The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been buying up a vast collection of AR-15 assault rifles for agents and training them in the proper use of those weapons. In May 2013 U.S. Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-SC) questioned why the federal agency needs to arm its agents with assault rifles. Duncan asked about the AR-15 situation after he traveled to a Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Maryland and witnessed a handful of IRS agents using AR-15s at an indoor 100 yard firing range.
Cyprus, Israel and Greece have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the fields of energy and water. Speaking after the signing of the MoU, Cyprus Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said “this is a monumental moment for the cooperation among the three countries”. “The MoU is a framework which will determine the number of activities that the countries have agreed to jointly pursue, such as energy security supply, environmental concerns and a number of other issues which are common for us three”, he added.
ShotSpotter, the dominant gunfire detection technology on the market, gathers data from a network of acoustic sensors placed at 30-foot elevation under a mile apart. To cut costs, most cities use the sensors only in selected areas. The system filters the data through an algorithm that isolates the sound of gunfire. If shots are fired anywhere in the coverage area, the software triangulates their location to within about 10 feet and reports the activity to the police dispatcher.
Every Monday, 70 or so trucks packed with illegal migrants line up in Agadez, in northern Niger, and head for Libya. “Before the war, trucks entered Libya one or two at a time,” says one migrant, a Nigerien named Salem. “Now it’s 10 or 20.” The easy comings and goings through southern Libya are a key component of the security difficulties that have leaders worried for the future. The concern is that a porous border and weak state make the south a natural draw for traffickers and militant groups, a potential whirlpool of instability in an already unstable region.
Egypt and her strategic waterways are the heart of the Arab economy. Wars have been waged in the past based upon these important straits. If Egypt falls to militarism or radical Islam like its neighbors Sudan and Libya, numerous Arab and western nations will suffer massive economic loss. You can have unlimited oil and LNG on hand but you need safe shipping routes in which to transport it. With this understanding Egypt is not truly sovereign and that is why it is in a constant state of flux. Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran and other actors and countries are in the midst of a covert battle royal to influence Egyptian affairs.
The suspension of Tunisia’s transitional parliament could bring the birthplace of the Arab Spring uprisings closer to an “Egyptian scenario” in which the secular opposition topples an Islamist-led government, analysts and politicians say.
The biggest shock to the ruling Ennahda party, the Tunisian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, may be that the latest blow came from one of its own secular allies – a sign of rising polarisation between Islamist and secular forces.
A taste of the future: Bionic eye will receive software updates to enable color vision, increased resolution
Providing us with a delightful glimpse of the future of humanity and bionic implants, Second Sight — the developer of the first bionic eye to receive FDA approval in the US — is currently working on a firmware upgrade that gives users of the Argus II bionic eye better resolution, focus, and image zooming. The software update even provides users with color recognition, even though the original version of the device only provides black and white vision. The Argus II, to give its proper classification, is a retinal prosthesis.
Japan unveiled its biggest warship since World War II, a $1.2 billion helicopter carrier aimed at defending territorial claims, drawing criticism from regional rival China which accused its neighbour of “constant” military expansion. Japan plans to use the helicopter carrier, named Izumo and expected to go into service in 2015, to defend territorial claims following maritime skirmishes with China, which has demonstrated its own military ambitions in recent years. Tokyo is also locked in a separate territorial dispute with Seoul.
On paper, Japan is a pacifist nation. It ranks 6th on the Global Peace Index, a list tabulated by peace activists at Vision of Humanity. Japan’s constitution makes illegal a traditional standing army. But a recently published defense white paper shows the extent to which the country has one of the most well-equipped “invisible” armies in the world. Japan’s armed forces are euphemistically dubbed the “Self Defense Force” (SDF) — officially it’s an extension of the police. But with the world’s 6th best-equipped troops and a nearly $60 billion defense budget last year, the SDF is not composed of your average beat cops.
Teams of analysts at GCHQ now have the authority and the technical capacity to tap directly into the nervous system of the 21st century and peer into the lives of others. Dig deeper into the drily worded, acronym-filled files, and there are other insights about the challenges faced by GCHQ, and its own anxieties about meeting them. GCHQ has been tasked with finding the solutions, mindful that the potential rewards are high; never before has the agency had the opportunity to build such a complete record of someone’s life through their texts, conversations, emails and search records.
Dow Jones Market Watch is warning of major problems emanating from the Eurozone. This comes amid the latest data from Spain where the economy contracted yet again, this time by 1.7 percent in the second quarter on a year-on-year basis. More problems were reported out of Greece, Italy and Germany. In an article today, Michael Casey, managing editor for the Americas at DJ FX Trader, said:
“…you’d think the threat of a euro-zone financial meltdown would force policymakers into a tough, unified solution.
Sailing off Virginia Beach, Va., from July 13 to 18, the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Research Vessel (R/V) Knorr explored ocean and atmospheric weather variations that can change the angle that radar and radio waves bend, making it more difficult for ships to remain undetected and hindering their ability to communicate or locate adversaries. Researchers used ONR-owned ScanEagle UAVs—along with unmanned undersea and surface vehicles—to obtain accurate, real-time measurements of variations in atmospheric and ocean conditions.
