Friday, June 29, 2012

DTN News - SYRIA UNREST: Russia Halts Plans To Supply S-300 Missile System To Syria - Reports

DTN News - SYRIA UNREST: Russia Halts Plans To Supply S-300 Missile System To Syria - Reports
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources RT
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - June 29, 2012: Russia’s main weapons producer has allegedly suspended its contract with Syria to supply S-300 long-range missile systems. Russia’s ‘Vedomosti’ daily published the report, citing unnamed sources within the military-industrial complex.

The very fact of the contract’s existence was not known until it was revealed in an annual report made only last week and published online by the makers of the S-300 systems, Almaz-Antey.

The report states that the company’s largest contracts are with Algeria (which is paying $39 million for a long-range missile defense system), and Syria, which signed a contract for the same system for $105 million.
The report also says that deliveries on the Syrian contract are expected to be made between 2012 and 2013. But ‘Vedomosti’ claims two separate sources, who chose to remain anonymous, have said deliveries have been put on the back-burner “after a direct order from above.”
It’s unclear whether these reports are true, but many are already speculating on the potential reasons for such a step. Some have suggested that Moscow has decided to placate Washington and Tel Aviv, drawing parallels between this situation and the one back in 2010, when Russia cancelled its contract for the same missile system with Iran.
However, the circumstances in 2010 were rather different. If Russia had fulfilled its contractual obligations back then, it would have been violating an international embargo. But no such embargo currently affects contracts between Russia and Syria.
Others have suggested that Damascus may be strapped for cash, and simply cannot afford the S-300 complex. This claim is also open to speculation as military cooperation between the two states is basically founded on the fact that Russia forgave Syria its $10 billion debt in return for future arms contracts.
No officials have yet commented on the matter, so it will be some time before light is shed on the situation. But President Vladimir Putin had previously said the arms that Russia delivers cannot be used in civil conflicts, and Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, stated the supplies were merely defensive weapons sold in contracts signed long ago.
“We are sending no battleships to Syria. We have been saying publicly that we have been implementing contracts under which we have to supply arms to Syria. These armaments are entirely defensive and they mostly consist of air defense systems, which cannot be used against the population and can only be used to respond to outside aggression,” Lavrov told RT.

Russia's military trade with Syria

Attention has been focused on military ties between Russia and Syria for some time, ever since international media claimed Russia was supplying helicopters to Bashar al-Assad’s regime. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at first even lashed out at Russia, but later backtracked and was forced to admit that the shipment that had got the West’s blood boiling merely consisted of some old helicopters sent back to Russia for repairs.
Although the Russian Ministry of Defense does not disclose the total value of the arms supplied to Syria, outside estimates exist. The US Congress says Russia has outstanding contracts to supply arms for $3.5 billion, while the Swedish think-tank SIPRI puts the figure at between $5 and $6 billion.
Among the widely reported shipments are two K-300 Bastion coastal defense batteries, equipped with supersonic Yakhont missiles. Two anti-aircraft systems, BUK-M2 and PANTSYR-S1, have also been purchased by Syria, though it is unclear if the orders have been fulfilled.
A $550 million contract for 36 Yak-130 planes was signed between the countries earlier this year. While nominally a sophisticated training jet, it can also serve as a light combat aircraft. Russia has also promised to deliver 24 modernized Mig-29 destroyers. It is assumed that neither of these contracts has been fulfilled.

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources RT
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

DTN News - DISPUTED ISLANDS: China Sends 'Combat Ready' Patrols To Spratlys

DTN News - DISPUTED ISLANDSChina Sends 'Combat Ready' Patrols To Spratlys 
*China starts "combat ready" patrols in disputed seas ~ Reuters
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Jojo Malig,
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - June 29, 2012:  "Combat ready" Chinese naval and aerial patrols have been deployed to the disputed Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea to protect Beijing's interests, the Chinese Defense Ministry said Thursday.

Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said China will "resolutely oppose any militarily provocative behavior" from other countries also claiming ownership of the Spratlys.

"In order to protect national sovereignty and our security and development interests, the Chinese military has already set up a normal, combat-ready patrol system in seas under our control," he said.

"The Chinese military's resolve and will to defend territorial sovereignty and protect our maritime rights and interests is firm and unshakeable," Geng added.

Vietnam has launched regular air patrols over the Spratly Islands.

Four aircraft, including two Russian-made Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jets, were deployed to the area on June 15, according to Vietnam's Thanh Nien News.

