Former President Gen. Pervez Musharraf Admits To Al-Qaeda "Sanctuaries" In Pakistan
(NSI News Source Info) Washington - January 25, 2009: After long deniying that terrorist camps in Pakistan exists, the former President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has admitted that Pakistan does have areas which provide safe havens to militants.
According to the News, Musharraf said that the Al-Qaeda is operating from remote areas in Pakistan, and due to the difficult geographical conditions in the region it is very difficult for the security forces to dismantle the camps.
"There are "sanctuaries" in Pakistan for Al-Qaeda, which combined with the remote, mountainous terrain "makes the task difficult" of finding the militants," Musharraf said.
Musharraf also rejected the notion that Pakistan is the originating point of terrorism, but accepted that there are agencies in the country which are offering help to the militant activities."Terrorism emanated from Afghanistan because of the Mujahideen. Militants, Taliban are all products of Afghanistan. It is only support that they get from Pakistan," he said.
Talking to reporters here, he said that the United States is neglecting Pakistan in terms of aid and financial help, despite it playing the lead role in the fight against terror in the region.
He regretted that the help which Pakistan is getting from the US is far less than what Afghanistan or Iraq have received.
"If you compare what you spent in Afghanistan, I believe I read an article where roughly 143 billion dollars have been spent in Afghanistan. What have you spent in Iraq? Maybe over a trillion dollars?" Musharraf, who is on tour to the United states, said.
He also charged the US for treating it unequally saying: "This is what hurts Pakistan. It hurts the people of Pakistan that it is being treated so unequally while we are the ones who are in the lead role fighting the global war on terror."
US Navy SEALS Maintaining Their Expertise In Afghanistan
(NSI News Source Info) January 24, 2009: U.S. Navy SEALs are mostly highly trained commandos, but there is also another group of specialists, the Special Boat Squadrons (SBS), that are trained to use small, fast boats, to get SEALs into, and out of, action. Since 2001, the SBS has expanded, from 400 sailors, to 600.
The United States Navy Sea, Air and Land Forces, commonly known as the Navy SEALs, are the Special Operations Forces of the United States Navy, employed in direct action and special reconnaissance operations. SEALs are also capable of employing unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, and counter-terrorism missions.
But at the same time, the need for their services greatly diminished. Mainly because most of the SEALS were either operating in Afghanistan (no coastline, or much open water, there) or on warships (where they would storm targets via helicopter.) Not wanting to be left out, some of the SBS sailors went to work on land, or helped train foreign sailors on coastal operations.
This training task used to be performed by SEALS, but for the duration of the war on terror, the SBS will take over. Some SBS troops have been sent inland with the SEALS, to drive vehicles. That's still delivering SEALS, but not in the way these guys were trained for.
The SBS is trying to keep busy, but it's mostly training and working out-of-specialty, and that will continue as long as the SEALS are away from the water.
(NSI News Source Info) January 24, 2009: The U.S. Department of Defense is speeding up a program to refurbish hummers (HMMWV) and transfer them to Iraq. The total number of vehicles is 8,500, and all are to be delivered by July.
Hummer is a brand of off-road vehicles sold by General Motors (GM). The original H1 was based on the military High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV, or Humvee). However, the Hummer H2 and the Hummer H3 were based on other, smaller civilian-market vehicles.
Currently, only about 40 percent have been turned over. Iraq is paying about $24,000 for each vehicle. Most of the hummers have served in Iraq, and many are being refurbed locally. Some have armor, and Iraq is getting the "like new" refurbs at less than half what they would cost brand new. The U.S. expects to meet the July deadline.
(NSI News Source Info) PARIS – January 24, 2009: EADS on Friday denied reports it might pull out of its troubled A400M military transport plane program, saying it is rather looking to renegotiate parts of the contract. The Airbus A400M is a four-engine turboprop military transport and tanker, designed and built by the European corporation Airbus Military. It has been ordered by 10 countries and will replace a variety of aircraft, including the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules and the Transall C-160.
