U.S. Costs Of Iraq, Afghan Wars Top $900 Billion: Report
(NSI News Source Info) December 19, 2008: Recently, a U.S. think tank announced that U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere had, since September 11, 2001, cost $904 billion. That seems like a lot, and it is. But it's not a lot like it used to be.
For example, World War II cost, at the time (in current dollars) over four trillion dollars. That amounted to over a third of U.S. GDP. The current war on terror is costing about one percent of GDP. So while war may appear to be getting more expensive, relative to the amount of money available, it's actually getting cheaper.
The initial cost of World War II, and most wars that came after it, will eventually double because of the cost of taking care of the veterans. There were over a million casualties in World War II, many of them serious, with long range effects. The long range health problems were not anticipated, nor were the more expensive treatments. You have to pay. The vets are owned a debt that cannot be avoided.
As a percentage of GDP, military spending continues a decline that has been going on since the 1960s (when, because of the $686 billion cost of the Vietnam war, defense spending was 10.7 percent of GDP). That went down to 5.9 percent of GDP in the 1970s and, despite a much heralded defense buildup in the 1980s, still declined in the 1980s (to 5.8 percent.) With the end of the Cold War, spending dropped sharply again in the 1990s, to 4.1 percent.
For the first decade of the 21st century, defense spending is expected to average 3.4 percent of GDP. Most of the current defense budget is being spent on personnel (payroll and benefits), and buying new equipment to replace the Cold War era stuff that is wearing out and to pay for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This trend is all because of the industrial revolution of the 19th century, which created a lot more money, much of which nations promptly squandered on wars they could not have afforded earlier.
The American Revolution, for example, cost the United States less than $2 billion. The main reason for the low cost, compared to later wars, was that there simply was not a lot of wealth (money or goods) to scrounge up for the war.
The United States has always been enthusiastic about spending enormous amounts on weapons, ammunition, supplies and equipment for the troops, with the idea of keeping U.S. casualties down while still winning the war. Thus during World War II, U.S. combat deaths were 300,000 (plus 100,000 non-combat dead). The Soviet Union, on the other end of this scale, lost 10.7 million dead in combat (including 4.4 million captured and missing), and nearly 20 million civilians killed as well. Of all the major combatants in World War II, the U.S. had the lowest casualty rate (about 2 percent). Russia lost about 15 percent of its entire population during the war.
The U.S. kept its losses down partly because of the amount of money spent per person in the military (over $250,000). The current casualty rate is a third of what it was during World War II, and the amount spent per person has more than tripled (exact comparison is tricky, as all military expenses were counted during World War II, while the current war is being fought with only a small portion of American military might, and the navy and air force continue to take care of many non-war-on-terror responsibilities.) While the dollar cost of war is good for a hot headline on a slow news day, the fact that the money saved lots of American lives, never seems to make it to the front page.
All dollar figures mentioned above are in terms of 2008 (inflation adjusted) dollars.
Afghanistan: Too Much In-house Qualms And No Set Agenda / NO ONE Knows How To Deal With Afghanistan
(NSI News Source Info) December 19, 2008: A lot of the fighting in Afghanistan isn't about religion or "expelling the foreigners." No, it's usually about money, power and tribal politics. The current Afghan government is having the same problems "running the country" that the Taliban did. These were the same problems the loose coalition that defeated the communist government in the early 1990s had.These were the same problems that the monarchy had for over a century, even though the kings were usually well aware of what they were dealing with (a loose coalition of tribes and ethnic groups that don't really get along, but really can't afford to be at war for a long time.) Afghanistan has always been a poor country.
Banditry can be sustained indefinitely, especially now that the foreign troops and NGOs are here, with all manner of things to steal. Afghans don't consider it theft if you take something you need (or, let's face it, just want) from someone outside your tribe. That's just taking care of your own. And therein lies the problem.
There is no Afghanistan, just a patchwork of tribes and tribal alliances. Within the larger tribes there are often nasty rivalries between large clans. Then there are the newly rich drug gangs, which are tribe based, and have changed the power relationships among some of the tribes.
