Saturday, October 31, 2009

Afghans Tell Americans, Move From Your Tents Into Buildings -- A Commentary

U.S. Marines conduct a security patrol through the Nawa district in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Oct. 20, 2009. The Marines, assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, are conducting security patrols to decrease insurgent activity and gain the trust of the Afghan people. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Artur Shvartsberg

Afghans See Americans As Nomads -- Toronto Sun

Two of the best battlefield reporters in recent years are Dexter Filkins and Michael Yon.

Filkins writes for the New York Times and Yon runs his own weblog. Both have provided from Iraq, and now Afghanistan, stories that take their readers beyond the blood, dirt and grind of war into the hearts and minds of common people trapped in it.

In a recent nearly 10,000-word essay titled "Stanley McChrystal's Long War," Filkins took his readers along with the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan for a tour deep into the interior of the country.

Read more ....

My Comment: There are some goods points in this commentary .... read it all.

Saddam Planned 2006 Prison Escape: Lawyer's Memoirs

Saddam Hussein

From AFP:

AMMAN — Deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein planned to escape from his US-run prison in 2006 with the help of loyalists, including former bodyguards, according to a book written by one of his lawyers.

"Saddam's plan to escape prison was supposed to take place in the summer of 2006, with the backing of the Iraqi resistance and a special force of bodyguards," Khalil al-Dulaimi wrote in "Saddam Hussein Out of US Prison: What Happened."

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My Comment: Saddam Hussein and his supporters were certainly delusional .... I guess that is why he and many of his followers are dead right now.

After Years Of War, Calls For South Sudan Independence Are Gaining Steam

Salva Kiir, First Vice President of the Government of National Unity of Sudan and President of the Government of Southern Sudan (AFP)

South Sudan President Makes First Call For Independence -- New York Times/Reuters

JUBA, Sudan (Reuters) - South Sudan's president on Saturday urged southerners to vote for independence in a referendum if they wanted to be free, the closest he has come to calling publicly for the separation of the oil-producing region.

The south secured a vote on whether to break away from Sudan as part of a peace deal that ended more than two decades of war with the north. But until now, southern President Salva Kiir has stuck to the official line of building support for unity.

Read more ....

More News On Southern Sudan

Sudanese unity a 'second class' option: Kiir -- AFP
Pushing the deadline -- Al-Ahram Weekly
Kiir says chances of united Sudan are slim -- Sudan Tribune
Road to referendum -- Sudan Tribune

Yemen Civil War News Updates -- October 31, 2009

Displaced Yemenis from Saada province live in a camp near Mazraq. Photo AFP

OIC Chief Backs Yemen Plan To End Feud With Shiite Rebels -- AFP

SANAA — The head of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) expressed support on Saturday for a five-point plan by the Yemeni government to end a protracted conflict with Shiite rebels.

"The OIC backs the unity and the security of Yemen," Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the pan-Muslim organisation, told a news conference in Sanaa following talks with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Read more ....

More News On Yemen's Civil War

Rebels Seize Border Crossing as Battles Rage in North -- Yemen Post
Yemen civilians die in shellfire -- BBC
Yemeni civilians killed in clashes -- UPI
Displaced Yemenis killed in camp during fighting: UNHCR -- AFP
UN agency shocked as displaced Yemenis come under attack -- UN News Centre
Civilians killed in north Yemen fighting - UNHCR -- Reuters
Yemen court sentences eight Shiite rebels to death -- AFP
Yemeni president accused of 'genocide' -- Press TV

Looking For A Solution To Stopping The Insurgency In Thailand's Southern Provinces

Thai PM Backs Autonomy For Troubled South -- AFP

BANGKOK — Thailand's prime minister backed Tuesday a suggestion by his Malaysian counterpart to grant autonomy to the insurgency-hit Thai south, as five more people were killed in the Muslim-majority region.

Abhisit Vejjajiva said he would discuss the plan for the restive southern provinces on the Malaysian border when Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak visits Thailand in December.

Razak said in a newspaper interview published on Monday that Thailand should offer "some form" of autonomy to the region, where more than 3,900 people have been killed since separatist violence erupted in January 2004.

Read more

More News On The Insurgency In The South Of Thailand

More discussion on south with Malaysian leader: Abhisit
-- The Nation
Two Buddhists killed in Thailand’s troubled south -- Malaysian Insider
Suspected insurgents kill 2 in restive Thai south -- AP
Policeman, suspected separatist shot in Thai south -- Reuters
Five killed in restive Thai south: police -- AFP
Autonomy not for Thai south -- Malaysian Insider

Is The Crisis In Honduras Over?

A Deal Finally Ends Honduras' Coup Crisis -- Time Magazine

It's a fairly simple geopolitical rule: small, poor countries can't afford to be global pariahs. The U.S. finally got Honduras to absorb that fact this week, and the result late Thursday night was a long awaited accord between coup-ousted President Manuel Zelaya and de facto President Roberto Micheletti.

