Iran Trigger a Cuban Missile Crisis? -- J. Choksy, Radio Free Europe

How Badly Would Sanctions on Gas Imports Hurt Iran? -- Vivienne Walt, Time

Three pressure points to make Iran crumble -- Rosemary Righter, Times Online

Lifting Iran’s Nuclear Veil -- Gary Milhollin & Valerie Lincy, New York Times

Obama's Iran Talks Will Fail -- Washington Times editorial

Obama: Don't give up on Afghanistan -- John Hughes, Christian Science Monitor

Should We 'Surge' in Afghanistan? -- Michael Gerson, Washington Post

Let's Not Abandon Afghan Women -- Tina Brown, The Daily Beast

Gorbachev Was Right (On Afghanistan) -- Steve Coll, New Yorker

Is Afghanistan NATO's Graveyard? -- John Feffer, Mother Jones

Sudan's Simmering North-South War -- Austin Bay, RealClearWorld

Is Al Qaeda on the Decline? -- C.M. Sennott, Global Post

Repeating history, Mad men of 1939, 2009 -- Richard Rahn, Washington Times

World News Briefs -- September 30, 2009 (Evening Edition)

President Obama discusses Afghanistan with his national security team
in Washington Sept. 30. (White House)

Obama Hears Opinions On New Strategy In Afghanistan -- Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama heard opinions from top advisers on how to reverse the deteriorating Afghanistan war on Wednesday as part of a sweeping strategy review that could lead to more U.S. troops.

There were divisions within the administration, particularly between military and civilian leaders, over whether to bolster forces or take an alternative path as Obama inches toward a pivotal decision in a war that his predecessor, George W. Bush, began after the September 11 attacks eight years ago.

Read more ....


Israel, Hamas in mutual gestures on prisoners.

Secret Iran plant gives U.S. leverage in Geneva talks. Iranian lawmakers warn west ahead of nuclear talks.

Iran allows visit to US detainees.

US: Iraq budget constraints security challenge.

US speeding up military withdrawal from Iraq. US General says Iraq exit is on track.

Netanyahu wants panel of inquiry over UN Gaza report.


Powerful Indonesia quake kills 75, traps thousands.

Aid flows to tsunami-hit Samoas as deaths hit 119.

Beijing locked down ahead of national day parade.

China looks to technology, diplomacy for future.

UN ratchets up criticism of Sri Lankan camps.

India promises twelvefold boost in nuclear capacity by 2050.

North Korea’s Kim is ‘in charge,’ top US commander in South Korea.


Somalia's al Shabaab rebels declare war on rivals.

Guinea bans mass gatherings after stadium bloodbath. Guinea protests 'will continue'.

US Navy says piracy activity off Somali coast rising.

Rape, violence against Darfur women refugees denounced. Sudanese refugees 'raped in Chad'.

Sudan: A cold war man, a hot war and a legal gray area.

Nigerian rebel group appoints mediators.


Georgia started war with Russia: EU-backed report. More news here.

Greeks prepare to elect Socialists.

Is Switzerland trading Polanski for banking leniency?

EU nations to hammer out financial oversight.

Google bosses on trial in Italy.


U.S. envoy in Cuba met with officials, citizens.

Chile invites Peru to disputed military exercise.

Peru: Fujimori sentenced to 6 years for corruption.

Cracks deepen among supporters of Honduran coup. Honduras says OAS delegation can visit.

U.S. - Mexico border deaths are increasing.

Lula faces criticism in Brazil over Honduras role.


Terrorist networks, narcotics groups increasingly aligned.

More Saudi help needed on terror finance-U.S. report.

Terrorists are 'refugees' says State Department.

Success against Al-Qaeda cited.


European stocks rise on upbeat IMF report.

Greenspan sees growth slowing as stocks ‘flatten out’.

Authors: U.S. economic crisis was long time in the making.

Officials: Fed will need to boost rates quickly.

Why Has The Media Lost It's Interest In War Caskets?

An undated photo shows American military personnel with coffins of soldiers killed in Iraq at Dover Air Base in Delaware., via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Without Bush, Media Lose Interest In War Caskets -- Byron York, Washington Examiner

Remember the controversy over the Pentagon policy of not allowing the press to take pictures of the flag-draped caskets of American war dead as they arrived in the United States? Critics accused President Bush of trying to hide the terrible human cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"These young men and women are heroes," Vice President Biden said in 2004, when he was senator from Delaware. "The idea that they are essentially snuck back into the country under the cover of night so no one can see that their casket has arrived, I just think is wrong."