The European defense and aerospace giant says that "contrary to what has been circulated in the press," there are no talks within the company about a "scenario" to withdraw from the program. More than 6,000 EADS employees now work on it, the company said in a statement.
European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., the parent of plane maker Airbus, has been struggling to manage delays to the A400M that have already cost Airbus euro1.7 billion ($1.84 billion) in penalties and other charges.
Airbus Military signed a contract in 2003 with a group representing Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, and Turkey for 180 aircraft in the program. Since then, South Africa has ordered 8 aircraft and Malaysia 4 — for a total of 192 planes.
EADS and Airbus recently proposed a "new approach" to the seven European NATO countries that first ordered the plane through procurement agency OCCAR.
In its statement on Friday, EADS said: "There are ongoing discussions with OCCAR and the customer governments, the aim of which is to establish the right frame that will enable the best achievement of the program."
French Army To Deploy Tigers In Second Quarter / Tiger Would Be Deployed By French Army In Afghanistan This Year
(NSI News Source Info) January 24, 2009: The first operational deployment of the Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopter will take place in the second quarter of 2009, the manufacturer's chief executive has revealed.
Speaking in Paris on 20 January, Lutz Bertling said that the Tiger would be deployed by the French army in Afghanistan, and would be "war-proven within 2009". The Eurocopter Tiger (company designation EC 665) is an attack helicopter manufactured by Eurocopter. In Germany it is known as the Tiger; in France and Spain it is called the Tigre. In 1984, the German and French governments issued a requirement for an advanced multi-role battlefield helicopter. A joint venture consisting of MBB and Aérospatiale was subsequently chosen as the preferred supplier. Due to high costs, the program was cancelled in 1986, but was relaunched during 1987. Subsequently, in November 1989, Eurocopter received a contract to build five prototypes. Three were to be unarmed testbeds and the other two armed prototypes: one for the German anti-tank variant and the other for the French escort helicopter variant. The first prototype first flew in April 1991. When Aerospatiale and MBB, among others, merged in 1992 to form the Eurocopter Group, the Tiger program was transferred as well. Serial production of the Tiger began in March 2002 and the first flight of the first production Tiger HAP for the French Army took place in March 2003. The delivery of the first of the eighty helicopters ordered by the French took place in September 2003. At the end of 2003, deliveries began of the 80 UHT version combat support helicopters ordered by Germany to the Federal Office of Defense Technology and ProcurementExport orders: In December 2001, Eurocopter was awarded the contract for the Australian Army’s "Air 87 Requirement", which was for 22 helicopters of the Tiger ARH (Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter) version. The first Tiger ARH was scheduled to enter service in 2004. 18 of the 22 aircraft will be assembled at the Brisbane facility of Australian Aerospace, the local Eurocopter subsidiary in Australia. In September 2003, Spain selected a variant of the Tiger HAP combat support helicopter - the Tiger HAD - for its army. The 24 helicopters of this type that have been ordered will be armed with the Trigat and Mistral missile systems. They will also have an uprated Enhanced MTR390 engine and a heavier payload. Deliveries are scheduled for 2007-2008. France opted to upgrade most of its HAP Helicopter to HAD; so the HAC-Variant will never be built. In June 2006, the Rafael Spike-ER was selected by the Spanish Army to be the ATGM of the Spanish HAD, instead of the previously announced Trigat missile system. In July 2006, the Saudi Government signed a contract to purchase a total of 142 helicopters, including 12 Tiger attack helicopters.Bertling was unable to disclose the precise number of helicopters to be deployed, saying only that it would be "more than zero, but I don't believe more than five or six". Eurocopter is ready to send a team to Afghanistan to support the deployment with maintenance and support services to meet the army's requirements.
The French army operates 13 Tiger HAP helicopters, according to Flight's HeliCAS database, with a further 28 on order. It has also ordered a further 40 in the Tiger HAD configuration.