Harvard creates brain-to-brain interface, allows humans to control other animals with thoughts alone
Researchers at Harvard University have created the first noninvasive brain-to-brain interface (BBI) between a human… and a rat. Simply by thinking the appropriate thought, the BBI allows the human to control the rat’s tail. This is one of the most important steps towards BBIs that allow for telepathic links between two or more humans — which is a good thing in the case of friends and family, but terrifying if you stop to think about the nefarious possibilities of a fascist dictatorship with mind control tech.
Pine Gap is a secretive facility nearly 20km south-west of Alice Springs which has been there since 1970. Run by both Australia and the United States, its official name is the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap, even though our government really hates to admit it exists.
Pine Gap is essentially a satellite tracking station, situated in the middle of nowhere because that makes it hard for other countries to intercept the signals emitted from within. It is thought that the US controls all of its spy satellites from Pine Gap, and that the US and Australia “listen to Asia” from the 14 antennae concealed beneath white domes at Pine Gap.
The European Union (EU) is planning to assemble an independent intelligence body of its own in “an urgent response” to the recent revelation that the US has been spying on EU officials as well as European citizens.
The planned apparatus, which will be set up by owning and operating spy drones, surveillance satellites and espionage aircraft by the EU itself, will be used for “internal security and defence purposes,” the Telegraph reported, citing “officials.” The European Commission has issued a 17-page report, proposing some concrete steps that would encourage pan-European defense cooperation.
Downtown Detroit has long been one of the nation’s worst housing markets. Home values have plummeted. Vacancies abound. And foreclosure numbers are through the roof. Not that that’s surprising; who’d want to live in a neighborhood with soaring unemployment and the highest rate of violent crime in the US? “I have people calling and saying, ‘I’m serious—I wanna buy 100, 200 properties,’” she tells Quartz, noting that one of her colleagues recently sold 30 properties to a Chinese buyer. “They say ‘We don’t need to see them. Just pick the good ones.’”
Azerbaijan’s rapid arms build-up is cause for concern in the region, with some defence analysts warning that it heightens the risk of renewed conflict. President Ilham Aliyev frequently boasts of the amount of money his oil-rich state can afford to spend on weaponry. Appearing at a military parade in Baku on June 26. he took the opportunity to remind everyone that at 3.7 billion US dollars, annual defence expenditure is nearly twice the size of neighbouring Armenia’s entire government budget. A decade ago, Azerbaijan’s defence budget stood at 160 million dollars.
Allowing the US military to use facilities on an almost continuous basis offers a bonanza to weapons manufacturers and may inflame tensions in the region. The proposed Philippines-US bases access accord should be scrutinised for its hidden motives, to remove chaff from grain. The agreement will chain the Philippines as a permanent station for bolstering America’s military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, and its arms trade. Building the Philippines’ “minimum deterrence capability” in territorial feuds with China and ensuring a US shield against external aggression are just sound bytes. The corporate agenda is concealed by security objectives.
A potential joint Nordic Battalion Force (NBF) will be on the table when defense ministers and commanders from Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark meet to discuss the Swedish proposal this fall. The concept for establishing the modular-style NBF is fundamental to a closer and meaningful Nordic defense cooperation, said Swedish Armed Force chief Gen. Sverker Göransson. The NBF could be activated in 2016, Göransson said. The modular design would enable it to be deployed in a broad range of tasks and call in air, naval and special operations forces when needed.
How many bargains you get when shopping depends on Egypt’s Suez Canal being open for business. Between 8% and 12% of all international trade goes through Egypt’s Suez Canal, which cuts thousands of miles off ship journeys from Asia to Europe and to the North American East Coast. We can call it 10% of world trade on a rolling average (trade is still down after the 2008 crash). But note that if the Suez Canal were to be closed by the country’s turbulence, it wouldn’t just affect that ten percent– the impact on prices of many commodities would be across the board.
China’s new unified coast guard agency has gone into operation, state media reported yesterday amid maritime disputes with its neighbours, and experts said more ships will be armed as a result. The China Coast Guard integrates the functions of marine surveillance, the existing coast guard which came under the police, fisheries law enforcement and Customs’ anti-smuggling maritime police. The divisions “that were not allowed to be equipped with weapons can be armed now”, Yang Mian, professor of international relations at the Communication University of China
The term “the Great Game” referred to the strategic rivalry between the British and Russian empires in Central Asia. Today’s Great Game is the battle for economic survival in a world of low economic growth. In such a world economic nationalism reasserts itself, reducing free trade in goods and services and free movement of capital. Escalating sovereign debt and banking sector problems will favour European introspection. Individual European economies are modest in size relative to the US.
A very senior British general said of Operation Serval in Mali that France had “set the standard” for crisis military interventions. Praise indeed and not easily given. One can always tell when a crisis is being managed to effect as the press lose interest. The challenge Paris faced when four thousand French troops arrived in Mali in February was complicated to say the least. Tuaregs had taken control of northern Mali and sought separation. They were supported by a particularly nasty bunch of Islamists who had profited (literally) from the chaos in neighboring Libya.
A total of $829 million has been raised to explore Africa for metals and minerals over the last two years. While some 65% of drilling on the continent targets gold, rare earths are the fifth most popular prospect after iron ore, copper and coal attracting five companies spending $42 million during the two years to end-May 2013. The renewed interest in Africa’s rare earths come despite dramatic falls in the value of the 17 elements used in a variety of high-tech, green and consumer electronics industries.
