Sunday, October 31, 2010

Another Dispute Over Jurisdiction Of Islands In Asia.

Medvedev Visit To Kuril Islands Stokes Japan Row -- BBC News

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has arrived in the Kurils, defying Japan's warnings not to visit the disputed islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan immediately described Mr Medvedev's visit to Kunashir Island as "regrettable".

Earlier, Russia's top diplomat Sergei Lavrov warned that Mr Medvedev was free to visit any Russian region he chose.

The islands have been under Moscow's control since the end of World War II.

Read more ....

More News On Russian President Medvedev's Visit To The Kuril Islands

Medvedev visits disputed islands -- Al Jazeera
Japan upset as Russian leader visits disputed isle -- Reuters
Russian president's visit to disputed isle "hurts Japanese public sentiment": Japanese FM -- Xinhuanet
Japan to summon Russian ambassador on isle row-Jiji -- Reuters
Japan says to monitor Russian comments on isle row -- Reuters
Russian President Visits Disputed Island -- Wall Street Journal
Visit to Kurils 'regrettable' -- Straits Times

Suicide Bombing In Istanbul Injures 32

Police officers console each other Sunday after a suicide bombing at Taksim Square in central Istanbul. The bomber struck near a police substation. (Osman Orsal, Reuters / October 31, 2010)

Istanbul Suicide Attack Highlights Turkey's Struggle With Militant Groups -- Christian Science Monitor

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the Istanbul suicide attack in the heart of the city, which injured 17 civilians and 15 police, Sunday.

A suicide bomber targeted Turkish police in the heart of Istanbul on Sunday, killing himself, injuring 32, and prompting police gunfire.

Chaos erupted midmorning in Taksim Square, the popular shopping and pedestrian center of Turkey’s economic capital, when a male suicide bomber detonated plastic explosives while attempting to board a bus full of riot policemen, authorities here said.

Read more ....

More News On Today's Suicide Attack In Istanbul

32 injured in suicide bombing in Istanbul -- L.A. Times
Suicide bomb rocks Turkish celebrations -- The Guardian
Istanbul suicide blast injures 32 -- AFP
Istanbul Bus Suicide Blast Injures 15 Police, 17 Civilians, Mutlu Says -- Bloomberg
Turkish police chief says more bombs found, number of injured rises -- World Bulletin
In pictures: Istanbul bomb attack -- BBC

Child Soldier Omar Khadr Sentenced To 8 More Years In Jail

Khadr, a former child soldier, is expected to serve another eight years of a forty year sentence [Reuters]

Jury Sentences `Child Soldier' To 40 Years At Guantánamo -- McClatchy News

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- A military jury on Sunday sentenced teen terrorist Omar Khadr to 40 years in prison for killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan, a symbolic punishment because the U.S. has agreed the Canadian will serve at most eight.

The seven senior officers returned the verdict after more than eight hours deliberation.

Khadr, 24, looked straight ahead when the jury foreman, a Navy captain, announced the verdict. The widow of his victim, Tabitha Speer, 40, cheered ``yes,'' and then wept.

Read more ....

More News On Guantanamo Detainee Omar Khadr's Verdict

Guantanamo Canadian to serve 8 more years in prison -- Yahoo News/Reuters
Gitmo former 'child soldier' sentenced to 8 years -- Yahoo News/AP
Guantanamo Bay's youngest militant Omar Khadr jailed -- BBC
Khadr gets 40-year prison sentence: Canadian citizen and former child soldier will serve only eight more years under plea bargain. -- Al Jazeera
Canada aware of Khadr plea deal: U.S. memo -- CBC
Verdict’s in: Khadr is Ottawa’s problem now -- Globe And Mail
Factbox: Canadian captive's Guantanamo trial ends with deal -- Reuters

My Comment: He got off light, and will probably be a free man in Canada within 2 years.

Bloodbath At A Baghdad Church

An Iraqi policeman conducting a security check inside a church where 10 hostages were killed. Photo from The Guardian

Baghdad Church Hostage Drama Ends In Bloodbath -- The Telegraph

Up to 25 hostages were killed during a shoot-out between US and Iraqi forces and al-Qaeda-linked gunmen in a Catholic church in Baghdad on Sunday.

American soldiers and Iraqi security forces had entered the church in the centre of the city to free 40 worshippers being held by eight gunmen.

Seven members of Iraq's security forces, police and at least five of the attackers were also killed during the joint rescue operation in the Sayidat al-Nejat church.

Read more

More News On Today's Bloodbath At A Christian Church In Baghdad

At least 7 worshipers, 7 Iraqi troops die in takeover of Baghdad church -- Washington Post
Christian worshippers killed in Baghdad church raid -- The Guardian
Iraqi forces free hostages from church; 19 killed -- Yahoo News/AP
At least 30 die in Iraq church attack -- UPI
Seven Christians killed in Baghdad church drama -- Yahoo News/AFP
Iraqi Forces Storm a Church With Hostages in a Day of Bloodshed -- New York Times

Editor's Note

Regular readers of this blog know that I have been working on a contract that has taken most of my free time in the past 6 weeks. Today is my last day on this project (and a very busy day), and as a result regular blogging will not return until later tonight .... a prospect that I am very much looking forward to.