The Philippine Air Force, meanwhile, has deployed reconnaissance aircraft to Scarborough shoal just off Zambales that China is also claiming.

China is involved in a long-running dispute with Vietnam and the Philippines about ownership of islands and atolls in the West Philippine Sea. Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei also have claims.

The simmering tension between China and the Philippines over Scarborough has eased in recent weeks but Chinese vessels were spotted again at Scarborough shoal this week, prompting concern that the dispute may flare up again.

The Chinese Defense Ministry also announced Thursday that the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) top officials are considering establishing a "presence" in the new city of Sansha (City of Three Sands), which was set up to govern the Nansha (Spratlys), Xisha (Paracels), and Zhongsha (Macclesfield Bank) islands.

Geng said in press conference that China may set up local military command organs in the islands, state news agency Xinhua said.

The State Council, or China's Cabinet, has approved the establishment of the prefectural-level city of Sansha to administer the Spratlys, the Paracels, and Macclesfield Bank, with the government seat to be stationed on Yongxing Island in the Paracels, a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs said.

At stake is control over what are believed to be significant reserves of oil and gas.

CNOOC, China's offshore oil specialist, said on its website last weekend that it would invite foreign partners to explore jointly and develop nine blocks just off Vietnam this year.

On Tuesday, Vietnam said CNOOC's plan was "illegal" and the blocks encroached its territorial waters.

At a regular briefing on Wednesday, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, insisted that the tenders were in accord with Chinese and international law and urged Vietnam not to escalate the dispute.

PLA among '9 dragons stirring up the sea' (Chengdu J-10 Vigorous Dragon Multi-Role Combat Aircraft)

According to a recent analysis made by the International Crisis Group, the PLA is just one of the many Chinese government agencies involved in an internal power struggle over the Spratlys and the West Philippine Sea.

"China is one of its own worst enemies in the South China Sea as its local governments and agencies struggle for power and money, inflaming tensions with its neighbors, illustrated by Beijing’s latest standoff with the Philippines," the Crisis Group said in a study published in April this year.

“Some agencies are acting assertively to compete for a slice of the budget pie, while others such as local governments are focused on economic growth, leading them to expand their activities into disputed waters," said Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, the Crisis Group’s North East Asia Project Director. “Their motivations are domestic in nature, but the impact of their actions is increasingly international."

The study said the Chinese Foreign Ministry should be the lead body coordinating Beijing's policy in the sea.

"But the ministry lacks the power and authority to control the agencies, including five law enforcement bodies, local governments and private sector actors," it explained.

This has resulted in law enforcement and paramilitary ships independently plying the disputed waters just west of the Philippines.

According to the study, the top "dragons" claiming a piece of the Spratlys pie are the Bureau of Fisheries Administration, the China Marine Surveillance, the local governments, the Foreign Ministry, and the PLA Navy.

The other agencies include China's energy companies, the National Tourism Administration, the environmental protection ministry, the Coast Guard, the Customs Anti-Smuggling Bureau, and the Maritime Safety Administration.

The Defense Ministry's announcement Thursday may indicate that Chinese leaders have chosen the PLA Navy as the lead "dragon" in the country's bid to claim the Spratlys. - with a report from Reuters

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Jojo Malig,
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

DTN News - RUSSIA DEFENSE NEWS: Rosoboronexport Showcasing New Equipment And Technologies At TVM-2012 Forum

DTN News - RUSSIA DEFENSE NEWS: Rosoboronexport Showcasing New Equipment And Technologies At TVM-2012 Forum
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Rosoboronexport
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - June 27, 2012: From 27 June to 1 July, the Rossiya Transportation & Exhibition Complex in Zhukovsky, near Moscow, will be hosting the 2nd International Forum "Engineering Technologies 2012". The Forum’s program encompasses the OboronExpo International Exhibition of Weapons and Military Equipment.

The organizers of the Forum are the RF Ministry of Industry and Trade, Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation and the Rostekhnologii State Corporation. The general sponsor is JSC Rosoboronexport, the sole Russian state intermediary authorized to export and import the full range of final defense and dual-purpose products, technologies and services

The best enterprises of the domestic defense industrial complex will show thousands defense products offering significant export potential. JSC Rosoboronexport has placed its exposition on stand 4 in Hall C 3. Here, the information equipment is presented on a wide range of weapons and military in the form of mockups, posters, multimedia presentations, brochures and other promotional materials with regard to potential customers.

