Archive for the ‘military’ Category

Pakistan’s Government, Military At Odds?

December 2, 2008

A rift has opened up between the Pakistani government and army in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.

Dawn newspaper reported there had been “clear differences in perception” when army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani met President Asif Ali Zardar Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, is seen in a Friday, June ... 
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

The most visible evidence of the gulf occurred when Mr Zardari promised India the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate would visit India to help with the investigation into the attack.

By Isambard Wilkinson in Islamabad
The Telegraph (UK)

Less than 24-hours later the decision was revoked and the government announced that a more junior ISI officer would fly to India. It is now doubtful whether any official will go.

Gen Kiyani had previously pledged to weed out pro-jihadi elements and reform the agency but the u-turn revived the question of whether the ISI has really been brought to heel.


General Kiyani

It was similar to an incident in August when Mr Gilani announced on the eve of a trip to Washington last month that the ISI had been brought under the control of the interior minister. He retracted the statement at 3am that night.

According to US and Indian intelligence officials, Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist outfit formed by the ISI in the 1990s to fight in Indian-held Kashmir, is the main suspect for carrying out the attacks.

One military official said: “Yes, there is a trust deficit on many issues and both are not showing their cards to each other.”

The distrust between the army and the government dates back to before the Bombay attacks, as the two sides have disagreed over how to conduct the “war on terror’ and reform the ISI.

Pakistan has spent half of its existence under military rule and the latest dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, resigned as president in September after spending eight years in power.

Gen Kiyani has since announced the military’s withdrawal from politics but it remains a strong influence on all major decisions ranging from foreign policy to the economy.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/3540
095/Mumbai-attacks-Rift-between-Pakistan-army-and-governme
nt-Bombay-India.html

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Some vindication for sick vets, but little relief

December 1, 2008

Ground combat in the 1991 Persian Gulf War lasted just 100 hours, but it’s meant 17 years of pain and anguish for hundreds of thousands of veterans.

Those who came home and complained of symptoms such as memory loss and joint pain are only sicker. Even as their lives unraveled as their health further deteriorated, many were told their problems were just in their head.

But, recently, many of the sufferers were given a new reason to hope. Earlier this month, a high-profile advisory panel to Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake affirmed previous research that a collection of symptoms commonly known as Gulf War illnesses are real and require treatment. The country has a “national obligation” to help them, the panel concluded.

The report, however, also noted a sad reality: Of the $340 million in government funds spent to research the topic, little has focused on finding treatments. And, researchers said, the estimated 175,000-210,000 Gulf veterans who are sick aren’t getting any better.

By KIMBERLY HEFLING, Associated Press Writer

Many of those veterans are left wondering what’s next for them. The panel, created by Congress, said at least $60 million should be spent annually for research, but some veterans question if in these economically strapped times the money will be made available.

“I just hope that our elected officials pay attention to it and they accept that it is true,” said James Stutts, 60, of Berea, Ky., a retired Army lieutenant colonel and physician who struggles to walk and gave up practicing medicine because of memory problems after serving in the war. “It’s not a stress-related, nor is it a psychosomatic, issue. It is true. It is real. There is pain, not only for the veteran, but their families.”

The sad irony, said John Schwertfager, a veterans advocate in Ohio, is that many of the veterans who came home physically sick and were told wrongly it was a mental condition now struggle with real mental health problems after years of chronic pain and personal problems such as divorce and the inability to work.

“A slow, steady deterioration is what I’m seeing,” Schwertfager said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081201/ap_on_
go_ot/gulf_war_illness;_ylt=AlMl3qpwj
.e._ihiBMQizYSs0NUE

Pentagon Planning 20,000 Domestic Anti-Terror Military Troops

December 1, 2008

The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials.

The long-planned shift in the Defense Department‘s role in homeland security was recently backed with funding and troop commitments after years of prodding by Congress and outside experts, defense analysts said. 

 

By Spencer S. Hsu and Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, December 1, 2008; Page A01

There are critics of the change, in the military and among civil liberties groups and libertarians who express concern that the new homeland emphasis threatens to strain the military and possibly undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old federal law restricting the military’s role in domestic law enforcement.