Is The "American Century" At An End? -- A Commentary

Pax Americana Is Winding Down -- Arnaud De Borchgrave, Washington Times

Is the world's balance of power shifting away from the West and moving over to India and China? That's what a number of geopolitical sages are discussing in think tanks from Moscow to Beijing to London to Washington. In a joint SOS piece in the November-December issue of Foreign Affairs, former Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman and the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard N. Haass, warn U.S. leaders to curb "the current debt addiction - or global capital markets will do it for them." An age of austerity and draconian belt-tightening - and sudden decline in U.S. power - is upon us. Gridlocked Congress, fiscal train wreck, climbing without a rope, all the stuff of headlines the world over.

Read more ....

My Comment: There is very little that I can disagree with in this commentary by Arnaud De Borchgrave. This is the future, and there is very little that Americans can (or want to) in changing it.

One Time Ally Turkey Now Regards Israel As The "Central Threat"

Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, called the Israeli raid on the Mava Marmaris "murder conducted by a state". Photograph: Umit Bektas/Reuters

Turkish Document Defines Israel as 'Central Threat' -- Jerusalem Post

National Security Council in Ankara decides to remove Syria, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia from list of countries that pose threat.

The Turkish National Security Council approved a few days ago significant changes in a document which contains threats against Turkey claiming that Israel is now a major threat to the country, Turkish media reported Saturday.

Israel was redefined as a "major threat" in the document called "The Red Book."

Read more ....

My Comment: There is no mention of Hezbollah, Iran, Hamas, etc. Turkey is now viewing the world through Islamic eyes.

Meet The Real Hurt Locker

Photo: Kate Holt photographed British bomb experts clearing the path for British troops in Helmand

The Real Hurt Locker: The Heroism Of British Bomb Experts Clearing The Path For Troops In Helmand -- The Daily Mail

Live asked British journalist Kate Holt to photograph British bomb experts clearing the path for British troops in Helmand. After a year waiting for clearance, this is the result: in words and extraordinary pictures shorn of Hollywood gloss, an account of unquestioning heroism in the face of appalling danger

Read more

My Comment: An impressive story on who the real heroes are. Read it all.

Top 10 Bizarre Weapons Of The Allies

From Listverse:

Oh war! This is a deadly game that our world loves to play so much. Omar Bradley once quipped that, “We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.” The ferocity of World War II gave birth to a truly wide-array of bizarre weapons. As the last “good war,” it presented an opportunity for the eager minds of the mad, the wild, and the creative to create lasting innovations and contributions that will give them the advantage or, better yet, end the war. Here are some of the odd weapons that belonged to the Allies. Even if not all were used in combat, all of them are truly bizarre.

Read more ....

My Comment: My favorite is #9 (the stench spray).

Video: Inside An AC-130 While Shooting

Hat Tip: Theo Spark

Yemen Is Now A Home For Al Qaeda

Yemen, The New Crucible Of Global Terrorism -- The Independent

Al-Qa'ida has taken firm root in the poverty-stricken nation.

The axis of terror got bigger yesterday. After the presence of explosives in two packages bound for the US was confirmed – and a suspected 24 more discovered – their place of origin entered the big league as a crucible of deadly and disruptive terrorism. As Magnus Ranstorp, one of the world's leading experts on the issue, told The Independent on Sunday: "Yemen has become the new Afghanistan."

Read more ....

My Comment:
After what has happened this week, it is clear that there are many in Yemen who wish harm on the West, in particular the U.S. This report is a good summary on how Al Qaeda now has a foothold in Yemen, and why it is now a danger to all of us. Read it all.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

French Carrier Charles De Gaulle Is No Longer Seaworthy

May 16, 2001: The USS Enterprise CVN-65 and the Charles de Gaulle R-91 in the Mediterranean Sea. Photo from Maritime Quest

Sinking Fast: French Aircraft Carrier Set To Defend Britain Breaks Down -- The Daily Mail

The French aircraft carrier which is set to play a key role in defending Britain over the next decade has broken down.

As President Nicolas Sarkozy prepares to use a London summit this week to announce that RAF jets will fly from the carrier Charles de Gaulle, his naval chiefs have told him that she is no longer seaworthy.

‘She is meant to be heading to Afghanistan but is instead in her home port with a faulty propulsion system,’ said a French Navy source.

Read more ....

My Comment: So much for the French navy being a factor in any future naval requirement or engagement.

Will Saudi Intervention Break Iraq's Political Deadlock

Saudi King Offers Talks To Break Iraq Deadlock -- BBC

Saudi Arabia's king has invited the leaders of Iraq's political blocs for talks in Riyadh aimed at breaking the deadlock over forming a new government.

King Abdullah suggested they meet after the Hajj pilgrimage in November.

A Sunni-backed bloc led by Iyad Allawi edged PM Nouri Maliki's Shia alliance in elections in March.

But neither bloc has been able to form a coalition and Iraq now holds the world record for the longest time without a government.

Read more ....

More On Saudi Arabia's Involvement In Resolving Iraq's Political Crisis

Riyadh seeks to break Iraq deadlock -- Al Jazeera
Saudi king offers to host talks to end political stalemate in Iraq -- CNN
Saudi invites Iraqis to Riyadh for talks on forming govt -- AFP
Saudi offers to host talks on Iraq political crisis -- Reuters

My Comment: In the past 8 months everything else has been tried .... so might as well try this.

Update: Iraq's Shi'ite politicians turn down Saudi offer -- Reuters

2nd Comment: The Sunni - Shiite split on full display.

