*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) ARLINGTON, VA - July 20, 2009: Defense Secretary Robert Gates has announced that the size of the Army is being increased by 22,000 to help meet deployment needs around the world. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen participate in a briefing at the Pentagon on July 20, 2009 in Arlington, Virginia. Secretary Gates announced plans to temporarily expand the U.S. Army by adding 22,000 new active duty troops. Gates made the disclosure Monday at a news conference at the Pentagon where he was joined by the chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen. The Army currently has a total troop strength of 547,000. Gates said the military, with President Barack Obama's backing, decided that because of the continuing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and political turmoil in Pakistan, the Pentagon's ability to fill vacancies was "at risk."
Monday, July 20, 2009
DTN News: Defense Secretary Robert Gates ~ Army To Increase Ranks By 22,000
DTN News: CBO Says Navy, Coast Guard Could Swap Small-Ship Ideas
*Source: DTN News / Military Times
(NSI News Source Info) NEW YORK, USA - July 20, 2009: The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard small surface ship programs are too mature to combine, but each service could benefit from using the other's designs, according to a report released July 17 by the Congressional Budget Office. The Navy should consider buying a naval version of the Coast Guard's Legend-class National Security Cutter for long-range, presence missions. The Northrop Grumman-built ships have a range of 12,000 miles at 8 knots without a reserve. The Coast Guard could benefit from the Lockheed Martin version of the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship in two ways; first, to reduce technical risk on its Offshore Patrol Cutter program; second, to field a ship with a 40-plus-knot top speed that would be valuable for interdiction missions. The report, "Options for Combining the Navy's and the Coast Guard's Small Combatant Programs," also says Lockheed is developing a longer-range "Coast Guard" version of its LCS that would be able to steam 6,300 miles at 10 knots with a 30 percent reserve. The base Navy LCS has a range of 3,500 knots at about 18 knots.
DTN News: US And India Agree Defence Pact
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - July 20, 2009: Setting a new path for cooperation with India, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday the two nations agreed on ways to expand U.S. defense and civilian nuclear sales, while acknowledging "different perspectives" on other issues such as climate change. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna, exchange documents after signing an agreement on endowment fund for science and technology in New Delhi, India, Monday, July 20, 2009. Clinton touted prospects for strengthening U.S.-India relations, despite sharp differences on carbon emissions, as they readied a pact giving U.S. companies more access to India's expanding markets. Clinton and Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna, in a joint appearance following a day of high-level talks, pledged that future U.S.-Indian discussions would encompass a much wider scope of issues to include energy security, education, agriculture reform and counterterrorism. Clinton said it would be a "forum for action," not just talk among government leaders and bureaucrats. "We will work not just to maintain our good relationship, but to broaden and deepen it," she told an evening news conference. "And to that end our governments have agreed to a strategic dialogue," Clinton said. She said that would include not just government officials but also business leaders, scientists, social activists, academics, leaders of charitable foundations, educators and entrepreneurs. Krishna said the two reaffirmed a commitment to "resist the threat from the scourge of terrorism." The expressions of goodwill on both sides stand in contrast to sharp differences on carbon emissions and whether India should be part of an international agreement setting legally binding limits on its emissions. An Indian official told Clinton in blunt terms Sunday that India won't accept such limits — a stance that jeopardizes Obama administration efforts to get a meaningful climate change accord. At her news conference with Krishna, Clinton alluded to those divisions. "Each of our countries, as you would expect, has different perspectives about the problems we face and how we will solve them," she said. "But as the oldest democracy and the largest democracy in the world we believe we can work through these differences in our perspectives and focus on shared objectives and concrete results." Clinton said her talks Monday finalized two agreements. One is an Indian designation of two sites on which U.S. companies would have exclusive rights to sell civilian nuclear power reactors. That could be worth an estimated $10 billion in U.S. sales. The other deal is designed to allow the U.S. to ensure that technology in sensitive American defense items purchased by India are not transferred to third countries. "We want to broaden and deepen our strategic understanding" and find more common ground with India, Clinton told an audience of several hundred students and faculty members at Delhi University earlier Monday. Her trip has not gone strictly according to script: she and an Indian official had a blunt exchange on the U.S. push for India accept binding limits on carbon emissions. Even as Clinton expressed optimism about an eventual climate change deal to India's benefit, its minister of environment and forests, Jairam Ramesh, told her: "There is simply no case for the pressure that we — who have among the lowest emissions per capita — face to actually reduce emissions." "And as if this pressure was not enough, we also face the threat of carbon tariffs on our