The pact may well restore Zelaya to office before the country's Nov. 29 presidential elections. It may also salvage the Obama Administration's standing in the hemisphere. That reputation had faltered in recent months as Obama's commitment to thwarting Honduras' June 28 military putsch came under increasing suspicion in Latin America.

Read more ....

More News On The Unrest In Honduras

Honduran Congress to review crisis accord Tuesday -- AP
Zelaya upbeat on Honduras deal -- Al Jazeera
Honduras' exiled president and his opponents reach accord -- Dallas News/AP
Honduras accepts deal to allow return of ousted president -- Financial Times
Ousted Honduran leader: Pact will restore me -- Miami Herald
Honduras 1, Hillary 0 - Wall Street Journal opinion
Finally, America breaks this deadlock -- The Independent, opinion

Pakistanis To Clinton: War On Terror Is Not Our War

From McClatchy News:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- After three days of encounters with America-bashing Pakistanis -- who rejected her contention that the U.S. and Pakistan face a common enemy -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday that "we're not getting through."

Prominent women and tribesmen from the North West Frontier Province delivered the same hostile message that she'd heard the two preceding days from students and journalists: Pakistanis aren't ready to endorse American friendship despite an eight-year-old anti-terrorism alliance between the countries and a multi-billion-dollar new U.S. aid package.

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My Comment: If the above comments come from what is probably a cross section of Pakistani society, it will then sum up perfectly why Pakistan is now in a middle of a civil war. The denial of the evil that exists within their own society, coupled with a sense that they are the victims, is only helping to propagate a conflict that now shows no signs of abating.

Even if the Americans were not in the region, war and Islamic extremism will still exist in the countryside, the madrases that manufacture and support hate and intolerance will still be there, and the systemic corruption and culture of indifference from the central government with a compliant media will still be present.

In short .... the war on terror is their war, whether they want to deny it or not.

Smaller-Scale Terrorism Plots Pose New and Worrisome Threats, Officials Say

Photo: Al-Qaeda sleeper agent Ali al-Marri. Photo AFP

From New York Times:

WASHINGTON — After disrupting two recent terrorism plots, American intelligence officials are increasingly concerned that extremist groups in Pakistan linked to Al Qaeda are planning smaller operations in the United States that are harder to detect but more likely to succeed than the spectacular attacks they once emphasized, senior counterterrorism officials say.

The two cases — one involving two Chicago men accused this week of planning an attack on a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the prophet Mohammad, the other a 24-year-old Denver shuttle bus driver indicted in a plot to use improvised explosives — are among the most serious in years, the officials said.

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My Comment: All that you would need is a small cell of a few terrorists (3-5 men), experts in explosives, a small but not significant amount of cash (a few hundred thousand dollars), and the willingness to explode a car bomb in an American city every few days.

Such a terrorism strike will paralyze America's major cities, and produce a media circus that will preempt all other news and government priorities .... in short .... it will paralyze the country.

Thank God our police forces and intelligence agencies have been successful in stopping the more determined members of these groups .... but the fear is real .... and the realization that it will only be a matter of time before such a terror action does occur on U.S. soil can only give us cold comfort that for the moment we are only playing for time.

Robert Mugabe Is Still The 'Real Power': UN Investigator

From The Australian:

THE UN torture investigator has warned that Zimbabwe's fragile coalition government could collapse, saying his expulsion from the nation showed that President Robert Mugabe and his party continued to hold "the real power".

Manfred Nowak, who was detained on Thursday when he arrived in Harare, blamed Mugabe for blocking his entry and said there was evidence that torture was once again being used to stifle dissent.

He said he would recommend that the UN Human Rights Council should take action against Zimbabwe.

Read more ....

More News On Zimbabwe

SADC Summit to Discuss Zimbabwe Crisis -- Voice of America
Zimbabwe: Mugabe takes sharp dig at Tsvangirai -- AP
Zimbabwe PM 'dishonest': Mugabe -- AFP
Mugabe criticises MDC boycott -- Al Jazeera
SADC troika to hold heads of state summit on Zimbabwe -- China View
Southern African Regional Grouping Steps Up Intervention in Zimbabwe Crisis -- Voice of America

The Missiles Of October -- A Commentary

FILE PHOTO 40th Anniversary Of Cuban Missile Crisis
WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 1962: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) (FILE PHOTO) A spy photo of a medium range ballistic missile base in San Cristobal, Cuba, with labels detailing various parts of the base, is shown October 1962. Former Russian and U.S. officials attending a conference commemorating the 40th anniversary of the missile crisis October 2002 in Cuba said that the world was closer to a nuclear conflict during the 1962 standoff between Cuba and the U.S., than governments were aware of. Photo: Getty Images. Oct 14, 2002

From Wall Street Journal:

The next hemispheric crisis could involve Venezuela and Iran.