The "Taliban" (religiously conservative, and violent, factions) are on a mission from God to impose strict lifestyle rules, and turn the country into a religious dictatorship.
The Taliban were unable to do that by the end of 2001, and are less likely to do it in the future. But fueled by a share of the drug profits and the proceeds of other criminal enterprises (especially extortion and kidnapping) they can still entice poor, but adventurous, country boys to come along and raise some hell. And usually get killed by smart bombs the star struck kids cannot comprehend.
Meanwhile, more and more of the tribes are getting a clue and making peace with the central government. While the national rulers tend to be thieves, they are also willing to share the loot. That's another ancient Afghan custom, and U.S. and NATO commanders are willing to play along in order to prevent the country from slipping back into anarchy (real anarchy, not the Taliban terrorism that passes for it these days) and once more becomes a terrorist haven. The foreign generals believe it will take another year or two of smart bomb magic to kill enough thrill seeking tribesmen, to get all the tribes on board.
The math is simple; the foreign troops can kill Afghans much better than the other way around. Even the most pro-Taliban tribes eventually come to realize that, and live with it. The country will not be peaceful at that point. There will still be the drug gangs and bandits (groups of armed tribesmen out of steal or settle some feud).
But that's been going on for thousands of years, and won't change until the national police get themselves pulled together. That will take another generation or two. For most Afghans, "police" is an alien concept, and the corruption of most of the cops in service has been really bad public relations.
U.S. and NATO commanders are fed up with the "protection" scam being run them on the supply route from Peshawar, in the Pakistani tribal territories, to Kabul. The road runs through the 50 kilometer long Khyber pass, and that is but one part of a 500 kilometers trip over generally bad roads. The tribes that live along the road expect to be paid, as do the criminal gangs near the dozen truck staging areas (where shipping container are loaded). Some 50,000 of those containers a year carry U.S. and NATO military supplies.
That's about half the traffic, which has increased greatly since the Taliban were tossed out of power in late 2001. Getting each container from the Pakistani port of Karachi to Kabul costs several thousands of dollars in fees, bribes and wages to Pakistanis, Afghans and assorted greedy officials and tribesmen along the way. Some tribal leaders say they are only interested in keeping the trucks from bringing alcohol and pornography into Afghanistan, but the bottom line is how much cash gets into the pockets of some of the gunmen living along the route.
The Taliban continue to get slaughtered whenever they mass, and get spotted by foreign troops. It's the damn smart bombs, and the UAVs that always seem to show up at the wrong time for the tribal gunmen. In response, the Taliban have tried to use more suicide and roadside bombs. There were 264 of these encountered in October, and 315 in November. Most of these bombs are poorly constructed and deployed. They are spotted, or don't go off. It takes 40-50 roadside bombs to kill one foreign soldier. A dozen or more local civilians are killed instead, which makes the Taliban roadside bombing program very unpopular. Civilians often tip off police when they see bombs being planted. Recruiting suicide bombers is difficult. One recent suicide bomber was a thirteen year old boy, whose explosives killed himself and three British troops.
December 10, 2008: During a night operation to capture a Taliban leader in the southern province of Zabul, U.S. Army Special Forces operators chased their suspect to a compound. When the Taliban inside would not surrender, the Special Forces began moving in to capture or kill the enemy gunmen. Several hundred meters away there was an Afghan police unit manning a roadblock. The Afghan police knew that U.S. troops were after some Taliban that night, but did not know exactly where the action was. Then they saw some men firing at a compound, and decided the attackers were Taliban. So the police opened fire. The Special Forces troops, not knowing it was police firing at them, fired back, and soon called in a smart bomb, which killed six of the police and wounded 13. The Taliban got away while the Special Forces troops were discovering that their "attackers" were actually police, and tending to the wounded.
French Detail New Orders, Procurement Changes
(NSI News Source Info) December 19, 2008: The Délégation Generale pour l'Armement (DGA) ordered 116 véhicules blindés de combat d'infantrie (VBCI) armored personnel carriers for an unspecified amount Dec. 5, bringing the total number bought to 298 units, the procurement office said in a statement.