Read more ....

My Comment: One more reason why my respect for the mass media has been declining to where it is today .... cough, cough ....

United Nations Focuses On Congo Rape Crisis

From The Washington Times:

UNITED NATIONS | There will be no end to the ravages imposed on women and girls in eastern Congo until firm laws are put into place and enforced with trained police and honest judges, the U.N. human rights chief says.

Navanethem Pillay will be one step closer to getting her wish after the U.N. Security Council meets Wednesday to pass a resolution focusing the world's attention on one of the most devastating yet unresolved aspects of conflicts around the world - calculated sexual brutality.

Read more ....

My Comment: Long time readers of this blog know that I have been an advocate for labeling the practice of rape in war zones as a war crime, and that the men who should be culpable for such a crime must be the officers and the political leadership of the groups that are involved.

I am well aware that such "legal" procedures will not stop this crime from happening, but it will lay the groundwork for prosecution and punishment when the perpetrators of such crimes are caught .... or .... it will limit their ability to travel to other countries to seek support for their political aims.

The Military View Of Future Policy In Afghanistan

Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, right, commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan as well as U.S. troops on the ground there, has submitted a 60-day strategic review of the eight-year conflict. Ahmad Massoud / The Associated Press

From Foreign Policy:

The vibe at the Marine counterinsurgency conference on Wednesday was definitely in favor of giving Gen. McChrystal all the troops he wants. Of course, this was COINpalooza, and McChrystal is asking for more troops so he can implement a troop-intensive COIN strategy. So, yeah, so in this crowd, his request is like asking for a cheap beer in a frat house on Friday night.

Read more ....

My Comment: I somehow missed this post last week, and I regularly read Foreign Policy (Hat Tip to Armchair Generalist for posting this story in his blog).

This is what happens when the White House abdicates its leadership role. When the Generals get together, group think takes over. If there is dissent to the McChrystal approach towards his war plans, it certainly did not show up in this conference.

The Coming Russia-Georgia Clash Over Abkhazia

From Newsweek:

All summer, Kremlin officials hinted that hostilities between Russia and Georgia could rise to a boil again. Now it looks as if Moscow has decided to turn up the heat. Last week a Russian patrol boat carrying rockets docked in a port along the coast of Abkhazia, one of Georgia's Russian-backed breakaway republics. Moscow has promised nine more ships to follow. They will confront a small fleet of U.S.-supplied Georgian gunboats, which until now have effectively blockaded Abkhazia, seizing ships--including a Turkish tanker--attempting to supply the rebel government.

Read more ....

My Comment: I do not share Newsweek's viewpoint that Russia wants to raise the "heat" on this issue. Are there tensions ... of course there are. Does Georgia want to retake Abkhazia .... of course they do. Will the Russians permit this to happen .... they will not.

The Georgian Navy can huff and puff but they are no match for the Russian Navy in the region. If Georgia decides to pull a "Gulf of Tonkin" incident in which their smaller patrol boats attack Russian warships .... they will be defeated. But if Georgia wants to stoke an international confrontation but doing such a stunt .... they will probably succeed. Is this wise .... no .... but it will bring back international attention to the Caucasus, which is probably Georgia's objective anyway.

The New Era – Evolution Of Unmanned Aircraft

The role of UAVs in modern warfare has evolved with each conflict.

UAVs: Development Trends and Technology Forecast – Part 1 -- Defense Professionals

07:52 GMT, September 29, 2009 The increasing demand and reliance on unmanned air vehicles (UAV) in warfighting and peacekeeping operations has doubled the pace of UAV-related research and development in recent years. Equipped with more capabilities, UAVs today are able to play a greater role in critical missions. Achieving information superiority, minimising collateral damage, fighting effectively in urban areas against widely-dispersed forces, and striking autonomously and precisely are areas where UAVs will be increasingly indispensable.

Read more ....

My Comment: Another of a long line of articles that examines the development of UAV technology. For me .... I can never get enough of this stuff.

An On The Ground Action Report From Afghanistan

At the barbers: the US marines shaving each other's heads at the Mian Poshtay camp.

