Sunday, July 12, 2009

DTN News: Afghan National Security Forces, ISAF Kill Insurgent Commander In Logar Province

DTN News: Afghan National Security Forces, ISAF Kill Insurgent Commander In Logar Province
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - July 12, 2009: During a joint operation conducted on July 11, Afghan national security forces and International Security Assistance Force members found and killed Mohammed Aajan, who was responsible for violent insurgent activities targeting Afghan citizens, ANSF and ISAF personnel.
Afghan soldiers inspect a destroyed house after Thursday's joint coalition-Afghan mission, in which the 12 militants were killed, in Shikhan village of Baraki Barak district of Logar province south of Kabul, Afghanistan. Coalition and Afghan forces killed 12 militants and one civilian in a province next to the Afghan capital in a mission that included airstrikes.
Aajan was known especially for facilitating improvised explosive device attacks against innocent civilians and security forces in both Logar and Kabul provinces. His death will help improve security and safety for all Afghans living in these areas and represents a significant loss of leadership for the insurgents operating in the region.
Aajan was believed to be closely connected to the July 9 explosion in the Mohammad Agha District of Logar, which killed 24 Afghans including 12 children as they were walking to school. Aajan was given the opportunity to surrender peacefully prior to the conduct of this successful operation.

DTN News: Russia's New Nuclear Submarine Completes First Round Of Sea Trials

DTN News: Russia's New Nuclear Submarine Completes First Round Of Sea Trials
*Source: DTN News / RIA Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - July 12, 2009: Russia's newest Borey class strategic nuclear submarine, the Yury Dolgoruky, has completed the first round of sea trials and is returning to a shipyard in northern Russia, the Sevmash plant said on Friday. The construction of the submarine started 13 years ago, but today Yury Dolgoruky could finally sail out from Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk. The submarine is of the Borey-class, supposed to be armed with the new Bulava intercontinental missiles (ICBMs), but they are not yet ready, so the submarine is without armament. Yury Dolgoruky will be out in the White Sea for approximately 20 days. After that the first sea trials with diving will start. Before sailing from Severodvinsk on Friday afternoon, the vessel had its final inspection done by the Russian navy’s top commander, Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, reports Both reactors onboard are reported to work normally. The total costs for the submarine is 23 billion roubles, or some USD 760 millions. Sea trials of the submarine, which is expected to be armed with new Bulava sea-based ballistic missiles, started on June 24 in the White Sea. "A team of workers and submariners has successfully completed the set tasks," Sevmash general director Nikolai Kalistratov said. He added that the Yury Dolgoruky would still have to pass a number of sea trials later this year to test equipment and performance levels. The vessel is 170 meters (580 feet) long, has a hull diameter of 13 meters (42 feet), a crew of 107, including 55 officers, a maximum depth of 450 meters (about 1,500 feet) and a submerged speed of about 29 knots. It can carry up to 16 ballistic missiles and torpedoes. The construction cost of the submarine totaled 23 billion rubles (about $713 mln), including 9 billion rubles ($280 mln) for research and development. Two other Borey class nuclear submarines, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh, are currently under construction at the Sevmash plant and are expected to be completed in 2009 and 2011. Russia is planning to build eight of these submarines by 2015. According to Navy officials, fourth-generation Borey class nuclear-powered submarines will form the core of Russia's fleet of modern strategic submarines, and will be deployed with Russia's Northern and Pacific fleets.