Here’s what your stockbroker and the media aren’t telling you: the world is more indebted now than it was at the height of the financial bubble in 2007. That’s right. Despite the extraordinary government intervention of the past six years. Despite continuing optimism of a recovery. Despite the reassuring words of central bankers. We’re worse off in debt terms. Interest rates can’t rise above GDP rates, otherwise debt to GDP ratios will climb further. If they do, you can expect more money printing, budget cuts and tax rises.
The doctrine of the Indian secret agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) is based on the principle of waging continuous secret battles through its agents. Since its creation in 1968, RAW has assumed a significant status in formulation of Indian foreign policy. RAW’s operations against the regional countries are conducted with great professional skill and expertise, which include the establishment of a huge network inside the target countries. It has used propaganda, political dissent, ethnic divisions, economic backwardness and criminal elements to foment subversion and terrorism to weaken these states in consonance with Indian regional ambitions.
The commander of U.S. Strategic Command discussed the mission and future of Air Force Global Strike Command at an all-call here July 15. “The skills that we have for the nuclear deterrence mission will be needed as far into the future as I can see,” Gen. C. Robert Kehler said. “As long as we have nuclear weapons, it’s our job to deter nuclear attack with a safe, secure and effective nuclear force. That’s what we’re here for.” Kehler addressed several topics, including the evolving nature of global security and how it affects the way in which the Air Force must meet new challenges.
‘Neural dust’ brain implants could revolutionize brain-machine interfaces and allow large-scale data recording
In a potential neuroscience breakthrough, University of California Berkeley scientists have proposed a system that allows for thousands of ultra-tiny “neural dust” chips to be inserted into the brain to monitor neural signals at high resolution and communicate data highly efficiently via ultrasound. The neural dust design promises to overcome a serious limitation of current invasive brain-machine interfaces (BMI): the lack of an implantable neural interface system that remains viable for a lifetime.
Alexander Khramchikhin, an independent Moscow-based military analyst, said the massive exercise held in the areas along the border with China was clearly aimed at Beijing. He said: “It’s quite obvious that the land part of the exercise is directed at China, while the sea and island part of it is aimed at Japan.” Mr Khramchikhin, who recently posted an article online painting a grim picture of Russia being quickly routed in a surprise Chinese attack, said that the war games were intended to discourage China from harbouring expansionist plots.
This history of double standards shadows the recent events in Egypt and Washington. When a country’s military sends tanks into the streets, deposes an elected President, suspends the constitution, shuts down television stations, and arrests the leadership of the ruling party, the usual word for it is “coup.” But, in the days since all this came to pass in Egypt, the Obama Administration has gone to great lengths to avoid calling it by its rightful name-Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said that the events of July 3rd and afterward were under “review”-for the obvious reason that, under the law, it would mean the end of $1.5 billion in U.S. military and economic aid.
Along with the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf near Iran and Oman, the Strait of Malacca is the world’s most important shipping chokepoint. Linking the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea and Pacific Ocean, the Malacca Strait is by far the shortest maritime route connecting Persian Gulf energy producers to their largest consumers in countries like China, Japan, and South Korea. 50,000 merchant ships carrying 40 percent of all world trade pass through the 900-km long (550 miles) strait each year. It’s particularly strategic for regional energy supplies.
Trident is now Britain’s only nuclear weapon. It retired its last free fall bombs in 1998. And the stockpile of operational Trident warheads is also much reduced from its original level. For the British military, even some of the clouds that have loomed over its efforts to be a big nuclear player have had silver linings. Despite the setbacks, there were elements of its early H-bomb designs that so interested the Americans they helped cement US-UK nuclear co-operation.
The development of new safe havens for terrorism and transnational crime in the Sahel should be considered a threat to all European national interests, says think-tank. The ongoing crises in Syria and Egypt have marginalised the conflict in Mali in the western media. But the French-led military intervention in that country is facing a complex and challenging transitional period. The United Nations Special Envoy for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, recently warned the international community to “not forget the Sahel, or you will have more Malis if you do”.
After the genocide that tore apart a nation and killed 800,000 in Rwanda, the world said never again. But nearly 20 years later, we find ourselves on the brink of another campaign of destruction against an entire people. Yet once again it is being greeted with silence.
In Burma, ethnic cleansing is happening. We have seen more human rights violations and attacks on Rohingya minorities in the past two years than in the last 20. Mobs have attacked our villages, driving us from our homes, children have been hacked to death, and hundreds of my people have been killed by members of the majority.
Tens of thousands of Russian troops have been placed on alert after a suspected Israeli airstrike destroyed advanced, Russian missiles recently delivered to Syria. In a July 13 report from ITAR-TASS, The Russian Defense Ministry has announced what is being described as “the most ambitious [check alert] in the history of post-Soviet test readiness.” The alert, according to the ITAR-TASS report, involves more than 80,000 troops, around a thousand tanks and armored personnel carriers, some 130 aircraft and 70 naval vessels.
The United States is negotiating an agreement to allow it to position military equipment and rotating personnel in the Philippines while avoiding the controversial issue of re-establishing US bases in the country, officials from both countries say.