But the Bush administration and some in Congress have pushed for a heightened homeland military role since the middle of this decade, saying the greatest domestic threat is terrorists exploiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dedicating 20,000 troops to domestic response — a nearly sevenfold increase in five years — “would have been extraordinary to the point of unbelievable,” Paul McHale, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, said in remarks last month at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But the realization that civilian authorities may be overwhelmed in a catastrophe prompted “a fundamental change in military culture,” he said.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/30
/AR2008113002217.html?hpid=topnews

One Man’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex

November 30, 2008

In the spring of 2007 a tiny military contractor with a slender track record went shopping for a precious Beltway commodity.
.
The company, Defense Solutions, sought the services of a retired general with national stature, someone who could open doors at the highest levels of government and help it win a huge prize: the right to supply Iraq with thousands of armored vehicles.

Access like this does not come cheap, but it was an opportunity potentially worth billions in sales, and Defense Solutions soon found its man. The company signed Barry R. McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general and military analyst for NBC News, to a consulting contract starting June 15, 2007.

Four days later the general swung into action. He sent a personal note and 15-page briefing packet to David H. Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, strongly recommending Defense Solutions and its offer to supply Iraq with 5,000 armored vehicles from Eastern Europe. “No other proposal is quicker, less costly, or more certain to succeed,” he said.

By DAVID BARSTOW
The New York Times

Above: Barry R. McCaffrey is among the retired military officers working as network analysts.
Artwork by the New York Times

Thus, within days of hiring General McCaffrey, the Defense Solutions sales pitch was in the hands of the American commander with the greatest influence over Iraq’s expanding military.

“That’s what I pay him for,” Timothy D. Ringgold, chief executive of Defense Solutions, said in an interview.

General McCaffrey did not mention his new contract with Defense Solutions in his letter to General Petraeus. Nor did he disclose it when he went on CNBC that same week and praised the commander Defense Solutions was now counting on for help — “He’s got the heart of a lion” — or when he told Congress the next month that it should immediately supply Iraq with large numbers of armored vehicles and other equipment.

He had made similar arguments before he was hired by Defense Solutions, but this time he went further. In his testimony to Congress, General McCaffrey criticized a Pentagon plan to supply Iraq with several hundred armored vehicles made in the United States by a competitor of Defense Solutions. He called the plan “not in the right ballpark” and urged Congress to instead equip Iraq with 5,000 armored vehicles.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/30/washin
gton/30general.html?_r=1&hp

Obama’s Biggest Challenge of All: China

November 29, 2008

The single most important challenge for the new administration—one with the potential to shape the 21st century—is China. As goes China, so go 1.3 billion men, women and children—one out of every five people on the planet.

China’s economy is now roughly half the size of America’s; in three decades, the two are likely to be about equal. What the Chinese eat, how much (or whether) they drive, where and how they choose to live, work and play: all will have an enormous impact on the availability and price of energy, the temperature of the planet and the prosperity of mankind.

By Richard Haass
Newsweek

Beijing’s foreign policy is no less important. A cooperative China could help stem the spread of nuclear materials and weapons, maintain an open global trading and financial system, secure energy supplies, frustrate terrorists, prevent pandemics and slow climate change. A hostile or simply noncooperative China, on the other hand, would make it that much more difficult for the United States and its allies to tame the most dangerous facets of globalization. But the emergence of a cooperative China is anything but inevitable. That is why Washington needs a new approach to Beijing. Think of it as “integration.”