White House Offer To Station A U.S. Aircraft Carrier Off The British Coast During The London Olympics Has Been Rejected

(Click Image to Enlarge)
Offer: The White House Wants To Send A U.S. Aircraft Carrier To Be Stationed Off The British Coast And Boost Security During The London Olympics

U.S. Wants Own Aircraft Carrier In The Thames Estuary During Olympics -- The Daily Mail

The White House has offered to send a U.S. aircraft carrier to be stationed off the British coast and boost security during the London Olympics, Ministry of Defence sources claimed last night.

The suggestion is said to have been rejected by No10 because it would make the UK look ‘weak’. And last night Downing Street was silent on the claim.

But a well-placed source, with knowledge of international discussions about security for the 2012 Games, said the MoD had been offered a U.S. carrier, based in the Thames Estuary, to help defend the skies over London and eavesdrop on any terrorist ‘chatter’.

Read more ....

My Comment: British pride is on full display .... but if something goes terribly wrong, there will be hell to pay politically if the presence of such a vessel would have made a difference.

The Many Mistakes Of The CIA

Memoirs, Mistakes Converge As CIA Promises Reform -- L.A. Times

Spies-turned-authors say the agency's admitted 'systemic failures' in an Afghanistan suicide attack prove their allegations of myriad problems. But one veteran is being sued over his unapproved book.

Reporting from Washington — When CIA Director Leon Panetta gathered reporters recently to discuss mistakes that allowed a suicide bomber to kill seven personnel in Afghanistan, he didn't mention a separate disclosure the agency made that day: that it had sued a retired officer who wrote an unapproved memoir.

To some CIA veterans, the developments are related in ways that do not reflect well on the agency. An internal investigation blamed the December attack by an Al Qaeda double agent on "systemic failures" in CIA training, management, information sharing and vetting of sources. Former agents have publicly pointed out some of those problems for years, without response by the CIA.

Read more ....

My Comment: I have been following the Agency since the 1980s, and I have never seen it so politicized and dysfunctional as it is now. The coup de grace for me occurred at the beginning of the Obama administration, when it was strongly hinted that CIA officers may be prosecuted for actions that occurred right after 9/11 (i.e. renditions, enhanced interrogation techniques, etc.). I wrote extensively at the time (and in this blog) that the possibility of CIA officers being litigated would only put a deep chill throughout the Agency and that no one in his or her right mind would then conduct themselves in any risky situation or operation.

Hence .... we now have the Agency that we have today. Bureaucratized, risk averse, and so heavily politicized that it now focuses primarily on the White House and Congress than on Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, and future evolving threats.

China And Thailand In Joint Military Exercises

Chinese Train With Thai Forces For First Time -- Washington Times

BANGKOK | China is expanding its military reach by sending, for the first time, a marine unit of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to train with another country in an upcoming exercise with Thailand's armed forces.

The U.S. and other nations will be eyeing the China-Thailand exercise, which began Tuesday and is scheduled to run through Nov. 14 in and around the Sattahip Naval Base near Bangkok on the Gulf of Thailand, as Beijing seeks to secure its access south to strategic sea lanes amid a spate of recent disputes between China and its Asian neighbors.

Read more

More News On This Joint China - Thai Military Exercise

China Sends the Marines to Thailand -- Asia Sentinel
Chinese marine officers arrive in Thailand for joint military drill -- Isria
Chinese and Thai marines conduct joint training -- Defpro
China Sends in the Marines to Thailand -- Scoop (New Zealand)
China’s backyard, America’s military playground -- Global Post

My Comment:
This is the first time that Chinese marines have conducted joint exercises with foreign forces outside China .... and yes .... Chinese marines in Thailand is surprising news to me.

Pakistan Will Not Heed U.S. Requests To Attack Insurgent Strongholds On The Afghan/Pakistan Border

Despite U.S. Aid Pledge, Pakistan Plans No New Offensives

LAHORE, Pakistan — Despite the Obama administration's pleas last week at a top-level "strategic dialogue" and a new pledge of $2 billion in U.S. military aid, Pakistan has no near-term plans to launch new offensives in its tribal area to aid the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, officials and analysts said Friday.

The focus of U.S. demands is North Waziristan, on the Afghan border, where Pakistan has provided sanctuary to the Haqqani network since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Read more ....

More News On Pakistani Unwillingness To Attach Militants on The Afghan/Pakistan Border

In Pakistan, Uncertainty Grows Over North Waziristan Operation -- Radio Free Europe
Time not right for Taliban attack: Pakistan -- The Australian
Pakistan Resists Military Action in 'Epicenter of Terrorism' -- Voice of America
External pressure for NWA operation not acceptable: FM -- Daily Times
Pakistan not to bow to foreign pressure for NW operation: FM -- Xinhuanet

My Comment: There is no political will in Pakistan to expand military operations against Islamic extremists in their country .... none whatsoever.

Are Returning Soldiers Naturally Inclined To Be Thrill Seekers?

Army Studies Thrill-Seeking Behavior -- New York Times

WASHINGTON — Senior Airman Michael Kearns had been back from Iraq for only two months when he was pulled over on a Florida highway for going more than 120 miles per hour on his new Suzuki. He knew his motorcycle riding was reckless, but after living through daily mortar attacks on his base in Iraq, he said he needed the adrenaline rush.

“When you get here, there’s nothing that’s very exciting that keeps your pulse going,” Airman Kearns, 27, said in a recent interview.

Read more ....