In the summer of 1962, the leader of the great Soviet empire, Nikita Khrushchev, faced a serious problem. His huge intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) didn't work. Their launchers were unreliable, their aim was off and the fuel used to rocket them skyward was so volatile that they had to be stored empty. In case of an attack, they would first have to be tanked up before being fired. The Soviet premier understood that since his ICBMs were a crucial part of his nuclear balance with the U.S., this put him at a major disadvantage.

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My Comment: I never knew that the NIE had made an assessment that there were no Russian missiles in Cuba in 1962. Talk about being wrong.

This commentary is a sober assessment of the past, and .... a hint that we may be repeating it again in our near future.

Former Leaders Meet To Commemorate The Fall of The Berlin Wall 20 Years Ago

Bush, Gorbachev, Kohl Mark Berlin Wall's Fall -- Yahoo News/Reuters

BERLIN (Reuters) – George Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev and Helmut Kohl paid their respects to the ordinary people who were behind the peaceful revolution of 1989 that brought down the Berlin Wall at an emotional ceremony in Berlin on Saturday.

The three statesmen from the United States, Soviet Union and West Germany -- whose steady-handed leadership paved the way for the Wall's opening on November 9, 1989 -- recalled the heady events that led to the end of the Cold War at a ceremony attended by 1,800 people.

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More News On The 20th Anniversary On The Fall Of The Berlin Wall

Kohl, Bush, Gorbachev remember Cold War in Berlin -- AFP
Leaders recall Berlin Wall's fall -- BBC
Berlin Wall Commemoration Ceremony Unites Bush, Kohl, Gorbachev -- Bloomberg
Statesmen meet in Berlin for reunification event -- AP
George Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev and Helmut Kohl in Germany to mark fall of Berlin Wall -- The Telegraph
Gorbachev, Bush and Kohl revisit Berlin, remember the fall of the Wall -- Deutsche Welle
How Poland and Hungary Led the Way in 1989 -- Spiegel Online
Berlin Wall road trip: Map -- BBC

My Comment: Special mention should also be made to former British PM Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, and .... of course .... President Reagan.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Refuses To Resume Talks With Israel

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) stands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting in Abu Dhabi October 31, 2009, in this picture released by the Palestinian Press Office (PPO). REUTERS/Thaer Ganaim/PPO/Handout

Clinton Meets Abbas And Israel to Push Peace Talks -- Yahoo News/Reuters

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failed on Saturday to persuade Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to resume talks with Israel, a spokesman for Abbas said, citing Jewish settlements as a stumbling block.

Clinton, ramping up efforts by U.S. President Barack Obama to revive negotiations suspended since December, flew to Israel after seeing Abbas in Abu Dhabi. After meetings in Jerusalem with officials, she was due to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later in the evening.

"There was no breakthrough in the talks," Abbas's spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah told Reuters by telephone from Abu Dhabi.

Read more ....

More On Secretary of State Clinton's Middle East Peace Initiative

Clinton makes personal bid to resume Mideast talks -- AP
Palestinians Rebuff Clinton Peace Overture -- Wall Street Journal/AP
Clinton meets with Netanyahu in Jerusalem -- Haaretz
Huge Gaps Ahead as Clinton Pushes for Resumption of Israeli-Palestinian Talks -- Voice of America
“Nothing new” says Abbas after meeting Clinton -- Euronews
Abbas refuses to resume peace talks -- Al Jazeera

My Comment: From the Palestinian point of view, these talks were a complete waste of time.

U.S. Combat Injuries Rise Sharply In Afghanistan

U.S. Marines conduct a security patrol in the Nawa District in the Helmand province, Afghanistan, Oct. 20, 2009. The Marines are assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Artur Shvartsberg

U.S. Combat Injuries Rise Sharply -- Washington Post

Three-month total in Afghanistan surpasses 1,000

More than 1,000 American troops have been wounded in battle over the past three months in Afghanistan, accounting for one-fourth of those injured in combat since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

The dramatic increase in amputees and other seriously injured service members comes as October marks the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Read more ....

My Comment: Everyone is predicting this total to be many magnitudes higher next year. While this war has been ongoing for the past 8 years, the heavy fighting has not even started yet. My prediction, after the opium crop is harvested and processed next year, expect the heavy fighting and casualties to start in May and progress and throughout the summer months.

More Iraqis Trying To Move Beyond Sectarian Divide

U.S. Army paratroopers train in small-unit tactics at night on Camp Ramadi, Iraq, Oct. 26, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michael J. MacLeod

From The L.A. Times:

After years of relative calm, many voters are keen to put divisions behind them. Political leaders oblige with several Sunni-Shiite blocs. But in north Iraq, Kurd-Arab tensions will test such efforts.

Reporting from Baghdad - On the podium of a sweltering hotel ballroom recently, Sunni tribal leader Ahmed abu Risha stood alongside Interior Minister Jawad Bolani, a Shiite. Next to Bolani was a prominent Sunni religious leader, who stood beside a well-known Shiite human rights campaigner.

