Archive for the ‘troops’ Category

Many Nations Sign Cluster Bomb Ban; U.S. and Russia Refrain

December 3, 2008

The United States and Russia were absent Wednesday as representatives from countries from around the world gathered to sign a treaty banning the use of cluster bombs.

CNN
Some 111 countries were due to adopt the Convention on Cluster Munitions at an all-day signing ceremony in Oslo, Norway.

But four of the biggest cluster bomb makers — Russia, China, Israel and the United States, which claims the devices are a vital part of its defense strategy, stayed away.

Cluster Munition Coalition activists behind the agreement expressed disappointment at the absence of the big four, but insisted it wouldn’t undermine the treaty as it passes into international law.

“Obviously it’s very disappointing that those countries aren’t here, but at the same time, the strong message that this treaty sends will make it very clear to those countries that these are unacceptable weapons and inappropriate in future conflicts,” CMC Co-Chair Richard Moyes told CNN from Oslo.

French troops examine cluster bombs collected after the Lebanon conflict of 2006.

Above: French troops examine cluster bombs collected after the Lebanon conflict of 2006.

“The treaty and the stigma that it builds will make it practically and politically much more difficult for them to use these weapons again in the future,” Moyes added about the absent countries.

Read the rest:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/12/03/cluster.
bomb.ban/index.html?section=cnn_latest

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US soldiers re-enlisting because of poor economy

December 2, 2008

Sgt. Ryan Nyhus spent 14 months patrolling the deadly streets of Baghdad, where five members of his platoon were shot and one died. As bad as that was, he would rather go back there than take his chances in this brutal job market.

Nyhus re-enlisted last Wednesday, and in so doing joined the growing ranks of those choosing to stay in the U.S. military because of the bleak economy.

“In the Army, you’re always guaranteed a steady paycheck and a job,” said the 21-year-old Nyhus. “Deploying’s something that’s going to happen. That’s a fact of life in the Army — a fact of life in the infantry.”

By JOHN MILBURN and STEPHEN MANNING, Associated Press Writers

A U.S. Army soldier from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry ...
A U.S. Army soldier from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment searches a building as his platoon leader meets with Iraqi police and security volunteers in Baqouba, 35 miles (60 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq on Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008.(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

In 2008, as the stock market cratered and the housing market collapsed, more young members of the Army, Air Force and Navy decided to re-up. While several factors might explain the rise in re-enlistments, including a decline in violence in Iraq, Pentagon officials acknowledge that bad news for the economy is usually good news for the military.

In fact, the Pentagon just completed its strongest recruiting year in four years.

“We do benefit when things look less positive in civil society,” said David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. “What difficult economic times give us, I think, is an opening to make our case to people who we might not otherwise have.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081202/ap_on_re_us/m
eltdown_choosing_war;_ylt=AobfPtsZi
ED.Sl0zcsAzhmms0NUE

Pakistan warns India of troop redeployment

December 1, 2008

Pakistan threatened to redeploy troops from the Afghan border to the plains facing India, as charges escalated that terrorists who attacked Bombay planned and trained on Pakistani soil.

Pakistan continued to deny the charges and President Bush sought to defuse tensions, pledging U.S. help in the investigation during a telephone call to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The president also dispatched Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to India. Miss Rice and Mr. Bush wanted an opportunity “to express the condolences of the American government directly to the Indian government and the Indian people,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told the Associated Press.

Nasir Khan and Sara A. Carter
The Washington Times

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters after an emergency Cabinet meeting in Islamabad that Pakistani forces were prepared to defend the country at all costs.

“We do not have to be defensive and we are not defensive as Pakistan is not involved in this incident,” Mr. Qureshi said. “Our hands are clean. There is nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of.”

Indian officials have avoided accusing the Pakistani government of complicity in the attack.

Related:
Mumbai Terror Strike: India’s Government to Fall?
and
Pakistan’s Government Surrounded by Terrorists, U.S., Indian and Internal Pressure

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008
/dec/01/pakistan-warns-india-of-troop-
redeployment/

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

Pakistan’s Government Surrounded by Terrorists, U.S., Indian and Internal Pressure

November 30, 2008

The Pakistan government of President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani today acutely feels the heat of terrorists as well as international pressure from a tradional friend, the U.S., and a traditional enemy, India.