Responding to a suggestion that deliveries of France's Tiger HADs could be delayed by two to three years, Bertling said: "I can definitely not confirm a delay in [that] range." However, he noted that government-furnished equipment such as the aircraft's uprated MTR390-E engines could be a cause of delays.
Developed by MTRI, a consortium of ITP, MTU, Rolls-Royce and Turbomeca, the enhanced MTR390-E produces 14% more power for improved hot-and-high performance. Take-off power is increased to 1,470shp (1,095kW).
Developed for France and Spain, the Tiger HAD also features improved ballistic protection and a new electronic warfare system. The model's first flight was performed in December 2007 and first deliveries are scheduled for 2011. Spain has ordered 18 of the enhanced standard, and will upgrade its initial six HAP-model aircraft - five of which have now been delivered - to the same configuration.
DTN News: Boeing Touts Super Hornet Credentials For Danish fighter Deal / Boeing Stepping Up Campaign For Offer F/A-18E/F Super Hornet to Denmark - Report
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - January 24, 2009: Boeing is stepping up its campaign to offer the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet to Denmark, with two US Navy examples scheduled to visit Copenhagen in early February.
"Denmark is a particular area of focus early this year," says Tom Bell, head of business development for Boeing Military Aircraft. "We want to help the Danish establishment understand that the Super Hornet represents a fantastic opportunity for recapitalisation." The Boeing F/A-18E and F Super Hornet is a supersonic carrier-capable fighter/ground-attack aircraft. The F/A-18E single seater and F/A-18F two-seater are larger and more advanced derivative of the F/A-18C and D Hornet. The Super Hornet entered service with the United States Navy in 1999, replacing the F-14 Tomcat since 2006 and will serve alongside the original Hornet. In 2007, the Royal Australian Air Force ordered Super Hornets to replace its aging F-111 fleet.
A defence commission is expected to deliver a document by late March outlining the Danish military's next five-year plan, and Bell says that while "this won't recommend fighter A, B or C", it could identify "what any new capabilities should be in a new aircraft".
Separately, Denmark's Defence Command is assessing its possible next-generation fighter solutions, with the Super Hornet having last year been added to a list already including Lockheed's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and Saab's Gripen NG. This process is likely to conclude in the second quarter of this year, says Bell, potentially leading to a recommendation on its future fighter options by mid-year.
Despite Boeing's late inclusion in the process, Bell says "it is our true belief that this competition is open and fair, and that the Danish government and ministry of defence plan to make up their minds on true facts". Several Danish pilots flew the Block II Super Hornet at NAS Oceana in Virginia last October as part of an initial assessment of the type's multirole capabilities, Boeing adds.
A pair of USN-owned two-seat F/A-18Fs are scheduled to land at Copenhagen airport on 3 February for an overnight stop en route to participating in the Aero India 2009 exhibition in Bangalore. Their presence will underline a campaign that has also recently seen Boeing Integrated Defense Systems president Jim Albaugh make repeat visits to Denmark.
The Netherlands and Norway both recently made recommendations to reject the offer of a Gripen NG acquisition in favour of maintaining their involvement in the JSF programme. Denmark is also a participant in the F-35's system development and demonstration phase, and has previously outlined plans to acquire 48 of the aircraft to be delivered between 2016 and 2021.
The Indian defence ministry has meanwhile informed Boeing that it will discuss the detailed evaluation plan for its 126-aircraft medium multirole combat aircraft competition during the 11-15 February Aero India show. The Super Hornet faces competition from the F-16 and Gripen, plus the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and RSK MiG-35.
Indian air force chief Air Chief Marshal F H Major recently said that flight trials of the candidate systems could take place as early as April-May this year.
North Korea's Kim Wants Nuclear-Free Peninsula: Chinese State Media
(NSI News Source Info) January 24, 2009: North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il said Friday he wanted a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, declaring his willingness to work with China to push forward the six-party process, Chinese state media reported.
"The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is committed to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, and hopes to live in peace with all other sides," Kim was quoted as saying by the Xinhua news agency.