So it went, as Sunni and Shiite Muslims lined up together to announce the birth of a new political movement, the Iraqi Unity Alliance, which will run in elections planned for January on a platform of, yes, unity.

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My Comment: After many years of war, people are looking for peace. This is probably the first step of many in Iraq's political evolution to something more stable.

Iran Rejects UN-Drafted Uranium Plan

A technician pictured at the control room of the
Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facilities in 2007. Photo AFP

Iran's Nuclear Response Creates a Quandary for Obama -- Time Magazine

If the Obama Administration had hoped to get the bulk of Iran's current stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country under a new agreement for reprocessing abroad, those hopes are fading fast. The counter-proposal offered by Iran on Thursday contained such substantive revisions that Western officials are interpreting it as a rejection — at least of the aspect of the deal most important to the Western powers. More worrisome, perhaps, for the future of President Obama's engagement strategy may be the fact that although the deal contained some important concessions to Tehran, the possibility that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad might embrace it sparked a storm of criticism from across the Iranian political spectrum.

Read more ...

More News On Iran's Nuclear Program

Iranian Lawmakers Reject Nuclear Deal -- Voice of America
Iran lawmakers reject UN-drafted uranium plan -- AP
Iran Tells U.N. It Wants Nuclear Fuel First - Envoys -- New York Times
Iran seeks big changes to nuclear deal -- Financial Times
Iran insists on changes to nuclear deal -- L.A. Times
West still untrustworthy over Iran talks: Ahmadinejad -- AFP
Iran nuclear deal: why the haggling might be different this time -- Christian science Monitor
Iran Backtracks on Nuclear Deal, What Next? -- The Atlantic
Iran’s Brazen Gambit in the Nuclear Chess Game -- Heritage Foundation

Afghanistan War News Updates -- October 31, 2009

Much to ponder: President Obama at the White House this week Photo: Reuters

Obama Asks Military For More Afghan Options: Report -- AFP

WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama has asked the Pentagon for more options on troop levels in Afghanistan including sending less than the roughly 40,000 new soldiers requested, The Washington Post said Saturday.

Citing two unnamed US officials, the newspaper said the request came at Obama's meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the White House on Friday.

Read more ....

More News On Afghanistan

Obama Meets Joint Chiefs to Review Afghanistan Strategy -- New York Times
Obama asks military for options -- L.A. Times
Obama meets with military top brass -- Brisbane Times
Obama Seeking Options on Forces -- Washington Post.
President looking for new troop options -- MSNBC

Killed British officer warned of shortage -- BBC
Commander issued helicopter warning weeks before Afghanistan death -- The Guardian
Highest-ranked Army officer to die in Afghanistan foresaw dangers that killed him -- The Telegraph

Army commander: Afghan training crucial to success -- AP
SKorea planning troop deployment to Afghanistan -- Yahoo News/AP
Korea confirms troops are going to Afghanistan -- Joong Ang Daily
Taliban leader rejects U.S. attempts to lure away fighters with money -- CNN
John Burns on Ahmed Wali Karzai and the C.I.A. -- New York Times
UN guard killed in Afghanistan hailed as hero -- AP
Another Canadian soldier at start of Afghanistan tour killed -- National Post
Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan -- CBC

Karzai team in crisis talks to avert vote boycott -- CNN
Afghan challenger won't participate in runoff if his conditions aren't met -- L.A. Times
Sources: Abdullah to pull out of Afghan runoff -- Yahoo News/AP
Abdullah 'may quit Afghan poll' -- BBC
Abdullah poised to boycott Afghan run-off -- Yahoo News/AFP
Fraud surrounds women voters in Afghan election -- Yahoo News/AP

Commentaries And Analysis

Obama: Seeing bodies of fallen returned to U.S. will affect his Afghanistan decision -- Dallas News/AP
Bush says Afghan war must be won to stop 'tyranny' -- Yahoo News/AFP
Walkom: Afghanistan sacrifices may have been in vain -- Thomas Walkom
U.S. debates Afghanistan in public way -- Lisa Van Dusen, LFP Press
Zakaria: U.S. needs to test McChrystal request -- Fareed Zakaria
The Tenacity Question -- David Brooks, New York Times

World News Briefs -- October 31, 2009

President Barack Obama meets on Afghanistan with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the White House Situation Room on Friday, Oct. 30, 2009. (Pete Souza / White House Photo)

Obama Asks Military For Options On Afghanistan -- L.A. Times

The president meets with the Joint Chiefs about troop levels in Afghanistan and the state of their branches.

Washington - President Obama has asked the Pentagon's top generals to provide him with more options for troop levels in Afghanistan, two U.S. officials said late Friday, with one adding that some of the alternatives would allow Obama to send fewer new troops than the 40,000 reportedly requested by his top commander.

Read more ....


Iran lawmakers reject UN-drafted uranium plan.

Clinton continues push for Mideast peace.

Powerful Islamic movement sees leadership struggle.

More Iraqis trying to move beyond sectarian divide.


Sources: Abdullah to pull out of Afghan runoff.