DTN News: Maldives ~ A fresh Look At The Terror Threat

DTN News: Maldives ~ A fresh Look At The Terror Threat *Source: DTN News / International Analyst Network By Siddharth Ramana (Click here for link) (NSI News Source Info) MALE, Maldives - July 12, 2009: Maldives has not suffered a major terrorist attack since 2007, when a bomb exploded at Male’s Sultan Park on September 29, killing 12 tourists of different nationalities. The attack which had stunned the otherwise peaceful and idyllic Island was immediately condemned by its leadership and the task of the investigation entrusted additionally to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The investigations into the attack indicated that the global jihad network had managed to effectively spread its tentacles into the Islands as well. This network is starting to rear its head again in security briefings for the region. The primary explosive used in the bombing was a gas cylinder. Investigations showed that the terror threat from radicalized youths in Maldives had reached high levels with indoctrination being received from Wahabbist schools of thought based in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. In 2002, the FBI had arrested a Maldivian national Ibrahim Fauzee in Pakistan. Subsequently released, he continues to be under surveillance by Maldives security apparatus. In 2006, three Maldivian nationals were arrested by Sri Lanka on suspicions of transiting to jihadi training camps in Pakistan. They too were released for want of evidence. Mohammed Faseehu, from the Laam atoll island of Dhanbidhoo, and Shifahu Abdul Wahid of the Dhiffushi Island in the Kaaf atoll were two of many teenaged boys missing from Maldives and suspected to be involved in Jihadi operations. The fate of the above mentioned boys was proclaimed to their parents in 2007, in a phone call from Karachi, which claimed that they had become ‘martyrs’ in Kashmir. The role of Pakistani madrassas in radicalizing the youth of Maldives was brought up by the Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed in December 2008. Talking about Islamic fundamentalism, the Maldivian President admitted that between 30 to 40 out of 150 Maldivian students in madarassas in Pakistan were getting education in more radical ones. Links to the Sultan bombing were again traced back to Pakistan when nine Maldivian suspects were arrested in the violent Waziristan region of Pakistan. It is feared that members of the groups were being sanctuary by the dreaded Lashkar E Tayeeba in the region. The fact that Al-Qaeda operatives and Afghan and Pakistan Taliban elements are known to operate in that region further compounded the fears that the training had reached a superior level. The Lashkar had already established a base in the Islands through its charitable front, the Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq, which carried out extensive relief operations in the southern atolls after the 2005 tsunami. The role of the Lashkar’s patronage to Maldivian youths is further documented in the fact that the Jamia Salafia Islamia - a Faisalabad seminary whose alumni are several Al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders- was the school for Mohamed Halim, vice-chief of administration for the Laam atoll. “There were 23 students from Maldives there in 1989,” “and dozens of others at other seminaries across Pakistan. Some used to go off for training with jihadi groups along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.” Saudi funding to schools in the Maldives have further compounded the radicalization in the state. Saudi financing helped construct the Islamic Studies Institute in Male where students are taught in Arabic. Part of the causative degeneration of the Maldivian society can be traced to the rise of Abdul Gayoom to Presidency in 1978. An Islamic scholar who passed out from Al Azhar University in Cairo, he heavily promoted the Islamization of the country by sending the youths to Islamic institutions in countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan and India for Islamic studies. The economy of Maldives is heavily dependent on tourism, and therefore the corresponding rise in Islamization of the country was not matched with a corresponding increase of attacks on foreign tourists in the country. However, the local population was starting to see the effects of the influx of foreign clerics and wahhabist thoughts into the country. According to Jennifer Latheef, a local human rights activist “The number of women wearing the veil has risen dramatically”. Furthermore, the radicalization of the state also had an impact on the linguistic culture of the state, wherein more people were moving from the native term for God-“Maaiyraskalaange” to “Allah” for fears that any other name would be sinful to god. It further resulted in an increase of anti-semitism in the state. Islam in the Maldives has a violent history. Practice of other religions in the state is prohibited