This television frame grab shows Pakistani President Asif Ali ... 
President Zardari of Pakistan (AFP)

In the tribal areas of Pakistan, the U.S. wants the assistance of Pakistan’s army in controlling the Taliban and al-Qaeda that surge into Afghanistan to kill U.S. and NATO troops.  Pakistan wants to keep the U.S. out of the tribal areas so the U.S. hammers terrorists from unmanned drones with missiles when the intelligence says results will be favorable.  But the people of Pakistan have protested these air assaults from the U.S. upon Pakistan and the government has expressed extreme displeasure at almost losing control of Pakistan’s sovereignity in the northwest tribal areas.

An unmanned Predator drone. A militant Taliban group warned ... 
The U.S. has been using unmanned Predator drones like this one, armed with missiles, to attack militant Taliban terror groups inside Pakistan. The government of pakistan has condemned the missile strikes in its territory.(AFP/USAF/File)

Now, because of tensions from the terrorism in Mumbai, India, Pakistan is saying it will withdraw troops from the tribal areas to move to the border with India; a nation that seems to already be blaming Pakistan for the bloodshed in Mumbai.

India even says the only terrorist to survive the Mumbai attack, Ajmal Qasab, is a Pakistani trained by the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan.

Troops from Pakistan's army secure an area in the troubled ...
Troops from Pakistan’s army secure an area in the troubled Kabal Khas district on the outskirts of Swat valley November 26, 2008.  The U.S. wants the Pakistani troops facing Afghanistan and not India.
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Finally, in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, at least 13 people were killed and more than 70 injured when activists from rival political parties clashed this weekend.
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Firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire after rioters set ... 
Firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire after rioters set ablaze several shops at a timber market in Pakistan’s largest city Karachi. At least 13 people were killed and more than 70 injured when activists from rival political parties clashed in Karachi, officials said Sunday.(AFP/Asif Hassan)

Last week’s terror violence in Mumbai and india’s subsequent investigation and likely blame, which will likely be supported by the U.S., putes extreme pressure on a Pakistani government the Times of India rightly calls “dodgy” due to its own undermining terrorist influences and actors. 

 By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

U.S., India Face Blackmail From Pakistan on Terrorism

November 30, 2008

Pakistan says “sorry” but tension with India forces withdrawal of troops in tribal areas facing Afghanistan where taliban and al-Qaeda roam….

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The United States and India face tactics bordering on blackmail from a militarized Pakistan – where civilian control is still very dodgy — as they coordinate efforts to eliminate terrorism in the region, according to analysts and officials on both sides.

By Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN
Times of India

In what is turning out to be an elaborate chess game in the region, Islamabad on Saturday made its “Afghan move” to counter the US-India pincer, telling Washington that it will have to withdraw some 100,000 Pakistani troops posted on its western borders to fight the al-Qaida-Taliban and move them east to the Indian front if New Delhi makes any aggressive moves.

Troops from Pakistan's army secure an area in the troubled ...
Pakistani troops and tanks on patrol in the tribal areas facing Afghanistan.
REUTERS/Abdul Rehman (PAKISTAN)

In Washington, Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani said there is no movement of Pakistani troops right now, but if India makes any aggressive moves, “Pakistan will have no choice but to take appropriate measures.”

Stripped of complexities, Pakistan is conveying the following message to the US: If you don’t get India to back down, Pakistan will stop cooperating with US in the war against terror. Consequently, this also means Pakistan will use US dependence on its cooperation to wage a low-grade, asymmetric, terrorism-backed war against India.

Pakistan’s withdrawal of troops from the Afghan front would obviously undermine the US/Nato battle in Afghanistan and allow breathing space for Taliban and al-Qaida. It would also ratchet up confrontation with India, which is at low ebb right now because Islamabad has been forced to engage on its western front and this minimizes Pakistan-backed infiltration into Kashmir, allowing India to tackle the insurgency in the state.

