Barack Obama Meets With 4 U.S. Presidents
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON – January 8, 2009: Confronting a grim economy and a Middle East on fire, Barack Obama turned Wednesday to perhaps the only people on the planet who understand what he's in for: the four living members of the U.S. presidents' club. In an image bound to go down in history, every living U.S. president came together at the White House on Wednesday to hash over the world's challenges with the president-elect. There they stood, shoulder-to-shoulder in the Oval Office: George H.W. Bush, Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. President-elect Barack Obama is welcomed by President George W. Bush for a meeting at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009, with former presidents, from left, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter.
"This is an extraordinary gathering," Obama said, looking plenty at ease in the humbling office that will soon be his.
"All the gentlemen here understand both the pressures and possibilities of this office," Obama said. "And for me to have the opportunity to get advice, good counsel and fellowship with these individuals is extraordinary. And I'm very grateful to all of them."
Bush, blistered without mercy by Obama during the campaign season, played the role of gracious host.
"All of us who have served in this office understand that the office transcends the individual," Bush said as Obama nodded in thanks. "And we wish you all the very best. And so does the country."
It was a moment of statesmanship that tends to happen when presidents get together, no matter how bitter their previous rivalries. In a photo opportunity that lasted less than two minutes, Carter, Clinton and the senior Bush smiled but said nothing. They deferred to the nation's incoming and outgoing leaders.
Earlier, Bush and Obama met privately in the Oval Office in a chat expected to cover events of the day, mainly the troubled economy and Middle East. The two have shown solidarity since Obama's win in November, with one previous Oval Office sit-down and at least a few phone calls in recent weeks.
All sides were determined to say as little as possible about what was discussed. Presidents — new, old, incoming — like to keep their conversations private.
Without offering any specifics, Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs said all the presidents "had helpful advice on managing the office as well as thoughts on the critical issues facing the country right now. The president-elect is anxious to stay in touch with all of them in the coming years."
From the White House, press secretary Dana Perino said the discussion was "wide-ranging" but declined to comment further. Before the gathering, she had said she could not imagine the leaders would meet without discussing the Middle East, where conflict rages in Gaza, or the economy, which is sinking.
The White House would not even say what the men ate, allowing only that they ordered off the menu of the White House mess, as Bush does all the time.
Intentionally or not, Bush opened the media moment in a curious way, suggesting that he was already out the door.
"I want to thank the president-elect for joining the ex-presidents for lunch," said Bush, who is in fact still the president until Jan. 20.
"One message that I have, and I think we all share, is that we want you to succeed," Bush added, a beaming Clinton at his other side. "Whether we're Democrat or Republican, we care deeply about this country."
White House aides tried to usher the media out of the Oval Office when Bush stopped speaking. The lighting for the event even went dark.
But sometimes, there is more than one president at a time.
Obama spoke up on his own, the lights went back on, and the cameras kept rolling.
"I just want to thank the president for hosting us," Obama said. When a reporter asked Obama what he could learn from the mistakes of the four presidents surrounding him, he smiled and said he planned to learn from their successes.
The get-together was Obama's idea, and Bush liked it. The lunch lasted about 90 minutes, held in a small dining room off the Oval Office.
Carter, Clinton and the two Bush presidents were last together at the Washington funeral service of President Gerald Ford in 2007. And presidents have gathered at other occasions over the years. But not since October 1981 — 27 years ago — had all of the living presidents gathered at the White House.
P-8 Buy To Expand India's Networked Maritime Power
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI - January 8, 2009: The six P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance (LRMR) aircraft India has contracted to buy from Boeing will provide the Navy a broad array of capabilities, and be fitted with air-to-surface missiles, an internal bomb bay suite, sonar buoys, torpedoes and aerial depth-charge bombs, an India Navy official said.
The aircraft will have an operational life of more than 15 years, and with their new-generation maritime patrol radar, will be able to automatically track up to 80 targets day or night.