The 2009-14 military budget law cut total numbers of VBCI units to 630, giving an estimated value of 2.6 billion to 2.7 billion euros ($3.8 billion to $3.9 billion) for the development and production of the six-wheeled vehicles, based on the initial 700 units for just under three billion euros. Nexter Systems and Renault Trucks Defense build the VBCI.
The government has also authorized funding to bring forward orders for five Caracal EC725 utility helicopters, as part of an accelerated defense investment drive, defense ministry spokesman Laurent Teisseire said.
Defense officials said it was not yet known which service would receive the helicopters, which are built by Eurocopter. The company declined to give price details.
The special forces operate 10 Caracals, and the air force has four for search-and-rescue operations. Three Caracals are deployed in Afghanistan; the third arrived in October as part of efforts to boost equipment levels for French troops.
The Sperwer tactical drone from Safran's Sagem Defense & Security has been sent to Afghanistan and made its first operational flight Nov. 15, a defense official said.
As part of the accelerated investment, the government plans to order a third Mistral-class projection and command ship from 2009, advancing an order which had been expected in the military budget law which followed the present 2009-14 exercise. An unspecified number of Syracuse 3 telecommunications ground stations for the army and navy are expected to be bought, Teisseire said.
DGA also planned to buy heavily protected escort vehicles and munitions of different caliber. The government has also said orders of Tiger attack helicopters could be advanced.
In total, the defense ministry has brought forward 2.3 billion euros of spending from the military budget law, to inject into industry, as part of a wider 26 billion euro national reflation package. Of the defense investment, 1.43 billion will go into equipment, with smaller amounts earmarked for payment to small and medium-sized suppliers, research studies and maintenance of ministry buildings.
UAE to Buy Raytheon's Patriot Missiles
(NSI News Source Info) December 19, 2008: Raytheon has won an award of up to $3.3 billion to provide Patriot missiles and systems to the United Arab Emirates, the Tewksbury, Mass., company said Dec. 18.
The UAE becomes the 11th country outside the U.S. that has bought Raytheon's Patriot missile systems and services. The UAE contract is for advanced Patriot air and missile defense capability, whole life support and related training. Raytheon will provide the UAE with Patriot Config-3 capabilities, its most advanced Patriot system, and the Patriot GEM-T missiles. The Config-3 system allows the use of Lockheed's PAC-3 missiles, which Lockheed will provide to the UAE under a separate contract.
The PAC-3 is a kinetic energy weapon designed to directly strike the warhead in an enemy missile. The GEM-T missile explodes a warhead near its target, driving shrapnel into it.
The sale of the missiles to the UAE are Foreign Military Sales through the U.S. government. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems will carry out work for the UAE order at its Integrated Air Defense Center in Andover, Mass.
Raytheon provided the UAE with the medium-range Hawk Air Defense System in the 1980s, and the Patriot system will replace that system, according to Dan Smith, Raytheon IDS president.
"Now they've entrusted us with the next layer of their national defense, and we're very honored that our partnership is so strong that it allowed this to take place," he said.
Raytheon IDS is the prime contractor, both domestic and international, for the Patriot air and missile-defense weapon capability and the system integrator for the Config-3 system. It also provides Patriot systems or services to Germany, Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Taiwan, among other countries.
The U.S. Army is in the midst of upgrading all its Patriot Config-2 systems to Config-3 systems. That effort, called "pure fleet," may be influencing other countries to upgrade their systems.
"For those countries who have Patriot, they obviously have made their strategy a long time ago that commonality with the U.S. system was a good thing," Smith said. "So as the U.S. Army upgraded for technology, it's natural for the other nations to upgrade for technology as well," he said.
"What the Patriot nations are trying to do is get everything on a common baseline so that the lifecycle support costs and ownership costs become less because of commonality between all the different equipment."
BrahMos Launched Successfully
(NSI News Source Info) CHENNAI - December 19, 2008: Supersonic cruise missile BrahMos was successfully launched from a vertical launcher of a naval ship in the Bay of Bengal on Thursday.