US Marines Miss Out On Home Comforts In Helmand -- The Independent

Amid the maze of trenches and dug in positions, mortar barrels poke forth circled by sleeping bags encased in mosquito nets and camouflage ponchos offering shade from the searing heat of the day.

Nearby a few industrious troops have fashioned small huts out of wire, sacking and dried up reeds. The lop-sided sign on one reads Home Sweet Home. A hammock strung from two trees offers somewhere to rest away from the beating sun.

Read more ....

My Comment: A view of American Marines through the eyes of a Brit.

China's Military Is Rising

Military vehicles park near Tiananmen Square during a rehearsal for a parade marking the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. (Nelson Ching / Bloomberg / September 18, 2009)

US Concerned About China's Military Modernization -- Voice of America

October 1, 2009 is the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, and the nation's armed forces will take part in a massive program celebrating the Communist Party's takeover in 1949. U.S. officials have carefully watched China's efforts to modernize its military in recent years and are concerned it could pose a threat to America's military power in the Pacific.

For more than a decade, China has been rapidly modernizing the People's Liberation Army. And U.S. officials have expressed concern about how Beijing might use its expanding military power.

Read more ....

More News On China's Military

China to parade its new and improved arsenal -- L.A. Times
China to display upgraded missiles in Oct 1 parade -- Reuters
Beijing flaunts its 'peaceful' might -- Toronto Star
The Big ‘Made in China’ Military Parade -- The Danger Room
China's Sixtieth Birthday and Military Parade -- Business Week
China's National Day Military Parade Heats Defense Industry -- ACN Newswire
China rejects US military fears -- BBC
US view of China's military threat 'groundless': state media -- AFP
China says willing to improve U.S. defense ties -- Reuters

Iran News Updates -- September 30, 2009

What's the point of nuclear talks if Iran won't talk about their program? -- RT News

Tehran Promises To Let Inspectors In, As Sanctions Loom -- Times Online

Iran sought to deflect international outrage over its newly discovered clandestine nuclear plant yesterday, denying that it had any military purpose and promising to allow inspections.

The comments by the country’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, came in the run-up to crucial talks tomorrow between Iran and six foreign powers, with questions about the hidden facility expected to top the agenda.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard have staged two days of missile test-firing, aimed at demonstrating their readiness to respond to any military attack.

Read more ....

More News On Iran

UN Chief Says Iran Must Prove Its Sincerity on Nuclear Issue -- Washington Post
West goes to Iran talks and readies sanctions -- AP
Iran says to enter Geneva talks with good intentions -- Yahoo News/Reuters
Iran: Talks with 6 nations will test their respect -- Yahoo News/AP
Iranian Lawmakers Warn West Ahead of Nuclear Talks -- Voice of America
Iran Dashes Hopes of Talks on Secret Nuclear Plant -- The Daily Telegraph
Iran Offers Conflicting Messages -- L.A. Times

Iran broke law by not declaring atom site - ElBaradei -- Reuters
Iran on 'wrong side of law': UN nuclear watchdog -- AFP
IAEA: Iran broke law by not revealing nuclear facility -- CNN

British intelligence believes Iran has resumed work on nuclear warhead -- The Telegraph
Britain differs from U.S. view on Iran bomb design -- Reuters

Israel Mutes its Rhetoric Against Iran as Talks Loom
-- L.A. Times
Saudi Arabia: We did not grant Israel airspace for potential attack on Iran -- Al Bawaba
Analysis: Iran plant could defer Israel strike -- AP

China’s Ties With Iran Complicate Diplomacy -- New York Times
Oil, Ideology Keep China From Joining Push Against Iran -- Washington Post
Chinese oil demand fueling Iranian defiance -- CNN

Iranian Students Stage 2nd Big Protest Since Returning to University Campuses -- New York Times
OPEC supply cushion offsets Iran oil worry -Kuwait -- Reuters

Commentaries And Analysis

We've Been Talking to Iran for 30 Years -- Michael Ledeen, Wall Street Journal opinion.
The Iran Charade -- Rich Lowry, National Review opinion.
Obama's Iran Talks Will Fail -- Washington Times editorial.
Three Pressure Points to Make Iran Crumble -- Rosemary Righter, The Times opinion
A Human Rights Lever for Iran -- Andrew Albertson and Ali G. Scotten, Washington Post opinion.
Lifting Iran’s Nuclear Veil -- Gary Milhollin and Valerie Lincy, New York Times opinion.
Forget the Nukes -- Robert Kagan, Washington Post opinion.