Karachi security intensified following terror threats.

Fourth typhoon in month hits Philippines.

Myanmar's Suu Kyi supports US policy of engagement.


China, eager for oil, expands investment in Nigeria and Guinea.

Zimbabwe PM 'dishonest': Mugabe.

Somali pirates move British couple ashore.


Merkel and Sarkozy unite to end Blair's European dream.

War crimes arrest awaiting Olmert's UK visit.

EU paving the way for 'European empire'.

Jacques Chirac ordered to stand trial.


Pact to restore ousted Honduran leader in Congress.

Mexican farm leader killed with 14 others on ranch.

North Atlantic Hurricane Season slowest since 1997.

US and Colombia sign accord for US to access military bases.


Pakistanis to Clinton: War on terror is not our war.

Admitted Qaeda agent receives prison sentence.

H1N1 vaccinations to be offered to Guantanamo Bay detainees.


Obama cites good signs on economy.

U.S. Federal regulators close 9 banks, mostly in West.

‘Jobs Created or Saved’ is White House fantasy.

Ridding Germany of U.S. Nuclear Weapons

Büchel Airbase, site of 20 U.S. Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Germany

From New York Times:

BERLIN — Tucked away in one of Germany’s finest wine regions close to the border with Luxembourg is the Büchel Air Base. Its perimeter is heavily guarded by the German Luftwaffe, or air force. And no wonder. Up to 20 nuclear weapons are stored in underground vaults, all in the custody of the 702nd Munitions Support Squadron, a U.S. Air Force unit, according to security experts.

No U.S., NATO or German Defense Ministry official will confirm or deny the existence of these weapons — at least not on the record — even though President Barack Obama has pledged to reduce and even rid the world of nuclear arms. “This issue is highly classified information,” said a U.S. diplomat. “We simply do not discuss it. You can ask questions and raise hypothetical scenarios, but I will circumvent them.”

Read more ....

My Comment: I still expect these weapon systems to be gone in the future. Not now .... but in a year or two expect an announcement outlining an agreement in which there will be a draw down of these nuclear weapons stretched over a few years.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- October 31, 2009

Marine, Coast Guard Aircraft Collide Off San Clemente Island -- Sign On San Diego

SAN DIEGO — A Coast Guard transport plane and a Camp Pendleton helicopter collided Thursday night about 15 miles east of San Clemente Island, federal aviation and military officials said.

Seven people were believed to be aboard a Coast Guard C-130, and two were in the AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter, authorities said.

Read more ....


Russian tactical missile self-destructs during live-fire drills -- RIA Novosti

Iraq: US military contractor burns recyclables, violating contract -- Christian Science Monitor

PEO Soldier Unveils New Equipment --

Germany says NATO exonerates it on Afghan airstrike -- Reuters

4 remotely piloted vehicle squadrons stand up at Holloman -- U.S. Air Force

Admiral: Complacency Caused U.S. Sub Collision -- Defense News

Lockheed gets $474.2 mln F-22 fighter contract -- Reuters

DHS To Announce Cyber Merger -- DoD Buzz

Australian Bill for new submarines tops $36 billion -- Daily Telegraph

Navy to commission warship in Seal Beach -- Seal Beach Daily

Army To Launch Technology Blog


ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The Army is launching a new blog to help Soldiers and the public discover a little-known side of the Army: the research, development, engineering, testing and evaluation that goes into the technologies that make Soldiers safer and more effective.

The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command will launch Army Technology Live Nov. 2. It will join the growing family of Army blogs hosted by the Department of Defense's DODLive blog hosting service. The Web address will be

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My Comment: I guess DARPA is not the only game in town.

The Growing Development And Use Of UUVs

The Talisman UUV (Photo from War Is Boring)

Big Robots Operate In The Shadows -- Strategy Page

October 29, 2009: UUVs (unmanned underwater vehicles) have tended to look like torpedoes, if only because that makes it possible to launch them from the torpedo tube of a submerged submarine. But there are some interesting exception. One is the Theseus. Built in the 1990s for the U.S. and Canadian navies, to lay cable under the arctic ice, it is 50 inches (1.27 meter) in diameter, 11 meters long and weighs about nine tons. The Thesus can be out and about for over 60 hours on one mission. Much of its military use is classified, but it, and similar, "large UUVs" are apparently very popular for espionage operations.

Read more ....

My Comment: It appears that the development of unmanned vehicles is not all in the air .... a good portion of it is happening underwater.

New Unmanned Chopper Sniffs Out Improvised Explosives While Looking Adorable

Helipanda This little fella likes flying through rainbows and sniffing for bombs Scheibel

From Popular Science:

The Pentagon is testing an unmanned helicopter that can detect electromagnetic emissions from IEDs. Codename: HELIPANDA (we wish)

Roadside bombs have long represented the greatest killer of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there's hope beyond the sturdy little demolition bots that already work with their human handlers. The Pentagon now has two aerial drones on the testing docket as possible countermeasures for improvised explosive devices (IEDs)--one of which we're calling 'Helipanda' for the remainder of this post.