The negotiations for increased military access by the US take place against the backdrop of simmering tensions between the Philippines and China over areas in the South China Sea claimed by both countries. The Philippines, which has a small navy and air force, is relying on support from the United States to modernise its military and upgrade its capabilities.
ndia is stepping up training ofAfghan National Army (ANA) in a major way, even as it also considers supply of military equipment to the fledgling force, in the backdrop of the US-led coalition preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014.
Defence ministry sources say “a major Indian effort has been launched for capability enhancement of the ANA” to ensure it can handle the internal security of Afghanistan after the progressive exit of the 100,000 foreign soldiers from there by end-2014.
The Air Force of the future is likely to be slightly smaller and more reliant on remotely piloted aircraft, face growing challenges from the rise of Asia and rapidly increasing space traffic, and struggle to maintain its technological superiority as the United States produces fewer scientists, engineers and other highly skilled graduates. In the report, called “Global Horizons: United States Air Force Global Science and Technology Vision,” Maybury said that the Air Force’s manned air fleet is likely to shrink slightly by 2027. But the Air Force’s fleets of remotely piloted aircraft and their missions are likely to grow.
Asserting that there has been no change in the attitude and policy of Pakistani military towards India, a former American diplomat has said the next frontier of conflict between the two nations could be Afghanistan.
“Afghanistan is going to be in mess after we leave. India’s equity are now deeply engaged in Afghanistan and danger is that the next frontier of India-Pak conflict is going to be in Afghanistan,” said Robert Blackwill, the former US Ambassador to India said.
The US presence in the remote northern Australian port of Darwin will soar from its current 250 troops to 1,000 next year and ultimately to 2,200, granting a full Marine Expeditionary Unit an effective base of operations. Although the general agreement had been made in 2011, the renewed commitment is likely to elicit a negative reaction from China, already irked by the Australian’s agreement to effectively base Marines in their country at the most useful port closest to the People’s Republic.
The biggest exporter of unmanned aerial vehicles, which are fast becoming essential to governments worldwide for both military and civilian uses, isn’t the United States, China or other major power. The big winner in this booming global market is Israel. And that creates a lot of geopolitical complications, for the obvious reasons. Thanks to massive budget cuts and tanking economies, many Western governments, especially in Europe and the United States, are slashing defense spending and eliminating big-ticket weapons systems.
Spain and the US are expected to formalize an agreement in the coming weeks over the stationing of four destroyers at the naval base in Rota, Cádiz, for an initial period of over four years. The deal is worth 200 million euros to Spanish public company Navantia, which will be responsible for the maintenance of the four Arleigh Burke class vessels. The destroyers form part of the NATO missile defense shield and are equipped with Aegis combat systems capable of intercepting ballistic missiles.
You have been hoarding money. You purchased real estate. You’ve invested in Swiss francs. All of this you’ve done to stave off the spectre of inflation, because we’ve watched how national banks have been printing money for years, as never before. And then last week the European Central Bank announced that record-low interest rates would be staying low for years to come. In the opinion of the many currency depreciation prophets out there, that means that sooner or later we’re looking at a second 1923 — an era of hyperinflation, and we’ll soon be using billion or trillion Euro notes.
China and the United States are also encountering a more confident and more unified Latin America. It is a region that has sought autonomy in its own affairs by way of rising blocs such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, MERCOSUR, and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), among others. Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy, also seeks a prominent role the region with large investments in research and development and the introduction of social programs to revamp the middle class.
In intellectual terms, Air-Sea Battle is the biggest of the military’s big ideas for its post-Afghanistan future. But what is it, really? It’s a constantly evolving concept for high-tech, high-intensity conflict that touches on everything from cyberwar to nuclear escalation to the rise of China. In practical terms, the beating heart of AirSea Battle is eleven overworked officers working in windowless Pentagon meeting rooms, and the issues they can’t get to are at least as important as the ones they can.
Few outside the intelligence community had heard of activity-based intelligence until December, when the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency awarded BAE Systems $60 million to develop products based on this newish methodology. But ABI, which focuses not on specific targets but on events, movements and transactions in a given area, is rapidly emerging as a powerful tool for understanding adversary networks and solving quandaries presented by asymmetrical warfare and big data.
The collapse of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule did not just impact its supporters in Egypt. In Qatar, it caused a tremor inside the whole ruling establishment, destroying the political bridges it had built to exert influence in the country. Qatar was the mother whose milk fed the Islamist groups. It spent billions to install them in power – observers estimate that Qatar paid more than $17 billion to Arab Spring countries – especially the deposed president Mohamed Mursi. This could be the beginning of the decline of the role of Qatar under the new Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai wants a mutual security pact with the United States that would compel the super power to protect Afghanistan against Pakistan. Under the pact, the U.S., if possible, even take direct military action against Taliban havens on Pakistani soil, the New York Times quoted Afghan sources as saying. According to the newspaper, Karzai was fumed that Washington’s attempt to begin peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar was in reality an attempt to cut him out and make an American deal with the Taliban.
Protestors demonstrating against the continued presence of unofficial brigades in the country are threatening, once they gather enough people, to take on the militias. “Later today we plan to peacefully march to Martyrs Square and, when we have enough people, we will go on to the headquarters of these militias,” one of the protest organisers told the Libya Herald. Protestors came not just from Tripoli, but outlying towns including Zintan and Zawia, according to army officer Laith Alhasi.