exports to countries such as yours," he added. U.S. officials had expected the discussions to focus more on cooperation in related areas of energy efficiency, green buildings and clean-burning fuels. Clinton said that Ramesh had presented a "fair argument." But she also said that India's case "loses force" because the fast-growing country's absolute level of carbon emissions — as opposed to the per capita amount — is "going up, and dramatically." Later, at an agricultural research site in a farm field outside the capital, Clinton told reporters she is optimistic about getting a climate change deal that will satisfy India. "This is part of a negotiation," she said. "It's part of a give-and-take and it's multilateral, which makes it even more complex. But until proven otherwise, I'm going to continue to speak out in favor of every country doing its part to deal with the challenge of global climate change." Clinton also met Monday with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss forging a more productive partnership between two countries still struggling to overcome profound distrust rooted in Cold War rivalries. The Obama administration regards India as an emerging world power and a key to turning the tide against violent Islamic extremism. In her session with Singh, Clinton presented an Obama invitation for a state visit Nov. 24 and the prime minister accepted, Clinton aides said. Clinton, on her fourth visit to India and her first as secretary of state, used her appearance at Delhi University to stress the importance of stepping beyond formal diplomacy to encourage U.S.-India contacts on other levels, including academic and business. "We have to get to the real meat of the matter, and our cooperation will do that for us," she told her university audience. On Wednesday Clinton was flying to Thailand for talks with senior government officials and to attend an international conference later in the week.
DTN News: Reignwood Group Is First To Operate A Bombardier Global 5000 Jet From Mainland China *Source: DTN News / Bombardier (NSI News Source Info) MONTREAL, Canada - July 20, 2009: Bombardier today announced the delivery into service of the first Global 5000 business jet in mainland China to Reignwood Group, a Beijing-based corporation with worldwide operations. The aircraft is manufactured by Bombardier Aerospace in Toronto, Canada, and flown "green" to Montreal, St. Louis or Savannah for final completion. The Global 5000 can fly close to 5,000 nautical miles (9,300 km) nonstop at Mach .80. The average trip lengths for most operators is 2.5 hours where the aircraft will cruise between Mach .85 and Mach .89, making it one of the fastest long range jets available today. Typical configuration features 13 - 15 passenger seats including fully berthable seats and an aft lounge/bedroom. The aircraft has a full galley and two lavatories. The crew rest area was removed, but is being considered on newer versions). Originally, the maximum takeoff weight was 89,700 lb (40,700 kg). With typical equipment and passenger accoutrements, the empty weight was 52,000 - 55,000 pounds (22600 - 25000 kg). In April 2008, Bombardier announced that the certified gross weight had been increased to 92,500 lb (41954 kg), which permitted an increased fuel load - projected maximum range increased to 5,200 nm (9637 km). The maximum certified altitude is 51,000 ft (16,000 m) The typical approach speed is 108 knots (200 km/h) requiring approximately 2,600 feet (790 m) of runway for landing.* “We are delighted to operate the first Global 5000 jet in mainland China,” stated Dr. Yan Bin, chairman of Reignwood Group. “Efficiency and high quality are key to staying ahead of our competitors. Our new Global 5000 jet offers the perfect combination of comfort, speed and range to satisfy the requirements of our expanding business and keep us in the lead.” Founded in 1984, Reignwood Group has established itself as a leading brand in property operation and management, mining, culture, sports and beverages. Its high-end business portfolio includes golf club and polo club property operation. With the acquisition of a Global 5000 jet, Reignwood will offer its distinguished golf club membership the ultimate in international business travel service. With branches and offices located in Singapore, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland, Reignwood Group enjoys a strong position in the global marketplace. “This delivery marks an important milestone in our expanding presence in China" said Ray Jones, vice-president, international sales Bombardier Business Aircraft. “With the widest range of products and services, Bombardier is best-positioned to offer operators in China and Asia the right travel solutions to fit their needs. Our Global aircraft family is ideally suited for the long range business missions often required in this region.” The super large Global 5000 jet combines superior transatlantic speed with the largest cabin in its market segment. It features high-speed Internet connectivity and unmatched entertainment options as well as a heads-up flight display system, with the largest field-of-view of any business aircraft. With a recent range increase of 400 NM (741 km) the jet can now connect Beijing-London, Beijing-Melbourne and Beijing-San Francisco non-stop with eight passengers and three crew*. About BombardierA world-leading manufacturer of innovative transportation solutions, from commercial aircraft and business jets to rail transportation equipment, systems and services, Bombardier Inc. is a global corporation headquartered in Canada. Its revenues for the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2009, were $19.7 billion US, and its shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (BBD). Bombardier is listed as an index component to the Dow Jones Sustainability World and North America indexes. News and information are available at http://www.bombardier.com/.