Read more ....

My Comment: Another example on the growth of the uav helicopter drone revolution.

Going Green Is Becoming Costly For Some U.S. Military Bases

Energy-Savings Project Leaves Army In The Cold -- L.A. Times

It projects millions of dollars in losses from a private-contract job to upgrade a steam power plant in Alaska. The case highlights flaws in the government's energy contracts program.

Reporting from Ft. Richardson, Alaska - Under a federal program to transform government facilities into models of energy efficiency, Honeywell International Inc. came calling on Army commanders here with a deal to replace the base's decades-old steam power plant.

The company proposed installing millions of dollars in new heating equipment and hooking the base to the local power grid -- all free in exchange for the company getting the bulk of future energy savings.

Read more ....

My Comment: Waste in a military contract .... I am shocked .... completely shocked!

Also Moving From Iraq To Afghanistan: Blood Platelets

Photo: A medevac crew cares for an injured soldier in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Patrick Barth / Corbis

From Time Magazine:

President Obama will meet with the Joint Chiefs of Staff Friday to debate the wisdom of sending up to 40,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. The meeting comes as the deadliest month for U.S. troops in eight years of war draws to a close — a spike in casualties that has already triggered a flow of precious reinforcements. The U.S. military has begun for the first time transferring from Iraq to Afghanistan pint-sized bags of platelets — the key blood component that encourages clotting and can prevent wounded soldiers from bleeding to death.

Read more ....

My Comment: Professionals in the medical field are always calculating and projecting what would be the medical needs for certain zones and time periods. From the sound of it, these professionals are calculating that casualties in Afghanistan are going to be on the increase .... and soon.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Slow Death Of Colombia's FARC Guerrilla Movement

Why Colombia's Leftist Guerrillas Are Defecting -- Time Magazine

At a ramshackle radio station nestled in former guerrilla territory, a Colombian soldier-DJ dedicates a country-and-western-style ballad to all the rebels out there having second thoughts about la revolución. In the song, a former guerrilla touts the benefits of disarming. "My life has changed," he declares. "Now I've got a girlfriend. I'm with my family. I give thanks to God."

The message-laden music is part of an army propaganda blitz that includes radio spots, billboards and leaflets dropped by helicopter. Guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — the nation's largest rebel group, known as the FARC — are told that by turning themselves in, their sins will be forgiven and they can start anew. The campaign is one of the pillars of a broader U.S.-backed military offensive that has driven the FARC out of the most important areas of Colombia and cut the size of the rebel army in half.

Read more ....

My Comment:
In the end, only the stupid or the most fanatical will be left within FARC. After decades of war and attrition, it appears that FARC is a few steps away from degenerating into disorganized groups of narco growers and suppliers .... a shell of its former self.

Afghan Election Talks Break Down

Abdullah Abdullah Presidential candidate discussing second round
run-off in his home in Kabul. Photo: Dadid Gill

From CNN:

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Talks between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his election opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, have broken down, a Western source close to the Afghan leadership told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Friday.

According to the source, Abdullah will likely announce this weekend that he will boycott the runoff presidential election slated for November 7, a runoff that had been scheduled after intense diplomatic arm twisting by the United States.

Read more ....

More News On The Breakdown Of Election Talks

Abdullah may pull out of Afghan runoff -- AP
Afghan Runoff Hits Rocks; Challenger May Boycott -- NPR
Rumours grow that Abdullah will quit election -- The Independent
Karzai opponent set to boycott presidential election re-run -- Times Online
Abdullah Abdullah considers pulling out of Afghan election -- The Telegraph
Afghanistan’s Election Runoff: Disaster in the Making? -- The Danger Room

Former VP Cheney: CIA's Mission With Joe Wilson Was

Dick Cheney: Joe Wilson's mission was 'Amateur Hour out at the CIA' -- The Politico

Vice President Dick Cheney told federal prosecutors that he had “no idea” who leaked CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity to a newspaper columnist in 2003 – the episode that touched off the CIA leak scandal that brought down Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Cheney’s exact role in the leak probe has long been a subject of speculation – and his May 8, 2004, interview with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald does little to clear up the question, since Cheney expressed a lack of recollection about several key issues. In at least one instance, Cheney flatly refused to answer a question about what he had told President George W. Bush.

Read more

My Comment: When I first learned about the Joe Wilson affair, details were scarce but I felt even at that time it was a poorly planned mission. Former ambassador Joe Wilson may have had contacts in the Niger Government, but he was not is a position to know if yellow cake was being exported out of the country or not. His information was coming from people who may have told him the truth .... or lief to him .... without him knowing exactly if the information he was being given was reliable.

On this issue the former Vice President is right .... this is another episode in which the CIA was being amateurish.