My Comment: Duhhh .... of course the Army study will find soldiers taking unnecessary risks when they leave the war zone and return home. My father was in the Soviet Army during the Second World War (4 years on the front), and growing up with him was quite an experience. It was only later (as an adult), that I realized how reckless his behavior was at times. Deserting the Soviet Army at the end of the Second World War and escaping to the West (risky, but fortunately for me it worked out), heavy drinking and driving, reckless business decisions (which also fortunately worked out), doing unnecessary work that was dangerous, and finally making a decision to join the Foreign Legion because he was bored with his life (he changed his mind at the recruitment door).

Sighhh .... and while this was my dad, his war buddies were even worse. My Godfather committed suicide while playing Russian roulette, others who were killed in reckless car crashes, alcoholism, crime, etc. etc. etc.

Is there a way to temper the emotions and drive that many of our soldiers have when they return home .... I have my doubts that the Army will find a solution when I think of my own experiences, but I certainly wish the Army luck.

Is Cyber Warfare A Concern That We Should All Share?

Cyberwar games at West Point with Lt. Col. Robert Fanelli, left, Cadets Nathan Larsen, Mark Evinger, seated, and Marc Abbott. Michael Falco for The New York Times

Is Cyber Warfare a Legitimate Threat? -- The Atlantic

Ace investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has a disquieting exposé on cyber security in The New Yorker this week. He rips the lid off the bureaucratic battle for government funds, showing how the specter of cyber war can be exploited by government agencies and contractors alike. Also troubling, Hersh finds that the U.S. is underestimating the sophisticated cyber-threat posed by China. In the end, he depicts a U.S. National Security Agency that leaves us vulnerable while increasingly curtailing civil liberties. Here's what bloggers are saying about it:

Read more ....

My Comment: Aside from the attacks on my personal computers from trojans, viruses, and God only knows what else .... cyber warfare has been primarily isolated to individual computers or networks. Aside from the disruption that they cause, they are usually temporary, and are quickly corrected.

Having said this, I must confess that everyone's concerns are legitimate. The evolution of military organizations being dependent on computer systems has truly been revolutionary, and their effectiveness on battlefields and war strategies cannot be underestimated. Computer networks are a legitimate target in a time of war, and as the tools to attack these networks become more readily available and effective, cyber warfare will become an integral part of any military plan, strategy, and defense.

All Eyes Will Be On China

Obama, Clinton Visit India With Wary Eye On Rising China -- Christian Science Monitor

President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton are making trips to India and the region in the coming weeks, with an eye toward strengthening alliances to counterbalance China.

President Obama and his secretary of state are embarking on Asian trips to build up an insurance policy in case the rising power China ever turns aggressive.

Mr. Obama’s first and longest stopover next month will be India, a country that his predecessor touted as a counterbalance to China. The Obama administration initially reversed that talk, but has lately come around to seeing India as a key link in a regional safety net.

Read more ....

My Comment:
On none of these visits will China be mentioned. But it is the 800 lb gorilla in the room .... and everyone knows it.

BBC Interview With David Kilcullen

Hat Tip:
Small Wars Journal

U.S. Tries To Diffuse China - Japan Tensions

The United States has called on China and Japan to hold talks to ease tensions [AFP]

Clinton Proposes China, Japan Join 3-Way Talks With U.S. To Ease Tensions -- Washington Post

HANOI - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told Chinese and Japanese officials Saturday that she wanted the two countries to end their month-long spat and consider a three-way meeting with the United States to improve ties.

Clinton's push, made at a summit of 18 Asian nations in Vietnam, underscored the increasing alarm felt in Washington about persistent tensions between East Asia's two big powers.

Read more ....

More News On China - Japan Tensions

U.S., Japan Seek to Calm China Tensions Over Disputed Islands -- Bloomberg
Clinton pressures China to settle island dispute -- AP
US takes firm line with China over rows with neighbors -- AFP
Clinton, in rare US visit to China's Hainan Island, presses Beijing over territorial disputes -- Canadian Press
U.S. wants Japan-China tensions to cool down -U.S. -- Reuters
China and Japan hold informal talks -- Financial Times
Japan, China leaders met informally: Japanese official -- Reuters
China Chastises Japan, U.S. Over Territorial Disputes Before G-20 Summit -- Bloomberg

Countries That Use Child Soldiers Get A Pass From The U.S.

Rebel groups like Sudan's Justice and Equality Movement, shown in this video frame, use child soldiers. The United States will exempt four governments from penalties for doing so. [Al Jazeera]

Obama Waives Sanctions For Four Countries That Use Child Soldiers -- Christian Science Monitor

President Obama grants waivers to Chad, the Congo, Sudan, and Yemen, which use child soldiers but are strategically important to the US. The waivers mean military aid will continue.

As a senator, Barack Obama supported legislation requiring the United States to cut off military aid to countries recruiting and deploying child soldiers.

This week as president, Mr. Obama acted to ensure that four countries found to use child soldiers – but which are also considered key national security interests – do not lose their US military assistance. Obama heeded the recommendation of a State Department review and waived application of a year-old law on child soldiers in the case of Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and Yemen.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Waiving Penalties For Countries That Use Child Soldiers

US waiving penalties for use of child soldiers -- AP
Child soldiers 'no bar' for US aid -- Al Jazeera
4 Nations With Child Soldiers Keep U.S. Aid -- New York Times
Obama grants waiver that allows U.S. aid to continue to four countries using child soldiers -- Washington Post
Backing governments who employ child war fighters? -- Stars And Stripes
Obama waives child soldier sanctions -- UPI

My Comment: Where is the outrage from the left, the media, academia? Once again we are witness to selective morality and dismissal of inconvenient situations by a White House that moralizes when it is out of power, but changes direction when it is in power.