Related:
Pakistan’s Government Surrounded by Terrorists, U.S., Indian and Internal Pressure
and
Pakistan warns India of troop redeployment

Read the rest:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/US_Indi
a_face_Pak_blackmail_on_terror/article
show/3777307.cms

Iraqi parliament OKs US troops for 3 more years

November 27, 2008

Iraq’s parliament approved Thursday a security pact with the United States that lets American troops stay in the country for three more years — setting a clear timetable for a U.S. exit for the first time since the 2003 invasion.

By Qassim Abdul-zahra, Associated Press Writer

The vote in favor of the pact was backed by the ruling coalition’s Shiite and Kurdish blocs as well as the largest Sunni Arab bloc, which had demanded concessions for supporting the deal. The haggling among the political factions highlighted sectarian-based tensions that hinder reconciliation efforts, nearly six years after Saddam Hussein‘s ouster.

The Shiite bloc agreed to a Sunni demand that the pact be put to a referendum by July 30, meaning the deal must undergo an additional hurdle next year. It took nine months of difficult talks for U.S. and Iraqi negotiators to craft the agreement.

Under the agreement, U.S. forces will withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 30 and the entire country by Jan. 1, 2012. Iraq will have strict oversight over U.S. forces.

Lawmakers voted with a show of hands, and an exact breakdown of the parliamentary vote was not immediately available. But parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani said an “overwhelming majority” of lawmakers who attended the session voted in favor. Parliament’s secretariat, which counted lawmakers as they entered the chamber, said 220 out of 275 legislators attended.

“This is a historic day for parliament,” said Deputy Speaker Khalid al-Attiyah, a close ally of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. “More than three-quarters of those present at today’s session voted for the agreement, and that was not expected.”

Al-Maliki appeared to have won the comfortable majority that he sought in order to give the agreement additional legitimacy.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081127/ap_on_re_mi_ea/m
l_iraq;_ylt=Ahl9YABVCQfN5pTDPhGRckes0NUE

Iraqi Lawmakers Brawl Over Security Pact

November 19, 2008

A session of Iraq’s Parliament collapsed in chaos on Wednesday, as a discussion among lawmakers about a three-year security agreement with the Americans boiled over into shouting and physical confrontation.

The session was dedicated to a second public reading of the agreement, which governs the presence of American troops in Iraq through 2011 and which the Parliament is scheduled to vote on Monday. Even before the session began, legislators were apprehensive.

“There is much tension inside the parliament,” said Iman al-Asadi, a Shiite lawmaker, shortly before the session was scheduled to start. “We worry that they will fight each other inside the room.”

Lawmakers who support the pact said they were worried in particular about the followers of the anti-American Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, who make up a bloc of 32 legislators in the 275 member Parliament. While there are those in Parliament, like many Sunnis, who have objections to elements of the pact, the Sadrists reject any agreement with the Americans in principle.

In a departure from protocol, security guards were present in the room, both because of the tension and because several Iraqi government officials, including the ministers of foreign affairs and finance, were in attendance to answer questions about the agreement. Hoshyar Zebari, the foreign affairs minister, said the guards were unarmed.

As soon as the session began, politicians in opposition to the pact stood up in the hall and volubly argued that the ratification process was unconstitutional, because a law governing the passage of international agreements has not been approved. Supporters say such a law is unnecessary, because Parliament had already ratified numerous agreements without one.

For the next two hours, the Parliament speaker, Mahmoud Mashhadani, lashed out at the objecters and refused their demands to change the Parliament agenda. He then invited Hassan al-Sneid, a Shiite lawmaker, to begin the second public reading of the agreement, a matter of parliamentary procedure.