In this March 31, 2008 file photo, a worker on a boat clears ... 
A  worker on a boat clears garbage from the Yellow River in Lanzhou in northwest China’s Gansu province. Newly released survey results show water quality along one third of China’s famed Yellow River has fallen below the lowest levels measured due to massive pollution. China’s second-longest river has seen its water quality deteriorate rapidly in the last few years, as discharge from factories increases and water levels drop due to diversion for booming cities.(AP Photo/File)

Integration should be for this era what containment was for the previous one. Our goal should be to make China a pillar of a globalized world, too deeply invested to disrupt its smooth functioning. The aim is ambitious, even optimistic, but not unrealistic. The United States and China need each other. Neither wants to go to war over Taiwan, to see another conflict on the Korean Peninsula or to see world oil prices quadruple as a result of a military strike on Iran. Even more than that, China needs access to the U.S. market for its exports in order to maintain economic growth and domestic political stability. Americans, in addition to benefiting from low-cost Chinese imports, need Beijing to manage its large dollar reserves responsibly.

Americans must accept China’s rise. There’s no guarantee we could prevent it anyway, and the attempt would only worsen the rivalry. We should not exaggerate China’s strength or the threat it poses. China’s military, for all its improvements, is still a generation behind America’s. And we should resist any calls to block China’s access to the U.S. market. Trade and investment aren’t just beneficial on their own terms; they also contribute to the web of ties that would bind China into an orderly world order.

Read the rest:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/171259

Chinese People's Liberation Army troops stand in their formation ... 
Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops stand in their formation at a parade ground during the annual rotation of military personnel in Hong Kong November 25, 2008.REUTERS/Alex Hoffard/Pool (CHINA)

Military Bases Brace for Surge in PTSD, Stress-Related Disorders

November 29, 2008

Some 15,000 soldiers are heading home to this sprawling base after spending more than a year at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and military health officials are bracing for a surge in brain injuries and psychological problems among those troops.

By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer

Facing prospects that one in five of the 101st Airborne Division soldiers will suffer from stress-related disorders, the base has nearly doubled its psychological health staff. Army leaders are hoping to use the base’s experiences to assess the long-term impact of repeated deployments.

The three 101st Airborne combat brigades, which have begun arriving home, have gone through at least three tours in Iraq. The 3rd Brigade also served seven months in Afghanistan, early in the war. Next spring, the 4th Brigade will return from a 15-month tour in Afghanistan. So far, roughly 10,000 soldiers have come back; the remainder are expected by the end of January.

Army leaders say they will closely watch Fort Campbell to determine the proper medical staffing levels needed to aid soldiers who have endured repeated rotations in the two war zones.

“I don’t know what to expect. I don’t think anybody knows,” said Gen. Peter Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army, as he flew back to Washington from a recent tour of the base’s medical facilities. “That’s why I want to see numbers from the 101st’s third deployment.”

What happens with the 101st Airborne, he said, will let the Army help other bases ready for similar homecomings in the next year or two, when multiple brigades from the 4th Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division return.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081129/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/sol
dier_stress;_ylt=AmE8_PG3c.WU2jnAbvUzG3Ss0NUE

U.S. Intelligence Experts Point To Future American Decline

November 21, 2008

The political, economic and military influence of the United States will substantially decline over the next two decades, according to the country’s leading intelligence organisation.

By Alex Spillius
The Telegraph (UK)
The National Intelligence Council analysis Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World will serve as a sobering reminder to President-Elect Barack Obama of the challenges he faces leading a country that might no longer be able to “call the shots alone”.

The use of nuclear weapons will grow increasingly likely by 2025, the report found, forecasting a tense, unstable world shadowed by war.

“The world of the near future will be subject to an increased likelihood of conflict over scarce resources, including food and water, and will be haunted by the persistence of rogue states and terrorist groups with greater access to nuclear weapons.”

Mr Obama will assume power in January with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a resurgent Russia, an Iran determined to build a nuclear bomb and instability over the Palestinian territories.

The report also predicted that some African and South Asian states may wither away altogether, and organised crime could take over at least one state in central Europe.

Struggling to find a bright spot, researchers concluded that terrorism could decline if “economic growth continues in the Middle East and youth unemployment is reduced”.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/north
america/usa/barackobama/3492802/US-influence
-to-decline-NIC-intelligence-report-predicts.html

Fading American Economic and Military Dominance; Even More Global Danger – Experts

November 19, 2008

The top U.S. intelligence panel this week is expected to issue a snapshot of the world in 2025, in a report that predicts fading American economic and military dominance and warns of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

By Nicholas Kralev
The Washington Times

The predictions come from the National Intellignce Council (NIC), part of Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell’s office.