and been since 1153, when the king at the time fell under the sway of an Arab traveler and ordered his subjects who were previously Buddhist to convert. Islamic practices and the states dependence on tourism dictate that alcohol is only sold to foreigners. It is tourism however which has been the most significant motivator for the government to tackle extremism in the state. In response to fears that the country’s safe image would be tarnished by the bomb blast, the government introduced a slew of measures to curb radicalization. Among the measures taken was a police raid on extremist strongholds in Himandhoo, while Salafi mosques have been closed down. The Maldivian president has vigorously pursued the role of Pakistani Madrassas with his counterpart and has even requested the Indian governments help in educating the youth of the country. In addition, on October 18, 2007, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom ordered that fundamentalists should not be allowed to conduct religious services and that foreign clerics should not be allowed to enter the country without special permission. Under the new measures, the Government will also not recognize educational qualifications obtained from madrasas. India has an active role to play in the counter-terrorism operations of Maldives. Maldives figures very highly on the risk assessment of maritime security threats being faced by India. Former Indian home minister Shivraj Patil had in 2006 speech spoken about the need to strengthen India’s coastal security, primarily owing to threats from the Lashkar E Tayeeba maritime wing. His assessment was based on inputs that Maldives resident, Ali Assham, a member of the Lashkar, had studied the prospect of using a deserted Indian Ocean island for building a Lashkar storehouse, from where weapons and explosives could be moved to the coastal state of Kerala and then on to the rest of India. It was loopholes spoken by Patil which were exploited in the November 2008 attack on Mumbai city. Further concerns to the Maldive terror link was highlighted when A planned attack on an Indian Space Research Organisation facility in southern India was called off after a Maldives national code-named ‘Ehsham’ backed out of the plot. Lashkar operatives’ interrogation have revealed that they continue to view Maldivian national’s superior knowledge of the sea as a major asset in the employment of maritime terrorism, the likes of which Mumbai was just the beginning. The Indian link to the 2007 bombings would also be a worrying aspect for the Indian security establishment. Asif Ibrahim, a Maldivian national arrested in Kerala in April 2005, told investigators that he had been tasked with the setting up of a support unit for a new Maldives-based terror group, the Jamaat-ul-Muslimeen. Indian intelligence reports have consistently warned of global terrorist designate Dawood Ibrahim would setup a terror base in Maldives have also contributed to the security fears of the Indian government. Measures have already been taken between the Maldivian and Indian governments to cooperate on the maritime threat. Recent high level governmental visits included a visit by the Indian chief of Army staff, the Home secretary and the foreign minister to the state. The November 2007 videotape titled “Ansar Al Mujahideen Targets the Maldives” made it amply clear that Maldives has a greater role to play in Jihadi operations in the region. Some of the key aspects of the radicalization of the state are yet to be addressed including discrepancies in the distribution of wealth among the Islands and the growing drug addiction in the state. The fact that a large majority of the population is relatively young and reeling under economic duress would push them towards a religious ideological leaning. Maldives has taken a number of steps in the aftermath of the 2007 bombings, but fresh inputs continue to pour in highlighting the volatility of its peace.

DTN News: DLR Motor Glider Antares Takes Off In Hamburg – Powered By A Fuel Cell

DTN News: DLR Motor Glider Antares Takes Off In Hamburg – Powered By A Fuel Cell *Flying test laboratory will further the development of fuel cells for aerospace applications
*Source: DTN News / German Aerospace Center DLR (NSI News Source Info) HAMBURG, Germany - July 12, 2009: On 7 July 2009, Antares DLR-H2, the world's first piloted aircraft capable of taking off using only power from fuel cells, demonstrated this capability at Hamburg Airport.
The Antares DLR-H2 during its technical flight trial in June 2009 at Zweibrücken. The fuel cell is slung under the left wing and the hydrogen tank under the right wing – with a capacity of either 2 or 4.9 kilograms. The fuel cell system used to power the Antares delivers up to 25 kilowatts of electrical power, and when flying in a straight line, the aircraft only requires about ten kilowatts of power. In this situation, the fuel cell is operating at an efficiency level of approximately 52 percent.
