22 February 2010

BUB: World Roundup 221700ZFEB2010

The military takeover of Niger might only be a transition to democracy. I guess we'll wait and see...

The military junta that deposed Niger’s longtime leader last week sought to assure visiting diplomatic delegations on Sunday that it would soon restore democracy, as more signs emerged that the violent overthrow had been widely welcomed in this impoverished West African desert nation.


Abu Sayyaf offensive brewing in the Philippines?

The Philippine military is bracing for attacks that may be launched by the Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group Abu Sayyaf Group to avenge the killing of one of their top leaders.

"The Armed Forces of the Philippines has adopted measures to prepare for a possible retaliation from their group," Armed Forces Spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner said in Monday's press briefing.

Brawner said military officials have alerted government troops posted in Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga City - known bailiwick areas of the Abu Sayyaf.

Brawner said they are also monitoring a number of suspected Abu Sayyaf men in Metro Manila. Hcould not categorically say how many ASG members are in the country's capital. But military accounts indicate that there are at least eight of them staying in the metropolis.

Abu Sayyaf leader Albader Parad and some his followers were killed Sunday during a military assault on their camp in Sulu, southern Philippines.


The red-wooded cockpecker red-cockaded woodpecker and Ft Stewart: new BFFs?

Under crystalline winter skies, a light infantry unit headed for Iraq was practicing precision long-range shooting through a pall of smoke. But the fire generating the haze had nothing to do with the training exercise.

Staff members at the Army post had set the blaze on behalf of the red-cockaded woodpecker, an imperiled eight-inch-long bird that requires frequent conflagrations to preserve its pine habitat.

Even as it conducts round-the-clock exercises to support two wars, Fort Stewart spends as much as $3 million a year on wildlife management, diligently grooming its 279,000 acres to accommodate five endangered species that live here. Last year, the wildlife staff even built about 100 artificial cavities and installed them 25 feet high in large pines so the woodpeckers did not have to toil for six months carving the nests themselves.

The military has not always been so enthusiastic about saving endangered plants and animals, arguing that doing so would hinder its battle preparedness.

But post commanders have gradually realized that working to help species rebound is in their best interest, if only because the more the endangered plants and animals thrive, the fewer restrictions are put on training exercises to avoid destroying habitat.

Look, I trained a bunch at Ft Bragg and Ft Stewart, and the freakin' woodpecker was an absolute train-wreck. At one point, over half of Ft Bragg's live-fire ranges were shut down for the damn thing. No one is saying we shouldn't preserve critters, but why is it only incumbent on the military to do so? Because the military is an easy lawsuit target for environmental groups (who generally don't like them anyway). You don't see the environmental lobby chasing around Eastern Washington apple farmers over the protected Sage Grouse on their private property, do you? No. But Yakima Training Center is a complete breeding ground for the little buggers. There's a reason we used to joke that "the easiest way to get the woodpecker of the endangered species list was to kill 'em all and put it on the extinct species list."

French troops are leaving their former colony, Senegal.

French troops will leave Senegal under an agreement to be signed shortly before the West African country celebrates 50 years of independence from France in April, the Senegalese presidency said on Sunday.

France has about 1,200 military personnel stationed at an air base in the capital Dakar, one of three French bases in Africa.

"It has been decided that the French ... will leave Senegal under an agreement which will be signed before April 4," the presidency said in a statement after talks between President Abdoulaye Wade and French Defence Minister Herve Morin.

On April 4, Senegal will mark the 50the anniversary of independence from France.


An interesting column about nukes and the Middle East, as they relate to Israel.

The US may be looking at using Georgia as a staging base to support Afghanistan operations.

President Mikheil Saakashvili recently offered Georgia as a logistical hub for NATO’s operations in Afghanistan. This offer, made in an interview with The Associated Press, came only days after NATO had finalised a supply route agreement with Kazakhstan in the wake of NATO’s expanding mission in Afghanistan. While a supply route through Georgia already functions (for equipment, not armaments), U.S. officials have not immediately accepted Saakashvili’s new proposal. Russia might be in the way, analysts say.

Saakashvili offered Georgia’s Black Sea ports of Poti and Batumi as docks for military supply ships and the country’s airports as refuelling points for cargo planes. AP quoted Pentagon officials as saying that the U.S. Defense Department was aware of Saakashvili's offer, but had not explored the proposal.

The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, has scheduled a visit to Georgia on February 21-22. He plans to meet Saakashvili and visit Georgian troops at the Krtsanisi National Training Centre and observe their training for the operation in Afghanistan. Reportedly, the issue of Georgia as a supply route for the war could also be on the table.

Georgia has already been utilised as a transit point for shipment of non-armaments. “The route to Afghanistan is already used extensively, because almost 80 percent of cargo which is not going through Pakistan is going through Georgia, and only 20 percent through Russia, already,” said Alexander Rondeli, President of GFSIS

By: Brant

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