The earlier launches of the missile from naval ships were in an inclined mode.
A press release from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) called the launch “a milestone” because most warships were now fitted with the vertical launcher. All mission objectives were met, it added.
The missile is developed jointly by India and Russia. It flies at more than three times the speed of sound (Mach 3) and has a range of 290 km.
The Navy and the Army have inducted the missile into their arsenal.
India Details Cost of MiG-29 Upgrade, Spyder SAM / Purchase of Spyder Quick-Reaction Anti-Aircraft Missile System
(NSI News Source Info) December 18, 2008: A contract for upgradation of MiG-29 aircraft was signed with M/s RAC-MiG, Russia, on March 07, 2008 on single vendor basis.
The contract for SPYDER Low Level Quick Reaction Missile system was signed with M/s RAFAEL, Israel, on Sep 01, 2008 after multi-vendor global tendering.
Transfer of Technology for series upgrade of MiG-29 aircraft and their Repair and Overhaul (ROH) is part of the upgrade contract. However, transfer of technology was not considered viable in case of Low Level Quick Reaction Missile system.
An expenditure of 964.082 million USD (approx Rs. 3875.61 crores) would be towards upgrade of MiG-29 aircraft, and USD 260,050,000 (approx Rs. 1137.71875 crores) for purchase of Low Level Quick Reaction Missile Systems.
This information was given by the Defence Minister Shri A K Antony in a written reply to Shri Vijay Jawaharlal Darda in Rajya Sabha today.
A400M’s Turboshaft Engine Flies on C-130 Test Bed / EPI TP400 Engine Takes Off
(NSI News Source Info) December 18, 2008: Largely blamed for the delays in the Airbus A400M program, the TP400 turboshaft has finally made its first flight on a C-130 flying test bed (inboard port position).
The TP400 power-plant developed for the A400M by EuroProp International (EPI) took to the air for the first time on 17th December 2008 on the Lockheed C-130K flight test-bed.
The TP400 is installed on the inner left engine mount of the C-130K which is otherwise powered by three of the usually four Allison T56 turbopropellers The aircraft took off at 10:44 local time from Cambridge airfield (UK) where Marshall Aerospace, which is conducting the flight test-bed trials, is based, and touched down at 11:59 local time.
The flight lasted one hour and 15 minutes. During the flight, various flight characteristics such as aircraft basic handling and TP400 response at a thrust equivalent to the maximum power generated by each of the other T56 engines were tested to satisfaction in several aircraft configurations up to a speed of 165kts and an altitude of 8,000ft. This was a first step in the aircraft envelope opening.
It will allow progress towards the completion of the approximately 50 flight test hours planned to reach sufficient maturity for the engine itself. Once this is achieved and sufficient maturity and satisfactory integration is also reached for the global propulsion system, it will be able to subsequently fly on the A400M. EPI, which comprises Rolls Royce, SNECMA, MTU and ITP, started testing the TP400 in October 2005.
More than 2,100 hours of ground testing have been performed with three engines on the ground test bench. To complete the trials, Marshall Aerospace was contracted by Airbus Military to perform the Flying Test Bed trials on a Lockheed C-130K. The aircraft was specifically modified to accept the new engine which develops about twice the power of the C-130K’s standard T56 engine.
"The successful completion of this first flight of the TP400 engine is a significant step in the A400M programme development", says Rafael Tentor, Head of the A400M programme.
"This and the subsequent flights will comfort us in the performance of the new engine itself, as well as its reliability, in a real flying environment. This objective also applies to the global propulsion system," he added.
EADS and Airbus Military are still in negotiation with their customers. The time schedule of the A400M is not yet determined. The EuroProp International (EPI) TP400 engine is a three shaft free turbine turbopropeller which drives an eight bladed five-metre-diameter propeller. Developing 11,000 SHp at take-off, it is the most powerful turboprop ever built in the western world.
It allows for the wide range of speeds and flight levels required, while reducing fuel burn and weight. Powered by four of these, the A400M can cruise at altitudes as high as 37,000 ft at speeds between Mach 0.68 and 0.72 while retaining the capability of flying at speeds as low as 110 kt at 5,000 ft.