Just days after Morsi’s removal from office by the Egyptian armed forces, there is a remarkable replacement: Mohammad ElBaradei, the lone leadership figure with deep Western appeal — and the resume and ideology to match.
There’s no doubt that ElBaradei represents the smallest and least powerful of the main factions supporting big reform in post-Mubarak Egypt — the others being Team Muslim Brotherhood and Team Army.
You’ve heard of planned obsolescence — tactical nuclear weapons are a case of deferred obsolescence: a weapon that has long ago worn out its welcome in the U.S. arsenal. Politically, however, there are still voices that argue that even a bomb with no military utility is “reassuring” to certain allies, and that storing this artifact in European bunkers and maintaining allied aircraft capable of dropping this bomb is a valuable demonstration of NATO “burden sharing.” Moreover, these proponents are prepared to pay — or rather, have the U.S. pay — $10 billion to modernize and store the B61.
ShotSpotter’s main target is criminal violence. It can report the street address, as well as number of shots, type of weapon used, and even the speed and direction the shooter is moving. All this happens even if no one has called 911 — allowing police to more effectively respond to both reported and unreported incidents. This is more important than you might think, since less than 20% of all gunshots in cities are reported. Even when shots are reported, the caller is often uncertain of exactly where or when they occurred. SST reports crime decreases of up to 40% in cities where its system is in use.
First it was the Pacific Century, then the Asia Pacific Century, then the Asian Century with a recent nod towards the Chinese Century. Now we are hearing of the Indo-Pacific Century. Hollywood to Bollywood, as one US military officer put it recently. A great sweep of ocean from India to the eastern shores of California is the strategic big picture, we are told. But while Australian policymakers debate every chess move by China, India and the US a more urgent Indo-Pacific shift, this time Indonesia versus the Pacific, is happening in two areas not even named in the Australian defence white paper 2013: West Papua and Melanesia.
The US Navy has deployed three additional coastal patrol ships to its Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain, bolstering America’s presence in the strategic Gulf, officials said Wednesday. The USS Tempest, the USS Squall and the USS Thunderbolt arrived Wednesday at the port of Manama, bringing the total number of patrol craft to eight, the Navy said.The small, speedy 52 meter-long (79-foot) ships, which can be armed with 25 mm cannons and .50 caliber machine guns, are seen as a counterweight to Iran’s fast boats that operate in shallow waters around the Strait of Hormuz.
The Turkish government has plans to make a slight change to its laws to prevent coups. The contentious point in the constitution – Article 35 – has been used as justification by instigators of past coups.
Since 1960, there have been four military coups in Turkey that threw out elected governments. The last time a coup threatened the government in Turkey was 2007, when the military had a stand-off with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now, the government is considering a historic step: changing Article 35 of the Turkish military’s internal laws.
The first of its kind, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s forward command post (FCP) gives US Africa Command (Africom) and CJTF-HOA an eyes-on capability and amplifies its ability to rapidly respond to a crisis or humanitarian incident in Africa.
The command’s newly established joint FCP environment brings together marines, airmen, soldiers and sailors in the fields of intelligence, communications, personnel, operations, logistics, plans, comptroller, training and exercises.
Fighting in Afghanistan could be stopped “in weeks” if Pakistan told the Taliban to end the insurgency, the head of the Afghan army has told the BBC. Gen Sher Mohammad Karimi said Pakistan controlled and gave shelter to Taliban leaders, deliberately unleashing fighters on Afghanistan. Pakistan denies controlling the militant group. It was one of the Taliban’s main supporters from its launch in 1994 until the 2001 fall of the regime. Most of the Taliban’s leaders reportedly then fled to Pakistan and the group is still considered to be heavily dependent on the support of certain elements in the country.
The Ghana Armed Forces, along with U.S. Army Africa, concluded week one of exercise Western Accord 13 and began a command post exercise at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center in Accra, Ghana.
Western Accord 13 is a two-part exercise that includes academics and a command post exercise. In part one, participants received classes focused on collective tasks, functional, and staff procedures in support of command and control of a peacekeeping operation based on real world events.
The US economy continues to have a hard time recovering from the global financial crisis. So the last thing one would expect the US government to do is to engage in policies that open the floodgates to severe risks in financial markets again. And yet it is precisely doing that. For all the attention being paid to the Federal Reserve’s “tapering”, what Washington has in its crosshairs is something quite different. It is putting massive pressure on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Security and Exchange Commission. Unless policymakers, and the public at large, act quickly to counter that pressure, the disastrous past – a financial industry running amok – may well be not just be the US’ national but also the common global future.
Russia’s ultimate geo-strategic goal is to re-frame a continental block against the Atlantic powers, by making use of the vast strategic and demographic potential of the Eurasian continent. Following this approach, Russia should adopt a multi-dimensional foreign policy waiving close relations with the EU, China and the regional powers, such as Iran and Turkey. The Post-Soviet Space stresses the historical and cultural affinities with the Slavic communities and represents a pivotal area for Moscow’s external projection. Energy links are the key tools of political leverage for Russia’s power projection.
Jordanians are suspicious about US weapons and troops being deployed to the kingdom, even if Washington seeks to help its ally protect itself from a possible spillover of Syrian violence, experts say.
Worried about the security of Jordan, which is already struggling to cope with around 550,000 refugees from its war-torn northern neighbor, the United States has kept F-16 warplanes and Patriot missiles in the country since a joint military exercise ended on June 20.