Afghanistan War News Updates -- September 30, 2009

U.S. Marines watch as artillery is fired in the distance at their forward operating base in Farah Province, southern Afghanistan, on Tuesday. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

White House Starts Review Of Afghan Strategy -- Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON -- The White House began its review of the Afghan war strategy in earnest Tuesday, with senior administration officials meeting via videoconference with the top commander in Kabul, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, at the start of what could be weeks of debate over whether to send thousands of reinforcements.

White House officials said President Barack Obama will join in the discussions Wednesday, when he is expected to meet with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, among other top officials.

Read more ....

More News on Afghanistan

President Obama’s National Security Council Meeting on Strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan -- ABC News
Obama to meet high-powered aides for Afghan review -- AFP
Crucial talks begin on US strategy in Afghanistan -- The Independent

NATO is in Afghanistan for the Long Haul, Says Anders Fogh Rasmussen -- Times Online
Obama, NATO Chief Agree on Afghanistan Strategy -- Voice of America
Obama Calls Afghanistan NATO’s Most Important Mission -- U.S. Department of Defense
Obama to NATO: Afghanistan is not just 'an American battle' -- USA Today
NATO leader agrees war strategy should be reviewed -- AP
White House Evasive on Length of Afghan Commitment -- CBS News
McCain: Time is running short for Afghan decision -- AP

Suicide bomber kills American in Afghanistan
-- Reuters
US service member killed in Afghan bomb blast -- AP
At least 22 Taliban killed in Afghanistan: ministry -- AFP
Roadside Bomb Kills 30 in Afghanistan -- New York Times
40 Taliban killed in western Afghanistan: Afghan army -- AFP
30 Afghan Civilians Killed as Packed Bus Hits Bomb Outside Kandahar -- Times Online

UN's Top Afghan Envoy Supports Call for More Troops -- Voice of America
Deputy UN envoy to Afghanistan 'not coming back' -- Yahoo News/AFP
UN official ousted after Afghan vote fraud dispute -- AP
West should redirect Afghanistan money to north, says UN aide -- The Guardian

Pay cut prompting many Afghan soldiers to quit in Kandahar -- Canadian Press
From McChrystal’s Mouth to Obama’s Ear -- New York Times
Canadian rips Afghan elders -- Toronto Star
On The Ground: Impressions of Afghanistan -- CBS News
U.S. pilots' role adapts to changing Afghan mission -- Reuters
What's next for Canada in Afghanistan? -- Globe And Mail

US military deaths in Afghanistan region at 773 -- AP

Commentaries And Analysis

What Obama won't say about the Afghan war today, at least publicly -- L.A. Times
Advice to Obama on Afghanistan: Listen to Your Commanders, the Time to Act Is Now -- FOX News
The war president’s options -- Dawn
How Not to Defeat al Qaeda -- Frederick W. Kagan and Kimberly Kagan, Weekly Standard opinion.
Decision Time for Obama -- Michael Gerson, Washington Post opinion.

NATO To Be Retructured?

Obama: New NATO Coming, Shape And Strategy TBD -- L.A. Times

President Obama had NATO's new secretary general into the Oval Office today for one of his patented one-way media availabilities: You can watch but no questions.

For those of you who think "duck and cover" has something to do with feather-filled blankets, we'll remind that NATO was formed in the tumultuous, frightening aftermath years of World War II when Stalin and the Soviet Union took over Eastern Europe and American schoolchildren were taught to hide under the school desks in the event of nuclear annihilation at any moment.

Read more ....

My Comment: This has become the trademark for the Obama administration. Make a big announcement that outlines big goals and changes (in very general terms) .... and then nothing happens.

This joint meeting and the announcement of bringing NATO into the 21rst century (?!?!?!), I can easily predict that nothing is going to change. If there are going to be changes , it will be in Afghanistan, and these changes will be designed to give President Obama cover for not sending the extra troops that commanders on the ground are requesting.