Is An Israeli Pilot's Gun Worth 52 Palestinian And Lebanese Prisoners?

Israeli air force pilot Ron Arad

Israel 'Traded 52 Prisoners For Air Force Pilot's Gun' -- The Telegraph

Israel traded 52 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners to the Hizbollah militia in exchange for the gun of an Israeli air force pilot who went missing in southern Lebanon in 1986, according to reports.

The Armalite AR-7 rifle, a light firearm designed to be used as a survival weapon, was carried by Ron Arad when his plane went down over southern Lebanon during the Lebanese civil war.

Eight years of indirect talks mediated by a German intelligence official failed to secure Arad's release and his whereabouts remains unknown.

Read more ....

My Comment: I very much doubt that he is still alive after all of these years.

Explosives Found In Two U.S.-Bound Packages, Thwarting Terrorist Attack -- L.A. Times

The two packages and other suspicious parcels aboard cargo jets, all originating from Yemen, 'underscore the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism,' President Obama says.

A terrorist attack apparently aimed at two Jewish centers in Chicago was thwarted when two packages the size of bread boxes containing explosives were intercepted in Europe and the Middle East, President Obama and counterterrorism officials announced Friday.

The packages, which had originated from Yemen, were found on cargo planes after a tip from an official in Saudi Arabia. The targets were a synagogue and another Jewish center on the North Side of Chicago, a U.S. official said.

Read more ....

More News On The Air Cargo Terrorist Plot

Tracking the News on Air Cargo Explosives
-- New York Times
Authorities Believe Immediate Threat Contained, But Warn More Attacks Coming -- ABC News
Cargo plane bomb plot: mobile phone SIM card connected to explosive package -- The Telegraph
U.S. Hunts for More Suspicious Packages -- New York Times
Terror investigators examine more packages -- AJC
Terror Investigators Examine More Packages -- NPR
U.S. tightens security, seeks source of parcel bombs -- Yahoo News/Reuters

Obama: Suspicious packages are a 'credible terrorist threat' -- Washington Post
Obama: Explosives Found On US-Bound Cargo Planes -- Voice of America
Obama calls Yemeni packages 'credible terrorist threat' -- Yahoo News/AFP

Plot Said to Have ‘Hallmarks of Al Qaeda’ -- New York Times
Parcel bombs have hallmarks of al Qaeda: Napolitano -- Reuters
Explosive package bore al-Qaida hallmarks, Dubai police say -- The Guardian
Cargo plane devices have 'al-Qaeda hallmarks' -- BBC
Dubai Police: Device Bears 'Hallmarks' of al Qaeda -- Wall Street Journal

Obama Suspects Yemen Al Qaeda Group Behind Plot -- New York Times/Reuters
Yemen Emerges as Base for Qaeda Attacks on U.S. -- New York Times
Yemen clamps down after parcel bomb plot -- Reuters
Yemen hunts parcel bombers -- Yahoo News/Reuters

Mail bomb plot shows lax cargo, parcel security -- Yahoo News/AP
Suspicious US-bound packages from Yemen: A terrorist test run? -- Christian Science Monitor

Afghanistan War News Updates -- October 30, 2010

Petraeus: NATO Pressure Forcing Taliban to Seek Peace -- Voice of America

General David Petraeus made the comments in an interview in Kabul Friday with VOA's Persian News Network.

The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan says coalition progress in recent months has stopped Taliban advances in most of the country, and is putting pressure on even senior leaders of the group to seek a peace deal with the Afghan government.

General Petraeus has spoken of progress in specific parts of Afghanistan before, but now he says that in the last three-to-six months Afghan troops and his international forces have changed the situation in most of the country.

Read more ....

More News On Afghanistan

Afghan president condemns joint US-Russia raid on drug labs -- M&C
Afghan head condemns US-Russia drugs raid -- Sydney Morning Herald/AFP
Afghanistan says US-Russia raid violated sovereignty -- DAWN
Karzai demands investigation into NATO-led drug bust in Afghanistan -- Washington Post
U.S.-Afghan forces, aided by Russian agents, seize drug facilities in major raid -- L.A. Times
Petraeus: Iran's Kabul Payments 'Disingenuous' -- Voice of America

80 dead in Afghan military base attack -- CNN
Coalition forces kill 80 militants in E. Afghan province: official -- Xinhuanet
NATO: 30 insurgents killed, five coalition soldiers wounded in Afghan outpost attack -- MSNBC/AP
Nato troops repel insurgent attack in Afghanistan -- BBC
NATO: Forces Kill 30 Militants in Eastern Afghanistan -- Voice of America
NATO: 30 Fighters Killed In Afghan Outpost Attack -- Radio Free Europe
U.S. troops repel Afghan attack -- Reuters

Hopeful signs in NATO's Kandahar offensive: British general -- AFP
Kandahar campaign's fate not clear until June: NATO -- Reuters
NATO: True test of Kandahar to come in June -- AP