Debt is deadly, and it’s made even worse with rising interest rates that can prevent you from eliminating the load. What happens with rising interest rates is that more of the payments go toward the interest and less to the principal. In fact, it’s what I call a death spiral of debt that worsens as rates move higher.
When individuals face excessive debt, often the solution is to reduce spending and adhere to a strict repayment program. But when governments build up massive debt loads, there is no definitive solution, and it becomes problematic.
International concerns have been raised by Pakistan’s growing nuclear arsenal, while Beijing has faced much criticism for its co-operation over nuclear energy with Islamabad.
Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who turned the country nuclear in 1998, sought Chinese assistance in the field of civil nuclear technology to overcome the country’s energy crisis during a meeting with visiting Premier Li Keqiang in Islamabad last month. Indeed, there are indications that nuclear co-operation is now going to be the prime driver of the Sino-Pakistan strategic partnership.
Cyprus inked a deal with a US-Israeli partnership on Wednesday to build a liquefied natural gas plant on the island to exploit untapped energy riches. A memorandum of understanding was signed between Cyprus and a partnership comprising US-based Noble Energy International and Israeli companies Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration to build a LNG facility at Vassiliko near the southern resort town of Limassol. The almost bankrupt Mediterranean island is hoping its untapped offshore energy resources can pull it back from the financial brink.
The Philippine military has revived plans to build new air and naval bases at Subic Bay, a former U.S. naval base that American forces could use to counter China’s creeping presence in the disputed South China Sea, senior navy officials said.
The bases would allow the Philippines to station warships and fighter jets just 124 nautical miles from Scarborough Shoal, a contentious area of the South China Sea now controlled by China after a tense standoff last year.
Fighting erupted in Tripoli on Wednesday when gunmen tried to free comrades seized by ex-rebels, and an army officer was assassinated in Benghazi, highlighting Libya’s continuing insecurity nearly two years after dictator Moamer Kadhafi fell.
The clashes broke out in the Abu Slim area near the centre of the capital, a security official said, and gunfire from heavy weapons could be heard in several areas of the city. Plumes of smoke could be seen rising into the sky above Abu Slim, an AFP journalist at the scene said.
The hostility between India and Pakistan, ongoing for more than 60 years, lies at the heart of the current war in Afghanistan. Most observers in the west view the conflict as a battle between Nato on one hand, and al-Qaida and the Taliban on the other. In reality this has long since ceased to be the case – we think this is about us, but it’s not. Instead our troops are now caught up in a complex war shaped by two pre-existing conflicts: one internal, the other regional.
“As an Alliance of democracies, we are gratified when countries sharing similar values reach out to us,” the Deputy Secretary General said during his meeting with Minister Pinzón Bueno.
Ambassador Vershbow said that Allies have agreed to pursue tailored cooperation with Colombia on a case-by-case basis, in areas of common interest and that by signing this accord NATO and Colombia stress their shared interest in consultation and cooperation. The Security of Information Agreement does not formally recognize Colombia as a NATO partner but constitutes a first step for future cooperation in the security field.
The hard edges of Syria’s frontlines – dogmatic, revolutionary, Islamist or pure murderously sectarian – almost melt away outside the oilfields. New lines emerge pitting tribesmen against battalions, Islamists against everyone else, and creating sometimes surreal lines of engagement, where rebels help maintain government oil supplies in return for their villages being spared from bombardment and being allowed to siphon oil for themselves. “There is chaos now,” Abu Zayed said. “The Free Syrian Army is chasing loot, and they don’t care about civilians.
Defence engagement, a catch-all term for non-operational military activity through which to achieve influence internationally, is gaining momentum as a core military task for both the US and the UK. The rationale for this is the need, in an age of fiscal constraint, to derive greater utility from the armed forces: no longer can a force simply drill in barracks while awaiting the next conflict. Furthermore, the most important lesson learned in Iraq and Afghanistan is that victory cannot be achieved through brute force alone.
The US military has failed to prepare a realistic “plan B” if political turmoil forces the closure of a vital naval base in Bahrain, a naval officer argues in a report released Monday.
The Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain is the most US important maritime base in the Middle East but senior officers have become complacent about its future, Commander Richard McDaniel asserts. “Surprisingly, military leaders have no ‘Plan B’ if strategic access in Bahrain is jeopardized,” McDaniel wrote, in a paper published by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.
A coalition of Egyptian Islamist parties on Monday called for an “open-ended” demonstration on Friday in support of President Mohamed Morsi two days before planned rallies against him, raising fears of violence.
The alliance is calling for a “million-man march” followed by an open-ended protest outside the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Egypt’s Nasr City under the slogan “legitimacy is a red line”, Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party said in a statement on its website. The call comes a day after the defence minister warned that the army will intervene if violence breaks out.
Russia has stationed one of its advanced intelligence vessels in the Middle East in order to follow Western readiness for a potential strike in Syria. Last week, Israel conducted an extensive military exercise that saw the participation of the IDF ground forces, the Israeli Navy and the IAF. The precise goals of the exercise were not made public and remained a secret. However, assessments are that it was aimed towards Israel’s northern arena – towards the tension with Syria and Hezbollah.
Jordan’s prime minister says the country is hosting 900 U.S. military personnel to bolster its defense capabilities against potential threats from the Syrian civil war.
