31 December 2010
The UN is clearly getting worried about the Ivory Coast. First there are concerns that a "genocide" may be imminent, and now reports are coming out that local forces are obstructing an investigation into a mass grave.
While violence is falling in Iraq, it's doing so at a slower rate than before. Also in Iraq, the US has turned over a former detention facility to the Iraqi government.
South Korea is concerned that the Norks are building up, and some reports are claiming it's their
"special forces", as we've reported elsewhere here at GN.
A Taliban bomb in Afghanistan has killed at least 14 civilians in Afghanistan
Every spring, private security officers at San Francisco International Airport compete in a workplace "March Madness"-style tournament for cash prizes, some as high as $1,500.By: Shelldrake
The games: finding illegal items and explosives in carry-on bags; successfully picking locks on difficult-to-open luggage; and spotting a would-be terrorist (in this case Covenant Aviation Security's president, Gerald L. Berry) on security videos.
"The bonuses are pretty handsome," Berry said. "We have to be good - equal or better than the feds. So we work at it, and we incentivize."
Some of the nation's biggest airports are responding to recent public outrage over security screening by weighing whether they should hire private firms such as Covenant to replace the Transportation Security Administration. Sixteen airports, including San Francisco and Kansas City International Airport, have made the switch since 2002. One Orlando airport has approved the change but needs to select a contractor, and several others are seriously considering it.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which governs Dulles International and Reagan National airports, is studying the option, spokeswoman Tara Hamilton said.
For airports, the change isn't about money. At issue, airport managers and security experts say, is the unwieldy size and bureaucracy of the federal aviation security system. Private firms may be able to do the job more efficiently and with a personal touch, they argue.
Airports that choose private screeners must submit the request to the TSA. There are no specific criteria for approval, but federal officials can decide whether to grant the request "based on the airport's record of compliance on security regulations and requirements." The TSA pays for the cost of the screening and has the final say on which company gets the contract.
Looking out for trouble from a hilltop observation post above the Afghan village of Khenjakak, members of the 1st Battalion Royal 22e Regiment battle group keep watch as their comrades conduct patrols below.Photo by an embedded reporter
30 December 2010
India increased security in major cities across the country Tuesday after receiving information that a Pakistan-based militant group was planning an attack over New Year's weekend.By: Shelldrake
More police were deployed to city streets, including in India's financial capital, Mumbai, which was attacked in 2008. Airports and railway stations and the popular beach resort state of Goa all tightened security following intelligence reports that the banned militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba was planning to target these places, an official with the Home Ministry said. He spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.
India has taken even minor terror threats seriously since a three-day terrorist siege killed 166 people in Mumbai, though there has been no major attack there since.
Security has been high in Mumbai since Friday, when police began searching for four men who authorities believe entered the city to carry out a terrorist attack. Computer-aided photographs of the four suspects were released.
On Tuesday, police made house-to-house searches in some parts of the city and tightened security checks at bus and train stations, churches and markets.
North Korea has increased its investment in tanks and special forces, a South Korean defence review has reported. The paper, written every two years, notes the North has trained at least 20,000 more special forces. It said the North remained capable of a "massive surprise bombardment" of the South's capital, Seoul. Tensions on the Korean peninsula this year have resulted in cross-border artillery fire and calls for new talks.By: Shelldrake
The total size of the North's military remained unchanged at about 1.19 million, the paper said, but the number of special forces within that had risen to 200,000. These are soldiers trained to carry out assassinations, and the infiltration and disruption of key facilities, the paper said.
It said the North had deployed its new battle tank, "Pokpung-ho" (or "Storm Tiger"), which reportedly made its debut in 2002. This design is believed to be based on the Soviet Union's T-72 tanks, but most of the newly added tanks used some of the older equipment, the defence report said.
North Korea is "presumed to have secured about 40 kilograms" of weapons-grade plutonium by reprocessing spent nuclear fuel rods four times by 2009, the paper said.
Although North Korea has previously been designated the "main enemy" of the South, this year's report calls the North simply the "enemy", apparently for diplomatic reasons.
"Not using the expression 'main enemy' does not mean that we softened our stance," Deputy Defence Minister Chang Kwang-il told reporters.
It added that the North intended to rely on its nuclear programme, special forces, cyber-warfare, submarines and long-range artillery in any conflict with the South. However, it concluded an outright attack from the North was unlikely, given the presence of about 28,000 United States forces in South Korea.
The defence report was issued a day after the South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak said there was no choice but to try to dismantle North Korea's nuclear programme through diplomacy.
Two Royal Air Force VC-10 tanker/transport from RAF Brize Norton are pictured flying over Buckingham Palace. The Royal Air Force helped to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Birthday with a flypast over Buckingham Palace at 1.00 pm on Saturday 12th June 2010. The flypast was made up of 30 aircraft - 13 different types, from World War ll Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster, to modern multi-role Typhoon fighters and the Red Arrows aerobatic display team. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) will lead the formation, their inclusion commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The formation elements flew over Buckingham Palace at altitudes of between 1,300 feet and 1,500 feet starting at 1.00 pm precisely. The flypast took three minutes 40 seconds to fly over the Palace.Image: UK MoD
By: Widow 6-7
29 December 2010
China seems to be getting frisky about the military modernization. First, the US is saying that they do, in fact, have a carrier-killer ballistic missile, and now here come photos/videos of their first 5th-gen 'stealth' fighter in action.
There are conflicting accounts between NATO and Afghan officials about a deadly raid in Kabul.
Will the Islamonutjobs give it up already? They're still trying to attack the Danish newspaper than ran their Mohammed cartoons.
The Army is apparently giving up on the new "universal" camo pattern - admitting that it's universally bad, basically. Now they're going to start testing new variants, including MARPAT.
Remember the Israeli Hamas hit in Dubai? Apparently the UAEians thought about keeping it on the DL.
Nope, no resolution yet in the Ivory Coast. Paging Didier Drogba!
A suicide attack in Iraq has hit a police HQ, and killed the chief.