However, the media is missing the big picture. If Vice President Cheney strongly felt that the CIA was being amateurish at the time, what did he do to correct the situation. Did he advocate changes? Did he initiate oversight? Were people fired? I have a hundred and one questions .... but no one is asking them.

President Obama's Afghan Strategy -- News Updates October 30, 2009

Obama Meets Joint Chiefs to Review Afghanistan Strategy -- New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Obama met Friday with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to discuss the way ahead in Afghanistan — in particular how sending more forces might affect the health of the military, already strained by eight years of war.

Administration and military officials said the top officers from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force briefed the president on the long-term consequences for personnel and equipment under various options being considered.

Read more ....

More News On President Obama's Afghan Strategy

Obama gets fresh sense of state of armed services -- AP
Obama's choice between more lives lost and the peril of al-Qaeda -- Irish Times
U.S. Troops to Afghanistan: A Waiting Game -- CBS
Don't rush the Afghan debate -- Christian Science Monitor opinion
FACTBOX: How Obama's Afghan strategy is shaping up -- Reuters

U.S. Intelligence Spending Is $49.8 Billion

United States Intelligence Community Seal

The Intelligence Budget, Revisited -- Washington Independent

Last month, on a conference call with reporters, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair stated that the total budget for U.S. intelligence activities — an unsurprisingly murky total; and until recently a classified one — is $75 billion. As I later clarified, Blair meant the total for both military and non-military intelligence activities — as in the past two years since a congressional change mandating disclosure — only the so-called National Intelligence Program budget has been revealed, a figure that has hovered around $45 billion. And that meant that, per Blair’s disclosure in the conference call, the still-well-hidden (if not actually classified) Military Intelligence Program budget is around $30 billion. But aides to Blair stressed that we wouldn’t know the real National Intelligence Program budget until October, when the congressionally mandated unveiling would occur.

Well, today is the day! From Blair’s office:

Read more ....

More News On U.S. Intelligence Spending

US spy agencies' spending rises to $49.8 billion -- AP
$50 billion for intelligence -- Best Defense/Foreign Policy
2009 intelligence budget: Almost $50 billion -- Federal Times
U.S. nonmilitary intelligence budget totals nearly $50 bln in 2009 -- China View
DoD Releases Military Intel Program Budget Docs -- Secrecy News

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

Iran nuclear power center. (Photo from San Francisco Sentinel)

Tehran Rejects Nuclear Accord, Officials Report -- David E. Sanger, Steven Erlanger and Robert F. Worth, New York Times

WASHINGTON — Iran told the United Nations nuclear watchdog on Thursday that it would not accept a plan its negotiators agreed to last week to send its stockpile of uranium out of the country, according to diplomats in Europe and American officials briefed on Iran’s response.

The apparent rejection of the deal could unwind President Obama’s effort to buy time to resolve the nuclear standoff.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials

The Return of Israel's Existential Dread -- Yossi Klein Halevi, Wall Street Journal

Obama Should Reject Iran's Offer -- Meir Javedanfar, RealClearWorld

Hopes of restarting Middle East peace process look like a mirage -- Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph

Coming to Terms with Resurgent Taliban -- C.R. Gharekhan, The Hindu

Afghanistan Needs More Troops -- David Ignatius, Real Clear World/Washington Post

What we can achieve in Afghanistan -- Robert Zoellick, Washington Post

Waiting for Obama to Get Down to War -- Greg Sheridan, Real Clear World/The Australian

Muddled Thinking on Afghanistan -- Washington Times editorial

Many What-ifs In Pakistan -- Gautam Adhikari, Times of India

Why Colombia's Leftist Guerrillas Are Defecting -- John Otis, Time

Shortages eroding Hugo Chávez's support
-- Phil Gunson, Miami Herald

Humiliating Japan -- Gordon Chang, Forbes

World News Briefs -- October 30, 2009

Honduras' ousted President Manuel Zelaya speaks during a meeting inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa October 28, 2009. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Honduran Rivals Clinch Deal To End Crisis -- Yahoo News/Reuters

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – Honduras is on the verge of ending a four-month political crisis after rival camps cut a deal that could return ousted President Manuel Zelaya to power and earn international support for a November 29 election.

Buckling under pressure from U.S. diplomats, negotiators for Zelaya, toppled in a June 28 coup, and the de facto leader Roberto Micheletti who replaced him, agreed to put an end to Central America's worst political turmoil in two decades.

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Iran rejects deal to ship out uranium, officials report. Iran reply on nuclear deal called 'inadequate'.

Iraq makes sweeping arrests over Baghdad blasts. Iraq arrests 61 officials in fatal blasts.

Clinton to meet Abbas in Abu Dhabi.

US envoy launches another attempt at Mideast peace.

Qaida-linked group claims rocket attack on Israel.

Israel marks 14 years since Rabin assassination.

Hajj pilgrims may be told to take swine flu vaccine.


SKorea planning troop deployment to Afghanistan.

China invites Kim Jong Il to visit.

Fourth storm lashes Philippines.

Karzai opponent set to boycott presidential election re-run.