The first Jordanian public official to speak publicly of the numbers of U.S. troops in the kingdom, Abdullah Ensour told reporters Saturday that 200 of the personnel were experts training for how to handle a chemical attack. He said the remaining 700 are manning a Patriot missile defense system and F-16 fighter jets which Washington deployed this month in case the Syrian war worsens.
Britain’s spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world’s phone calls and internet traffic and has started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information which it is sharing with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA). The sheer scale of the agency’s ambition is reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation, aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible.
American troops being deployed to Sinai this summer are doing so as part of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) peacekeeping force that has been present there since 1982, the armed forces said in an official statement Saturday. Reports had been circulating on Thursday on the Washington Times and state-run Al-Ahram websites that United States soldiers were being deployed on Egyptian soil to combat riots. Major Ahmed Shaaban told Daily News Egypt that such claims are inaccurate. “They are only training as a precautionary measure,” said Shaaban.
Bank of China, the country’s leading commercial bank, has denied a media report claiming the bank had defaulted earlier on Thursday. The bank’s statement came after the official Sina Weibo account for 21st Century Business Herald said the bank had defaulted on Thursday afternoon, deferring transactions for half an hour due to a fund shortage, citing anonymous sources. The bank responded in a post on its official Sina Weibo that it has never had monetary defaults and had completed all outbound payments on Thursday in a timely manner.
The battle over the Nile has already drawn neighboring countries into the dispute. Sudan and South Sudan have expressed their support for Ethiopia’s dam, while Somalia might show their allegiance to Egypt.
Earlier this month, Egyptian army officials arrived in Somalia to discuss revamping the Somalia National Army and building a possible Egyptian military base. It appears that if Egypt & Ethiopia do go to war, Egypt is relying on Somalia’s strategic location to attack Ethiopia. In order to do so, they will need to go through Somaliland first – with the help of Somalia.
Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov recently said that the Ministry of Defence has formed – and is ready to use – the Special Operations Forces; military units trained to perform combat missions both in Russia and abroad. He said the decision was based on the leading nations’ experience in forming, training and using special operations units, including the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM or SOCOM). Such units have completely altered the very concept of special forces and their operating methods.
STRIKFORNATO will participate in the U.S. Fleet Synthetic Training-Joint 2013/2 (FST-J 13-2) Exercise as the Combined Force Maritime Component Headquarters on board USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) later this month.
FST-J 13-2 is a key event in STRIKFORNATO’s training program this year, sharpening its skills to plan and execute the command and control of multiple carrier strike groups in the delivery of joint effects into multiple domains – including land, maritime, air, cyberspace, and space – from the sea.
South Korea is purchasing bunker-busting long-range missiles from a European company, allowing it to hold at risk nuclear and missile sites in North Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported on Thursday.
According to the report, the ROK’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) approved the purchase of Taurus bunker-busting, air-to-ground missiles for the military’s F-15K fighter jets. The missiles are equipped with GPS-guidance and have a range of 500 km while carrying a 480-kg warhead that can penetrate 6 meters of concrete. Its Circular Error Probable (CEP) is 2-3 meters.
In that global marketplace, everything and anything goes. While nothing prevents individual security agencies from spying on enemies, nothing prevents friendly intelligence services from spying on each other too. So, former CIA contractor and NSA employee Edward Snowden’s claim that Britain and the US spied on some friendly countries should not outrage us. Those who express indignation that these democratic countries could spy on ‘friends’ like Turkey and Russia are either naive or live in a utopian world.
The brains of oil company bosses appear to work in different ways to the mere mortals that stalk the Palace of Westminster. These titans of grand strategy, outlining their plans at the World National Oil Companies Congress in central London, look like they have one thing in common: they take the long view. They do not operate on the five-year electoral cycles of ministers and MPs. It takes a whole decade for a new oil or gas field to become operational. Even civil wars or regime change are no obstacles to success.
The St. Brother Albert Homeless Shelter in this city in central Poland needs 60,000 zloty ($20,000) for renovation. To raise the funds, the shelter’s residents are offering “urban survival” workshops to teach people how to survive in the city without a penny.
Jerzy Czapla, the director of the homeless shelter, says he hopes managers and businessmen will sign up for the workshop. The price of the workshop is: “Pay what you want.”
A Mongolian company has tapped one of the world’s most closed markets by taking a stake in a North Korean oil refinery, to help Asia’s fastest growing economy ease its energy reliance on Russia and China.
HBOil JSC, an oil trading and refining company based in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, said it acquired 20 percent of the state-run entity operating North Korea’s Sungri refinery, according to an e-mailed statement yesterday. It intends to supply crude to Sungri, which won’t be fully operational for up to a year, and export the refined products to Mongolia.
The agency said the scale of credit was so extreme that the country would find it very hard to grow its way out of the excesses as in past episodes, implying tougher times ahead.
“The credit-driven growth model is clearly falling apart. This could feed into a massive over-capacity problem, and potentially into a Japanese-style deflation,” said Charlene Chu, the agency’s senior director in Beijing. “There is no transparency in the shadow banking system, and systemic risk is rising.
The United States said on Saturday it would keep F-16 fighters and Patriot missiles in Jordan at Amman’s request, and Russia bristled at the possibility they could be used to enforce a no-fly zone inside Syria.