DTN New: Boeing To Build Spin Mechanism For Earth-Observing NASA Spacecraft
*Source: DTN News / Boeing
(NSI News Source Info) EL SEGUNDO, Calif., - July 20, 2009: The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] on July 8 received a contract from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to provide a subsystem for a new spacecraft that will help scientists understand the effects of global warming on water systems and crop yields. The terms of the contract were not disclosed. The spin mechanism Boeing will provide for the Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP) observatory will enable the spacecraft's sensor to rotate smoothly and continuously as it scans the Earth's surface, measuring soil moisture and temperature. The JPL expects to launch the observatory between 2010 and 2013. "We are excited about this new relationship with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in support of this important environmental mission," said Stephen O'Neill, president of Boeing Satellite Systems International Inc. "Boeing's decades of experience with spinning spacecraft began in 1963 with the launch of Syncom, the first communications satellite in geosynchronous orbit. We will provide a full range of capabilities to help ensure the success of the SMAP mission." The SMAP spacecraft will provide unprecedented accuracy and resolution of globally mapped moisture conditions in the top layer of the Earth's surface to extend the capabilities of weather climate and prediction models. SMAP data also will be used to measure the uptake and release of carbon in forested regions and to improve flood prediction and drought monitoring. A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $32 billion business with 70,000 employees worldwide.
DTN News: Raytheon Selected to Deliver GPS-Aided Indian Air Navigation System
*Source: DTN News / Raytheon
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - July 20, 2009: The Indian Space Research Organization has awarded an $82 million contract to Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) to modernize the Indian air navigation system. Raytheon will build the ground stations for the GPS-Aided Geosynchronous Augmented Navigation System, and ISRO will provide the space segment and additional ground equipment. GAGAN will provide satellite-based navigation for civil aviation over Indian airspace and adjoining areas in South and East Asia. "GAGAN will be the world's most advanced air navigation system and further reinforces India's leadership in the forefront of air navigation," said Andy Zogg, Raytheon Network Centric Systems vice president of Command and Control Systems. "GAGAN will greatly improve safety, reduce congestion and enhance communications to meet India's growing air traffic management needs." Raytheon plays a major role in designing innovative solutions for air traffic management. The company offers a broad range of automation and surveillance systems in use today in more than 50 countries around the world. GAGAN will be the newest addition to the ATM portfolio. Raytheon is the only company that has delivered satellite-based augmentation systems that have been certified for safety-of-flight operations. The company developed the Federal Aviation Administration's Wide Area Augmentation System and was engaged in the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau's Multi-Function Transport Satellite Augmentation System. "Our GAGAN solution addresses the four essential elements of safe air navigation: accuracy, integrity, availability and continuity," said Fritz Treyz, Raytheon Network Centric Systems director of Business Development who led the Raytheon team pursuing the GAGAN initiative. Mr. A. S. Ganeshan, GAGAN project director of ISRO Satellite Center, has led the ISRO team. Raytheon will continue the work it began several years ago and expects to have the GAGAN system fully functional by 2013. Raytheon Company, with 2008 sales of $23.2 billion, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 87 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as a broad range of mission support services. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 73,000 people
DTN News: India Will Pay $ 2.9 Billion For Admiral Gorshkov Aircraft Carrier
*It is a government-to-government engagement: Defence Ministry sources Aircraft carrier expected to be handed over by the end of 2012