Russia's Air Force received four new Su-34 Fullback fighter-bombers on Tuesday as part of its current modernization program, an Air Force spokesman said.By: Shelldrake
Russia started full-scale production of Su-34s in 2008 at a Novosibirsk-based aircraft-manufacturing plant, a subsidiary of the Sukhoi Aircraft Holding.
A total of 70 aircraft will be delivered by 2015 to replace outdated Su-24 Fencer fighter- bombers, which are currently undergoing modernization to prolong their service life.
Designed by Sukhoi, the $36-million Su-34 fighter-bomber is a two-seat strike aircraft fitted with twin AL-31MF afterburning turbofan engines.
It is designed to deliver high-precision strikes on heavily-defended targets under any weather conditions, day or night, and is equipped with a 30-mm GSh-301 cannon, up to 12 Alamo or Archer AAMs, ASMs, and bombs.
28 December 2010
Yep, it's been a few days, so we're going to try to catch you up with headlines from the last few days.
Ivory Coast (Wikipedia details here)
There are fears of a military intervention as a general strike is called to try and pressure Gbagbo into stepping down after the recent election. A delegation of West African leaders is headed to confront Gbagbo.
"Anarchists" have claimed responsibility for the bombs in Rome, including a package bomb found at the Greek embassy.
A pair of suicide bombers recently struck Ramadi. And one Iraqi took matters into his own hands, and killed his own daughter after she was recruited by al Qaeda as a suicide bomber.
Iran has hanged a man convicted of spying for the Mossad.
Analysts expect an increase in Nork provocations in 2011, including - possibly - another nuclear test.
More US drone strikes, as missiles kill 18. There are now widespread fears of hunger following the bombing of a World Food Program office.
India has issued a nationwide terror alert as police search Mumbai for 4 in alleged terror plot.
Snooty upper-crust Ivy league schools are "reconsidering" ROTC after the repeal of DADT. But let's not forget that their objections had less to do with taking DoD money than with opposing the military.
NATO has captured an Iranian "arms smuggler" in Afghanistan.
Assange is dismissing threats of extradition to the US.
Haiti has decided they need to lynch voodoo priests over the cholera outbreak. I wonder what they'll do when that doesn't fix the problem.
Four Turkish construction workers were kidnapped in Afghanistan.
27 December 2010
Happy holidays, dear readers! In this post, I will share one of my favorite pieces of practical gear for the armed citizen: 5.11 Tactical's Covert Cargo Pants.
To give you some context, I really don't like dressing up for work, or really any other occasion. I dress for comfort and function. Even Dockers feel uncomfortable to me. A while back, I discovered 5.11 Tactical's Covert Cargo Pants and they have changed my opinion of slacks. Here are some key points:
- The double front pockets make these pants extremely functional for everyday carry. The outer pocket on each side is open-topped and can be used for keys, a cell phone, and similar items. The inner pocket is secured with a zipper with a pull string. This inner pocket has elastic loops that can be used to securely discreetly stow a variety of EDC gear: pistol magazines, a small tactical flashlight like the Surefire E2DL, or a multi-tool.
- The pants are simply comfortable. I originally bought them to wear to work, but they are so comfortable that I wear them around the house and out-and-about most of the time too. Coming from me, that is a big endorsement for any item of clothing. They also fit loose enough, at least on me, that I have a full range of motion in case I need it.
- My biggest complaint is that these pants have a large cargo pocket on each side in the lower thigh era. These are designed for rifle/carbine magazines, but I honestly find them kind of silly. As a civilian, if I'm rockin' the AR-15 in a SHTF situation, I'm not going to be worried about somebody seeing my magazines. On the other hand, if I'm out grocery shopping, I'm not going to have my AR-15 anyway, so why do I need these huge cargo pockets? Even for a LEO or security professional, I don't see how these cargo pockets make sense. In fact, I think they draw attention to the wearer and detract from the otherwise clean look of the pants.
- The color choices are a little limited. The khaki is obviously a safe choice and blends with environments ranging from offices to shopping malls. The other choices either draw attention (OD Green) or are just "meh." I would love to see 5.11 make these pants in a simple black and gray colors to make it easier to match these pants with a shirt.
One quick TTP (tactics, techniques, and procedures) note on these pants: if you are right-handed shooter like me, I recommend putting a spare magazine and a tactical flashlight (like the E2DL I mentioned above) in the left zippered pocket. Put a multi-tool in the other pocket, possibly along with a less-lethal option like a small OC dispenser. If you are left-handed, switch these around. With this set-up, you can deploy the handgun and flashlight together (using, for example, the Harries flashlight technique) in a low-light lethal force encounter.
Some may observe that this gives you only one spare magazine. My philosophy about spare magazines for EDC is that you are not carrying a spare magazine to give you more rounds to fire. Even a 6+1 subcompact .45 like the Glock 36 gives you enough rounds to resolve almost any self-defense situation. The reason for the spare magazine is that the magazine is one of the most failure-prone components of an firearm system and you may need to clear a Type III malfunction (double feed) by replacing the magazine.
Now, back to the pants. As they are today, I would rate them 4 out of 5 stars. If 5.11 ditches the large cargo pockets and comes out with a couple of more easy-to-match colors, they will have made the perfect pants for everyday carry.
If Santa left you with an extra $50 or so after the holidays, give 5.11 Tactical's Covert Cargo Pants a try. They are well worth it.
(Image above is from LA Police Gear, one of my favorite vendors for shooting-related gear).By: Guardian
A Ranger from the 1st Royal Irish Regiment keeps watch on patrol whilst passing by a local shop. B Company of 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment are forward mounted into Patrol Bases and Check Points within the Nad-e-Ali area of Helmand. They recently deployed as part of the 16 Air Assault Brigade operational tour of Afghanistan. The B Company multiple (15 troops) based at Check Point KAMYAB supports an Afghan National Army Tolay (100 Afghan soldiers). This is a partnership; however the ANA take the main lead in all aspects, providing security to the population of Char-e-Mirza.Image: UK MoD
By: Widow 6-7
26 December 2010
25 December 2010
24 December 2010
23 December 2010
US to WikiLeaks: WTF! Yes, the WikiLeaks Task Force is now in effect, yo.