"We don't want to see tension emerge in the situation on the peninsula, and we are willing to strengthen coordination and cooperation with China and push forward the six-party process without interruption."
Kim made the remark while meeting in Pyongyang with Wang Jiarui, a senior official with China's Communist Party, Xinhua reported on its website.
It was Kim's first known meeting with a senior foreign visitor since his reported stroke in August.
Observers noted the timing of Kim's appearance, in the same week that US President Barack Obama was inaugurated in Washington, perhaps signalling North Korea's hopes of a new chapter vis-a-vis the United States.
China hosts the six-nation talks on nuclear disarmament of North Korea. The talks became bogged down in the final months of George W. Bush's administration over ways to verify the North's declared nuclear activities.
The six nations include the two Koreas, China, the United States, Japan and Russia.
During his meeting with Kim, Wang delivered "congratulations and a personal message" from China's President Hu Jintao to mark the Lunar New Year, the North's Korean Central News Agency reported.
It did not disclose the content of the personal message, but Chinese state TV said Wang extended an invitation from Hu for Kim to visit China, which the reclusive North Korean leader reportedly accepted "happily."
"China hopes to strengthen contacts with North Korea and work together to overcome obstructions and promote the continued progress of the six-party talks," Chinese state TV quoted Wang as saying.
The report showed no footage, but two stills of Kim, in his trademark boiler suit, and Wang smiling at each other.
"Relations between the DPRK and China have been important in the past, are important now and will be important in the future," Kim was quoted as saying by Chinese TV.
South Korean analysts said the meeting shows that Kim, who turns 67 next month, has recovered from a stroke which South Korean and US officials say he suffered last summer.
Seoul officials had previously said he was recovering well and remained in charge of his impoverished but nuclear-armed nation.
Seoul's Unification Ministry said the meeting showed that Kim's health appeared to be normal, but some analysts were more circumspect.
Brian Bridges, of Hong Kong's Lingnan University, said it "doesn't really clear up the questions about his underlying state of health."
In recent months the Stalinist nation's media has published dozens of reports and undated photos of the leader inspecting military installations or factories in an apparent attempt to show he is fit and in control.
Some Seoul analysts said the timing of Kim's meeting with Wang, so soon after Obama's inauguration, was significant.
"Wang's visit signals that hectic diplomatic efforts aimed at resolving the nuclear issue will be made following the inauguration of the Obama administration," Yang Moo-Jin of Seoul's University of North Korean Studies told AFP.
The North has given conflicting signals on whether it plans to push ahead with denuclearisation after the new administration took office in Washington.
Last Saturday Pyongyang said it may not give up its nuclear weapons even after establishing diplomatic ties with Washington, as long as a US "nuclear threat" remains.
But a New Year policy-setting editorial carried no criticism of the United States. And state media Wednesday reported the Obama inauguration less than a day after the ceremony, more quickly than on previous occasions.
US Marines Ready To Deploy Up To 20,000 Troops To Afghanistan
(NSI News Source Info) Washington - January 24, 2009: US Marines are ready to get out of Iraq rapidly to enable a further 20,000 to deploy to Afghanistan as part of a major buildup there, Marine Corps Commandant James Conway said Friday.
"The time is right for Marines to leave Iraq," the top Marine officer told reporters, reflecting on the improved security situation there.
As part of the drawdown in Iraq, where more than 20,000 Marines are currently stationed, Conway said he expected an equivalent increase of "20,000 or less" Marines to Afghanistan, where about 2,200 Marines are currently deployed, to help fight against Taliban and Al-Qaeda insurgents.
"That's really where Marines need to be. That's what we offer the nation," he said.
The Marine deployment would help fulfill the up to 30,000 troops military planners have proposed to inject in Afghanistan within the next 12 to 18 months to bolster the approximately 34,000 US troops already there. Another 143,000 US troops are in Iraq.