Antares DLR-H2 has been developed by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). The Antares flies with zero CO2 emissions and has a much lower noise footprint than other, comparable, motor gliders. The propulsion system for this aircraft was developed at the DLR Institute for Technical Thermodynamics (Institut für Technische Thermodynamik – Stuttgart) in collaboration with its project partners – Lange Aviation, BASF Fuel Cells and Serenergy (Denmark). This motor glider achieves new quality standards in the field of high-efficiency, zero-emission energy conversion and clearly demonstrates the progress that has been made in fuel cell technology. The centrepiece and greatest innovation on the Antares DLR-H2 is the fact that it is powered directly by means of an ultra-efficient fuel cell. "We have improved the performance capabilities and efficiency of the fuel cell to such an extent that a piloted aircraft is now able to take off using it," stated Prof. Dr-Ing Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Chairman of the Executive Board at DLR. "This enables us to demonstrate the true potential of this technology, also and perhaps specifically for applications in the aerospace sector. Coupled with our expertise in fuel cell technology, DLR's many years of extensive experience in gaining official approval for aerospace systems are what made the Antares DLR-H2 a feasible proposition." Standard motor glider retrofitted with fuel cell drive The Antares DLR-H2 is based on the Antares 20E motor glider with a wingspan of 20 metres, constructed by Lange Aviation, a company based in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany. With its fuel cell propulsion system, Antares has a cruising range of 750 kilometres, achieved in a flying time of five hours. In order to accommodate the fuel cell and the hydrogen supply on board the aircraft, two additional external load carriers were slung under the specially reinforced wings. Due to the extra 100 kilograms of payload that each of these removable and flexibly interchangeable containers is able to carry, the aeroelastic properties of the wings had to be reconfigured to prevent any adverse impact on the flight stability of the aircraft. Optimisation work at the DLR Institute for Aeroelasticity (Institut für Aeroelastik – Göttingen) now provides the Antares DLR-H2 with an assured capability to fly at speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour without any wing flutter. The current propulsion system permits maximum flying speeds of approximately 170 kilometres per hour. A fuel cell system is the centrepiece of propulsion technology The fuel cell system was developed by the DLR Institute for Technical Thermodynamics in collaboration with BASF Fuel Cells (electrolytic membrane and catalysts) and Serenergy A/S (stack subsystem). The system uses hydrogen as its fuel, and this is converted into electrical energy in a direct, electrochemical reaction with oxygen in the ambient air, without any combustion occurring. During this zero-particulate reaction, the only by-product is water. If the hydrogen fuel is produced using renewable energy sources, then the motor glider genuinely flies without any CO2 emissions whatsoever. The fuel cell is slung under the left wing and the hydrogen tank under the right wing – with a capacity of either 2 or 4.9 kilograms. The fuel cell system used to power the Antares delivers up to 25 kilowatts of electrical power. When flying in a straight line, the aircraft only requires about ten kilowatts of power. In this situation, the fuel cell is operating at an efficiency level of approximately 52 percent.
At 13.00 on 7 July 2009 the world's first piloted aircraft capable of taking off using only power from fuel cells, Antares DLR-H2, took off from Hamburg airport. The total efficiency of the drive system from tank to powertrain, including the propeller, is in the region of 44 percent, making it about twice as efficient as conventional propulsion technologies based on combustion processes. Systems powered by kerosene or diesel only contribute about 18 to 25 percent of their energy to propulsion. "The top priority in this project is of course the safety and reliability of the fuel cell propulsion system," stated Antares Project Manager Dr-Ing. Josef Kallo from the DLR Institute for Technical Thermodynamics. However, having the correct architecture for the entire system is just as important for full implementation of this project: "This includes having an absolutely reliable fuel cell, in conjunction with propulsion system of the aircraft and, last but not least, a fully mature configuration for the aerodynamics and aeroelasticity of the motor glider." Another new feature of the Antares is the way its fuel cell is connected to the main electric motor that powers the aircraft. The motor controller, developed jointly with Lange Aviation and with the College of Advanced Technology in Berne/Biel, is capable of taking in and controlling voltages from 188 to 400 V. Through the direct link between fuel cell and motor, efficiency, costs, reliability and maintenance costs are minimised. Fuel cell as future energy source for air transport The hydrogen tank slung under the right wing has a capacity of either 2 or 4.9 kg. The fuel cell is slung under the left wing. The fuel cell system used to power the Antares delivers up to 25 kilowatts of electrical power and, when flying in a straight line, the aircraft only requires about ten kilowatts of power. The total efficiency of the drive system from tank to powertrain, including the propeller, is in the region of 44 percent – making it about twice as efficient as conventional propulsion technologies based on combustion processes. "With our successful first flight, we have verified the feasibility of fuel-cell powered flight and our next steps will focus on improving efficiency levels and on extending the service life of these systems", stated Dr Kallo. This could, for example, make it possible to significantly improve performance by optimising the cooling concepts, fuel cell architecture and components such as the air supply system. "At this stage, we have only tapped into a fraction of the performance capabilities of this technology for aerospace