A unique feature of the exposition will be an interactive exhibition system incorporating advanced 3D modeling technologies. Visitors will be able to see more than 30 Russian weapons in a 3D format and feel  themselves immersed in virtual reality of air combat, where the MiG-29M multi-role fighter, Mi-28NE  attack helicopter, Ka-52 scout/attack helicopter, and Yak-130 training aircraft will demonstrate aerobatics and effects of different types of weapons.

During “land” scenario screenings, the audience is invited to see the combat capabilities of Russian land forces’ equipment like the T-90S tank, Msta-S self-propelled howitzer, BMP-3M IFV, BTR-80A APC, TOS-1A heavy flamethrower system and Smerch MRL system vividly with photorealistic believability.

The interactive system is the implementation of Rosoboronexport’s new philosophy for advertising and exhibition activities at international arms shows. A traditional 3D model range will be represented by not only land equipment, but also by the Amur-1650 diesel-electric submarine, Tigr corvette, missile and patrol boats, as well as the Yak-130 and Su-30MK2 aircraft, Mi -171Sh and Mi-26 helicopter.

“In order to more fully demonstrate the real capabilities of the Russian land military equipment, we will show them in action at an exhibition range specially equipped for this,” - said Head of Rosoboronexport delegation and Deputy Director General Igor Sevastyanov. – I promise you this will be a dramatic, dynamic and unforgettable show.”

Today, Rosoboronexport is ready to meet the most extensive and demanding needs of foreign customers. In addition, the Company seeks to further develop current lines and forms of cooperation with its traditional and would-be foreign partners, expand the geography of exports, and strengthen Russia’s mutually beneficial foreign economic relations.

By the beginning of this year, Rosoboronexport’s export deliveries of land forces’ equipment have exceeded 21 percent.

Among military equipment being promoted to foreign customers, armored vehicles are most popular. Priority is given to the T-90S missile-gun tank capable of destroying any modern tank at range up to 5,000 meters, even not allowing the enemy to approach an effective range of fire from its weapons. To defeat enemy low-speed air targets, lightly armored vehicles and manpower, a remote controlled 12.7mm machine gun is mounted on the tank turret. Low weight and size of the T-90S, high speed, maneuverability and excellent cross-country capacity contribute to its low observability on the battlefield. Its survivability is provided by a differentiated armoring and ERA, which, together with PGW countermeasures devices, reliably protects the vehicle. Fail-safe operation under harsh climatic conditions, maintainability, a growth potential and a competitive price make the T-90S very attractive to the armies of many countries. An upgraded T-90S model will be also shown at the exhibition. Russian designers have improved the basic performance characteristics of this vehicle - firepower, command control, mobility and protection.

The BMP-3M upgraded infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), capable of swimming across water obstacles with a stride, will definitely attract the attention of specialists. This is one of the best vehicles in its class that combines the capabilities of the IFV, tank killer, artillery and amphibious river crossing equipment. No other IFV can boast such performance. It is unrivaled in terms of firepower. In addition, the installation of an advanced sighting system with a thermal sight and an automatic target tracker significantly improves the effectiveness of its armaments consisting of a 100mm smoothbore gun-launcher, a 30mm autocannon and a 7.62mm machine gun mounted in a single stabilized weapons module, and two 7.62mm coaxial machine guns.

The BMPT combat fire support vehicle nicknamed the Terminator for its effectiveness and firepower is gaining increasing attention. It is intended to operate both as part of tank units and independently. The BMPT provides fire support to units both on the move and at halt by effectively defeating enemy manpower, tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other hardened enemy targets, as well as helicopters and low-flying aircraft.

The field artillery will be traditionally represented by multiple rocket launcher (MRL) systems, upgraded self-propelled artillery guns, anti-tank missile systems, and reconnaissance and command & control equipment.

Participants and visitors to the exhibition will be able to get a comprehensive view of the Smerch MRL. As a powerful and highly effective weapon to suppress enemy forces and facilities, it is in demand in many regions of the world. Its firing range is up to 90 km. The Smerch is equipped with an automated laying and fire control system, which provides greater autonomy in action and automates the preparation of initial firing and laying data. Also on the Rosoboronexport stand, you can get information on various artillery rockets fitted to MRL systems and on guided weapon systems like he 152mm Krasnopol, 155mm Krasnopol-M2, 122mm Kitolov-2M, and 120mm KM-8 Gran guided artillery systems.