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - July 20, 2009: India is all set to finalise the price tag of aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (Admiral Gorshkov), which would be closer to the revised demand made by Russia at $2.9 billion. Authoritative sources in the Ministry of Defence say the figure is likely to be finalised next week when negotiators end discussions. The Russian negotiators arrived here on July 10 and originally intended to stay till July 17. The team has conveyed that the cost had been calculated as per the standards specified by its government and there was little room to de-escalate the cost, revised from its original price of $1.5 billion. This figure too had been later changed to $2.2 billion. After the recent visit of Defence Secretary Vijay Singh, New Delhi was hopeful that the price would be closer to $2.2 billion; however, over the past one week, negotiations had moved in a direction that showed it would be closer to the re-revised demand, the sources said. “Eventually, it must be remembered that this is not a commercial negotiation between a buyer and a seller but a government-to-government engagement. Yet, the negotiations have been arduous,” the sources said. As per the 2004 contract, the aircraft carrier that is undergoing repairs and refit at the Sevmash shipyard, was to have been delivered last year, but it is now expected to be handed over by the end of 2012. The Russian side was told during Mr. Singh’s visit that the deadline would have to be adhered to. In a related development, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was quoted as telling the builders, during his visit to the shipyard early this month, to ensure delivery of the aircraft carrier on time. India has so far paid $602 million as advance to Russia, with a bulk of that amount being released this year. The final price does not include the 16 MiG29 K deck-jets that India plans to buy for the carrier. Meanwhile, Director of National Maritime Foundation C. Uday Bhaskar told The Hindu, that the deal was important for India-Russia defence cooperation.
DTN News: Jihadis Identify U.S. Plots Against China In Xinjiang And Africa
*Source: DTN News / The Jamestown Foundation By: Abdul Hameed Bakie
(NSI News Source Info) - July 20, 2009: In light of the ethnic violence in China’s Xinjiang province, various jihadi internet forums focused on the handling of the turmoil by China’s security forces. A vast region comprising nearly a sixth of China’s total land mass, Xinjiang is home to a number of Central Asian ethnic groups, the largest of which is the Turkic-speaking Uyghur people, until recently the dominant group in the region. Massive government-encouraged post-war migration by Han Chinese has made the Uyghurs a minority in their traditional home, known to Muslims as East Turkistan.
The first response of Salafi-Jihadi forums to any perceived injustice inflicted on Muslims anywhere typically involves citing a conspiracy theory regarding the manipulation of Muslims by the United States. One forum debated China’s “brutal” handling of East Turkistan Muslims in a post entitled; “China, the United States.and al-Qaeda Organization” (muslm.net, July 7, 2009). On the trouble in the oil-rich Xinjiang region, a jihadi forum member, nicknamed Ibn Khaldoon al-Jaza’iri, accused the United States of interfering in Chinese affairs by instigating the Uyghur Muslims in East Turkistan to rebel against the government.
The prospect of China taking a leading role in the world as the next superpower is disturbing to the United States. Therefore, wherever there are Chinese investments, especially in oil and gas, there are troubles caused by the United States, alleges al-Jaza’iri. The United States tries to impede China’s quest for alternative sources of energy badly needed for its rapidly growing economy. For example, China has made big strides in Africa by building strong relations with oil-rich nations based on mutual interests.
According to al-Jaza’iri, China exchanges its know-how in infrastructure projects in return for oil from African countries such as Nigeria and Algeria, but the United States uses the Islamic jihadi factions to hinder Chinese efforts to establish a presence in Africa. As an example, al-Jaza’iri gives the terrorist operation in Algeria’s Borj Bouaririj district, where al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for killing 18 Algerian gendarmerie escorting Chinese workers building the highway between Algerian capital and Borj Bouaririj.