applications. The Antares DLR-H2 will help us to make much greater use of these areas of potential." Although the fuel cell may still be a long way from becoming the primary energy source for the propulsion of commercial aircraft, it does already constitute an interesting and important alternative to existing energy systems as a form of reliable on-board power supply. High efficiency levels go hand in hand with minimum pollutant emissions, lower noise levels, safe flying operations and high standards of passenger comfort. The aim of the research work being conducted by DLR is to employ fuel cells in real-life applications for commercial air transport – as a reliable supply source for on-board power. In an initial stage of development, DLR collaborated with Airbus Germany on a fuel cell system for providing an emergency power supply to the hydraulic pumps used to control the DLR research aircraft – the Airbus A320 ATRA. In a second step, the ongoing use of a fuel cell system to provide an on-board supply in large-volume transport aircraft is firmly on the drawing board. In future, the Antares DLR-H2 motor glider will provide a cost-effective platform for testing fuel cell systems for aerospace. Among other things, this optimises the test time of the DLR Airbus A320 ATRA. Flying test laboratory will in future be teaming up with the Fuel Cell Lab in Hamburg The Antares DLR-H2 will be based at Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg where, over the next three years, it will be acting as a flying test platform for the fuel cell test activities of DLR as part of its Fuel Cell Labs project. The Fuel Cell Lab was brought into being by the City of Hamburg on a joint basis with DLR and Airbus/EADS and is intended to 'bundle' a high proportion of the hydrogen and fuel cell activities being conducted in the greater Hamburg region. By stationing this research aircraft on the premises of Lufthansa Technik, direct contact can be established with an experienced technical development and maintenance operation in the air transport business. This linkage will also help to enhance the ease of operation and maintenance of the future fuel cell systems designed for use in large-volume air transport and developed by DLR in its capacity as a development partner for Airbus. To safeguard and further develop the level all-round flying expertise for this new fuel cell application, DLR and Lange Aviation GmbH have co-signed a cooperation agreement. Other partners who have already joined include BASF Fuel Cell GmbH, Serenergy A/S and Lufthansa-Technik AG, who came on board in the course of 2008. Contact Dorothee Bürkle
German Aerospace Center
Corporate Communications
Tel.: +49 2203 601-3492
Fax: +49 2203 601-3249 Dr.-Ing. Josef Kallo
German Aerospace Center
Institute of Technical Thermodynamics, Electrochemical Energy Technology
Tel.: +49 711 6862-672
Fax: +49 711 6862-747 Dr.-Ing. Stefan Waitz
German Aerospace Center
Institute of Aeroelasticity, Aeroelastic Simulation
Tel.: +49 551 709-2356
Fax: +49 551 709-2862

DTN News: U.S. General Sees Afghan Army, Police Insufficient

DTN News: U.S. General Sees Afghan Army, Police Insufficient *Obama Strategy May Need More Funds, U.S. Troops
*Source: DTN News / The Washington Post By Greg Jaffe and Karen DeYoung (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - July 12, 2009: Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the newly arrived top commander in Afghanistan, has concluded that the Afghan security forces will have to be far larger than currently planned if President Obama's strategy for winning the war is to succeed, according to senior military officials. Marines with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, RCT 2nd Battalion 8th Marines Echo Co. aim their weapons during a patrol on July 11, 2009 in Mian Poshteh, Afghanistan. The Marines are part of Operation Khanjari which was launched to take areas in the Southern Helmand Province that Taliban fighters are using as a resupply route and to help the local Afghan population prepare for the upcoming presidential elections. Such an expansion would require spending billions more than the $7.5 billion the administration has budgeted annually to build up the Afghan army and police over the next several years, and the likely deployment of thousands more U.S. troops as trainers and advisers, officials said. Obama has voiced strong commitment to the ongoing Afghan conflict but has been cautious about making any additional military resources available beyond the 17,000 combat troops and 4,000 military trainers he agreed to in February. That will bring the total U.S. force to 68,000 by fall. Instead, Obama has emphasized the need to pay equal attention to other aspects of the U.S. effort, including bolstering Afghanistan's economy and governance. Announcement of any additional military resources this year would raise questions from Congress and the American public about whether his overall strategy is working as intended. McChrystal has not yet completed a 60-day assessment of the war due next month. But Defense Department officials here and in Kabul, the Afghan capital, said he has informed Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, in weekly updates, of the need to increase the Afghan force substantially, as was first reported yesterday on Officials spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss findings that have not yet been made public. The Afghan army is already scheduled to grow from 85,000 to 134,000, an expansion originally expected to take five years but now fast-tracked for completion by 2011. Several senior Pentagon officials indicated that an adequate size for the Afghan force may be twice the expanded number. "There are not enough Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police for our forces to partner with in operations . . . and that gap will exist into the coming years even with the planned growth already budgeted for," said a U.S. military official in Kabul who is familiar with McChrystal's ongoing review. Without significant increases, said another U.S. official involved in training Afghan forces, "we will lose the war." Gates would have to agree to any request from McChrystal for additional funding or troops, and recommend it to