In the combat environment of the 21st century, self-propelled and towed artillery has not receded into the background. Here, it is represented by the 152mm Msta-S self-propelled howitzer with an automated laying and fire control system, 120mm Nona-SVK self-propelled artillery gun and other models.

Of Rosoboronexport’s export deliveries, over 11 percent is accounted for by air defense equipment. Last year, the value of contracts concluded with foreign customers to supply air defense weaponry increased by 28 percent.

Among the best military equipment having high export potential are surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems. They are designed to protect the vital military, administrative and economic installations from air attacks, including from precision guided weapons incorporating stealth technology, in the most difficult combat conditions.

The Buk-M2E multi-channel medium-range SAM system enjoys great interest in many countries around the world. It is capable of engaging not only strategic and tactical aircraft, helicopters and cruise missiles, but also tactical ballistic and air-launched missiles, including antiradar missiles, submunitions of precision guided weapons, as well as surface and ground targets in a ECM and counter-fire environment. Each launch vehicle can simultaneously attack up to 4 targets at ranges up to 45 km and at altitudes up to 25 km.

Specialists and visitors will be able to get acquainted with the Tor-M2E multi-channel short-range SAM system, which can destroy not only aerodynamic targets, but also PGW submunitions in flight. Its launch vehicle can conduct reconnaissance of air targets on the move and simultaneously engage up to four of them from short halts at range up to 15 km and altitudes up to 10 km.

Many states are showing interest in the Pantsyr-S1 short-range air defense missile/gun system. It is intended to protect civilian and military installations from all current and future air threats. Each vehicle is capable of conducting reconnaissance on the move and at halt, as well as firing missiles against up to 4 air targets at ranges up to 20 km and altitudes up to 15 km, both on the move and at short halts. Pantsyr-S1’s 30mm autocannons can destroy targets at range up to 4 km and altitudes up to 3 km.

Among the lineup of small armsand close combat weapons on display, military professionals will hardly ignore the known grenade launchers (RPG-7V1, RPG-27, RPG-29 hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers and automatic grenade launcher systems), machine guns (Pecheneg, PKM, RPK, etc), RPO PDM-A Shmel-M infantry rocket-assisted flamethrowers, Degtyarev SVD and SIDS sniper rifles, as well as various modifications of the Kalashnikov assault rifle, including the Series 100 rifles.

Russian arms have always been reliable, efficient, simple and easy to use and often repairable even in field conditions. This is facilitated by a high level of commonality that ensures interchangeability between many parts and units of Russian armored vehicles. A similar view is shared by most of Rosoboronexport’s foreign partners buying not very expensive, but effective, reliable and high-quality Russian military equipment.

Promoting military products to external markets, Rosoboronexport pays special attention to the fact that Russian armored vehicles and artillery systems should be integrated seamlessly into the existing organizational structure of customers’ army units. After all, army weapons are used today in an integrated manner. And this requires auxiliary forces and facilities - reconnaissance, communications, command & control, electronic warfare, maintenance and repair, camouflage, and many other components. Rosoboronexport focuses on these issues by offering its partners well-thought-out, mutually beneficial and balanced proposals accommodating all their wishes.

Another component of successful competition with the leading foreign arms manufacturers is the marketing and pricing policy. Rosoboronexport offers not only the large and small batches of military materiel, but also after-sales service, repair, training of crews and technicians, licensed production, the organization of the service centers, and even joint development of defense products, including for third countries. Rosoboronexport also uses a flexible payment system that takes into account the financial particulars of the customer’s country.

"We have planned to hold intensive negotiations at TVM-2012 with our long-standing partners in military-technical cooperation and potential customers of Russian arms and military equipment, - said head of the Rosoboronexport delegation Igor Sevastyanov. - We believe that the current review of land military equipment will be a new milestone in mutually beneficial cooperation between Russia and foreign states, strengthen the ties with our foreign customers, and expand the geography of military-technical cooperation. We invite all the participants and guests of the Forum to visit the Rosoboronexport’s exposition on stand 4 in Hall C 3."

Attention journalists: 
A news conference of Rosoboronexport’s officials will be held on 28 June in Hall F2 Room 4, 15.30 p.m. It will cover prospects of military technical co-operation with foreign partners.

Please, contact Rosoboronexport’s delegation spokesman Alexander Vitkovsky with any media issues at 8-903-618-09-85 (cell), 739-60-41 (office).

