Archive for the ‘Homeland’ Category

America’s Naval Supremacy Slipping

March 18, 2008

During a recent trip to China with Adm. Timothy Keating, American reporters asked General Chen Bingde, chief of staff of the People’s Liberation Army, “Should the United States have anything to fear from China’s military buildup?”

The general responded: “That’s impossible. Isn’t it? There’s such a big gap between our military and the American military. If you say you are afraid, it means you don’t have enough courage.”
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Courage or not, China’s rapid and massive military buildup (particularly in terms of its expanding submarine force and progressive aircraft-carrier R&D program) has analysts concerned. And the U.S. Navy — the first line of defense against any Chinese expansionism in the Pacific — continues to struggle with the combined effects of Clinton-era downsizing, a post –9/11 upsurge in America’s sealift and global defense requirements, and exponentially rising costs of recapitalization and modernization of the Navy’s surface and submarine fleet, aircraft, and related weapons systems. 
A warplane takes off from the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier ... 
F/A-18 takes off from the U.S. Navy
Aircraft Carrier USS John C. Stennis.
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Currently, America maintains a 280-ship Navy (including 112 ships currently underway) responsible for a wide range of seagoing operations, as well as air and land missions, conventional and unconventional. 
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The fleet is small — a dwarf fleet compared to the nearly 600-ship Navy under President Ronald Reagan — but its responsibilities aren’t.
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Among them are defense of the U.S. homeland and American territories and interests abroad.
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Keeping the sea lanes open and safe from terrorism, piracy, and weapons smuggling. Maintaining air superiority above the Navy’s areas of operation. Maintaining sea-basing and amphibious landing and landing-support capabilities (this includes the Marine Corps, which technically and traditionally falls under the Department of the Navy). Maintaining light, fast forces capable of operating in rivers and along the coastal shallows (littorals). Maintaining a strategic nuclear capability (through its ballistic missile submarine force). Maintaining superior information and intelligence collection and counterintelligence capabilities. And maintaining its ability to engage in direct action — like the recent cruise-missile strike against Al Qaeda targets in Somalia — and providing support for special operations worldwide. 

USS Greeneville off the coast of Honolulu, Hawaii.
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The Navy’s enemies and potential enemies include everyone from global terrorists like Al Qaeda to previous Cold War adversaries China and Russia.
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And not only is the Navy fleet small, it is rapidly aging, and gradually losing the depth and flexibility needed to accomplish all of its current missions and strategic requirements.
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The Navy currently maintains 11 aircraft carriers. The USS Enterprise is slated to retire in 2012, but the under-construction USS Gerald R. Ford could be delivered by 2015.The fleet is also comprised of an array of cruisers, destroyers, frigates, attack and ballistic missile submarines, amphibious assault and sealift-capable ships, support vessels of all kinds, and a variety of special warfare craft.
USS Wasp LHD-1.jpg
USS Wasp
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Sounds formidable, and in 2008 it is. But the Navy is not even close to where it needs to be if it hopes to match, deter, or outfight the emerging sea powers that will continue to grow over the next 10, 20, or 30 years.
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“Even though we obviously have a strong eye toward what’s going on in Iraq and Afghanistan for our ground forces, we still must have a balanced force that can deal with a range of threats,” says Peter Brookes, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs. “China is going to be a major conventional threat in the coming years. So we need the capability of projecting naval power across the Pacific to maintain peace and stability in that region.”
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According to Brookes, the Navy needs to focus on — among other things — regaining much of its anti-submarine warfare capability (undersea, surface, and airborne) that has been neglected since the end of the Cold War.
USS Kitty Hawk CV-63.jpg
USS Kitty Hawk.  This aircraft carrier calls Japan “homeport.”  She was ordered to the vicinity of Taiwan on or about 18 March 2008 to provide security for the Taiwanese elections.  Photo from the U.S. Navy.
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Hoping to remedy its overall shortfall, the Navy has proposed a 313-ship fleet – an increase of 33 surface ships and submarines — able to be deployed according to Navy officials by 2019.
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Among the Navy’s new additions would be the Littoral Combat Ship — a small, swift-moving surface vessel capable of operating in both blue water and the coastal shallows — a nuclear-powered guided-missile destroyer, a next-generation guided-missile cruiser, a new class of attack submarine, a new carrier with an electromagnetic aircraft launching system (replacing the steam-driven catapult system), and ultimately a new fleet of jets like the F-35 Lightning II (the carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter).
USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000).jpg
USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000)
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All of the newly developed ships and airplanes would have multi-roles, and would be able to go head-to-head with a wide range of conventional and unconventional threats. Problem is, developing new ships and weapons systems take time, are often technically problematic in the developmental stages, and increasingly hyper-expensive. Additionally, new ships and systems are being designed, developed, and built at the same time the Navy is having to spend money on manpower and costly, aging ships, aircraft, and weapons systems just to stay afloat and fighting.