Obama. U.S. commanders in southern Afghanistan told National Security Adviser James L. Jones late last month that additional Afghan forces are needed. But Jones made clear to them that Obama wants to give the nonmilitary elements of his strategy the time and resources to progress before considering new troop requests. In a telephone interview Thursday from Italy, where he was traveling with Obama, Jones said, "It was never my intention to stifle anybody in the future, but to remind everyone that we have a strategy. . . . And it would be good to see how we're doing on all aspects of the strategy before we start focusing, as we always seem to do, on how more troops are going to solve the problem." Jones and others agreed, however, that both reconstruction and competent governance cannot be achieved until the Afghan people are secure. The strategy calls for U.S. and Afghan forces to clear areas of the Taliban and then hold them. Commanders leading a Marine operation launched last week to drive Taliban forces from Helmand province in southern Afghanistan are already asking: "Where are the Afghan troops? Where's the economic plan? Where is the government?" Jones said. About 4,000 Marines are involved in the current offensive, along with about 650 Afghan soldiers.
Despite concerns that too large a U.S. military presence would undermine efforts to eventually put the Afghans in charge of their own security, Jones said McChrystal is "perfectly within his mandate as a new commander to make the recommendation on the military posture as he sees it. We have to wait until he does that. There was never any intention on my visit [to Afghanistan] to say, 'Don't ever come in with a request or to put a cap on troops.' " The Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Adm. Michael Mullen, told reporters Wednesday that the White House and the Pentagon are "committed to properly resourcing this endeavor." Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell declined to comment on any discussions Gates has had with McChrystal. "The secretary is waiting for General McChrystal to present his overall evaluation of the situation on the ground," Morrell said. Gates, he said, "will review it thoroughly and consult a number of people before he goes to the president." The exact size of any request for additional money and troops will depend on how quickly U.S. commanders and Afghan government officials determine they can expand the Afghan forces and how much of the financial and personnel burden U.S. allies are willing to shoulder. The relatively high illiteracy rates in Afghanistan and the need for new training facilities and living quarters could also constrain efforts to accelerate the growth of the force. Another factor is the Afghan government's limited ability to pay for the larger force over the long term. "It would not surprise me if the ceiling for the Afghan army request was raised," Jones said. "But what the new ceiling might be, and where the money comes from -- there's an international responsibility here, too. There are 47 countries" working in Afghanistan, he said, "and if there are additional expenses, it doesn't mean all of it has to come from the United States." If Obama approves a request for more training resources, he will probably have to contend with sharp questions from Congress about whether his new strategy is working as intended. Many of his constituents on the left would like to see the Afghan war ended rather than expanded. But McChrystal's "argument, and ultimately the argument of the Defense Department," will be that "if you only have one or two years to change the opinion of the people" of Afghanistan then "let's get on with it," one defense official said. McChrystal now has what the official called a "halo effect," similar to that of Gen. David H. Petraeus when he arrived in Iraq in early 2007 to preside over a major troop expansion and change in strategy that ultimately succeeded in turning the tide of that war. An Afghan man cycles past U.S. soldiers securing the area near the site of a roadside bomb explosion in the mountains of Wardak Province in Afghanistan July 11, 2009. An improvised explosive device (IED) placed in a culvert exploded without causing hurt during the U.S. army's patrol. Petraeus now heads U.S. Central Command, which includes Afghanistan. "If you've got Stan's word . . . and Petraeus standing behind him" in requesting more resources, the official said, Obama can stress the need for a "marginal adjustment" based on advice from commanders on the ground. The 21,000 deployments already approved for this year will not be completed until fall. If new deployments are approved, "generating that force, identifying it, training and organizing it will take time," the official said. That would probably extend their arrival into early 2010 and could mitigate any political problems the White House might foresee in authorizing additional troops. Several officials said McChrystal's assessment of shortfalls in Afghanistan will be outlined in broad terms, citing the need to expand and train the Afghan force along with proposed solutions to make that happen. In addition to trainers and advisers, he is also expected to outline organizational changes for U.S. troops and the need for enhanced language, intelligence and other skills. McChrystal, who has spent most of his career in special operations units, is backing a proposal by Adm. Eric T. Olson, head of the U.S. Special Operations Command, to replace the current Navy and Air Force commanders of at least half of the 12 U.S. provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) in Afghanistan with Special Operations officers who served previous tours in Afghanistan and have training in at least one of its two languages, Dari and Pashto. Olson and McChrystal believe that the Navy and Air Force officers, who typically have backgrounds as pilots, navigators or ship commanders, lack the necessary experience. "We want to have the smartest and most culturally aware officers in charge of the reconstruction teams," said the senior military official in Kabul. But the other services have been reluctant to give up the PRT mission, and Mullen and the four service chiefs are scheduled to meet next week to discuss the issue.