The arrangement of the propellers, which turn in opposite directions inboard and outboard on each wing, allows a structural weight reduction, and improves, amongst other things, the lift at low speed. The A400M is an all new military airlifter designed to meet the needs of the world’s Armed Forces in the 21st Century.
Thanks to its most advanced technologies, this excellent aircraft will be able to fly higher, faster and further, while retaining high maneuverability, low speed, and short, soft and rough airfield capabilities. It combines both tactical and strategic/logistic missions.
With its cargo hold specifically designed to carry the outsize equipment needed today for both military and humanitarian disaster relief missions, it can bring this material quickly and directly to where it is most needed.
Conceived to be highly reliable, dependable, and with a great survivability, the multipurpose A400M can do more with less, implying smaller fleets and less investment from the operator. The A400M is the most cost efficient and versatile airlifter.
Dawood's Drug Net Financed 26/11: Russian Intelligence
(NSI News Source Info) Moscow - December 18, 2008: Russia believes that underworld don Dawood Ibrahim was directly involved in the Mumbai terror attacks and his network was used by the terrorists to carry out the multiple attacks.
Moscow, which has been sharing intelligence with New Delhi, further believes that Dawood's drug network, which runs through Afghanistan, was used to finance the terror attack.
Russia has gone public with its intelligence inputs, which point to the involvement of Dawood Ibrahim in the Mumbai terror attacks. Dawood is believed to be operating his vast network from Karachi.
Russia's federal anti narcotics service director said "The gathered inputs testify that regional drug baron Dawood Ibrahim had provided his logistics network for preparing and carrying out the Mumbai terror attacks," said Russia's federal anti narcotics service director.
He had further said that the Mumbai attacks were a 'burning example' of how the illegal drug trafficking network was used for carrying out terror activities.The Indian side, however, is keeping a tight lid on the involvement of Dawood Ibrahim, who is one of the criminals that India wants extradited from Pakistan.
As per earlier reports, Dawood's henchman, suspected to be a Colaba-based businessman, handed over arms and explosives to Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants for carrying out attacks in Mumbai, in what is emerging as the first major joint operation by the Karachi-based gangster and the banned outfit, official sources said in Mumbai.
Ajmal Amin, the only militant arrested during the operation, told interrogators that the dozen ultras who sailed from Karachi had come to Sasool dock from where they were taken first to Cuff Parade and later to Gateway of India in boats arranged by a frontman of Dawood, who runs several custom clearing houses in Mumbai, sources had claimed.
As per the results of the initial investigations into the attack, Mumbai police had said that the involvement of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim could not be ruled out.
It's For Pakistan To Disentangle Jamaat, Lashkar: US
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - December 18, 2008: The US says Pakistan has given it a "very solemn commitment" to disentangle the connection between a Pakistani charitable organisation
and a terrorist group accused of mounting the Mumbai terror attacks.
"I think the Pakistani government is being very sincere," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Wednesday when asked about concern in India that Islamabad is not taking enough action against Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), a front of the Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
Last week, at the request of India and the US, the UN Security Council had slapped sanctions on JuD and four of its leaders for their alleged involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks.
"Look, they're (Pakistan) on the front lines of terrorism, as we've said many times before. We've learned from our own experience about how some of these charitable organisations are tied into terrorist groups," he said, noting: "This is something that they're going to have to disentangle." "But they've given us a very solemn commitment.
They've told the Indians that they're going to do everything they can to help with the investigation in terms of trying to find out who did this and to prevent future attacks from happening," Wood said. "So we don't have any doubt that Pakistan is committed to trying to get to the bottom of this," he said.
The US official said he had no reason to doubt that like the Pakistan government, the country's army too is being sincere in trying to get to the bottom of the investigation of the Nov 26 Mumbai terror attacks. "I have no reason to doubt that. I mean, the Pakistani civilian government, you know - well, the Pakistani military submits to civilian government control, so we deal with the Pakistani government.
