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Showing posts from October, 2013

New Palestinian counter-terrorism unit deploys to Jenin

The Palestinian National Security Forces (NSF) has deployed a new, specialised counter-terrorism unit as part of its ongoing effort to improve its security capabilities.

Special Operations Unit 101 (SOU 101) deployed to Jenin - one of the most troubled towns in the West Bank - in October to support the NSF's 9th Battalion, the unit's commander, Major Sadam Amr, told IHS Jane's .

The unit numbers around 150 men and uses Zastava M70 assault rifles that have been fitted with picatinny rails so they can be used with the red dot, laser and night vision sites acquired by the unit. "Each rifle upgrade cost us USD1,000," Maj Sadam said.

He added that the unit is also equipped with a tactical communications system that is made by a US company called Tiger. The individual radios allow members of the unit to stay in contact with each other and their operations room. It uses Ford F-150 pick-up trucks, several of which have been fitted with protective armour in the West Bank as …

ADEX 2013: Samsung Thales shows off tactical comms suite

Samsung Thales unveiled an integrated communications system called the Tactical Integrated Communication Network (TICN) at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (ADEX 2013).
Two systems were displayed: the line-of-sight-based Multiple Link Radio (MLR) system and the mobile telephone-based communication system. The two systems aim at providing seamless voice and data services between frontline units and the command centre in a tactical scenario.
Both systems are being trialled by the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA). IHS Jane's reported in 2008 that the then unnamed system would enter service in 2022; Samsung Thales officials at ADEX could not confirm this timeline.
The MLR system at the command centre consists of a four-sector antenna unit mounted on top of an antenna mast, a modem, and a base band radio unit. At the forward post/tactical area, the system has a modem and a hyperbolic wire mesh antenna unit with the baseband unit mounted on the antenna mast itself…

ADEX 2013: GAASI ponders South Korean delay in requesting Predator B information

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GAASI) is waiting on the South Korean government to formally request information on its MQ-9 Predator B (Reaper) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) so that it can be offered to fulfil the air force's medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV requirement, a company official told IHS Jane's on 30 October.

Speaking at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (ADEX) in South Korea, William Thomas Jr, Senior Manager Washington Operations, said that GAASI would like to submit its Predator B platform to the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF), but as a Category 1 system it requires an official government request for the company to do so.

"We have asked [the Korean government] to do this, but [the Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA)] has not yet done so," he said. "We're not sure of the reasons why, but we think it might be tied up with domestic production considerations."

As with most big-ticket …

ADEX 2013: AgustaWestland urges South Korea to revise airborne mine-countermeasures requirements

AgustaWestland is pressing the South Korean government to issue a new requirement of capabilities (RoC) document for its stalled airborne mine-countermeasures (AMCM) programme, a company official told IHS Jane's on 29 October.

Speaking at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (ADEX) in South Korea, Andrew Symonds, Vice President North-East Asia Sales and Marketing, said that the Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) must come up with a revised solution if the Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN) is not to lose the capability with the scaling back of the US Navy's (USN's) Sikorsky MH-53 AMCM assets in the region.

"The [MH-X AMCM] competition stalled about two years ago, as the specifications were unachievable," Symonds explained. "The US Navy thought it could offer [Korea] five bespoke systems, but two of them couldn't be fitted to the UH-60 [Seahawk helicopter operated by the RoKN]."

According to Symonds, towing the AMCM out of …

128 dead in Nigeria state capital after five hour battle

Nigerian military and hospital reports indicate a 5-hour-long battle between Islamic extremists and troops in the capital of Nigeria's Yobe state killed at least 95 militants, 23 soldiers and eight police officers.

Details still trickling in days after the Thursday and Friday attack on Damaturu raise doubts about military claims that they have the upper hand in the fight to halt an Islamic uprising in northeast Nigeria, nearly six months after the government imposed a state of emergency.

Reporters saw that the extremists had set ablaze four police command posts and an army barracks where they looted vehicles and weapons.

Police and witnesses said at least two civilians died - a man believed killed by the insurgents and a civil servant shot by soldiers for breaking the curfew.

Venezuelan Territorial Claims

Venezuela's Bolivarian National Guard seized a Guyanese fuel smuggling ship in the eastern Venezuelan municipality of Caroni on Oct. 23. This followed the Oct. 10 seizure of the Panama-flagged Teknik Perdana oil exploration ship, which was operating in waters claimed by both Venezuela and Guyana on behalf of U.S. oil company Anadarko. The seizure of the Teknik Perdana has exacerbated long-present tensions in Venezuela's relationship with Guyana. The two neighbors have had a territorial dispute since shortly after Venezuela emerged as an independent state in 1830. The territory in question comprises roughly half of Guyana's territory and is known to be rich in minerals including gold. Although the current borders were dictated in a treaty with the United Kingdom in 1899, Venezuela contends that the British unduly influenced the outcome in their favor.