World News Briefs -- September 30, 2009

At Least 113 Dead In Pacific Tsunami: Officials -- Yahoo News/AFP

APIA (AFP) – At least 113 people are dead after a huge Pacific earthquake and tsunami hit the Samoan islands and Tonga on Tuesday, a hospital worker and officials said.

"There has to be more than a hundred, the last count was at 2:00 pm (0100 GMT Wednesday) and there were 84 bodies," a worker at Samoa's Tupua Tamasese Hospital told AFP.

Read more ....


Secret Iran plant gives U.S. leverage in Geneva talks. Iranian lawmakers warn west ahead of nuclear talks.

US: Iraq budget constraints security challenge.

US speeding up military withdrawal from Iraq. US General says Iraq exit is on track.

Netanyahu wants panel of inquiry over UN Gaza report.


China looks to technology, diplomacy for future.

UN ratchets up criticism of Sri Lankan camps.

Two U.S. troops killed in forgotten Filipino counterinsurgency.

India promises twelvefold boost in nuclear capacity by 2050.

North Korea’s Kim is ‘in charge,’ top US commander in South Korea.


Guinea bans mass gatherings after stadium bloodbath. Guinea protests 'will continue'.

US Navy says piracy activity off Somali coast rising.

Rape, violence against Darfur women refugees denounced.

Sudan: A cold war man, a hot war and a legal gray area.

Nigerian rebel group appoints mediators.


Russia-Georgia war EU report due.

EU nations to hammer out financial oversight.

Google bosses on trial in Italy.


Cracks deepen among supporters of Honduran coup.

U.S. - Mexico border deaths are increasing.

Lula faces criticism in Brazil over Honduras role.


More Saudi help needed on terror finance-U.S. report.

Terrorists are 'refugees' says State Department.

Success against Al-Qaeda cited.


Authors: U.S. economic crisis was long time in the making.

Officials: Fed will need to boost rates quickly.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- September 30, 2009

A Picture Tells A Thousand Words -- Defense Tech

Like the old song says, "Every picture tells a story, don't it?"

A digital camera being used by troops in Afghanistan and Iraq produces pictures can tell incredibly detailed stories: exact time of day taken, longitude/latitude of both shooter and subject, direction of the camera aim, and even 16 seconds of audio per photo, so that the user can note critical information.

Read more ....


China to unveil new missile types on National Day: deputy parade commander -- China View

China Versus India -- Strategy Page

South Korea: Fighter, Attack Helicopter Plans Delayed
-- Korea Times

French arms sales rise to $9.7bn -- Daily Times

Medvedev pledges to recreate strong Navy in 10 years -- RIA Novosti

Israel gets two more German submarines -- The International News

First Operational Growler Squadron 'Safe for Flight' --

Military to get mandatory swine flu shots soon -- AP

Boeing Offering Two Bids, Two Planes -- DoD Buzz

Draft Policy Would OK Troops’ Tweets -- Danger Room

Tuskegee Airmen: Legendary unit received at least 47 Purple Hearts -- Stl. Today

US Air Force's First Class Of Pilots Who Do Not Fly

The US Air Force has graduated eight officers from an experimental training program for the MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft. Leslie Pratt/US Air Force/Sipa/Newscom

US Air Force's Class Of 2009: Pilots Who Won't Fly -- Christian Science Monitor

The graduation of eight officers without flight training points to the increased use of remote-controlled aircraft for reconnaissance and intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Washington - The US Air Force is marking something of a milestone as it positions itself to better address the need for round-the-clock intelligence in Afghanistan and Iraq. Last week, the service graduated the first class of pilots without flight training.

Just eight officers graduated from an experimental training program for the MQ-1 Predator, a remote-controlled aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). But it marks a shift for a service that has defined its leaders by their prowess as flyboys and that is now coming to terms with the less glamorous but critical demands of the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is probably just the tip of the iceberg. Expect this type of graduating class to continue tipping towards UAV operators until they make up the vast majority of the graduating class. I give another 15 years before this becomes realized.

Will Israel's Nuclear Deterrent Be Put To Sea?

Photo from Military Photos

From Information Dissemination:

There have been rumors that Israel has been pressuring Germany to finish the 2 submarines under construction. I guess the rumors are true.

Israel has taken delivery of two German submarines ordered four years ago, a military spokesman said on Tuesday...