Good to that US intelligence is keeping an eye on developments in London (or not...)
The Norks are vowing a "sacred war" if they are provoked by the South. Uh, OK.
China wants to speed up the launch of their aircraft carrier.
Will the Russians ratify START before the US?
A nice story about a wedding dress going on display at the Airborne & Special Ops Museum in Fayetteville, NC. Yes, a wedding dress. Go read it. (h/t Guardian)
Moving to better protect Somalia's weak, U.N.-backed government from armed opposition groups, the Security Council unanimously agreed Wednesday to increase the peacekeeping force there by 50 percent, from 8,000 to 12,000 troops.By: Shelldrake
Council members also authorized the African Union to extend its deployment of the peacekeeping force known as AMISOM through Sept. 30, 2011, calling the move "vital for the long-term stability of Somalia."
Uganda said it would contribute the additional 4,000 troops.
The resolution approved by council members said the extended deployment and the troop increase are necessary to support Somalia's so-called Transitional Federal Government and civilians from attacks by al-Shabab and other opposition groups.
Al-Shabab and the other largest armed group in the country, Hizbul Islam, announced in recent days they would drop their feud and merge forces to concentrate on fighting the Mogadishu-based government and the African Union troops who protect it.
The Trophy system creates a hemispheric protected-zone around armored vehicles such as the Merkava tank, which has operated prominently in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
Using advanced radar, the system is designed to detect and track a threat and counters it with a projectile that intercepts the anti-tank missile.
On Tuesday, Ashkenazi revealed that two weeks ago a Russian-made Kornet antitank missile – one of the most sophisticated in the world – hit an Israeli Merkava tank and penetrated its hull. As a result, the IDF has decided to deploy Battalion 9 of the 401st Armored Brigade (the “Tracks of Iron” Brigade) along the Gaza border since its tanks are equipped with the Trophy active protection anti-tank-missile defense system.
On Wednesday, the IDF Ground Forces Command tested the system by firing a dud missile, which impersonated some of the advanced anti-tank missiles in Hamas and Hizbullah hands. The Trophy successfully intercepted the enemy missile.
Defense sources said that the Trophy had been tested hundreds of times by Rafael but that what was significant in the latest test was the presence of soldiers and commanders inside the tank which was fired at.
Royal Navy type 42 destroyer HMS Edinburgh is pictured during a pre-wetting exercise. This system is designed to increase the Ship's survivability from chemical or biological attack by washing-off any agents which laid on the Ship. The crew inside are kept safe by a positive-pressure atmospheric 'citadel', and by wearing personal respirators.Image: UK MoD
By: Widow 6-7
22 December 2010
Apple has dumped a WikiLeaks app from the App Store. Caving to the government? Or was it just a crap program?
Secretary Gates has released a statement on the new START Treaty.
The President has signed the DADT repeal. Now here comes the "woe is America" rhetoric.
Are the Brits training Bangladeshi "death squads"?
France has warned their nationals to leave the Ivory Coast as the incumbent not-gonna-quit president threatens to starve out the UN peacekeepers.
So the AP is all up in arms about a high percentage of recruits "failing" the military "entrance" exam. OK look, first of all the ASVAB is not an "entrance" exam. It's not designed to tell you whether or not you should be in the military. It's designed to tell you what specialties you'd be good at in the Army. Now, it's possible you could come back with a result that says you're qualified to be a doorstop, or a target goalie, or a the stick pusher on freefall wingsuit testing without a chute or something else undesirable. But it's not a "test" to see if you can join the military. It's there to tell you what job you might be good at.
Forces loyal to incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast were trying to "starve" U.N. peacekeepers into "submission" by blocking their supplies at border crossings, as the West African nation slid into a "real risk of a return to civil war," U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday.By: Shelldrake
In an address to the U.N. General Assembly, Mr. Ban said the lack of supplies "will put our peacekeepers in a critical situation in coming days." On Monday, the Security Council defied Mr. Gbagbo's order to expel all 9,000 U.N. troops by extending their deployment a further six months.
Mr. Ban called on the international community to ensure the U.N. troops are supplied. "Any attempt to starve the United Nations mission into submission will not be tolerated," he said.
The U.S., U.N., European Union and African Union have all backed Mr. Gbagbo's challenger, Alassane Ouattara, as the winner of the Nov. 28 presidential election, but Mr. Gbagbo refuses to step down.
An army spokesman said Thursday's drill would be held at Pocheon, 20km (12 miles) south of the border - about 50km from central Seoul.By: Shelldrake
Exercises have been held at Pocheon before, but this would be on an unprecedented scale, the spokesman said.
"The scale of mechanised assets taking place is enormous. When we would normally have 6 K-9 mechanised artillery, we'll have 36.
"We'll have the F-15 jets firing. We'll have choppers. You can say most of the mechanised assets taking part will be firing live ammunition," the spokesman said.
"We will retaliate thoroughly if the North commits another provocative act like the shelling of Yeonpyeong," First Armoured Battalion commander Choo Eun-sik told Yonhap news agency.
"Through this exercise [at Pocheon], we will demonstrate our solid military preparedness," he said.
The BBC's Kevin Kim in Seoul says this is the largest winter live-fire exercise ever conducted on land here.
Separately, a "routine" four-day naval firing exercise has begun off the east coast of South Korea, involving six warships and helicopters.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
21 December 2010
The Department of Defense identified today eight major units to deploy as part of upcoming rotations of forces operating in Afghanistan. The scheduled rotation for these replacement forces will begin in early 2011 and continue through the fall of 2011.
The announcement involves one headquarters totaling 800 personnel, two combat aviation brigades totaling 5,500 personnel, and five infantry brigade combat teams totaling 18,000 personnel.
I Corps Headquarters, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
Combat Aviation Brigades:
159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.