Marines "have been steadily removing equipment from theater in Iraq," Conway said. "The timeline we think today is down to six to eight months to get the rest of our equipment out of Iraq."
Marines in Iraq are currently deployed mostly in Al-Anbar province, a mostly Sunni tribal area that had been the sight of much violence and now has an improved security situation.
"It's very much a nation-building kind of environment that's taking place there" now, Conway said, adding "that is not what we do, and we need those Marines elsewhere."
He said he did not want a significant residual Marine force in Iraq.
"When we begin the movement of Marines from Iraq to Afghanistan, we are asking that the period of transition be as condensed as it possibly can, and also, that when the door slams on Marines in Iraq, that all Marines be on the other side of the door," he said.
There are currently between 60,000 and 70,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, about three-quarters of them under NATO command.
Conway recognized that the departure of Marines from Iraq would depend on the needs of the commander of US troops there, General Ray Odierno, with provincial elections set to take place on January 31. The elections would be the first time Sunnis go to the polls in numbers after boycotting the last elections in 2005.
"The concern on the part of General Odierno is that there could be violence in the wake of an election, that we could lose some of the gains that we have made," Conway said, while cautioning that "not everybody shares that view."
US President Barack Obama met Wednesday with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the US ambassador to Iraq and senior military officers for what the White House said was a session to discuss planning for the withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq within 16 months.
Gates has shied away from endorsing the 16-month deadline. More US troops have to come out of Iraq, however, to build up US forces in Afghanistan, which Obama sees as the main front in the battle against terrorism.
Russian Navy Denies Neustrashimy frigate Has Technical Problems
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - January 24, 2009: The Russian Navy has rejected media reports that the Baltic Fleet's Neustrashimy missile frigate is in an unsatisfactory technical condition, a Navy spokesman said on Friday.
"I am authorized to categorically deny this information, which aims to detract from the achievements and service of the crew of the Neustrashimy, which was the first Russian warship to implement with dignity the task of providing security for navigation in the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa," Captain 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said.
The Neustrashimy was replaced as planned by the Admiral Vinogradov destroyer earlier in the month and is currently on its journey back to its base in Russia's Kaliningrad region.
"The commander of the Russian Navy continues to receive letters of appreciation from ship owners, who praise the Russian sailors," Dygalo said.
Pirates continue to be active in the waters off Somalia, where over 110 ships were attacked in 2008, with 42 vessels seized and 815 crew members abducted. Up to 20 warships from the navies of at least 10 countries are involved in anti-piracy operations off the coast of the lawless East African nation.
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution last December authorizing countries and multinational organizations involved in tackling piracy to "undertake all necessary measures in Somalia, including in its airspace" to prevent "acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea."
China: Concentrating On Technology To Modernization Of Its National Defense Capabilities
(NSI News Source Info) January 24, 2009: Chinese defense spending for this year is expected to be close to $60 billion. China spent $45 billion on defense in 2007 (for a force of two million troops), and over $50 billion in 2008. Even with the increase, the U.S. is still spending about ten times what China.
Guangzhou-class destroyer Guangzhou (168). The People's Liberation Army Navy has become more prominent in recent years owing to a change in Chinese strategic priorities. The new strategic threats include possible conflict with the United States and/or a resurgent Japan in areas such as the Taiwan Strait or the South China Sea. As part of its overall program of naval modernization, the PLAN has a long-term plan of developing a blue water navy.
American defense spending accounts for about half the world total. Unlike Russia and the U.S., which try to maintain modern, high tech forces, across the board, about 80 percent of Chinese forces are pretty, well, cheap and low tech.
That means aircraft, tanks and ships that are either old, or built using old technology. Still, that's a lot of guys with guns, plus several hundred thousand of them armed with the latest implements of destruction. Long term, China strives to build a huge, world class, industrial base, that will provide the tax income, and technology, that will make it the premier military power on the planet.
In a century or less. The Chinese like to think long term, and believe history is on their side. As long as they are patient and persistent.