Taliban makes demands in Afghan peace talks -- The Telegraph
US Official: No High-Level Talks Taking Place with Taliban -- Voice of America
Envoy: No peace talks underway with Afghan Taliban -- AP
No Peace Talks With Taliban, U.S. Envoy Say -- Radio Free Europe
'Less than meets the eye' on Taliban talks: US envoy -- AFP
Holbrooke on Taliban Talks: 'There's Less Here Than Meets the Eye'-- ABC News
Afghanistan Peace Talks: 'NATO Wants a Quick Political Deal' -- Spiegel Online

Afghanistan Tops Agenda at Upcoming NATO Summit in Portugal -- PBS Newshour
Russian choppers again soon in Afghanistan -- UPI

Scoring goals not main point of women's soccer match in Afghanistan -- Stars And Stripes
Teleconferencing from the war zone improves treatment for wounded soldiers -- Washington Post
Profiles of a Dustoff 57, medevac team in Afghanistan -- Washington Post
Troops angry about Taliban negotiations -- Washington Examiner
Nato's dilemma: how to stop the Taliban's return -- The Independent

World News Briefs -- October 30, 2010

Plot Said to Have ‘Hallmarks of Al Qaeda’ -- New York Times

WASHINGTON — Two packages containing explosives, shipped from Yemen and addressed to synagogues in Chicago, were intercepted in Britain and Dubai, setting off a broad terrorism scare on Friday that included the scrambling of fighter jets to accompany a passenger flight as it landed safely in New York. Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Homeland Security, said on Saturday morning that the plot “has the hallmarks of Al Qaeda.”

Read more ....


EU's Iran sanctions avoid oil, credit doubts linger. Iran acknowledges sanctions driving up costs.

Baghdad’s Shiite heart beats freely as war ebbs.

Big rally by Islamic Jihad in Gaza, joined by Hamas.


Clinton proposes China, Japan join 3-way talks with U.S. to ease tensions. US, Russia join Asian summit as regional spats simmer.

China rising: What should the U.S. do about it?

In Pakistan, religious shrines step up security against attacks.

Scarred by Sri Lanka's war with Tamil Tigers, female ex-fighters build new lives.

For a few precious days, divided Korean families see their loved ones again.


Morocco says breaks up al Qaeda-linked cells.

Voters in rebel-held areas hope Sunday's election reunites Ivory Coast.

Strained relations: Liberia's President and her stepson.


U.K. and France to sign defense treaty next week, Financial Times reports.

EU treads uncharted waters to defend single currency.

Romania government faces new no - confidence vote.

Vladimir Putin's daughter 'to marry the son of South Korean admiral'.


Leader of FARC Front surrenders in Colombia.

Protesters blame UN base for cholera in Haiti.

A city's revolutionary past shapes Brazil's election.

Falkland Islands tensions could be eased with death of Nestor Kirchner, analysts predict.


Suspicious UPS, FedEx packages raise new concerns about Al Qaeda in Yemen.

Terror investigators examine more packages.

Mail bomb plot shows lax cargo, parcel security.

Testimony ends in Guantanamo 'child soldier' case.


China aims to shake up rare earths trade.

Russia to drop Microsoft in quest for 'national' operating system.

India backs off on Blackberry ban threat.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- October 30, 2010

Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile. © Сollage by RIA Novosti

Russia Successfully Tests Ballistic Missiles -- The Telegraph

Russia's troubled nuclear weapons programme is back on track after the Russian Navy successfully test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile for the second time in a month.

The successful test launch of the Bulava or Mace missile from a nuclear-powered submarine submerged near the country's border with Finland was seen as a major breakthrough by defence experts who were beginning to fret that the costly project would have to be scrapped.

A spokesman for the Russian defence ministry said the missile, launched early on Friday morning, had hit its target more than 3,000 miles to the east in Russia's Far East and was "up to standard".

Read more ....


US Warns PRC of Anti-Sat Debris -- DoD Buzz

US Air Force plans 'Space Fence' to catch orbital debris -- Wired Science U.K.

BAE bids for Brazil warships -- Space War

NATO to Halve Troops in Kosovo to 5,000 -- Defense News

U.K. Dedicated to Nuclear Deterrent, Minister Says -- Global Security Newswire

Air Weapons: Underpowered And Overpaid -- Strategy Page

Air Force nears UH-60 deal with Army -- Army Times

Our Stealth Jets Need to Have a Talk -- Defense Tech

Pentagon had red flags about command climate in 'kill team' Stryker brigade -- Christian Science Monitor

Marine Marathon to Proceed Despite Shootings --

Is Yemen Becoming The New Front In The War On Terror?

Yemen: The New Front In The War On Terror? -- The Telegraph

The discovery of a suspicious package in Britain on a plane going from Yemen to Chicago is the latest in a number of suspected terrorist related incidents to involve the Middle Eastern country. Is Yemen the new front in the war on terror?

The multiple crises afflicting Yemen are not a surprise to anyone who has been watching, and certainly not to those in Washington. There is every reason to suppose that the US authorities are far more alarmed over events there than they were over Major Hasan, but they have been similarly unsure how to react. Some commentators in the Middle East are starting to see this as a trend: an uncertainty over how to deal with the Muslim world is leading to disaster.