82nd Airborne Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.
Infantry Brigade Combat Teams:
3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Knox, Ky.
3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
1st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.
2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.
An explosive device was found Tuesday in a subway car in Rome, Italian news agencies reported.
The ANSA and Apcom news agency said the device was found Tuesday inside a train during a stop in Rebibbia, on the outskirts of Rome.
ANSA cited a press release by the Atac company that runs the subway. Nobody was immediately available at Atac.
Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno said it was "worrying."
"Bomb disposal experts are looking into what it is — whether it's a dangerous device that was capable of exploding or an inactive object," Alemanno was quoted as saying by Apcom.
Apparently the Brits caved to "economic warfare" in fast-tracking the release of the Lockerbie bomber to Libya.
President Obama is planning to sign the repeal of DADT on Wednesday. The DoD has released statements from Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, regarding the repeal of DADT.
The Southies are preparing for a possible Nork attack and the Chinese are pushing the Norks to accept nuclear inspectors. Bill Richardson somehow claims it's all some sort of progress.
Is the US pushing NATO for raids into Pakistan? NATO says "no" but c'mon...
The Senate seems more and more likely to pass START II.
Palestinians lob rockets. Israeli strikes back by air. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
20 December 2010
South Korea conducted a live-fire drill from Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea starting at 2:30 p.m. yesterday for about an hour and half, which ended with no apparent retaliation from the North.By: Shelldrake
The drill was delayed three times from its scheduled start at 11:00 a.m. apparently due to fog that blanketed the area from early yesterday morning.
“Our troops are still on alert for any emergencies that may occur and we are maintaining a status of direct response while observing the movements of the North’s military,” said a Joint Chiefs of Staff official after the drill. “Our military will keep defending the border islands in the northwest.”
According to the official, there were no unusual movements by the North Korean military except for troops on the western shoreline adopting a battle posture.
In the late afternoon, North Korea’s official news service said the drill wasn’t worth reacting to.
The Ministry of National Defense said the troops on Yeonpyeong utilized all the firepower they had, including K9 howitzers, 105-millimeter towed field guns, Vulcan guns and 81 millimeter- and 60 millimeter-mortar guns.
South Korean military officials pointed out that shells fired in exercises usually fall 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) south of the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas.
Yesterday’s exercise employed guns pointed southwest from Yeonpyeong Island toward an area in the sea that measures 40 by 20 kilometers.
The Defense Ministry said the Marine base on the island would fire roughly 2,000 shells leftover from the firing exercise on Nov. 23, which sparked the North’s bombardment of Yeonpyeong. In that drill, the military had planned to fire 3,657 shells with 11 types of guns but was forced to halt when North Korea started firing at the island.
Preparations against a North Korean retaliation or a possible exchange of fire were also made on a large scale.
South Korean military forces put F-15K fighter jets on standby in midair. And the Navy sent 10 ships to the waters around the island, including the 7,600 ton-Aegis class destroyer King Sejong the Great.
The Brits have started making some arrests in anti-terror raids across the country.
The DoD has released a new report on sexual harassment/assaults at the military academies, and finds that the number of assaults being reported is going up. Unknown is whether it went up because the overall number went up, or because more are being reported.
How far has Afghan war coverage dropped off in the US? The New York Times says it's down to 4% of coverage. No doubt everyone is focusing on the budget and the US fiscal meltdown. Which begs the question, should the US try to cut its deficit by scaling back on the overseas wars?
Emboldened by their DADT victory, Democratic leaders in Congress are pushing ahead on ratifying START II. Even with the DADT repeal this past weekend, some restrictions remain.
The Norks pussied out. I mean, really, how else would you put it?
The Department of Defense announced today recruiting and retention statistics for the active and reserve components for fiscal year-to-date 2011, through November.
Recruiting Year to Date. All four active services met or exceeded their numerical accession goals for fiscal year-to-date 2011, through November.
- Army - 14,108 accessions, with a goal of 13,800; 102 percent
- Navy - 4,807 accessions, with a goal of 4,807; 100 percent
- Marine Corps - 4,447 accessions, with a goal of 4,432; 100 percent
- Air Force - 4,785 accessions, with a goal of 4,785; 100 percent
Retention. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force met or exceeded their fiscal year-to-date 2011 retention goals.
Recruiting. Five of the six reserve components met or exceeded their numerical accession goals for fiscal year-to-date 2011, through November.
- Army National Guard - 9,563 accessions, with a goal of 8,846; 108 percent
- Army Reserve - 5,514 accessions, with a goal of 4,950; 111 percent
- Navy Reserve - 1,305 accessions, with a goal of 1,305; 100 percent
- Marine Corps Reserve - 1,953 accessions, with a goal of 1,574; 124 percent
- Air National Guard - 1,048 accessions, with a goal of 1,203; 87 percent
- Air Force Reserve - 1,524 accessions, with a goal of 1,514; 101 percent
Attrition. Losses in all reserve components are within acceptable limits.
A Ranger from 1 Royal Irish Regiment returns fire with his GPMG (General Purpose Machine Gun) after a Taliban ambush on patrol. B Company of 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment are forward mounted into Patrol Bases and Check Points within the Nad-e-Ali area of Helmand. They recently deployed as part of the 16 Air Assault Brigade operational tour of Afghanistan. The B Company multiple (15 troops) based at Check Point KAMYAB supports an Afghan National Army Tolay (100 Afghan soldiers). This is a partnership; however the ANA take the main lead in all aspects, providing security to the population of Char-e-Mirza.Image: UK MoD
By: Widow 6-7
19 December 2010
The Economist has a nice detailed look on the challenges of demilitarizing Somalia.
Two California towns that tried to ban military recruiters are getting their asses handed to them in the courts.
Bill Richardson is warning that the Koreas could get ugly as the Southies are
going ahead with firing drills despite the Nork threats.
The Colombian Army leaving Christmas trees in the jungle for the FARC? Hmmmmm.
Today's WikiDrip highlight: Sudanese President Bashir is stealing billions of dollars.