In this case, al-Jaza’iri does not appear to have done his homework - the AQIM attack was carried out when the gendarmerie was returning to barracks after having escorted the Chinese workers to their site. The attack was clearly directed at government security forces and not the Chinese workers (Echerouk [Algiers], June 18; Middle East Online, June 21).
Al-Jaza’iri says the constant harassment of Chinese workers by jihadi factions manipulated by the United States raises Chinese investment costs, but adds that jihadis should be careful not to fall for U.S. exploitation and should refrain from attacking Chinese technicians and workers building roads, communication networks and oil facilities for the benefit of Muslims in Islamic countries. It’s likely that the United States will attempt to set fire to Eastern Turkistan by directly or indirectly supporting jihadi operations there, similar to what they did in Afghanistan, backed by religious fatwas (religious rulings) from Saudi Arabia’s Salafist shaykhs.
The “stupid Chinese communist regime,” blinded by its hatred for Islam, is expected to fall for the U.S. plan and commit massacres in Eastern Turkistan. Finally, al-Jaza’iri concludes his posting by calling on al-Qaeda leaders to be smart enough not to plunge into the U.S. trap to weaken China.
The majority of forum members disagreed with al-Jaza’iri. “Abu Hamza al-Alawi” rejected the notion that the mujahideen could be manipulated by the United States, adding the mujahideen follow their own agenda regardless of who benefits from their terrorist actions, so long as jihadi objectives are met. The era of U.S. weapons supplies for Muslims to fight communists is over, says al-Alawi, adding that the Western experience with jihadi factions has taught them that Muslims can’t be manipulated.
In response to al-Alawi’s rebuke, al-Jaza’iri insists the Mujahideen are supported by the West in cases that serve their interests. He contends the West doesn’t categorize the Chechen Mujahideen as a terrorist group because they serve the Western objective of weakening the Russian Federation.  The Chechen mujahedeen are considered a legitimate resistance group by the West, which supplies them with weapons through pro-Western Georgia. Al-Jaza’iri claims the West doesn’t perceive the Chechen fighters to be powerful enough to declare an Islamic state that would pose a threat to the West.
Other jihadi forums also focused on the turmoil in Xinjiang. “Abu Hassim al-Ghareeb” urged Muslims not to forget the Turkistan Muslims suppressed by China and to help prevent the Chinese from liquidating their Islamic identity (hanein.info, July 8). Regarding ways of supporting Turkistan, some forum members suggested boycotting Chinese products and investments in Muslim countries, but other, more extreme members called for jihad against China to return the favor of the Turkistan jihadis who they claim poured into Afghanistan in the 1990s, pledged alliance to the Afghan Islamic Emirate, trained in al-Qaeda camps and fought alongside the mujahideen.
In the words of one forum member who urges jihad in China; “Neither boycott nor protests will stop the slaying of our brothers. The solution, known to everyone, is jihad. Who will sell himself to God and rush to the battlefield?” A third forum member called upon global jihad leaders Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri to pay more attention to the revolution in Turkistan and to extend financial and moral support to the Turkistan Mujahideen to make sure they remain adherents of the Salafi creed and part of the global jihadi movement. “Take the initiative. Choose from among them whom you think suitable to lead an Islamic Emirate” said a posting from an Iraqi jihadi forum (faloja1.info, July 8). Again, the jihadi forum members betray their lack of knowledge about East Turkistan – Salafists are extremely rare in the region, where Sufism remains the dominant creed of Xinjiang’s Sunni Muslims.Members of more moderate forums expressed concern over conducting terrorist attacks in China.
Any terrorist attacks there would give the Chinese government a legitimate reason to crush Turkistan’s Muslims, says “First Lieutenant Ata” - “Muslims should only boycott Chinese products and organize protests in front of Chinese embassies. Any direct external military Muslim interference in Turkistan would only exacerbate the problem” (4flying.com, July 10). The jihadi forum members’ hypothesis of U.S. manipulation of jihadi factions to prevent China from becoming a superpower seems far fetched. China is not powerful enough to threaten Western powers militarily or confront the United States.