The submarines, called U212s, can launch cruise missiles carrying nuclear warheads, although when it confirmed the sale in 2006 the German government said the two vessels were not equipped to carry nuclear weapons.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is not only an excellent weapon system for deterring one's enemy, it can also quickly strike against military targets. I am sure that everyone in the region is looking at this development, and are pondering its implications.

As to being Israel's nuclear deterrent .... I do not know if their thinking is to go that way, but I am sure that they would like to at least have the option available.

Instant Expert: Weapons Technology

The Northrop B2 American stealth bomber (Image: Alisdair Macdonald/Rex Features)

From New Scientist:

Violence and conflict have been a feature of human life throughout history. Starting with simple weapons, people have developed ever more advanced methods to kill one another. Technology has dominated warfare since the early 1900s, and an astounding 190 million people may have been killed during the 25 biggest conflicts of the 20th century.

Today guided weapons, like "smart" bombs dropped by stealth bombers, coupled with space-based sensors and precision satellite navigation, provide decisive advantages in conventional warfare. In this high-spending game, less capable opponents are soon reduced to guerrilla tactics, and human cost of war remains high.

Read more ....

My Comment: This article was written a few years ago, but it is still appropriate for today.

Slime-Dispensing Hulls Could Boost Fuel Efficiency For Ships

Slick Hull A fine sheen of slime could someday cover Navy vessel hulls such as this, and cut fuel consumption to boot. U.S. Navy

From Popular Science:

A DOD-backed project would give ships a regenerating slime layer to help shed unwanted marine life.

Slime ships ahoy! A vessel that oozes a continual slick layer of slime from its hull could shed barnacles and other marine life forms, and possibly cut its fuel consumption by up to 20 percent.

Such a novel idea tackles the problem of removing marine plants, barnacles and tube worms from ship hulls every year, lest the buildup cut into both speed and fuel efficiency. The fuel savings in particular may look especially tempting for the U.S. Department of Defense, which has backed the project and previously invested in hull-cleaning bots.

Read more ....

My Comment: Hull-cleaning bots? .... I am learning something new everyday.

Orwellian Camera Network To Be Made Smarter

From Popular Science:

How can the UK's place as one of the most CCTV-surveilled nations in the world be improved upon? Why, with more surveillance technology of course.

So say engineers at the shiny new Centre for Secure Information Technologies in Belfast, Northern Ireland, dedicated to investigating technologies that improve personal security - whether that's out in the street or online.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is laying the foundation for developing AI (Artificial Intelligence) platforms. Unfortunately for the proponents for such technologies .... it will entail enormous expense, research and development, and no guarantee of success.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How Big Is Iran's Military?

(Click Image to Enlarge)
IRAN MILITARY SITES (Image from Stop The War Now)

BACKGROUND / How Big Is Iran's Military? -- Haaretz

Iran test-fired a missile on Monday that defense analysts have said could hit Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf, state media reported, a move that may irk world powers ahead of rare talks with Tehran this week.

Listed below are some details about Iran's military capability. The totals include equipment held by the Revolutionary Guards, which operate on land, at sea and in the air:

- Iran has over 523,000 personnel in active service. Major General Ataollah Salehi is the armed forces chief.

Read more ....

My Comment: If these numbers are true, the Iranian military is not impressive.

Another Failure In U.N. Peacekeeping

Image from the BBC (2008)

Darfur Refugees Raped In Chad Camps: Amnesty -- Yahoo News/Reuters

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Women who fled violence in Sudan's Darfur region are being regularly raped in refugee camps in neighboring Chad, despite the presence of U.N.-trained forces, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

The rights group published a report saying Chadian police supported by the United Nations were doing little to protect women and girls from sexual attacks and other violence by villagers, soldiers, family and in some cases aid workers.

Read more ....

More News On Darfur

Report: Sudanese refugees face rape daily in Chad -- AP
Chad: Women and girls fleeing Darfur conflict still subjected to rape around camps despite UN presence -- Amnesty International
Nigerian peacekeeper killed in Darfur ambush -- Washington Post
Sudan accuses some neighbors of intervention in Darfur crisis -- China View
UN Appreciates Decline of Violence in Darfur -- Sudan Vision
US prepares to unveil its new Sudan policy -- Sudan Tribune

My Comment: As long as the leaders of Sudan are not convicted of the crimes that they have committed, the suffering of Darfur will continue and continue and continue.