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Rosoboronexport
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

Friday, June 22, 2012

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: Strategic Airlift Crews Fight An Exhausting War In Anonymity

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS:   Strategic Airlift Crews Fight An Exhausting War In Anonymity
*DTN News - AFGHAN WAR NEWS: First Batch Of 1,000 U.S. Soldiers Leave From Bagram Air Base In Afghan Drawdown - July 14, 2011
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Chris Carroll  Stars and Stripes
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - June 22, 2012:  A C-17 lifted out of Ramstein Air Base, Germany, one afternoon last month packed with crates of servicemembers’ household goods up front and explosive munitions stacked on the cargo ramp in back. From there they could be jettisoned in a hurry if a fire broke out.

Minutes after takeoff, the plane’s commander, Lt. Col. John Wiltse, called out “copilot’s aircraft” and turned over the controls. The young officer to his right, Capt. Rick Loesch, acknowledged the command crisply, like Wiltse requires.

Slumping forward until his forehead rested against the instrument panel, Wiltse let out a sigh that deepened into a yawn. He took a long pull from a Monster energy drink, the first of several heavy caffeine doses he would consume during the nine-hour flight to Dover Air Force Base, Del.

For the previous five days, the crew had hopscotched around the Middle East and Europe, carrying food, ammunition, fuel and troops — the materiel and human components of the war in Afghanistan, which has depended on airlift likely more than any other major conflict. Now, after crossing more time zones than they could count and subsisting on precious little sleep, they were in the final stretch of the mission, and would reach home at Joint Base Lewis-McChord., Wash., the next day.

It’s this tail-end stage of the mission, Wiltse said, when strict attention to discipline and detail can mean the difference between a smooth trip home and a mounting string of errors.

Over decades as a military pilot, first for the Navy and now the Air Force, Wiltse, 46, has developed a wry set of guidelines he calls his rules of flying. In the waning hours of this mission, No. 2 was the key: Don’t become world famous.

Avoiding fame is probably not a rule of thumb that would occur to a fighter or bomber pilot facing the potential death-or-glory calculus of combat. But for long-distance airlift fliers, men and women who usually operate far from the front lines of battle doing grueling but obscure logistical work that powers any war effort, emerging from the background generally isn’t a good thing.

“There’s really no good way you become famous in this job,” Wiltse observed, relating a story about an airlift pilot who inadvertently destroyed his plane’s brakes, blocking a runway and temporarily shutting down a major aerial port. Among pilots, he became a worldwide topic of gossip.

Wiltse a day earlier had forgotten to close an isolation valve when he started his plane’s engines, he said — hardly a catastrophe, but a disturbing reminder of how easy it is to lose track of the details as long duty days pile up and exhaustion builds.

Wiltse resumed control of the massive C-17 and Loesch tore into a sandwich. Immediately, Loesch got a light-hearted chiding from his newly caffeinated commander for breaking Wiltse’s flying rule No. 5 — the control pedestal between the pilot seats isn’t a dinner table.

“When you get tired, what you have to rely on is your training, good habits and doing things the right way,” Wiltse said. “The thing we have to combat is indifference.”

A different kind of flier

The flight out of Ramstein was one of 750 flown worldwide each day by crews and aircraft from Air Mobility Command, or AMC, the arm of the Air Force in charge of airlifting U.S military cargo, transporting people and refueling other aircraft in midflight.

Weariness is standard when the demand for airlift, the speediest means of delivery, is insatiable. Impatient commanders don’t want to wait for supplies and equipment they believe, correctly or not, that they need now.

As one official said, “Everyone thinks the thing they want should have been flown in yesterday.”

Though it costs far more to move supplies by airlift than by ship, truck or rail, it’s the logistical tool of choice for time-sensitive and lifesaving missions — whether delivering food to earthquake victims in Haiti in 2010 or vehicle armor kits to shield troops from roadside bombs. More mundane needs, like a missing beam holding up a downrange construction project, can qualify, too.

It takes a different kind of flier. These aircrews measure their missions in weeks instead of hours, like most pilots and crew do. Mobility pilots live by a mantra — “Answering the call so others can prevail” — that drives home their status as supporting players.

“They’re not flashy,” said Brig. Gen. Larry Martin, vice commander of 18th Air Force, the flight operations component of AMC, which is headquartered at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. “Nothing against my bomber or fighter brethren, but mobility pilots take pride primarily in helping others. … You could say we’re not the story, but we’re here so others can be the story.”