"And we believe that they're, as I said, committed to trying to get to the bottom of this investigation and make sure these attacks don't happen. So I have no reason to think that the Pakistani army feels otherwise," Wood said. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice too has said that she expects Pakistan to "adhere completely" to UN Security Council sanctions on JuD and other terrorist organisations in letter and spirit.
It is for Pakistan to figure out how they are going to implement the Security Council sanctions, she told reporters at the UN Tuesday when asked about the Pakistan foreign minister's statement that his government would not take action against the charitable activities of JuD.
Breaking The Silence On Pakistan and Terrorism
Terrorists defeated in Afghanistan often regroup and rebuild across the border in Pakistan's lawless tribal areasThe biggest threat to the West is not al-Qa'eda, Afghanistan or Iran, but the country that, thanks to its laxity, has become the terrorists' chief hideout and breeding ground
It's the threat to world peace that dares not speak its name.We hear plenty about the dangers posed to our security by al-Qa'eda, Afghanistan and Iran. But when it comes to talking about the country that arguably constitutes the greatest threat to our everyday wellbeing, Pakistan hardly ever seems to merit a mention.
This is rather surprising, given that if you talk to any of the military commanders or politicians responsible for prosecuting the war against Islamist terrorism, Pakistan is the country that is almost universally identified as constituting the most serious active threat to our national security.
And it is also seen as the greatest obstacle to our efforts to combat the pernicious threat of jihad by terrorism.
Last week, the subject came up in conversations I had with one of our leading military commanders and a senior politician who is personally involved in the defence of the realm.
About the only response I could evoke from my military acquaintance when I raised the thorny issue of Pakistan was a deep sigh and a shrug of the shoulders. "Ah yes, Pakistan," he said with a world-weary sigh. "A multitude of problems with no obvious solutions."
As for the politician, I was curious as to why the Government seems to have imposed a news blackout on making any statement that might be deemed critical of the Pakistani government. "The fact is, the country is teetering on the precipice of total collapse, and we don't want to be the ones to push it over the edge."
Indeed, the idea of Pakistan replicating the near-anarchy that prevails across the border in Afghanistan is almost too terrifying to contemplate.
While coalition forces have enjoyed much success in eradicating the operational infrastructure of the Taliban and al-Qa'eda in southern Afghanistan, they are deeply frustrated by the fact that the terrorists have simply been allowed to regroup and rebuild across the border in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas.
British military commanders last week told The Sunday Telegraph that the five-fold increase in roadside bomb attacks in southern Afghanistan was the result of the training that Taliban fighters were receiving at religious schools in Pakistan, where they are being taught to make explosives and build improvised explosive devices.
And while al-Qa'eda is not the force it was when it carried out the September 11 attacks, Western intelligence experts believe the core of al-Qa'eda's leadership - possibly including Osama bin Laden himself - is based in the inhospitable mountain ranges of Waziristan in Pakistan, where they continue to plot their diabolical schemes to attack the West.
To this potent Taliban/al-Qa'eda terrorist mix has now been added the new ingredient of Pakistan's home-grown Islamist radicals, which Western security experts call the Pakistani Taliban to distinguish them from their Afghan neighbours.
The Pakistani Taliban is made up of indigenous Muslims who have been radicalised in one of the hundreds of Saudi-funded madrassahs, which openly preach that young Muslims have an obligation to wage Jihad against the infidels of the West.
Nearly all the major terror plots against Britain - both those that succeeded, such as the July 7 bombings, and those that have been foiled by the vigilance of our security services - have been linked in some way to Pakistan.
The emergence of a new, home-grown terrorist organisation in Pakistan has dramatically increased the threat the country poses to Britain.
As if this wasn't enough to give us all sleepless nights, Pakistan is the only Muslim country known to possess a nuclear weapons arsenal.
So long as President Pervez Musharraf remains the country's titular head, the West has some degree of assurance that Pakistan's nukes remain secure for, in his former capacity as the head of Pakistan's armed forces, Musharraf allowed US officials to make sure the necessary safeguards were in place to ensure the nukes did not fall into the wrong hands.