UN to boost Afghan security after Kabul attack.

Clinton faces Pakistani anger at Predator attacks.

India must put house in order: PM Singh.


Dozens of policemen killed in ethnic clashes in Congo.

Guinea's Military Government arrests opponents. What else is happening in Guinea?

Southern African states to hold Zimbabwe summit.

Zimbabwe officials deport UN investigator invited by Government.

Pirates to move British victims to hostage 'prison ship'. Pirates want $7 million ransom for UK couple.


In Russia, an intensifying insurgency. Russia to quadruple troops stationed in the North Caucasus.

Jacques Chirac faces corruption trial over 'ghost' jobs.

EU sets 100 billion euro climate summit goal.

EU grants Czech Republic Lisbon treaty concession.

Tony Blair's bid for EU presidency sinks.


Colombia and the US sign military pact to fight cocaine trade.

US wins praise and some questions for Honduras role.

Strikes hit schools, hospitals, subways in Argentina's capital.

Caracas residents preparing for water rationing.

In Nicaragua, Sandinista mob attacks U.S. Embassy.

Haitian prime minister fired by Senate.


Judge credits time served in sentencing al-Qaeda aide.

Pakistan Army picks up trail of al-Qaeda operative wanted for 9/11.

FBI: Radical Islamist group ruled by inmate in "Supermax" jail.


Gov't says stimulus saved or created 650,000 jobs.

Eurozone jobless worst since 1999.

US STOCKS-Wall St tumbles on recovery jitters, financials.

To Keep One U.S. Soldier In Afghanistan Costs $500,000 Per Year. For One Taliban Soldier It Costs $2,600

Taliban militants appear at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan
Reuters / Corbis

Adding Afghanistan Troops Could Cost $500,000 Per Person -- CNN

Washington (CNN) -- If President Obama decides to send the 40,000 additional forces to Afghanistan as requested by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a rough estimate by the Pentagon projects the cost could be an additional $20 billion a year, according to a senior Pentagon official.

The official said the Defense Department comptrollers office has told Congress that based on rough estimates, the total cost of keeping an individual service member in the war zone is now about $500,000 a year.

Read more ....

My Comment: My estimate for the cost of one Taliban soldier comes from total revenues collected by the Taliban ($400 million per year as estimated from the New York Times), and the number of Taliban soldiers in the field (15,000 soldiers as estimated from Time Magazine).

Therefore .... $400 million divided by 15,000 equals $2,666.

Hmmmmm .....

$500,000 for one U.S. Soldier.
$2,600 for one Taliban soldier. (And I am sure that most of the Taliban's money goes into weapons and ammo).

Wow ....

UAV Drone Swarms Are Now Being Tested

NAVAIR And Augusta Demo Operations Of Multiple Swarms Of UAVs And Sensors -- Space War

The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) recently demonstrated autonomous operations by multiple "swarms" of unmanned air and ground vehicles, unattended ground sensors, video cameras and other devices linked together in an intelligent network powered by EdgeFrontier platform technologies from Augusta Systems, Inc.

The demonstrations were held at a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) facility on Wallops Island, Va.

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Update: This is the future of UAVs, and we are getting the first glimpse of their potential right now.

US, Colombia Sign Pact To Expand US Use Of Bases

Colombia And US Sign Controversial Military Pact -- Colombia Reports

Colombia and the United States on Friday signed a military pact that allows the U.S. to use seven military bases in the Andean country. The treaty will now be sent to U.S. Congress for ratification. Colombia's Congress will not have the possibility to ammend the pact.

The pact is controversial as neighboring countries like Venezuela and Ecuador consider an increase of U.S. military influence in the reion a threat to their countries' sovereignty.

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More News On The Signing Of The U.S. - Colombian Base Agreement

US, Colombia sign pact to expand US use of bases -- AP
Colombia grants US access to military bases -- AFP
Colombia and US sign bases deal -- BBC
Colombia agrees deal to step up US military presence -- The Guardian
U.S., Colombia Sign Military Bases Agreement -- TRR News
Colombia Signs Accord With U.S. for Military Bases -- Bloomberg

According To The Russians, We Are Repeating History In Afghanistan

A scene from the Red Army's withdrawal from Afghanistan through the Uzbek town of Termez.
Photo from Radio Free Europe

Déjà Vu From The Soviet Archives -- Small Wars Journal

Yesterday, Dave cited this op-ed from the New York Times written by a historian who chronicled the collapse of the Soviet Union. He opened with this excerpt:

THE highly decorated general sat opposite his commander in chief and explained the problems his army faced fighting in the hills around Kabul: “There is no piece of land in Afghanistan that has not been occupied by one of our soldiers at some time or another,” he said. “Nevertheless much of the territory stays in the hands of the terrorists. We control the provincial centers, but we cannot maintain political control over the territory we seize.

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Previous Post: What The West Can Learn From The Soviet Experience In Afghanistan

My Comment: A timely commentary from the Small Wars Journal.