The US House has approved billions for the overseas wars with virtually no debate at all.
Pakistan insists they did nottip off the media about the identity of the CIA station chief in their country.
18 December 2010
17 December 2010
My family has quite a long history of warfare, my mother’s father was a Major in the Springbok’s during WW2. He was an Engineer. My other Grandfather and his before him were in the Royal Highlanders. My father fought in Kenya and again in Rhodesia. He never spoke about it so I have no idea which units etc. I was 19 when I went. I will never forget the feeling of loneliness and abandonment I felt that day. The time had come even though I knew it, I still was not very happy to be leaving my comfy Zone. While we were waiting on the grass, at least 3 Police vans arrived, dropping off some of my soon to be comrades in arms, one of them Desmond or "Irishman" as he became known, was dropped off at the police station by some of his buddies after a going away celebration, he could not even remember his name. I don’t know what the others did, but judging from later actions, it could have been anything. After that our kit was searched for drugs, weapons (not very well I might add ) etc. and we got aboard the trains. We spent most of the +- 12 hrs on the trains, trying to make friends, etc. My hair was very long at that time 43 cm to be exact, despite warnings, I did not cut it before I went. One of the guy’s, Dick, from Natal, had longer hair than myself, but cut it on the train up, leaving me with the longest hair there.
North Korea warned South Korea to stop planned artillery drills on an island the North bombed last month, saying its retaliation for the manoeuvers would be even more intense than its original attack that killed four South Koreans.By: Shelldrake
South Korea has said it plans one-day, live-fire drills sometime between Saturday and Tuesday on Yeonpyeong Island, depending on weather and other factors.
The North, which claims nearby waters and has said it considers such drills an infringement of its territory, responded to similar firing exercises on Nov. 23 by raining artillery shells on the tiny island, which is home to a fishing community and military bases and is near the Koreas' disputed sea border.
If South Korea goes ahead with more drills on Yeonpyeong Island, "despite our military's prior warnings, second and third unpredictable self-defensive strikes will be made," an unnamed senior North Korean military official said in comments carried by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency.
The retaliation would be made "to safeguard our republic's sacred territorial waters," the North said in the notice that was sent to South Korean military officials Friday. "The intensity and scope of the strike will be more serious than the Nov. 23 [shelling]."
The South has said its planned drills are part of "routine, justified" exercises and has warned that it is prepared to deal with any North Korean attack. Representatives of the American-led United Nations Command that oversees the armistice that ended the Korean War will observe the drills.
Are "ratlines" threatening the White House's Afghan war plans? Is that why we've got more UAV attacks in the Khyber area for a second day?
Japan is dropping their old Cold War defense strategy in favor of one that more directly focuses on China.
In other PacRim news, China is looking to boost their ties with Pakistan, and the Norks are threatening to strike South Korea if their planned artillery drills go ahead.
Assange claims he's the victim of smears. He ain't smeared... yet.
Did CIA lawyers shield waterboarders from legal action?
Another WikiDrip: Was the US afraid of rogue bioweapons from India?
The Army LTC "birther" who refused to deploy now claims it was wrong to refuse the deployment.
A bus bomb in Afghanistan kills 14 in Herat. President Obama says the US is on track in Afghanistan and that the US strategy in Afghanistan "is weakening al-Qaeda". George Will is less optimistic, and he asks if there could be a Tet Offensive in Afghanistan.
South Korea is holding more live-fire drills on Yeonpyeong island.
Turkey's courts are now trying army officers over the Sledgehammer "plot".
There's been heavy fighting outside a soccer match in the Ivory Coast.
Unlike previous attempts to repeal DADT, this House vote was a standalone bill.
Grace Mugabe is suing a newspaper over a WikiLeaks report that she profited illegally from a diamond mine. Odd that she's not trying to sue WikiLeaks directly, whose head moron, Julian Assange is now out on bail.
Secretary Gates has released a statement on the omnibus defense bill.
16 December 2010
Boeing's best hope for growing its share of the burgeoning market for combat drones — capable of stalking and killing enemies without risking U.S. pilots — first took flight on Monday, looking like a giant sting ray strapped to the back of one of the company's signature 747s.By: Shelldrake
Taking a short trip over the region, the Phantom Ray left Lambert-St. Louis International Airport on top of the plane that NASA normally uses to transport the space shuttle orbiter.
The flight's brevity belied Boeing's grand ambition in developing an unmanned aircraft capable of a wide range of military missions: supporting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; suppressing enemy air defenses; electronic attack; aerial fueling; even fighting enemy jets. The prototype vehicle was carried aloft at 1:44 p.m. and returned 50 minutes later, to the applause and gloved high-fives of a couple of dozen Boeing and NASA employees on the tarmac.
Wired's always-informative Danger Room blog has a good brief summary of the Obama administration's latest Afghanistan/Pakistan strategy review.
That article links to another, earlier article on the UAV strikes against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in their safe havens in the northwest Pakistan that has a key quote from Gen. Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA:
"... you have to understand that what we just talked about was a counterterrorism success... Unless you’re prepared to do this forever, you have to change the facts on the ground. That requires successful counterinsurgency."
It's been a long time since I was in Afghanistan, so take this as just some musings from an armchair strategist, but I would claim that we are, or at least should be, in a counter-terrorism campaign and not in a counter-insurgency campaign and that is something that we should be prepared to do "forever" (or at least for many years). As Lawrence Wright wrote in his excellent book The Looming Tower: al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, the insurgency that we're fighting is resistance to the modern, secular, cosmopolitan civilization of the late 20th and 21st centuries.
It took Europe hundreds of years to emerge from the Dark Ages. We cannot force the countries of the "Gap," as Thomas P.M. Barnett refers to the nations that cannot or will not fully embrace the modern world in The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century, to make this transition in only a few years. To do so at gunpoint would require a far more heavy-handed and expensive military, economic, and cultural imperialism than we are willing to embark upon and we would certainly lose patience before a long counter-insurgency campaign to win hearts and minds could take hold. The emergence of countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, and others from the Gap will only happen over the course of generations.