To take full advantage of these capabilities, the system needs to be networked with other platforms, said Gurpreet Khurana, Indian Navy commander and defense analyst.
"The Indian Navy would need to data-link these aircraft with the medium-range maritime aircraft, surface ships and nuclear submarines [Advance Technology Vehicle] to be inducted shortly. The link itself will need to be networked with the indigenous [Navy Enterprise Wide Network] system being developed by the Navy. Space-based assets will also need to provide surveillance cover and the information will need to be linked to the entire system," Khurana said. The $2.1 billion purchase was one of the biggest single deals India has made with a U.S. company.
"The P-8I is the world's most technologically advanced maritime patrol aircraft and offers India tremendous capability advances over legacy systems. The P-8I is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon now being developed for the U.S. Navy. The two aircraft are highly common," said Brian Nelson, business support, communications and community relations - India Integrated Defense Systems
"India is the first international customer for the P-8. Boeing will deliver the first P-8I within 48 months of the contract signing, and the remaining seven by 2015," the official Jan. 6 Boeing release said.
Boeing was selected over EADS, which had fielded its A319 aircraft.
The request for proposal (RfP) for the eight LRMR was floated in January 2005, and RfPs were sent to U.S. firms Boeing and Lockheed Martin, France's Dassault, Italy's Finmeccanica, Russia's Ilyushin Design Bureau and Brazil's Embraer, among others.
Several companies, including Dassault, Finmeccanica and Embraer, did not participate. Based on submission by other bidders, the Indian Navy rejected the U.S. P-3C Orion and the IL-38 of Russia because they could not meet the technical parameters.
Boeing and EADS were finally left in the fray.
The P-8I will replace eight Russian TU-142 M maritime reconnaissance aircraft with the Indian Navy.
Khurana added that the Raytheon AN/APY-10 radar system fitted on P-8I is state of the art not only for surveillance, but also for fire-control and controlling aircraft, similar to a mini-AWACS, and is also fitted with a cutting-edge technology data-link system and armed with anti-ship missiles, which the TU-142M's did not have.
In 2007, India and the U.S. contracted the sale of six C-130J transport aircraft for India's armed forces for $962 million, and the sale of the USS Trentron Landing Platform Dock to the Indian Navy for $50 million to be used for littoral warfare here.
Turkey Aiming To Be Self-Sufficient In Arms Industry
(NSI News Source Info) January 7, 2009: There is a growing clamor among Turkish political and business leaders to create a larger Turkish arms industry, so that the country is not so dependent on foreign suppliers. Part of this dispute comes from the success Israeli arms manufacturers have had in Turkey.
The Cobra family of light armoured vehicles is manufactured by Otokar Otobus Karoseri Sanayi in Turkey. The Cobra designs incorporate the mechanical components of the HMMWV vehicle from AM General of the USA.
Over a billion dollars worth of Israeli military equipment goes to Turkey each year. Despite the fact that Turkey is a Moslem country, and the current ruling party considers itself "Islamic" (in the Turkish, not the Arab, sense), Israel continues to get contracts with the Turkish military. There are several reasons for this.
First of all, Jews have been residents of what is now Turkey for over 2,500 years. They were, in effect, there before the Turks showed up, although always as a minority. For that reason, the Turks never considered them a threat. And when the Spanish expelled all Jews five hundred years ago, the Turkish Sultan invited them to his lands. When the Nazis began persecuting Jews in the 1930s, Turkey again offered sanctuary.
Many Turkish Jews went to Israel in the 1940s and 50s, but 26,000 remain. The Turkish Jews in Israel provide a pool of businessmen and agents who speak Turkish, understand Turkish customs, and often still have kin in Turkey. This makes it easier to do business in Turkey (which buys lots of non-military goods from Israel, and sells a lot south as well).