Read more

More News On Yemen Being The New Front In The War On Terror

Out of Yemen, a Top Al Qaeda Threat -- Wall Street Journal
Yemen Emerges as Base for Qaeda Attacks on U.S. -- New York Times
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula -- L.A. Times
Obama: US commits to destroying al-Qaida in Yemen -- Washington Post/AP
Yemen leader's hold on country growing more tenuous amid al-Qaida fight, multiple challenges -- Canadian Press
Obama Vows to 'Destroy' al Qaeda in Yemen After Bomb Discovery -- Politics Daily
Factbox: Al Qaeda's wing in Yemen -- Reuters

Turkey's Ties To Europe Will Be Seriously Damaged If They Reject Participation In Missile Defense

Recep Erdrogan, Turkey's Prime Minister, is torn between his Islamist supporters and his country's western allies Photo: REUTERS

Turkey's Relationship With West On The Line In European Missile Defence Negotiations -- The Telegraph

Turkey's government has been told that its relationship with the West could be seriously damaged if it rejects Nato's request to house part of a £165 million ballistic missile-defence shield that is being built to protect Europe from nuclear attack.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state and Robert Gates, the US secretary of defence, have held out the warning in behind-the-scenes talks with Turkish officials ahead of a Nato summit to be held in Lisbon on November 19, where a final decision is expected to be made on the missile-defence plan.

Read more ....

Update: US and Turkey clash looms over Nato -- Financial Times

My Comment:
Turkey's Islamic government is more sympathetic to Iran than to Western concerns or Nato. Will they agree to missile defense .... my gut tells me no unless certain conditions are met. Either way .... expect Turkey to be the odd country out when Nato convenes in Lisbon On November 19.

US Navy Seal Memorial To Be Dedicated On November 7

Click Image to Enlarge
A Navy Seal's Funeral (Photo of Mike Monsoor's casket from Sarasota County Veterans Commission)

Dedication Of US Navy SEAL Memorial Set For Nov. 7 -- Business Wire

Honoring Fallen SEALs from WWII to Iraq and Afghanistan

FORT PIERCE, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum will dedicate the U.S. Navy SEAL Memorial on Sunday, November 7, at 10 AM during the Museum’s 25th Annual Veterans Day Ceremonies (“Muster”). This is the only Memorial dedicated exclusively to the United States Navy SEALs and their predecessors.

The Navy SEAL Memorial will include the 252 names of SEALs and Frogmen who have died in the line of duty, in combat or training for combat, since World War II. Relatives and friends of these valiant and selfless individuals are welcome to attend this historical dedication.

Read more ....

My Comment: The sentence that caught my attention was the following ....

The Navy SEAL Memorial will include the 252 names of SEALs and Frogmen who have died in the line of duty, in combat or training for combat, since World War II.

This memorial is long overdue.

2010 MCAS Miramar F-22, F-18, F-16 High Speed Vapor Passes (Video)

Hat Tip: Theo Spark

What Happens When Intelligence Has Becomes Politicized -- A Commentary

The Threat Of Politicized Intelligence -- Mansoor Ijaz, Washington Post

Mansoor Ijaz, an American of Pakistani origin, negotiated Sudan's offer of counterterrorism assistance to the Clinton administration in 1996 and 1997 and jointly authored the blueprint for a ceasefire of hostilities between Indian security forces and militant Islamists in Kashmir in July and August 2000.

If new US National Security Adviser Thomas E. Donilon needs a reminder of how stark the enemy threat is, he need look no further than today's discovery of printer cartridges rigged like explosive devices aboard UPS airliner cargo holds that left Yemen bound for Jewish Synagogues in the United States. A dry run? You bet. And not just to test the holes in air cargo security systems, but to test the reaction time and responsiveness of our national security apparatus.

Read more ....

My Comment
: Mansoor Ijaz is talking from his personal experience with the Clinton administration, but his analysis can (probably) easily be applied to the past Bush administration and the present Obama White House. He holds back no punches .... this is a must read on why we should be concerned when intelligence information and policy becomes politicized.

A Look At The New M4A1 Carbine

Army Service Rifles Getting Significant Upgrades -- Stars And Stripes

BAMBERG, Germany — Calling it “the biggest overhaul of service rifles in nearly 50 years,” the Army soon will send soldiers to Afghanistan with new M4A1 carbines.

Upgrades to the M4 include a more resilient barrel, ambidextrous controls and a full-automatic setting. Add better ammunition, and soldiers will have a more lethal weapon to fight insurgents, according to Program Executive Office Soldier, which introduced the improvements.

The new carbines are expected to be integrated into the force starting next year.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is long overdue, and I am sure that many are looking forward to these new weapons.

Friday, October 29, 2010

New U.S. Marine Commandant Redefines The Future Of The Marine Corps

Photo: The 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos accepts command from Gen. James T. Conway during a Passage of Command ceremony presided over by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates at the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., on Oct. 22, 2010. DoD photo by Cherie Cullen

Marine Commandant Vows To Make Corps Lighter, More Mobile -- Stars And Stripes

WASHINGTON — Tasked to redefine the future of the Marine Corps, Commandant Gen. James Amos has pledged to aggressively experiment with unit sizes and the Corps’ overall structure in a rebalancing effort he says will make the Marines a lighter force, ready to fight anywhere they’re called.