Creating an ‘air bridge’

The supporting players have become central figures in the war in Afghanistan, thanks to the country’s landlocked position next to an increasingly disgruntled Pakistan. In retaliation for a firefight with NATO forces last year in which 24 Pakistani troops were killed, the country shut down crucial ground-based supply lines that were the easiest route for many kinds of war materiel into Afghanistan. Despite months of negotiations, the lines remain closed.

Nevertheless, supplies never dropped to critical levels thanks to the Air Force, which created an “air bridge” in the days following the closure, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Marine Gen. John Allen, said last month.

About 40 percent of the cargo reaching Afghanistan now goes in by plane, or by a combination of aircraft and other transportation modes, said Cynthia Bauer, a spokeswoman for U.S. Transportation Command, which directs all military cargo operations. Before Pakistan shut down the supply routes, the portion reaching Afghanistan by air was 30 percent while, typically, the U.S. military airlifts just 20 percent of its cargo, she said.

Despite the increased emphasis on airlift, overall cargo hauled by air into Afghanistan has tailed off since last year. The total in the first four months of 2012 fell 18.5 percent to about 154 million pounds, compared with 190 million pounds during the same period in 2011, when AMC was still hauling in mass amounts of equipment for the 30,000-troop surge that had recently entered Afghanistan.

Things are moving in the other direction now, with troop numbers dropping by 10,000 late last year and scheduled to fall another 23,000 by fall as the remaining surge troops are withdrawn.

Now, it’s the volume coming out of Afghanistan that’s on the rise, said Maj. Gen. David Allvin, commander of AMC’s Tanker-Airlift Control Center, which schedules and controls cargo, passenger and refueling flights worldwide. As the war winds down approaching the end of 2014, the demands of removing the vast amount of equipment in Afghanistan could fall heavily on the Air Force’s shoulders.

Already, vehicles and other loads that can only be brought out by air are piling up at vast “retrograde cargo” yards at Bagram and Kandahar air bases. Allvin is pushing to load every plane leaving the country to the limit before the real crunch hits when a fast-paced drawdown begins.

“A lot of planes were coming back empty,” he said, something that’s changing quickly.

Risk of burning out

Average mission lengths have decreased by a few days since the height of the surge, fliers say. Nevertheless, active-duty mobility crews still endure some of the most taxing schedules in the military, often spending 160 days a year away on missions, Allvin said.

The workload was even higher a few years ago, a former strategic airlift pilot said.

“The ops tempo during my time in the C-17 was pretty high, with most new pilots and loadmasters being gone 200-plus days a year,” said Capt. Cameron Sheafer, who has since left the airlift world for a piloting job he says he can’t publicly specify, but which allows him to see his wife and two young children daily. “There are a handful of guys I know that ate it up, but the majority started burning out after two or three years.”

He said he knows other pilots who also moved on to improve their quality of life.

“Twenty-four-hour duty days, constant time-zone skipping, eating out of shopettes, lack of exercise,” he said. “All of it had a cumulative effect of wearing guys out over time.”

Wiltse, who would head out on another mission just days after returning to McChord, agrees.

“You can’t turn your body on and off like a light switch,” he said. “On these missions, meaningful rest doesn’t happen. … The effect is cumulative. I see it in the mirror and in the faces of guys I work with.”

Sheafer said that when he raised the idea of shorter duty days with a commander, the response was a shrug and the observation, “You have to be tough to fly heavies.”

‘We keep coming back’

The grueling work far from the limelight is something many airlift crews accept, and even embrace.

“To me, this is exceptionally rewarding,” Staff Sgt. Eric Bratton said during another C-17 flight, this one flying from Ramstein to Bagram.

He was one of the loadmasters, crew responsible for loading and securing cargo on aircraft for a “contingency mission” carrying several satellite trucks and communications gear the Army needed quickly at a forward operating base near the Pakistan border.

“This is vital equipment,” he said. “You can easily see the effect it has on the war and what it would mean if those soldiers didn’t have it.”

On another mission flight from Dover Air Force Base to Germany, Lt. Col. Jeff Sladko, a reservist from the Alaska National Guard who as a civilian pilots airliners, said the airlift missions he flies a few months a year are a welcome adventure in the midst of more mundane airline flying.