As Mr. Sneid began reading, witnesses said, Sadrists and other opponents of the agreement continued to trade shouts with lawmakers who supported it. Then, Ahmed Masu’udi, a Sadrist lawmaker, approached the dais. Mr. Masu’udi said later in an interview that he was simply trying to reach Mr. Mashhadani to persuade him to stop the reading; several other witnesses said Mr. Masu’udi tried to attack Mr. Snied. The security guards rushed toward Mr. Masu’udi, who said that they grabbed him and struggled to push him away. At that point, witnesses said, the hall was filled with shouting, lawmakers rushed toward the front and the session ended in chaos.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/20/world/middleeast/20iraq.html?_r=1&hp

NATO in Afghanistan fire on militants in Pakistan

November 18, 2008

The NATO-led alliance in Afghanistan said its troops fired at militants inside Pakistan in coordination with Pakistani soldiers.

French soldiers of ISAF on patrol near Kabul on November 8.

Above: French soldiers of ISAF on patrol near Kabul on November 8.
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The coordination, announced Monday by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, was noteworthy since Pakistan has, in recent months, complained that international forces were violating the country’s sovereignty by going after militants on its soil.

ISAF said Sunday’s artillery fire was in response to an attack on an allied base in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan. Militants twice fired rockets into the base from across the border, the alliance said.

Once ISAF soldiers pinpointed the origin of the rocket launches, they fired 20 artillery rounds in coordination with the Pakistani military.

“ISAF and Pakistani soldiers observed all fired artillery rounds,” an alliance statement said. “The Pakistan soldiers assured ISAF that they would engage any insurgents attempting to flee deeper into Pakistan.”

No NATO soldiers were hurt in the rocket attack.

Read the rest from CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/11/18/
pakistan.nato/index.html?section=cnn_latest

Pact, Approved in Iraq, Sets Time for U.S. Pullout

November 17, 2008

Iraq’s cabinet on Sunday overwhelmingly approved a proposed security agreement that calls for a full withdrawal of American forces from the country by the end of 2011. The cabinet’s decision brings a final date for the departure of American troops a significant step closer after more than five and a half years of war.

By Campbell Robertson and Stephen Farrell 
The New York Times

The proposed pact must still be approved by Iraq’s Parliament, in a vote scheduled to take place in a week. But leaders of some of the largest parliamentary blocs expressed confidence that with the backing of most Shiites and Kurds they had enough support to ensure its approval.

Twenty-seven of the 28 cabinet ministers who were present at the two-and-a-half-hour session voted in favor of the pact. Nine ministers were absent. The nearly unanimous vote was a victory for the dominant Shiite party and its Kurdish partners. Widespread Sunni opposition could doom the proposed pact even if it has the votes to pass, as it would call into question whether there was a true national consensus, which Shiite leaders consider essential.

US soldiers secure the area along with Iraqi troops following ...
US soldiers secure the area along with Iraqi troops following a roadside bomb in the northern city of Mosul, some 370 kms from Baghdad. The White House on Sunday welcomed the approval by Iraq’s cabinet of a military pact that requires the withdrawal of all US troops by the end of 2011.(AFP/Ali al-Saadi)

The proposed agreement, which took nearly a year to negotiate with the United States, not only sets a date for American troop withdrawal, but puts new restrictions on American combat operations in Iraq starting Jan. 1 and requires an American military pullback from urban areas by June 30. Those hard dates reflect a significant concession by the departing Bush administration, which had been publicly averse to timetables.

Iraq also obtained a significant degree of jurisdiction in some cases over serious crimes committed by Americans who are off duty and not on bases.

In Washington, the White House welcomed the vote as “an important and positive step” and attributed the agreement itself to security improvements in the past year.

Throughout the negotiations, the Shiite parties and the prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, under pressure from forces both within and outside the country, had been trying to strike a balance in forging a viable agreement with the Americans that would guarantee Iraq’s security and that would still stand firm against what many, including neighboring Iran, consider a hostile force

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/17/world/middleeas
t/17iraq.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

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BAGHDAD – Iraq’s Cabinet overwhelmingly approved a security pact with the United States on Sunday, ending prolonged negotiations to allow American forces to remain for three more years in the country they first occupied in 2003.

Read the Associated Press report:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081117/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_
iraq;_ylt=AgDMXJb9ChdxknE9ktwMJ6.s0NUE