Amos’ “planning guidance,” issued Wednesday, is his formal answer to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who this summer asked Marine Corps leaders to determine what kind of service they want to be. In recent years, Gates and the previous commandant, retiring Gen. James Conway, have worried the Corps has strayed too far from its amphibious roots and were used too long as a second land army in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Read more

More News On the Future Of The U.S. Marine Corps

Commandant spells out priorities for Corps -- Marine Times
Commandant sets Marines on course for future -- Signs On San Diego
Afghanistan, future top priorities for Amos as new Corps commandant -- Desert Warrior
2010 Commandant's Planning Guidance --
Colors passed, Gen. James Amos becomes 35th commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps -- Stars And Stripes
Amos takes command of the Corps -- Marine Times
Gen. Amos becomes commandant of Marines -- UPI
Gates Tells Gen. Amos: ‘Think Hard’ About the Marine Corps’ Future Role -- National Defense

China Continues To Pursue The Weaponization Of Space

In this photo released by China's official Xinhua news agency, a Long March 3C rocket carrying China's second unmanned lunar probe Chang'e II is launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan province on Oct. 1. Newscom

China Is On Path To 'Militarization Of Space' -- Christian Science Monitor

The Asian space race is moving along slowly, but steadily – and China is in the lead, with technology that could give it a military advantage over the US.

China looks set to pull ahead in the Asian space race to the moon, putting a spacecraft into lunar orbit Oct. 6 in a preparatory mission for an unmanned moon landing in two or three years.

Chinese engineers will maneuver the craft into an extremely low orbit, 9.5 miles above the moon's surface, so it can take high-resolution photos of a possible landing site.

Basically, China is looking for a good "parking space" for a moon lander, in a less-known area of the moon known as the Bay of Rainbows.

Read more ....

Update #1: China could soon leave US behind in militarizing of space -- Beijing News
Update #2: China's Militarization of Space a Long Term Threat -- Associated Content

My Comment: China's long term goal of achieving dominance in space is not being primarily driven by U.S. or Russian space objectives .... it is driven over what it's neighbor and regional competitor may decide to do.

Europe's #1 War Criminal Now Has A $10 Million Euro Bounty On His Head

Serbia Multiplies Reward For Indicted War Criminal Mladic -- Deutsche Welle

Serbia has greatly increased the reward for information leading to the arrest of indicted war criminal Ratko Mladic. Arresting Mladic is a crucial condition for Serbia's bid to join the European Union.

Serbia increased the reward for information leading to the arrest of Ratko Mladic tenfold to 10 million euros ($13.7 million), apparently to prove Belgrade's political will to capture the indicted war criminal.

Read more ....

More News On the Hunt For War Criminal Mladic

Serbia offers 10m euros for Mladic capture -- BBC
Serbia offers $14m for Mladic: Reward for capture of former Bosnian Serb commander wanted for war crimes increased tenfold. -- Al Jazeera
Serbia raises reward for Mladic to 10 million euros -- Reuters
Serbia ups price for Mladic capture to 10 mln euros -- AFP
10 Million Bounty On Mladic -- Times Of The Internet
Bounty hunters, too in search of war crimes suspects -- Blic

My Comment:
If they cannot find this war criminal in the heart of Europe, what chance do we have of capturing someone like Osama Bin Laden in the inhospitable and hostile regions along the Afghan/Pakistan border.

Civil War Fears Rise (Again) In Sudan

Demarcation of Abyei's border and the participation of the Misseriya Arabs in the referendum have caused disagreements. Photo AFP

Botched Sudan Referendum Could Reignite War: Report -- Reuters

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - A disputed outcome in a referendum on self-determination for southern Sudan could reignite one of Africa's longest and bloodiest wars, an advocacy group warned on Friday.

The vote scheduled for January is the end-game of a 2005 peace deal ending more than two decades of civil war between northern and southern Sudan, and most experts predict southern Sudanese will vote to create the world's newest nation state.

Read more

More News On War Fears In The Sudan

Brinkmanship in Sudan vote could spark new war: study -- AFP
Sudan independence vote needs miracle: commissioner -- Reuters
'Miracle' needed to hold Sudan vote on time: commission -- AFP
Southern Sudanese Head South Ahead of Key Vote -- New York Times
Sudan Opposition Party Denies Derailing Referendum -- Voice of America
Storm over Sudan -- Al-Ahram opinion

A Successful U.S.-Japan Missile - Defense Test

Photo: In this image provided by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency a Standard Missile – 3 is launched Thursday from the Japanese destroyer JS Kirishima in a joint missile defense intercept test with the Missile Defense Agency in the mid-Pacific. The U.S. and Japanese militaries said Thursday the JS Kirishima fired an interceptor missile that shot down a separating medium-range missile target about 100 miles above the Pacific Ocean. U.S. Missile Defense Agency/The Associated Press

U.S. And Japan Stage Successful Missile - Defense Test -- New York Times/Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Japanese naval destroyer equipped with a Lockheed Martin Corp Aegis ballistic missile defence system carried out a successful flight-intercept test on Thursday in a "milestone" of growing cooperation, Japanese and U.S. forces announced.

The test focussed attention on mounting U.S. missile defence ties with Tokyo even as Washington urges its NATO allies to join in a NATO-wide shield prompted largely by concerns over Iran.

Japan's interest in missile shields jumped in August 1998 when North Korea test-fired a Taepo Dong-1 ballistic missile that flew over Japan before falling in the Pacific.

Read more ....

More News On Yesterday's Successful Missile Defense Test

Japan tests U.S.-made ABM system -- UPI
Japan carries out successful missile-defense test -- Stars And Stripes
Japanese Warship Intercepts Missile in Test -- Global Security Newswire
Raytheon interceptor destroys another ballistic missile -- Seattle PI
Orbital Successfully Launches Medium Range Target for Joint U.S./Japan Missile Defense Test -- Market Watch
Japanese destroyer shoots down mid-range ballistic missile in test off Hawaii -- Canadian Press/AP