Then there's the fact that, despite being Moslem, the Turks look back on their centuries of ruling the Middle East as one long headache. Israelis and Turks can trade stories about how difficult it is to deal with the Arabs. This is not something that is admitted publicly, but it is often discussed over coffee.
Finally, the Turks get good equipment, and excellent service, from the Israelis. The Turks are not just another customer, but a valued ally in a very rough neighborhood. The Turks also like the idea of having someone down south they can depend on, especially with Turkey's eastern neighbor, Iran, working to acquire nuclear weapons.
MRAP Vehicle Makers Work On Weight Reduction
(NSI News Source Info) January 7, 2009: Modern warfare -- where the battlefield is a mix of actors, motivations and weapons -- is in part defined by its rapidly changing threat scenarios and multiple layers of high- and low-tech on-the-fly innovations, all of which demand real-time responses. In Iraq and Afghanistan, this has been especially true of armor protection for ground vehicles, which have been battered by all manner of increasingly powerful pressure plate and remotely controlled improvised explosive devices and explosively formed penetrators; weapons which morph as U.S. armor technology learns how to counter each successive generation of explosive.
This catch-as-catch can approach has produced fleets of hulking Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAPs), intriguing designs for Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTVs) -- currently hung up in industry protests -- and calls for the Multipurpose All-Terrain Vehicle (MATV), or "MRAP Lite" as some are calling it. But what's next for the armor field? Militaries want lighter vehicles, and despite the hulking size of the original MRAPs, successive generations of the vehicle will by necessity be lighter, and more maneuverable.
Damon Walsh, executive vice president of customer operation at armor and vehicle maker Force Protection, says his company, while always working on new armor solutions, is also focusing on ways to defeat and detect the threat before the vehicles encounter it. "One of the things that we're keen on," he says, "is not just passive armor systems to stop threats, but also more sophisticated active protection systems. The idea is "don't just rely on armor, try and defeat the threat earlier before you get hit."
In reflecting on the last several years, it's not surprising that Walsh says that "we've had one of the largest demands that I've ever seen in the industry...for increased protection levels in real time. The threat changed in the past three years so many times that we were in the labs over the weekends trying to create solutions based on intel given by the customer for real-time changes."
Tony Russell, vice president of vehicle armor BAE, which has supplied over 5,000 MRAPs to the U.S. Army and Marine Corps in recent years, sees one of the challenges of the future being the sustainment of the relatively expensive MRAP fleet, now that new orders have waned. But he's also got his eye on the prize that other armor makers like Force Protection are gunning for -- you've got to find "ways to defeat and detect the threat before you even get to it," he says.
Still, finding ways to "beat the network" of bombmakers can only do so much -- some will always slip through the cracks. So in the end, working to defeat the threat "won't replace the need for passive armor systems, or systems that make you less observable, to reduce the signature for vehicles."
While new MRAP orders might be a thing of the past, the vehicles will be around for decades to come, Russell says, since "the platforms are good ones. There's a lot of things you can do to tear 'em down and build 'em back up again."
Russell sees plenty of business also coming from foreign markets, and says that BAE is seeing a lot of interest from a number of countries for Cougars and Buffaloes, so the market for mine-protected vehicles will continue to grow. "Beyond that in general for the armor market, he says, "I think the trend you're going to see is going to continue to be developing lighter solutions that achieve the same kind of protection."
Ajmal Qasab Is A Pakistani National: Pak Media / Surviving Gunman’s Identity Established As Pakistani: Dawn
(NSI News Source Info) NDTV Correspondent, New Delhi - January 7, 2009: Pakistan's Dawn News has reported that Ajmal Amir Qasab, the lone terrorist captured during attacks on Mumbai, is a Pakistani national.So far, Pakistan government had denied that Qasab was their national.
The channel said that the investigation report filed to Pakistan Prime Minister says Qasab is a Pakistani national.
Qasab on Tuesday again asked Pakistan government for consular access and legal aid. "We have informed him that the letter has been sent to Pakistan mission and they have received it," Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rakesh Maria said on Tuesday.