DTN News: Lockheed Martin Can Expect Better Future For F-22s, As Voices Are Being Raised From Different Quarters To Increase Inventory

DTN News: Lockheed Martin Can Expect Better Future For F-22s, As Voices Are Being Raised From Different Quarters To Increase Inventory
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - July 12, 2009: A chorus of U.S., Japanese and Israeli officials believe that China, Russia and Iran present common problems that more F-22 Raptors could help solve. Japan’s F-15J force, once top of the line, is now “outclassed by the new generation of Chinese fighters” such as the Su-30MKK, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Air Force Gen. Richard Myers (ret.), tells Aviation Week. Moreover, China’s air defenses, which include variants of Russian-made, long-range SA-10s and SA-20 (S-300 family) missiles, can only be penetrated by the fast, high-flying, stealthy Raptor. Japan’s Defense Ministry has studied the problem closely and, at least internally, has produced “a very impressive tactical rationale” for buying the F-22 if its sale is approved by the U.S. Congress. Myers predicts that any resistance within the U.S. Air Force to selling Raptor technology to Japan, “an incredibly staunch ally,” will be isolated and not critical. Such considerations are pressing because tensions are growing over Japan’s far-flung island empire, some of it mineral rich, that stretches to within 125-150 miles of China. That distance, interestingly enough, is the range of the Raptor’s advanced radar, compared to 56 miles for the F-15. Japan feels it must be prepared to defend its area of responsibility from a new generation of regional threats – including China’s increasingly sophisticated fighter force, which boasts the J-10 – that can carry its new, small-radar-signature, air-launched cruise missiles. Japan also needs a precision bombing capability if any of its islands are occupied. While he won’t pick a fight with the current management of the Pentagon over ending production of the F-22, Myers makes the point in public that only under the umbrella of air superiority that the Raptor provides can U.S. military endeavors succeed. He also contends that there is a fleeting window — now — in which to approve the sale of F-22s to foreign air forces, in particular Japan, which has expressed a willingness to pay twice the price ($290 million) charged to the U.S. Air Force ($142 million) for the stealthy aircraft. In the same vein, Israeli Air Force officials contend that even a single squadron of F-22s, despite the cost and problems with maintaining a small fleet, is worth the cost in its deterrent value. In the Middle East, the sale of S-300s and other advanced missiles to Iran and Syria has set off alarms in the U.S. Current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen was asked recently if the sale of SA-20s to Iran had come up in talks with Russia. As part of the summit in Moscow, there “was a document that I signed with my counterpart, General Makarov, and it focuses on military-to-military cooperation,” Mullen says. “One of the areas I discussed with him ... is that issue and recognizing that particular system is a game-changer. I focused on that. That’s a huge concern because of the potential [the S-300] has.” Mullen also referred to Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon and discussed what he meant by saying publicly that all options, including military options, for stopping the work are on the table. “I wouldn’t over-read the fact that I said, ‘including military options,’” he says. “Where we’re challenged here is the time frame [for Iran’s development of a bomb of] one to three years. My concern is that the clock has continued to tick. I believe Iran is very focused on developing this capability and I think, should they get it, it will be very destabilizing. “Another question is the whole strike option piece,” Mullen says, which refers to preemptive bombing to disrupt Iran’s nuclear weapons manufacturing chain. “I also think that would be very destabilizing and hugely significant.”