So, what do we do? Some strategists have dismissed the UAV strikes and similar actions as playing "whack-a-mole," but I think a long-term counter-terrorism campaign is actually the best option available to the US and the other nations of the cosmopolitan "Core" (to use another term from Barnett). I call it "the Israeli strategy." Israel has been playing "whack-a-mole" against the PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorist organizations since its inception in the late 1940's. The whacks range run the gamut from assassinations and isolated missile strikes to major cross-border incursions (as in southern Lebanon and Gaza). Some are more successful than others, but they have collectively kept the terrorist attacks at a level that has allowed Israel to survive and even thrive despite being under constant threat from both terrorism and hostile neighbors.
That's the kinetic side of the campaign, with the goal of "managing" terrorist attacks against the US and the "Core" to an "acceptable" level through preemptive and retaliatory small- to medium-scale operations, ranging from persistent ISR, covert raids, aerial strikes, and SOF actions to occasional short- to medium-term incursions by conventional forces into safe haven areas.
On the non-kinetic side, we need to do everything possible to constructively engage the "Gap" and bring them into the "Core" economically, politically, socially, diplomatically and, perhaps most important, intellectually. By engaging them in our modern world, exposing them to knowledge and ideas, their mindsets will change. Over the course of years and generations, bit-by-bit, the "Gap" will emerge from its present Dark Ages and become part of the "Core" and the motivations for terrorism will wither away.
15 December 2010
South Koreans stopped their cars, donned gas masks and ducked into underground shelters Wednesday in the country's biggest-ever evacuation drill — a government attempt to prepare traditionally indifferent citizens for possible new attacks by North Korea.By: Shelldrake
Fears of war on the divided Korean peninsula have intensified since the rivals fired artillery shells at each other last month across their tense western sea border. Four South Koreans on a front-line island were killed; the North's casualties are unknown.
Many South Koreans have become used to regular North Korean threats to turn the South into a "sea of fire" and have reacted coolly to civil drills in the past. There has been widespread anger and shock, however, over the North's Nov. 23 artillery bombardment of South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island.
It was North Korea's first assault targeting a civilian area since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. Both Koreas accuse each other of staging the first provocation. The North claims that South Korea fired artillery toward its territorial waters, while South Korea says it launched shells southward, not toward North Korea, as part of routine exercises.
The nationwide 20-minute evacuation drills Wednesday were the largest since the country began the training in 1975.
In frigid temperatures, air raid sirens blared. Government officials and company employees stopped work and evacuated to underground shelters in basements, subway stations and parking lots. Housewives were asked to turn off the gas in their kitchens.
A dozen South Korean fighter jets flew over major cities to simulate North Korean airstrikes. Trains ran at low speeds in a symbolic move to join with other stopped vehicles. In downtown Seoul, about 30 miles (50 kilometres) from the heavily militarized border and within easy range of North Korean artillery, the city's congested streets momentarily cleared as traffic halted.
There was no penalty for not going to shelters, but authorities encouraged participation, sending out word through the media and posting notices in residential areas. Officials said about 11 million of South Korea's 49 million people took part in the drill.
In Paju, a city near the border with North Korea, dozens of residents ran to underground parking lots and donned gas masks in a drill against chemical, biological and radiological attacks. Rescue workers wearing gas masks and protective suits also brought residents pretending to be infected with chemical agents to ambulances.
The drills came amid stepped-up diplomatic moves by the United States and regional powers.
The Southies are pretty sure the Norks have more uranium sites. Hey, if they've got one, then it's one more than the number of army chiefs the Southies have right now.
Richard Holbrooke, who brokered the Bosnian peace accords in Dayton, has died.
The Army birther who refused to deploy is having his day in court.
Another bomb threat in Sweden as we learn that the bomber was hoping for bigger targets.
Assange is hoping for bail.
14 December 2010
It’s got a grounded 747 with no engine, fake villages that can be stocked with speakers of unfamiliar languages, and 300,000 acres of some of the most Afghanistan-like desert-and-mountain terrain that money can buy.By: Shelldrake
And next month, the training camp built upon a decommissioned army base in New Mexico will be taken over by about 150 visiting special-operations soldiers from north of the border.
There, Canada’s most secretive military units will get a respite from the winter, while they keep up with the kind of training that their military masters in Ottawa are loath to highlight.
According to a new $900,000 contract tender posted on a federal government procurement site, they will refine their standard special-operations skills – such as how to storm hijacked airplanes, how to parachute from aircraft, and how to fire and react to live ammunition.
They will also delve into specific lessons drawn from the Afghanistan conflict – including learning how to rappel from helicopters during night raids, how to capture and question foreign enemies, and how to make sense of surveillance drawn from drone planes.
For all of this, the Department of National Defence is turning to Matrix International, a company that has taken over former U.S. Air Force facilities in Roswell, N.M., a town that, according to urban legend, was visited by space aliens in 1947.
Senators on the national security and defence committee recommended Monday evening that the Senate adopt a motion encouraging the national defence minister to change the name of Maritime Command to a new name that includes the word "Navy".By: Shelldrake
The motion, by Liberal Senator Bill Rompkey, originally called on the minister to change the name to "Canadian Navy," a term already used by Maritime Command in much of its communication, including on its website.
The compromise position allowed senators who favour a return the navy's original name of "Royal Canadian Navy" to support Rompkey's motion.
The Senate is expected to pass the motion Tuesday, opening the door for National Defence Minister Peter MacKay to rename the naval force R.C.N. before the end of the navy's centennial year.
13 December 2010
Operation Red Dawn was the U.S. military operation conducted on 13 December 2003 in the town of ad-Dawr, Iraq, near Tikrit, that captured Iraq President Saddam Hussein, ending rumours of his death. The operation was named after the film Red Dawn, (1984) by Captain Geoffrey McMurray. The mission was assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division, commanded by Col. James Hickey of the 4th Infantry Division, with joint operations Task Force 121 - an elite and covert joint special operations team.