Maria further said Ajmal has not responded to various offers made by city lawyers to defend him and has said that his first choice is consular access from Pakistan. Ajmal was remanded to further police custody till January 19 for his role in the shootout at the Cama and Albless Hospital in South Mumbai.
Ajmal and his slain accomplice Ismail Khan had attacked the Cama and Albless Hospital in South Mumbai killing seven persons there.
Additional Info: Related Topic
Surviving Gunman’s Identity Established As Pakistani
By Mubashir Zaidi
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD - January 7, 2009: Pakistani authorities during the course of their own investigations into the Mumbai carnage have established the identity of the only surviving terrorist Ajmal Kasab as a Pakistani national.
'He has links to Pakistan but the investigation is ongoing,' Information Minister Sherry Rehman said.
Earlier, a high-ranking government official told Dawn News that because of the nature of his crime the government has still not taken any decision on whether to provide him with consular access.
The top official said the investigations had started soon after the initial reports had suggested that Ajmal Kasab may possibly be a Pakistani national.
However, the authorities wanted to be doubly sure of his identity as there existed no record of Kasab and his family in the National Data Base which is maintained by the NADRA. Details of the preliminary investigations submitted to the government have still not been made public.
The official said Kasab is the son of Amir Kasab and Mrs Noor Illahi. But the identity of other militants killed in the Mumbai carnage is yet to be established.
However, senior security officials told Dawn News preliminary investigations have established these militants were operating on their own and had absolutely no link with any section of the country’s security apparatus. A formal announcement in this regard is expected in the next few days.
Chad Orders Tanker Trucks from Renault Trucks Defense / Chad: A Major Contract Notified to Renault Trucks Defense
(NSI News Source Info) January 7, 2009: On January 6th, 2009, the Ministry of Defence of Chad has notified to Renault Trucks Defense a contract of 52 units of Kerax 6x6, in rigid version equipped with fuel tank and flatbed, in tractor version equipped with tank semi-trailer and in wrecking version. Kerax 6x6 - 13t to 16t payload capacity on all roads and tracks, and can transport and handle containers and pallet rack systems and be equipped with other bodywork such as tipper, shelter, fluid tanks.
These vehicles will be manufactured at Bourg en Bresse factory. They will be delivered during the year 2009. This new contract is important for Renault Trucks Defense in this troubled area of Africa.
Mahindra & Mahindra And BAE Systems Joint Venture Approved By India
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI - January 7, 2009: India has approved 34 foreign direct investment proposals worth 16.15 billion rupees ($332.3 million), including that of vehicle maker Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, the finance ministry said on Wednesday.
The government, however, again deferred a proposal by News Corp-controlled Dow Jones Co to publish facsimile editions of newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, in the country, the ministry said in a statement.
Mahindra's proposal to set up a joint venture for land defence systems, with foreign investment of 289.4 million rupees was approved, it said.
The Indian firm and BAE Systems have a joint venture to build such equipment in the country.
Somali Pirates Release Turkish Commercial Vessel - TV
(NSI News Source Info) ANKARA - January 7, 2009: Somali pirates have freed a Turkish commercial vessel with 20 crew members on board, Turkey's NTV television channel reported on Wednesday.
Pirates seized the Ya-Sa Neslihan ship on October 29, 2008.
No details of the release have so far been available, and there has been no official confirmation of the report.
Pirates have been increasingly active in the waters off Somalia, where over 120 ships were attacked in 2008, with around 40 vessels seized. The navies of at least 10 countries are involved in anti-piracy operations off the coast of the East African nation.
Russian Frigate Comes To Rescue Of Fishing Boat In Gulf Of Aden
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - January 7, 2009: The Russian Baltic Fleet's frigate Neustrashimy (Fearless) came on Tuesday to the rescue of a drifting fishing boat in the Gulf of Aden flying the Yemeni flag, a Russian Navy spokesman said Tuesday.