Al-Qa'eda's training manuals make no secret of the fact that the organisation would love to get its hands on a nuclear device, and the only two likely places it could do this are Pakistan and Iran.
Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, the "father" of Pakistan's nuclear weapons arsenal, spent the Nineties making a tidy profit from hawking his nuclear-bomb blueprints to some of the world's less stable regimes, and North Korea, Libya and Iran were among some of the more notorious beneficiaries. Although Dr Khan was placed under house arrest after his activities were exposed by Western intelligence agencies in 2002, Pakistan's new coalition government, bowing to nationalist pressure, has indicated it is prepared to rehabilitate the disgraced nuclear scientist, even though the West is still struggling to come to terms with the consequences of his clandestine nuclear proliferation network.
This is just one of several disturbing developments to emerge from Pakistan since the new coalition government took power earlier this year, in reaction to the West putting pressure on Mr Musharraf to return the country to democratic rule.
At the time, both London and Washington believed that Pakistan having a democratic government would increase its co-operation in fighting terrorism. In fact, the opposite appears to have happened.
The West might have been frustrated by what it perceived as Mr Musharraf's lack of commitment to rooting out terror groups in Waziristan, but at least while he was directly running the country there were sporadic bouts of activity.
But talk to any of the military commanders involved with prosecuting the war against the Taliban and al-Qa'eda, and they will tell you that Pakistani co-operation has virtually ground to a halt since the coalition government took control.
Until now, the West has maintained a discreet silence about its concerns regarding Pakistan's lack of commitment to rooting out Islamist terror cells, hoping that the new government in Islamabad can be persuaded to mend its ways. But the West's mounting frustration is unlikely to be contained for much longer.
Barack Obama, the Democrat presidential nominee, last week became the first leading Western politician to voice his frustration with Islamabad when he declared that he would have no hesitation in ordering American troops to pursue terror suspects across the Pakistani border "if Pakistan cannot or will not act".
The Pakistanis ignore this shot across their bows at their peril.
Russian Arms Exports Exceed 8 Billion Dollars In 2008
(NSI News Source Info) Moscow - December 18, 2008: Russian arms exports in 2008 have been worth over $8 billion, a deputy prime minister said on Tuesday. Sergei Ivanov also said Russia had secured $33 billion worth of firm orders for arms deliveries. "Russia is among the [world's] three leading arms exporters," he said. Russia exports weapons to about 80 countries. Among the key buyers of Russian-made weaponry are China, India, Algeria, Venezuela, Iran, Malaysia and Serbia. The most popular types of weaponry bought from Russia are Sukhoi and MiG fighters, air defense systems, helicopters, battle tanks, armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles
He added that despite the global financial crisis none of Russia's foreign clients had reneged on their contracts.
The official stressed that the Russian government would continue providing ample financial assistance to defense industry enterprises.
"We will not leave our defense enterprises to face problems caused by the world financial crisis on their own," Ivanov said.
Russia has doubled annual arms exports since 2000 to $7 billion as of last year, becoming the world's second-largest exporter of conventional arms after the United States.
Russia exports weapons to about 80 countries. Among the key buyers of Russian-made weaponry are China, India, Algeria, Venezuela, Iran, Malaysia and Serbia.
The most popular types of weaponry bought from Russia are Sukhoi and MiG fighters, air defense systems, helicopters, battle tanks, armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles.
Russia also maintains traditionally strong positions in the sales of small arms and light weapons (SALW), and anti-tank and surface-to-air missile systems.
Kyrgyzstan Wants To Close US Airbase
(NSI News Source Info) Bishkek - December 18, 2008: Kyrgyzstan is moving to close a key US military airbase used to support operations in Afghanistan, government sources told AFP on Wednesday.
"We are preparing the papers necessary to close the base," a senior official in the Kyrgyz presidential administration said on condition of anonymity, confirming comments from sources in the foreign ministry and parliament.
The president of the Central Asian state, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, also made clear he foresaw the closure of the base at Manas, outside the capital Bishkek, stating in an interview published by the Kabar state news agency that Western military operations in Afghanistan were over.