That 'cyberwar' the WikiDrips started? Yeah, turns out they can't even hit the right targets. Oops.
There were arrests in the Afghan attack that killed 6 US troops. Yep, arrests. Not deaths. Not mass explosions. Arrests. In one of the most corrupt nations on the planet. Yippee.
Why not arrest the tuckfards who are killing teachers in Pakistan?
The Norks are threatening nuclear war. Yawn. The US and China apparently discussed this, as well as maritime security in recent talks.
And the bombing in Stockholm might could have been worse.
Petrovac ranges, FYRO Macedonia: A Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle of No.1 Company, 1st Battalion, Irish Guards, joins a Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank training on the Petrovac Ranges. No 1 Company, 1IG, formed the Armoured Infantry component of the Kings Royal Hussars Battle Group on operations in FYROM.Image: UK MoD
By: Widow 6-7
In what would be a sweeping overhaul of its cold war-era defense strategy, Japan is about to release new military guidelines that would reduce its heavy armored and artillery forces pointed north toward Russia in favor of creating more mobile units that could respond to China’s growing presence near its southernmost islands, Japanese newspapers reported Sunday.By: Shelldrake
The realignment comes as the United States is making new calls for Japan to increase its military role in eastern Asia in response to recent provocations by North Korea as well as China’s more assertive stance in the region.
The new defense strategy, likely to be released this week, will call for greater integration of Japan’s armed forces with the United States military, the reports said. The reports did not give a source, but the fact that major newspapers carried the same information suggested they were based on a background briefing by government officials.
The new guidelines also call for acquiring new submarines and fighter jets, the reports said, and creating ground units that can be moved quickly by air in order to defend the southern islands, including disputed islands in the East China Sea that are also claimed by China and Taiwan. These disputed islands are known as the Senkakus in Japanese and the Diaoyu in Chinese.
Details of the realignment, which was delayed a year by the change of government in September 2009, have been leaking out since large joint military drills this month between Japan and the United States that included the American aircraft carrier George Washington.
12 December 2010
Winter fighting in Afghanistan? Yep, and there's a bunch of dead insurgents.
Dennis Blair, former US national intel director, thinks South Korea might attack the Norks. Given Blair's sketchy (at best) performance as DNI, you gotta wonder if this is just another reason to be glad he's not in charge.
Are the Assange's WikiDrips crusaders bailing on their cyberwar? Yeah, probably, now that the school week is about to start again. They all need to turn in their 11th grade trig homework.
Israel is publicly saying what everyone's whispered all along... they don't want to share Jerusalem.
edit: couldn't post the actual sked earlier from the cell phone... here it is
• March 19-20: Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.
• March 26-27: Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.
• April 2-3: Cieba, Puerto Rico.
• April 14-15: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
• April 9: Joint Base Charleston, S.C.
• April 16-17: Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.
• April 30: Beale Air Force Base, Calif.
• May 1: Beale Air Force Base, Calif.
• May 7-8: Smyrna, Tenn.
• May 14-15: Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.
• May 21-22: Joint Base Andrews, Md.
• May 25: Air Force Academy, Colo. (invitation only).
• June 4-5: Cigli Air Base, Turkey.
• June 8: To be determined.
• June 11-12: Jesolo Air Base, Italy.
• June 15: Karup Air Base, Denmark.
• June 18-19: Turku Air Base, Finland.
• June 21: Baltics Flyover.
• June 25: Graf Ignatievo Air Base, Bulgaria.
• June 29: To be determined.
• July 2-3: RAF Waddington, England.
• July 6-7: Koksijde, Belgium.
• July 23-24: Dayton, Ohio.
• July 27: Cheyenne, Wyo.
• July 30-31: Travis Air Force Base, Calif.
• Aug 6-7: Milwaukee.
• Aug 13-14: Portsmouth, N.H.
• Aug 17: Atlantic City, N.J.
• Aug 20-21: Chicago.
• Aug 27-28: Waterloo, Iowa
• Sept 3-5: Cleveland.
• Sept 10-11: Niagara Falls, N.Y.
• Sept 15: Reno, Nev.
• Sept 17-18: Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho.
• Sept 24-25: Hill Air Force Base, Utah.
• Oct. 1-2: Fort Smith, Ark.
• Oct. 8: Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.
• Oct. 15-16: Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas.
• Oct. 22-23: Fort Worth, Texas.
• Oct. 29-30: Lafayette, La.
• Nov. 5-6: MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.
• Nov. 12-13: Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
(click the image to enlarge)
image extracted from FKSM-71-8
A car blew up in a busy shopping area on Saturday afternoon, followed moments later by a second explosion nearby.By: Shelldrake
Witnesses said a man found dead after the second blast had been carrying an explosive device. Two people were hurt.
Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt condemned the attacks as unacceptable in an open society with a functioning democracy that respects different cultures.
"Our democracy functions well," he told a press conference. "Those who feel frustration or anger have the opportunity to express it without resorting to violence."
Police are investigating an e-mail sent shortly before the blasts threatening attacks because Sweden had sent troops to Afghanistan.
Sweden has some 500 soldiers deployed in Afghanistan as part of the international military force.
11 December 2010
Is the head of the New Zealand Defence Force a wargamer? Woohoo!
CNN is running a behind-the-lines documentary from Afghanistan. Maybe they can explain with the AfPak intel reviews are bleak.
The history of one blogger's critique of the Afghan War has been turned into a book.
There are some damn old rifles in circulation in Afghanistan.
And as odd as it may seem, there's a Christmas Tree in the middle of the Afghan desert.
The Mirror (UK) sees a bleak outlook with North Korea situation?
Pirates have seized a U.S.-operated ship.
Is Iran selling medium-range missiles to Venezuela?
Putin thinks that Assange being arrested is undermining democracy. OK, I guess he's the expert, huh?
The Navy has successfully fired a rail gun.
The Russians would love to project power with aircraft carriers the way the US does, but just can't afford them.