Captain 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said the Neustrashimy had received information that the boat was in distress.
The boat's crew of 11 people contained nine Somalis and two Yemenis, including a pregnant woman.
"Competent medical assistance was rendered to those in need of it; foodstuffs and water they strongly needed were provided," Dygalo said.
He said the Neustrashimy is tugging the fishing boat to the port of Al-Mukalla in Yemen.
Dygalo said in December that the Neustrashimy had protected over 50 commercial ships from pirates off the Somali coast in 2008.
The missile frigate has been operating off the Horn of Africa according to international maritime law and agreements since the end of October.
Pirates have been increasingly active in the waters off Somalia, where over 120 ships have been attacked so far this year, with around 40 vessels seized. The navies of at least 10 countries are involved in anti-piracy operations off the coast of the East African nation.
DTN News: Pakistan's (ISI) Intelligence Chief Says No War With India / Daily New Statements From Pakistan Apears To Appease USA Or Just Eyewash For The World To Attract More Funds *Source: DTN News/ Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - January 7, 2009: Pakistan's intelligence chief said there will not be war with India over the Mumbai attacks and emphasized terrorism — not India — was the greatest threat to the country, according to a rare interview.
Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shujaa Pasha also told German news magazine Der Spiegel that his powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency — thought to have a high degree of independence — was under the control of the recently elected civilian government.
In this Aug. 27, 2008 photo released by the U.S. Department of Defense, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen and Navy Rear Adm. Scott van Buskirk, from left, talk with Pakistani Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, center, and Director General, Military Operations, Major Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, on the flight deck aboard USS Abraham Lincoln, in the Gulf. Pasha, the new chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, oversaw military offensives against militants in Pakistan's restive northwest tribal areas.The interview appeared on the magazine's Web site on Tuesday.
India blames Pakistani militants for the November attacks on targets in Mumbai that killed more than 160 people. The charges have raised tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors, which have fought three wars in 60 years.
On Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Pakistani state agencies must have had a hand in the attacks, charges dismissed by Islamabad as "propaganda."
Pasha told the magazine that "there will not be war."
"We are distancing ourselves from conflict with India, both now and in general," he said.
Pasha seldom gives interviews to reporters, and one of his aides said Wednesday that the comments made in early December were meant to be off the record. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
India has said the gunmen had connections to the Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba and gave Islamabad evidence it said proves those accusations. Lashkar is widely believed to be a 1980s creation of the agency Pasha heads in order to pressure India over the disputed area of Kashmir.
But Pasha said Pakistan was focused on fighting terrorism, not fomenting it.
"We may be crazy in Pakistan, but not completely out of our minds," Pasha was quoted as saying. "We know full well that terror is our enemy, not India."
Pakistan is under pressure to crack down on militants in its northwest, from which the Taliban is believed to plan attacks on U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
On Wednesday, at least four police were killed in the volatile region, according to a local official. Mayor Afzal Khan said another three police officers went missing after insurgents attacked their checkpoint in Hangu district. The motive for the attack was unclear however. Hangu has in the past witnessed sectarian violence, and the attack occurred as minority Shiite Muslims prepared to mark Ashura, a key holy day.
Pasha's ISI has played a powerful role in Pakistan ever since the 1980s when the agency worked with Islamic militants to force the Soviets out of Afghanistan. Many believe the agency has maintained connections with those groups, and New Delhi has accused the agency of being involved in attacks against India in recent years.
The agency has sometimes been called a "state within a state" because of its behind-the-scenes role in making or breaking governments.
Pasha said he supported the current government, which took over in March following more than eight years of military dictatorship but is regarded as relatively weak.
"It is completely clear to the army chief and I that this government must succeed. Otherwise we will have a lot of problems in this country," he said.
"Anyone who does not support this democratic government today simply does not understand the current situation. I report regularly to the president and take orders from him," he added.