“It’s just more satisfying,” Sladko said. “In airline flying you’re isolated — go in the cockpit and close the door. Doing this, there’s a greater sense of teamwork, and I have broader range of responsibilities. I need that challenge.”

One of the responsibilities of veterans like Sladko is partnering with less experienced active-duty crews and mentoring them, a key part of the Air Force’s recent Total Force Integration plan. On the trans-Atlantic flight, however, he was paired with another experienced Air Guard pilot, Maj. Doug Dickson.

“Sounds cliche, but we do it for God, country and apple pie,” Dickson said. “This is crucial work for the country. I don’t know if you can find a more patriotic set of people than the National Guard. We can walk away anytime we want, but we keep coming back.”

For Wiltse, on his nonstop back-and-forth delivery schedule, the importance of his missions is something he grasps rationally — some of the supplies could make it to Afghanistan no other way. That realization doesn’t erase a feeling in the background that he’s not really part of it, and the war is something going on at a distance.

“We fly, we land, we drop off stuff and leave, never spending any appreciable time in Afghanistan,” Wiltse said.

Some fliers of the smaller, rougher planes that land daily at forward operating bases around Afghanistan, or that swoop low between the mountains and parachute supplies into isolated outposts, see things similarly. Strategic airlift may deliver the bullets from the United States, but the tactical airlift crews put them into the hands of soldiers — sometimes in the middle of a firefight

“There’s a noticeable difference between us and them,” said a C-130 pilot, a veteran of tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, who asked not to be identified. “You can see it even in the dining facilities. The ones who are in Afghanistan all the time sit here, and guys who are just passing through, who look like they’ve only been wearing the desert flight suits for five days, are over there.”

Sacred duty

Wiltse doesn’t always feel that way, however. One sobering part of his mission changes his perspective from harried deliveryman back to someone fighting a war.

On the leg of the mission prior to the one out of Ramstein, Wiltse’s crew had cleared the plane of war materiel, set up litter carriers and helped medical personnel bring onboard several wounded warriors for transfer to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. The Air Force transfers thousands of patients each year on such aeromedical evacuation flights, and aircrews uniformly call it their most sacred duty.

“It’s humbling to go around the plane and take a look at these guys, some of them walking wounded, but some of whom are in terrible shape,” Wiltse said. “They’re the reality here, and helping them the way we’re able to is the most rewarding thing we do.”

In a war uniquely dependent on airlift, some loads are far more precious than others.

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Chris Carroll  - Stars and Stripes
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

DTN News - CANADIAN HISTORY: War of 1812 ~ Violence, Glory And A New Canadian-Ness

DTN News - CANADIAN HISTORY: War of 1812 ~ Violence, Glory And A New Canadian-Ness
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources BBC News
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - June 19, 2012: Canada today is seen as a harmonious nation of hockey, mounties and maple leaves, in peaceful contrast to its often fractious and noisy neighbour to the south. But Canadian-ness itself was born amid the blood, gunpowder and glory of the War of 1812, writes Grant Stoddard.

As a British-born newcomer to Canada, I've noticed Canadians see their Canadian-ness as the sum total of their shared values, interests and beliefs.