Technical Flaws In The Obama Missile Defense Plan

An SM-3 is launched from the Aegis cruiser USS Lake Erie as part of the Missile Defense Agency's latest Ballistic Missile Defense System test to defeat a medium-range ballistic missile threat. The missile, part of the Aegis Weapon System, intercepted a target launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the Hawaiian island of Kauai Dec. 11. This was the fourth successful intercept for Aegis BMD and SM-3. The test included evaluation of the long-range surveillance and tracking capabilities of two Navy ships as well as effective communications between the ships and command and control units. Navy photo.

From The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists:

Article Highlights

The Obama administration should be commended for changing course on the Bush administration's plan to deploy missile defense installations in Eastern Europe.
However, its alternative--using the existing ship-based Aegis defense system to protect Europe from a possible Iranian missile strike--also uses technology that's unproven.

Additionally, like the Bush plan, the Obama missile defense strategy could potentially embolden hawks in both Russia and China.

Last Thursday, the Obama administration announced its long-awaited decision on a European missile defense system against potential Iranian ballistic missiles. In short, it will shelve the Bush administration's plan for a defense against intercontinental-range missiles, and instead, it will field a system designed to intercept shorter-range missiles, on which Iran is making quicker progress.

Read more

My Comment: A surprisingly easy to read article from a very technical and theoretical organization. If missile defense and Aegis systems is your thing, this is a good article to read.

A U.S. - Cuba Detente?

Senior U.S. Official Holds Talks In Cuba -- CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A senior American diplomat had high-level talks with the Cuban government in Havana, the State Department said Tuesday.

Bisa Williams, acting deputy assistant secretary, met this week with Deputy Foreign Minister Dagoberto Rodriguez during a six-day trip to Cuba, Assistant Secretary P.J. Crowley said.

Read more ....

More U.S. - Cuba News

US, Cuba held unannounced talks -- AP
U.S., Cuban officials meet in high-level talks -- USA Today
U.S. Official Spent 6 Days in Cuba to Talk Postal Service, Ties -- Bloomberg
US and Cuba 'in high-level talks' -- BBC
Cuba plans luxury hotel for 'future American tourists' -- The Daily Mail

European Disagreements On President Obama Are Now Becoming Public -- A Commentary

French President Nicolas Sarkozy flanked by President Barack Obama, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Associated Press

French Atomic Pique -- Wall Street Journal

Sarkozy unloads on Obama's 'virtual' disarmament reality.

President Obama wants a unified front against Iran, and to that end he stood together with Nicolas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown in Pittsburgh on Friday morning to reveal the news about Tehran's secret facility to build bomb-grade fuel. But now we hear that the French and British leaders were quietly seething on stage, annoyed by America's handling of the announcement.

Both countries wanted to confront Iran a day earlier at the United Nations. Mr. Obama was, after all, chairing a Security Council session devoted to nonproliferation. The latest evidence of Iran's illegal moves toward acquiring a nuclear weapon was in hand. With the world's leaders gathered in New York, the timing and venue would be a dramatic way to rally international opinion.

Read more ....

Previous Post
: French President Sarkozy Blasts President Obama's Stance On Nuclear Disarmament. U.S. Media Refuses To Report It

My Comment: The key phrase in the above article is the following ....

..... President Sarkozy in particular pushed hard. He had been "frustrated" for months about Mr. Obama's reluctance to confront Iran, a senior French government official told us, and saw an opportunity to change momentum. But the Administration told the French that it didn't want to "spoil the image of success" for Mr. Obama's debut at the U.N. and his homily calling for a world without nuclear weapons, according to the Paris daily Le Monde. So the Iran bombshell was pushed back a day to Pittsburgh, where the G-20 were meeting to discuss economic policy.....

"Didn't want to spoil the image of success" .... hmmmm ..... I will let that sink in.

Kudos to the Wall Street Journal .... finally, someone in the American press is pointing out news stories from Europe that describes bluntly what some of our allies in Europe are thinking of when it comes to President Obama's Iran policy.

Being a Canadian who always follows what the Europeans are saying, I can give everyone an additional heads up. News reports from France and England pale in comparison to what Eastern Europeans and Russians now think of President Obama. I have had to spend time with my relatives in Russia defending President Obama (a pattern of behavior that I find very strange for someone like myself) .... but they are developing a contempt for him, and their contempt mirrors exactly how the media in Europe are now portraying him.