single modified tactical Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) launches from the U.S. Navy AEGIS cruiser USS Lake Erie
This photo provided by the U.S. Navy shows an SM-3 missile being launched from the USS Lake Erie warship on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2008. The Pentagon says the missile successfully intercepted a wayward U.S. spy satellite orbiting the earth at 17,000 miles per hour, about 133 nautical miles over the Pacific ocean. (AP Photo/US Navy)
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Of the proposed  $515 billion U.S. Defense budget for Fiscal Year 2009, the Navy is asking for $149.3 billion — 29 percent of the budget — which includes the Marine Corps’ piece of the pie (As its current recap/mod needs are similar to the Army’s, we will address Corps issues in our forthcoming piece on ground forces.), and that requested figure will almost certainly, and necessarily, increase over subsequent years.
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Nevertheless, experts contend we are kidding ourselves if we believe the Navy will crack the 300 mark under the current plan.

This picture released by the US Navy shows Fire Controlman 2nd ...
Our sailors make our Navy the most capable in the world. This picture released by the US Navy shows Fire Controlman 2nd Class John Whitby operating the radar system control during a ballistic missile defense drill on February 16 aboard the USS Lake Erie. The US warship is moving into position to try to shoot down a defunct US spy satellite as early as Wednesday before it tumbles into the Earth’s atmosphere, Pentagon officials said.
(AFP/US Navy-HO/Michael Hight)
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“This is the dirty secret inside the Beltway,” says Mackenzie Eaglen, a senior policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation. “If you crunch the actual shipbuilding numbers — year-to-year for the next 10 to 20 years — a 313-ship Navy is a pipe dream.”
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According to Eaglen, the budget requests for shipbuilding submitted to Congress between FY 03 and FY 07, averaged just over $9.5 billion per year. “What’s needed is at least $15 billion per year,” she says. “What’s worse is that I see Defense spending dropping.”
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Cynthia Brown, president of the American Shipbuilding Association, believes money slated for new ship construction needs to be at least $22 billion per year.
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“Of the proposed $149.3 billion, only $12 billion is slated for new ship construction in FY 09,” says Brown. “Since 2001, the Defense Department has increased its spending by 80.8 percent, excluding war supplementals, but shipbuilding has only increased 12.2 percent.”
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Costs of recapitalizing and modernizing our Navy will continue to rise, as will the conventional and unconventional threats our sailors must be trained and equipped to fight. And considering the make-up of Congress — and who may be moving into the White House in 2009 — the nation’s primary power-projection force may find it near impossible to avoid becoming, as Eaglen says, “a mere shadow of its former self.”
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Flaw may permanently ground 160 jets, Air Force general says

January 11, 2008

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A manufacturing defect blamed for the mid-air breakup of an F-15 Eagle fighter may cause the Air Force to ground a quarter of its fleet of those warplanes.
This October 2005 photo shows a group of  U.S. Air Force F-15 ...

The F-15 has been the sole fighter at many of the 16 or so “alert” sites around the country, where planes and pilots stand ready to take off at a moment’s notice to intercept hijacked airliners, Cessnas that wander into protected airspace, and other threats.
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Gen. John Corley, the head of the U.S. Air Combat Command, said about 160 of the jets may never return to service after an investigation into the November 2 crash that left the plane’s pilot seriously injured.

The single-seat F-15C broke up in a 500-mph turn during a combat training mission over Missouri, with its fuselage breaking in half behind the cockpit, an Air Force probe of the crash determined.