At best, China could stir up problems for the purpose of making economic gains from the Western world in a way similar to Russia. It is also unrealistic to assume that al-Qaeda and other jihadi factions would play a significant role in a Chinese-Western struggle over Africa or elsewhere. Al-Qaeda terrorist activities in Algeria, for example, are due to an internal Algerian struggle and not to U.S. manipulation of jihadi factions against China’s newly established interests in the region.
DTN News: Myanmar Junta Braces For Pressure *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) PHUKET, Thailand - July 20, 2009: Military-ruled Myanmar is set to face renewed pressure over its trial of Aung San Suu Kyi when foreign ministers and diplomats from Asia, Washington and Europe meet this week, analysts say. This picture provided by the United Nations shows UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meeting Myanmar junta leader Than Shwe in Naypyidaw on July 4, 2009. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning democracy leader faces up to five years in jail on charges of breaching her house arrest after a bizarre incident in which an American man swam to her lakeside residence in May. The ruling junta has defied international outrage about her trial and dealt a humiliating snub to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon by refusing to allow him to visit the opposition figurehead when he visited the country earlier this month. The issue is set to be a major topic on the agenda of the 27-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Regional Forum, the region’s biggest security dialogue, and associated meetings starting Sunday. Hillary factor The presence of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will also add to the pressure on Myanmar’s ruling generals, while China, the junta’s key backer, will also be at the forum. But historically there has been little that anyone can do to force the regime’s hand, said Bridget Welsh, an associate professor of political science at the Singapore Management University. “Most certainly Clinton’s presence will build pressure, but pressure alone has proven not to be effective. The aim should be to broaden the dialogue with the region to allow for more points of discussion,” Welsh told Agence France-Presse. The 10-member Asean spoke out strongly against the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi but has faced international criticism in the past for failing to take on Myanmar, the most troublesome member of the bloc. Welsh recommended that Asean take a carrot-and-stick approach. “Asean has little traction on this issue. It needs to continue to illustrate its concerns for the issue of the trial and political pressure, while simultaneously engaging in the area of humanitarian relief,” she said. “Asean needs to maintain communication with the region through the network it has deepened over the last few years”, including its assistance following deadly Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in May 2008. No leverage The international community has, however, struggled to find any leverage with Myanmar’s military, which has ruled the country since 1962 and kept Aung San Suu Kyi in detention for most of the last two decades. Her party won the country’s last elections in 1990 but was never allowed to take office. Critics say her trial is a way for the junta to keep her locked up for elections promised by the junta in 2010. The elections will be held under a widely criticized constitution voted in just days after Nargis, which provides a major role for the military in any government and bars Aung San Suu Kyi from standing. Sanctions by the United States and European Union have failed to bite—yet Ban’s hopes that his success in persuading Myanmar to accept cyclone aid last year would be repeated with regards to political prisoners were dashed. Activists urged the ministers meeting this week to get tough. “It is imperative that Asean undertake additional and unified actions to ensure that Myanmar begins a process of national reconciliation,” the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus, an advocacy group, said in a statement. “Strong, integrated and decisive action by Asean and its member-states will serve as an effective indicator to the junta that they must begin the reconciliation process or face regional and international rebuke,” it said. ARF background Established in 1994, the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) is an annual gathering of foreign ministers of countries in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. The Forum was initiated as part of an attempt to separate discussions on political and security issues of Post-Ministerial Conferences, a mechanism in which Asean engages with its dialogue partners, from discussions on other issues, in order to facilitate more in-depth discussions and concrete outcomes on issues relating to the region’s security. At present, the Forum comprises 26 countries and one organization: the 10 Asean member states, the 10 Asean Dialogue Partners (Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the United States), and seven other countries in the Asia and Pacific region (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Pakistan, East Timor, Mongolia, Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea). It is noteworthy that all major countries with leading international roles, whether as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, or participants in the Six-Party Talks on the situation in the Korean Peninsula, are represented in the Asean Regional Forum. In this upcoming Forum, besides the discussion on following-up on and review of activities in the past year, other main topics of discussion are expected to include the future direction of the Asean Regional Forum. The participating foreign ministers are expected to adopt a number of documents including the Forum’s vision statement, its work plan on counter terrorism and transnational crime 2009 to 2010 and its work plan on disaster relief 2009 to 2011.