By contrast, in other places national identity is more typically linked to battles, popular uprisings and improbable triumphs in the face of adversity: the Boston Tea Party, the storming of the Bastille, the October Revolution.
This led me to assume that while Canada is a wonderful place to live, it lacked a rousing origin story.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the story of the birth of Canadian-ness - which began 200 years ago this week - is as rollicking, bloody, stirring and inspiring as they come.
Canadians famously cannot bring themselves to brag, so I am taking it upon myself to recount the series of events that paved the long road to Canadian nationhood. Hold on to your toque!
Challenges and disunity
Lt Col Charles De SalaberryDe Salaberry led a combined forced of 1,350 that drove off 4,000 US troops.
In the years after the American Revolution, Britain set about creating a mirror-state to the north of the 13 rebellious former colonies.
Hoping in part to entice the US back into the empire, Britain aimed to demonstrate that life in North America could be happier and more stable under her administration.
There were challenges: the territory in what is now Canada was rugged, under-developed and thinly populated.
Furthermore, the main groups of people living there did not like each another very much.
First Nations tribes resented the unrelenting European expansion into the heart of the continent. Disaffected French Catholics had settled along the St Lawrence River in the early 1600s and remained after Britain finally wrested control of Canada from France in 1763. British inhabitants of Nova Scotia, known as the "14th Colony", had not joined their sister colonies in revolt.
And tens of thousands relocated north after the American War of Independence: refugee crown loyalists and former black slaves rewarded with their freedom for fighting alongside the British.
The new arrivals were so numerous that Britain carved a new colony - New Brunswick - out of Nova Scotia to accommodate them. Yet even after the influx, the US still had about 20 times the population of what was now called British North America.
The British government encouraged even more immigration from the US by offering free land and low taxes. These opportunist migrants, who had little loyalty to the British crown, were euphemistically called the Late Loyalists.
At the dawn of the 19th Century, what is now Canada was no melting pot or even patchwork quilt but rather a hodgepodge of disparate groups who held wildly varying opinions on British rule and American republicanism and a deep distrust of one another.
By 1812, with the British embroiled in war with France, US hawks moved to take advantage of their northern neighbour's disunity, finish the job of the revolution and kick the British off the North American continent once and for all.
Proponents of war were confident that the fractious Canadians would greet US forces as liberators, with former President Thomas Jefferson quipping that annexing the vast territory would be "a mere matter of marching" and could be completed within a few months.
An 1833 lithograph of the Battle of the ThamesNative leader Tecumseh was killed by a US soldier at the Battle of the Thames in Ontario, shown in a detail from an 1833 lithograph
One of the leaders of the invasion force was US General William Hull, a 58-year-old veteran of the revolution who had been reluctant to take part.
He promised the Canadians liberty and prosperity, while also threatening "instant destruction" and a "war of extermination" at the first whiff of collusion between the Canadians and the natives.
Though some Canadians took heed, others, regardless of their allegiances, were uninterested in receiving liberty and prosperity at the point of an American sword. So they took up arms.
Bravery and patriotism
In battles on both sides of the border, vastly outnumbered Canadian militiamen, British regular troops and First Nations warriors inspired by Shawnee warrior Tecumseh overcame the Americans.
Stephen Harper and Prince CharlesCanada never rejected the British Crown as America did, and remains a loyal part of the Commonwealth
A force led by British Maj Gen Isaac Brock and Tecumseh captured Detroit from Gen Hull, taking almost 2,500 American regulars and militiamen captive with only 300 hundred British regulars, 400 Canadian militiamen and 600 natives.
At the Battle of the Chateauguay near Montreal, French Canadians repelled a US attack. Under the leadership of Charles de Salaberry, 50 regulars, 400 volunteers, 900 militiamen and 180 Mohawks drove off 4,000-strong US force.
Despite their difficult history with British rule, Les Canadiens had proved their bravery and patriotism beyond a doubt.
Their victory inspired yet another improbable defence of Canada just over two weeks later at the Battle of Crysler's Farm, in which 900 British regulars and Canadian militiamen repulsed 8,000 US troops.
By the war's end, both York (now Toronto) and Washington DC had been put to the torch by invaders; the British bombardment of Ft McHenry in Baltimore had inspired a new national anthem; and Gen Andrew Jackson had routed the British Army at the Battle of New Orleans.
But the map of North America had hardly changed.
Three native men who fought with the British, photographed in 1882Canada's First Nations tribes' hopes for an independent state died after the War of 1812; above, three men who fought with the British, photographed in 1882
The US withdrew to well within the boundaries of the 13 colonies. Inexperienced British diplomats gave away her territorial gains at the negotiating table, while bullish and skilled US negotiators rejected the British-backed idea of an independent "buffer state" for the indigenous tribes between the US and British North America.
This betrayal of the natives hastened the demise of native autonomy in North America, as the US turned its attention from annexing lands in the north to pushing west toward the Pacific Ocean.
The War of 1812 was declared in Washington 200 years ago yesterday.
The British and Americans drew and the natives lost, leaving the fledgling Canadians with the best claim to victory.
In the spirited defence of their way of life, they surprised both the invaders and one another with their resourcefulness, co-operation and tenacity in the face of an invasion force with an overwhelming numerical advantage.
In that sense, their struggle was not unlike the American Revolution a generation earlier.
What Canadian-ness actually means continues to evolve and remains a perennial topic of discussion both domestically and internationally.
Nevertheless, its beginnings can be traced back to 18 June 1812, when her fractious inhabitants stood together against subjugation by a foreign power.
The 33.5 million people living in Canada today - fully one-fifth of whom are foreign-born - have this patchwork vanguard to thank for their country's steady path to progressive prosperity.

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources BBC News
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*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News