"Since there are no more military actions in Afghanistan, one can undoubtedly already talk about putting an end to the activities of the base at Manas.
"The problem of narcotics, which is especially severe in Afghanistan, can be solved without the use of military aircraft," Bakiyev said.
Bakiyev has repeatedly threatened to close the base, on each occasion coming to terms with the US administration after financial wrangling.
The Manas base is a potent symbol of US influence in Central Asia, which was a Moscow stronghold in Soviet times.
Russia has pressed for the closure of the base, which was opened after the September 11, 2001 attacks to support US-led operations in Afghanistan.
There have also been a number of street demonstrations demanding the base's closure in recent months.
The base is home to about 1,200 foreign military personnel, mainly from the United States, and acts as a staging post for operations in Afghanistan, located to the south.
In 2005 the United States was forced out of even larger base in Kyrgyzstan's neighbour Uzbekistan amid tensions over the crushing of an uprising by Uzbek forces.
The Kyrgyz base cohabits with the country's main international airport, giving arriving and departing civilian passengers a clear view of US military transport planes.
The co-existence has come under periodic strain. A US guard shot dead a Kyrgyz truck driver in 2006 in what US officials said was self-defence.
Russia To Donate 10 MiG-29 Fighters To Lebanon
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - December 18, 2008: Russia will supply Lebanon with 10 used MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter planes free of charge, the head of the federal military cooperation service said on Wednesday.
The usual export price for a new MiG-29 is around $30 million.
Mikhail Dmitriyev said that before being shipped to Lebanon, all aircraft would be repaired and modernized "to export standards."
He also said Russia and Lebanon were holding talks on a deal for the Arab country to buy Russian military hardware.
"Joint work with our Lebanese colleagues is underway now, dealing with the purchase of Russian armored vehicles, artillery and other military hardware, as well as other types of armaments," Dmitriyev said.
He also said that Lebanese military servicemen would be trained in Russia.
The MiG-29 deal was announced on Tuesday by Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr after a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Anatoly Serdyukov.
Serdyukov said Moscow had received a "shopping list" from the Lebanese armed forces, which would be considered in the near future. He added that the fighter deliveries would provide a fresh impetus to military cooperation between the two countries.
The Lebanese Air Force is believed to currently have virtually no airworthy planes.
Currently the Air Force is equipped with Bell UH-1 Iroquois combat helicopters, developed back in the 1950s, and Robinson R44 Raven II civilian helicopters, all of which were supplied by the United States.
In 2007, Beirut took delivery of nine SA342L Gazelle helicopters from the United Arab Emirates.
Russian New BMP-2 IFV Upgrade Rolls Out
(NSI News Source Info) December 18, 2008: Russia's Kurganmashzavod has completed development of the latest upgrade for its Russian BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV).
The upgrade covers all three main areas of armour, mobility and firepower, and is designed to enable end users, in most cases, to tailor vehicles by selecting elements to their requirements.
Older BMP-2 IFVs can either be returned to Kurganmashzavod or upgraded with kits at the operator's own facility, with the appropriate training.
The Russian BMP-2 IFV was developed by Kurganmashzavod, the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), in the late 1970s as a follow-on to the earlier BMP-1 IFV. About 30 countries still use the BMP-2 IFV and over the years Kurganmashzavod has developed a number of upgrades to enhance its capabilities.
In this latest upgrade, the chassis has been fitted with an appliqu? armour package claimed to provide protection against attack from 12.7 mm armour-piercing projectiles fired through a full 360 degrees at a range of 150 m. Additional protection against mines has been provided for the driver's station at the front left and the powerpack at the front right.
The additional armour and increased firepower has increased the combat weight of the upgraded BMP-2 from 14.3 to 16 tonnes and the UTD-20 diesel developing 300 hp of the original version has been replaced by the more recent UTD-23 diesel developing 350 hp.
The upgrade features a new suspension system that has improved cross-country mobility and is slightly lighter, featuring rubber pads to reduce noise when travelling on roads.