This news has been completely under reported here. While I would usually let this go by, I have noticed that this altitude is now starting to impact the politicians in these countries .... politicians that President Obama will need in the future when it comes to negotiations on missile defense, arms reduction, North Korea, and Iran.

While President Obama is a very effective communicator, he is only effective here. In Europe, he is failing ..... and failing fast.

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials - -September 29, 2009

(Click Image to Enlarge)

Don't Israel's Nuclear Weapons Count? -- Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, The Independent

Netanyahu has what he wants to keep up the idea of his plucky, vulnerable little state

Influential Europeans – including many Muslims – recently debated freedom of expression with the Danish editor who commissioned the cartoons of Prophet Mohammed which led to riots. Held in Berlin, it was a good, at times blazing, debate.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials

How to Press the Advantage With Iran -- Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

What Else Is Iran Hiding? -- Nima Gerami & James Acton, Foreign Policy

Ahmadinejad Should Watch His Back -- Simon Tisdall, The Guardian

A Big Card To Play in Iran -- Washington Post

Secure Afghanistan means Secure America -- W.Marshall & J. Arkedis, The Hill

History does not show that war in Afghanistan is unwinnable
-- Liam Fox, The Independent

The View from Pakistan's Spies -- David Ignatius, Washington Post

Angela Merkel, the new Maggie Thatcher -- Alan Posener

What Next for Mao's China at 60? -- Chris Patten, New Straits Times

Twilight of Pax Americana -- C. Layne & B. Schwarz, Los Angeles Times

The Country Russia Loves to Hate (America) - Vladimir Ryzhkov, Moscow Times

India Preps All-Out Assault on Maoists -- Siddharth Srivastava, Asia Times

World News Briefs -- September 29, 2009 (Evening Edition)

President Obama and President Castro (Photo from Latina)

US, Cuba Held Unannounced Talks -- Yahoo News/AP

NEW YORK – A senior American diplomat has held unannounced, high-level talks in Havana with the Cuban government, three State Department officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday, raising hopes for a thaw in long-icy relations.

Read more ....


US welcomes Iranian gesture on detained Americans.

U.N. Secretary General: Iran violating resolutions on nuclear activities.

Iran promises inspection 'soon'. US, allies seek new ways to sanction Iran. In Tehran, students defy ban on protests.

Bombings across Iraq kill 15, wound dozens.

UN scrutinises Gaza 'war crimes'. Israel condemns U.N. report on Gaza 'war crimes'.


Pacific tsunami hits Samoa islands, people killed.

Suspected U.S. drone attacks kill 12 in Pakistan.

U.S. says Taliban has a new haven in Pakistan.

No detail is overlooked as China prepares to celebrate.

US accepts Hamid Karzai as Afghan leader despite poll fraud claims.

Philippines flood death toll rises as Typhoon Ketsana slams into Vietnam. 23 dead as Typhoon Ketsana roars into Vietnam.

US soldiers killed in Philippines.


China seeks major stake in Nigerian oil: report.

Over 150 protesters killed in Guinea.

Peacekeeper killed in Darfur: UN-AU mission.

Nigeria's oil rebels name mediators.

US envoy's outreach to Sudan is criticized as naive. Sudan envoy wanders off the reservation.


UK's Gordon Brown coverage takes a nasty turn.

Poles indignant that US altered missile-shield plans.

At German Chancellor’s side, a new political power broker emerges.

EU report to place blame on both sides in Georgia war.

In bad times for capitalism, socialists in Europe suffer.

France divided over Polanski case.


Report: Peru's Fujimori pleads guilty in bribery case.

Honduras presses Brazil over refuge to ousted President. Honduras to nullify emergency restrictions. US denies policy change in Honduras crisis.

Obama to woo IOC over Chicago bid.

Cuba admits failure to pay farmers on time.


Guantánamo deadline may be missed.

NYC terror suspect pleads not guilty, kept in jail.

Al Qaeda in Yemen worries the West.

Chavez, Gaddafi seek a new definition of terrorism.


FDIC says bank failures to cost around $100B.

World Bank head sees dollar’s role diminishing.

FDIC expected to ask banks to prepay $36B in fees.