Investigators concluded that a critical piece of the jet’s airframe broke during the flight because of a manufacturing defect. A defective longeron — a metal strut that runs lengthwise down the fuselage — was cut improperly by the manufacturer, Boeing, and led to a series of cracks over the plane’s lifespan, Corley said. rplanes permanently, a top general said Thursday.

Read the rest:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/01/10/f15.groundings/index.html?section=cnn_latest

Related:
F-15 grounding strains U.S. air defenses

Taiwan: “Braindrain” To China Threat To Prosperity

January 6, 2008

By Hsin-hsin Yang
January 6, 2008
 

TAIPEI (AFP) – Taiwan‘s place at the top of the industrial food chain is being threatened by a braindrain as professionals head to China for better career prospects amid political turmoil and economic slowdown at home.

Taiwanese businessmen have invested in tens of thousands of Chinese factories that provide white-collar jobs such as accounting, management, production planning and quality control to their compatriots.

Expanding demand in expertise in other fields….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080106/bs_afp/
taiwanchinaeconomyjobsbraindrain_080106063338

Vietnam Seeking Greater International Role in 2008

January 2, 2008

The People’s Daily, China
January 2, 2008

Vietnam will play a more active role in world affairs this year with its external relation orientations centering on joining activities of the UN Security Council, and fostering economic diplomacy, local newspaper Vietnam News reported Wednesday.

Vietnamese Deputy Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem has set this year’s five tasks for the country’s diplomats.

First, continue to strengthen cooperation with other countries, bring into full play Vietnam’s role as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, take part more actively in multilateral forums, and enthusiastically join the settlement of global issues.

Second, step up external activities in the service of the local economy, deploy a government action plan and a party resolution for rapid, sustainable development of the economy, and accelerate multilateral cooperation in culture, education, science and technology.

Third, strive to complete the demarcation of boundaries and the planting of landmarks with neighboring countries before the end of 2008.

Fourth, keep on quickening the implementation of a party resolution and a government action plan on overseas Vietnamese, and create more favorable conditions for them to successfully integrate into their host countries, while contributing to the national construction and defense of their homeland.

Fifth, reinforce efforts to renew and increase the efficiency of external information and cultural services of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with external political and economic tasks.

Source: Xinhua

CIA Director on Terrorism

September 8, 2007

CIA Director Michael Hayden spoke before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Friday, September 7, 2007.  The full text of his remarks can be found at the link at the end of this article.  A few remarks that should be highlighted include:

“al-Qa’ida has protected or regenerated key elements of its homeland attack capability. That means safe haven in the tribal areas of Pakistan.”
[This confirms what our friend Muhammad has been telling us as he reports from the tribal areas of Pakistan.]

“Our analysts assess with high confidence that al Qaeda’s central leadership is planning high-impact plots against the American homeland.”

“Al Qaeda is focusing on targets that would produce mass casualties, dramatic destruction and significant economic aftershocks.”

Read the full text of general Hayden’s remarks:
http://www.vvdailypress.com/news/cia_2717___
article.html/war_intelligence.html

Related:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070908/NATION/109080053/1001
and:
September 11, 2001 Anniversary Approaches: Reality Touches Us

Pakistan: Tribal Areas Remain Terror Enclave

Pakistan: Terrorists Planning Global Attacks

Director of the
Central Intelligence Agency

Songs from the heart of Vietnam

August 16, 2007

By Anh Le
Special to the Mercury News (San Jose)
August 16, 2007

Y Lan’s mother is Vietnam’s most prolific singer, Thai Thanh. Her father is Vietnamese film star Le Quynh. Y Lan left her home country by boat in 1980, living for a time in Hong Kong and finally reaching the United States in 1981. She launched her professional singing career in 1989 and now is one of the Vietnamese-American community’s favorite vocalists.

Y Lan will share the stage Sunday with several other Vietnamese singers at the San Jose Center for Performing Arts. Here are excerpts from a recent interview:

Q: How do you select which songs to perform?

A: I choose classical songs of our “Que Huong” (“Homeland”), Vietnam. Most of the songs remind Vietnamese listeners of their distant homeland….

Read the rest:
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_6637060?source=rss

Y Lan’s website:
http://www.vietscape.com/music/singers/y_lan/biography.html