The Russian military has conceded that it lacks the funds to deploy a powerful new armada of aircraft carriers and that no more would be built for at least 10 years.By: Shelldrake
The admission comes as a quick rebuttal to remarks by an unnamed military source cited in a string of local news reports that Russia was set to begin construction of new aircraft carriers.
The admission debunks earlier remarks, also, by Russia's navy head Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky that a technical project for an advanced aircraft carrier would be ready by the end of the year.
What's more, Russian navy experts divulged greater details of the project at the time, saying a new aircraft carrier would be nuclear powered and would have a displacement of 50,000-60,000 tons.
This week, however, an unnamed senior official in Russia's Defense Ministry told Interfax news agency that the state armament program for 2011-20 did "not envision the construction of aircraft carriers."
A futuristic new Navy weapon has achieved a testing milestone during a demonstration at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren.By: Shelldrake
Friday's demonstration involved an experimental surface ship weapon called an electromagnetic railgun.
The Office of Naval Research said the weapon achieved a world-record 33-megajoule shot. That energy measurement means the Navy could fire projectiles at least 110 miles.
The railgun uses kinetic energy to fire a projectile. The new munition would eliminate the need for a high-energy explosive, and put sailors farther away from harm's way.
The emperor asked the Japanese Samurai to come in and demonstrate why he should be the new head Samurai.
The Japanese Samurai opened a match box and out popped a little fly. Whoosh went his sword and the fly dropped dead on the ground in two pieces. The emperor exclaimed, ``That is very impressive!''
The emperor then asked the Chinese Samurai to come in and demonstrate why he should be the new head Samurai. The Chinese Samurai also opened a match box and out popped a fly. Whoosh, whoosh went his sword. The fly dropped dead on the ground in four pieces. The emperor exclaimed, ``That is really very impressive!''
The emperor then had the Jewish Samurai demonstrate why he should be the new head Samurai. The Jewish Samurai also opened a match box and out popped a fly. His flashing sword went whoooooossshhh, whoooooossshhh, whooooooossshhh, whoooooossshhh, whoooooossshhh. A gust of wind filled the room, but the fly was still alive and buzzing around. The emperor, obviously disappointed, asked, ``After all of that, why is the fly not dead?''
The Jewish Samurai smiled and said, ``Circumcision is not intended to kill.''
10 December 2010
The DoD is threatening courts martial to stop the use of removable media of the kind that Manning used to feed the WikiTroll.
The BBC has a report on the unveiling of the Rwanda genocide archive.
The Norks are claiming they were "forced" to go nuclear.
Now that anything and everything is dripping out into public, how many more fake 'leaks' will we see like the bogus anti-India cables that fooled Pakistan this week.
Hard to improve on this headline from FoxNews: Berkeley Gives America the Middle Finger.
The Navy announced today that the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) will be homeported at Naval Station Everett, Wash., upon completion of the ship’s docking planned incremental availability (DPIA) maintenance at Bremerton, Wash., in December 2011.
After a thorough analysis and review of related factors, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus decided to homeport Nimitz in Everett following the departure of USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) in early fiscal 2012 for a four-year refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) in Hampton Roads, Va. Abraham Lincoln is presently deployed to the Central Command area of responsibility.
Nimitz was homeported in San Diego from Nov. 13, 2001, to Dec. 6, 2010, when the ship administratively shifted homeport to Bremerton for the duration of its year-long maintenance period.
The Navy’s decision to homeport Nimitz in Everett ensures long-term strategic dispersal of aircraft carriers on the West Coast and yields estimated cost savings and avoidance totaling more than $100 million.
“Many factors were considered here, including the quality of life for our sailors and their families, and the considerable cost savings to the American taxpayers,” said Mabus. “Maintaining a carrier in Everett will ensure long-term strategic dispersal and operational readiness of our fleet which is critical to our national security.”
Nimitz crewmembers who opted not to move family members during the extended maintenance period in Bremerton will be afforded the opportunity to conduct permanent change of station moves for eligible family members from San Diego to Bremerton and, subsequently, to Everett after completion of the DPIA.
The first in its class of 10 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, Nimitz was commissioned May 3, 1975, and was homeported in Bremerton from 1987 to 1997. With a planned 50-year service life expectancy, Nimitz conducted a RCOH at Newport News, Va., from 1998 to 2001.
View Larger Map
09 December 2010
The WikiDrips hackwar continues, and has now roped in Amazon, whose servers quit hosting the site a few days ago, Visa, Mastercard, and PayPall, all of whom quit processing donations for the site, and a Swedish government website. The anonymous twits running the hacks? They say they'll continue.
The latest revelations? The US is monitoring China's activities in Africa. Oh, and apparently the US and Canada are close allies.
Tensions are still rising in Korea.
Israel has launched strikes on Gaza.
And what do the holidays look like in Afghanistan?
Royal Marines of Bravo company are pictured in a Jackal Armoured Vehicle crossing a dusty Afghan sunset, as their tour in the country comes to an end. Bravo and Delta Company of 40 Commando, Royal Marines were conducting their final MOG (Manoeuvre Operation Group) in the desert at the end of Operation Herrick 12. The Marines were conducting a final push moving through the desert providing security and stability for the Afghan people within remote villages.Image: UK MoD
By: Widow 6-7
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from World War I, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Private Henry A. Weikel, 28, of Mt. Carmel, Pa., will be buried on Dec. 9 in Annville, Pa. On Sept. 16, 1918, as part of the 60th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division, his unit encountered heavy enemy artillery barrage and machine gun fire near Jaulny, France, in a wooded area known as Bois de Bonvaux. Weikel was killed during the battle and his remains were buried with two other soldiers in a wooded area between Bois de Bonvaux and Bois de Grand Fontaine. Attempts to locate his remains by U.S. Army Graves Registration personnel following the war were unsuccessful.
In September 2006, French nationals hunting for metal in the area found human remains and World War I artifacts. A Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command team, operating near the location, was notified of the discovery and recovered human remains upon excavating the site.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the JPAC laboratory also used dental comparisons in the identification of the remains.