Late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez largely left the issue alone, although there were occasional flare-ups in bilateral ten…

Putin: Enjoying His Victories While He Can

Russian President Vladimir Putin notched another public relations victory Wednesday when Forbes magazine named him the world's most powerful person. Every year, the magazine publishes a list of the heads of state, financiers, philanthropists and entrepreneurs who "truly rule the world," so it is little surprise that the U.S. president ordinarily ranks No. 1. Indeed, Barack Obama has topped the list every year of his presidency, save for 2010, when Chinese President Hu Jintao surpassed him following the financial crisis in 2009.

But a lot has happened in 2013 that apparently swayed Forbes' opinion. The magazine had this to say when it bestowed the (admittedly symbolic) title on the Russian president: "Putin has solidified his control over Russia while Obama's lame duck period has seemingly set in earlier than usual for a two-term president -- latest example: the government shutdown mess. Anyone watching this year's chess match over Syria and National Secur…

South Korea Focuses on a Blue-Water Navy


Recent reports of South Korean shipbuilding and naval plans demonstrate that the country's maritime ambitions are far greater than simply focusing on the threat from North Korea. According to a Defense News report that cited a South Korean navy source, as well as recent comments by Rep. Chung Hee Soo of the ruling Saenuri Party, Seoul is seriously considering greatly expanding its blue-water maritime capabilities. Several challenges lie ahead -- difficulties developing or acquiring needed technology, the ever-present danger from North Korea and fiscal constraints -- but South Korea's long-term interests are closely linked to the sea.


The South Korean navy already had plans to commission three more highly capable destroyers by 2023 and to greatly enhance its subsurface fleet with larger, more powerful submarines. However, recent reports indicate that the South Koreans are also seeking to build the second ship of the Dokdo-class landing platform helicopter ship b…

ADEX 2013: Boeing waits on reissued FX-III capability requirements before deciding on way forward

Boeing is waiting on the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) to re-issue its requirements of capabilities (RoC) document before deciding on how it is to proceed with the stalled FX-III fighter competition, a company official told IHS Jane's on 29 October.

Speaking at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (ADEX) in South Korea, Howard Berry, FX-III campaign director said that the RoC will tell Boeing exactly what the RoKAF is looking for in terms of low observability (stealth), internal weapons carriage, programme status, and the like.

Once these factors are known, Berry said it will become clear if Korea is looking squarely at procuring the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), or if the RoKAF will restart the FX-III bidding process with the F-15 Advanced/Silent Eagle and Eurofighter Typhoon also.

"It is a pivotal moment as the government task force team [set up to look into the FX-III competition] is to report its findings in the comin…

Militants likely to target political rallies in run-up to 2014 Indian election


At least six people were killed in a co-ordinated improvised explosive device (IED) attack on an opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rally yesterday (27 October) in Patna, Bihar.

Five IEDs detonated at the rally venue, Gandhi Maidan, while another two exploded at the nearby Patna Junction railway station over a three-hour period. No group has claimed responsibility, but police have said that a suspect arrested after the attack could be a member of the homegrown group Indian Mujahedeen (IM). The attack does fit the group's capability level and modus operandi - low-intensity IEDs in public spaces. Moreover, Narendra Modi, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 general election, attended the high-profile rally. Modi, who has been serving as chief minister of Gujarat since 2001, was criticised for his leadership during the 2002 Gujarat riots, in which around 800 Muslims were killed.

The attack in Patna is significant for several reasons. Firstly, if it w…

Naomi Klein: How Science is Telling Us All To Revolt

Waste land: large-scale irrigation strips nutrients from the soil, scars the landscape and could alter climactic conditions beyond repair. Image: Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto/ Flowers, London, Pivot Irrigation #11 High Plains, Texas Panhandle, USA (2011)

Is our relentless quest for economic growth killing the planet? Climate scientists have seen the data – and they are coming to some incendiary conclusions.

By Naomi Klein

October 29, 2013 - "New Statesman" -- In December 2012, a pink-haired complex systems researcher named Brad Werner made his way through the throng of 24,000 earth and space scientists at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held annually in San Francisco. This year’s conference had some big-name participants, from Ed Stone of Nasa’s Voyager project, explaining a new milestone on the path to interstellar space, to the film-maker James Cameron, discussing his adventures in deep-sea submersibles.