Washington, which has long called for President Bashar al-Assad to step down, pledged military support to Syrian rebels this week, citing what it said was the Syrian military’s use of chemical weapons – an allegation Damascus has denied.
In September, America’s top special operator plans to sit down with US geographic combatant commanders to finally lay out plans for what he has been calling the “global SOF network.”
The goal of the network is to more directly link deployed special operations forces (SOF) — which conduct operations under the command of the geographic commanders, not SOCOM — to one another to share information and intelligence.
Eastern European states had clearer goals in their 1990s transitions, writes Tony Barber. So it is in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, two-and-a-half years after the eruption of the Arab Spring, and so it was just over 20 years ago in central and eastern Europe after the fall of communism. The differences between the two regions are, for the most part, more striking than the similarities. In one fundamental respect, however, they have something in common: a period of transition in which the struggle for a settled constitutional and political order and economic progress is long and hard-fought.
China has offered Sri Lanka new loans for infrastructure projects, worth US$ 2.2 billion dollars. In a reply to a question, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mr. Hong Lei told the news media that in addition to infrastructure loans, both countries agreed to further deepen defence cooperation and maintain exchanges between two defence ministries, whilst they continue to carry out in cooperating defence technology, personal training and other fields. Yet, the spokesperson did not reveal further details regarding the nature of the new strategic cooperation.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter what is right or wrong. What matters is what is practical. For this week eurocrats went a step further and— having already exasperated many of the EU’s own members— they managed to alienate the one of the block’s biggest trading partners too, by slapping tariffs on cut-price Chinese solar panels. The scrap has become so petty that even the country which started it, Germany, wants no part in the fight, while France, which will be hit the hardest by any Chinese wine tariffs, is posturing angrily on the point of principle.
Nations are eccentric. But they also have threads of repeated history through which we can discern what comes next. Now we present 14 rules governing geopolitical events. These rules do not divine the future. Rather they allow you, generally speaking, to separate yourself from the unruly, conjectural maw of global opinion-makers and decipher for yourself what is going on, and the probable scenario or scenarios to unfold next. One of the instruments for doing so is history, as discussed. But there also is a perceptible universal trend to events that cuts across borders.
“From the legal standpoint, Taiwan is not part of the Republic of China,” a declassified CIA report on Taiwan written in March 1949 says. “Pending a Japanese peace treaty, the island remains occupied territory in which the US has proprietary interests,” the report continues. The report says that communist control of the island would have “seriously unfavorable strategic implications” for the US. It says that the native population of Taiwan would welcome release from Chinese control, but was not strong enough to stage a successful revolt.
Pakistan has a growing fear that the US might abandon it once again after its exit from Afghanistan next year. The Pakistan embassy has conveyed the message to the Obama administration in numerous meetings, according to the acting ambassador Dr Asad Majeed.
Talking to The News after attending an event on the Capitol Hill, he said Pakistani officials have been expressing concern, both publicly and in official meetings with American officials, that Pakistan could be left to deal with the fallout of the US withdrawal in the form of militancy and extremism in Afghanistan.
Forty-six years after the 1967 war, we are facing a dangerous increase in the number of “failed states” across the Arab region. There are projects, some of which are already underway, to partition and divide countries such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Yemen and Libya. Other countries are not immune to internal tensions resulting from a discourse of partition and fragmentation similar to the one which has disrupted the very concept of the “state” as we knew it, thus giving rise to the so-called “failed states.”
Intelligence report: On Russia’s position to NATO anti-missile defence and possible incidents during Zapad 2013
Russia still wants to avoid elements of NATO’s anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence in close vicinity and proposes to the Alliance to divide Europe into responsibility areas, the Second Investigation Department under Lithuania’s Ministry of National Defence, in charge of military intelligence, said in a 2012 report on threats to national security on Friday. The Investigation Department also Intentional and non-intentional land and air border violations and various other incidents are possible during Russian-Belarusian military exercises ‘Zapad 2013’ scheduled for the autumn.
So many devastating changes in the Middle East’s so-called ‘Arab Spring’ aftermath are being blamed on misguided US policies in many countries. This in-depth report reveals how Washington institutions allegedly groom destructive elements when attempting to destabilise nations. Their tentacles are now even touching Turkey’s fully-fledged democracy – one that has achieved economic transformation in only a decade, with tourism and foreign investment booming.
Britain’s electronic eavesdropping agency GCHQ has been covertly gathering information from leading internet companies through a secret US spy programme, it was reported today.
The Guardian said that it had obtained documents showing that GCHQ had access to the Prism system, set up by America’s National Security Agency (NSA), since at least June 2010. The documents were said to show that the British agency, had generated 197 intelligence reports through the system in the 12 months to May 2012 – a 137 per cent increase on the previous year.
The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.
The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.
Twenty years after first deployed to Bosnia as part of the United Nations Protection Force, some 85 soldiers from Number 1 Company (No 1 Coy), The 1st Battalion Irish Guards, travelled to the country to rehearse their potential call-up as one of the intermediate reserve units of the European Military Force (EUFOR). Restructured in 2012 as a result of improving security in the region,EUFOR’s primary role is to build the capacity of the Bosnian armed forces. A 600-strong contingent is based permanently in theatre, with 600 additional troops held on standby in 6 EU nations to react to potential unrest.