The NIC report, a draft copy of which is titled “Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World,” is slated for release as early as Thursday.

The report also predicts “a unified Korea” is likely by then, and that China  will be the world’s second-largest economy and a major military power.

“The United States will remain the single most powerful country, although less dominant,” according to a “working draft” of the document obtained by The Washington Times. “Shrinking economic and military capabilities may force the U.S. into a difficult set of tradeoffs between domestic and foreign-policy priorities.”

A senior intelligence official said some details have changed in the final report, but “the thrust is the same.”

The draft says:

“The next 20 years of transition toward a new international system are fraught with risks, such as a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and possible interstate conflicts over resources.”

“We see a unified Korea as likely by 2025 and assess the peninsula will probably be denuclearized, either via ongoing diplomacy or as a necessary condition for international acceptance of and cooperation with a needy new Korea.”

Thomas Fingar, deputy director of national intelligence for analysis and chairman of the NIC, said Tuesday that the report “should not be viewed as a prediction.” Even “projection” is not entirely correct, he said, though he used that word several times during a luncheon at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008
/nov/19/panel-foresees-lesser-us-role/

Russia Warns Georgia Against Improving Military

November 18, 2008

Russia’s Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Tuesday he was concerned by what he called Georgia’s efforts to boost its military potential, adding this could have bigger consequences than August’s conflict.

“The Georgian side’s efforts to increase the military potential is causing concern and I think those initiatives could have bigger consequences than what we saw in August,” he told a news conference in Ankara. He did not elaborate.

In a five-day war in August, Russian troops launched a massive counter-attack and took control of large swathes of Georgian territory after Tbilisi had tried to retake its rebel South Ossetia region by force earlier in the month.

(Reporting by Zerin and Elci and Ibon Villelabeitia for Reuters)

Poland, Czech Republic Ask U.S. To Keep Missile Defense Plans; Telling France, Sarkozy, Medvedev to “Bugger Off”

November 17, 2008

Poland and the Czech Republic hope that the new U.S. administration does not change its plans for a missile shield in Central Europe, the Euronews television channel reported on Saturday.

“We are not waiting for, even on political grounds, any kind of revolution. But of course, a new president looks at everything in a new way,” Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said on Saturday.

“We know the position of the newly elected president – he told me himself that he wants to be sure that thing works,” the Polish foreign minister added in comments broadcast on Euronews.

From: RIA Novosti

Under President George Bush, Washington has worked hard to reach agreements with Warsaw and Prague on the deployment of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic.

The U.S. has insisted that the missile shield is intended to protect against attacks from “rogue states” such as Iran. Russia has protested strenuously against the system as a threat to its national security.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, speaks with President ... 
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, speaks with President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev during the EU-Russia summit, in Nice, southern France, Friday, Nov. 14, 2008.  They agreed with each other but leaders in Poland, the Czech Republic and the U.S. said “bugger off.”(AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, who takes office in January, has been noncommittal on missile defense. After his election victory, a senior foreign policy adviser, Denis McDonough, said he would only continue with the project if its effectiveness was proven.

Euronews also reported that the leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic had been surprised by the declaration of French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday that the missile defense system would not improve Europe’s security.

“We should not talk about deployment of a missile shield, which would do nothing to bring security,” Sarkozy said at a news conference with President Dmitry Medvedev after the EU-Russia summit in the French resort city of Nice.

Czech Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra said in a statement to reporters he “was surprised” by Sarkozy’s remarks.

“As far as the French presidency’s mandate for the EU-Russia summit is concerned, it contains no mention of the anti-missile shield,” he said.

France holds the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union.

An Iranian surface-to-surface missile lifts off from a launch ... 
An Iranian surface-to-surface missile lifts off from a launch platform during a test firing at an undisclosed location in the Iranian desert in this image released to Fars News by the military November 12, 2008.  Iran says these missiles can now reach Israel and into Europe.REUTERS/FARS NEWS