But it was Werner’s…

Ignored Reality Is Going To Wipe Out the Human Race

By Paul Craig Roberts

October 29, 2013  - To inform people is hard slugging. Everything is lined up against the public being informed, or the policymakers for that matter. News is contaminated by its service to special interests and hidden agendas. Many scientists or their employers are dependent on federal money. Even psychologists and anthropologists were roped into the government’s torture and occupation programs. Economists tell lies for corporations and Wall Street. Plant and soil scientists tell lies for agribusiness and Monsanto. Truth tellers are slandered and persecuted. However, persistence can eventually win out. In the long-run, truth sometimes emerges. But not always. And not always in time.

I have been trying to inform the American people, economists, and policymakers for more than a decade about the adverse impacts of jobs offshoring on the US economy. The word has eventually gotten out. Last week I was contacted by 8th grade students competing for their school in CSPAN’…

NSA Stores Data to Target Any Citizen at Any Time - Greenwald

October 29, 2013 - "RT" -- The current revelations on the NSA’s spying are just the tip of the iceberg and affect “almost every country in the world,” said Glenn Greenwald. He stressed the NSA stores data for “as long as it can,” so they can target a citizen whenever they want.

Glenn Greenwald, the man behind the reports on the NSA global spy program, spoke to El Mundo journalist German Aranda and stressed that the US espionage activities went much further than just Europe.

"There are a lot of countries, and journalists in a lot of different countries, who have been asking for stories and to work on documents for a long time," Greenwald said. He added that he was working as fast as possible to “make sure that all of these documents get reported in every single country there are documents for, which is most countries in the world.”

Shedding light on the NSA’s motives in compiling metadata on citizens, he said the spy organization’s main aim was to store the informat…

Southern Africa's Resource Hunt

A competition is developing among several southern African nations to bring minerals produced in Africa's landlocked regions to ports along the coastline. The prize for the competing nations is Katanga province, a mineral-rich region in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Zambia's Copperbelt province. Katanga produces 580,000 metric tons of copper per year and about 60,000 metric tons of cobalt per year. Zambia produces about 675,000 metric tons of copper per year. Together they account for 7 percent of the world's copper production and roughly half the world's cobalt.

Currently most of Katanga's mineral exports pass through South Africa and Tanzania, though efforts are underway to redirect some of this traffic to Angola and Namibia. Mineral producers would prefer to transport their wares by rail, which is much cheaper than road transport. But with its vast rain forests, central Africa's geography is ill suited for the requisite infrastructure. There are a…

Indonesia's Political Future


As Indonesia's election-season politics heat up, so too are a host of geopolitical challenges to the past 10 years of relative stability. The elections come at a crucial turning point for Indonesia as it faces an economic correction brought on by its need for structural reforms, China's slowdown, Europe's ongoing crisis and the phasing out of U.S. monetary stimulus. Hence in the short and medium term, the country faces a tough transition. However, it does not face a repeat of the near disintegration that afflicted it upon the collapse of former President Suharto's New Order regime in 1998. On the contrary, Indonesia has a chance to benefit from the monumental changes in China and rising U.S. engagement in the Asia-Pacific region.


Indonesian elections are never simple. The immediate aftermath of the 2009 elections saw twin suicide bombings at the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta by the militant group Jemaah Islamiyah. Though the Indonesian gov…

Mongolia, China: A State Visit and Encouraging Signs for Investors


On Oct. 26, less than a month after Mongolia's parliament voted to scrap a foreign investment law designed to prevent Chinese state-owned enterprises from gaining footholds in strategic sectors, Mongolian Prime Minister Norovyn Altankhuyag completed a four-day state visit to China. Throughout his visit, Altankhuyag reassured Chinese investors and political leaders that Mongolia, a darling-turned-pariah for investors in emerging markets, welcomed the friendship and business of its southern neighbor.

Nonetheless, as China's leaders are well aware, Mongolia can be a fickle business partner. With interests in Mongolian resources that are both strategic and economic, Beijing knows that no shift in the tone of Chinese-Mongolian relations is likely to be a permanent one. Still, the recent scrapping of the investment law and Altankhuyag's visit could signal a change in Mongolia's attitude toward investment from China.


Altankhuyag's visit, which included stop…

China: The Jinshui Bridge Incident and the Real Threat to the Regime

Grievances over systemic injustice, not terrorism, remain the greatest threat to the Chinese government. Speculation continued to swirl in China on Tuesday about the incident Monday in which a sport-utility vehicle drove through crowds of people at the edge of Beijing's Tiananmen Square, crashed into a guardrail on the Jinshui Bridge and burst into flames under the iconic portrait of Chairman Mao at the entrance of the Forbidden City. Today, Chinese police published a statement, pursuant to an unspecified "major case," seeking information about two residents with ethnic Uighur names from the restive Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in northwestern China. Investigators are searching for eight suspects and treating the case as a suicide attack, according to the South China Morning Post and Reuters.

The incident may appear to have been an unsophisticated suicide attack by Uighurs, but questions remain about the profile and motives of the attackers. Several witnesses said th…