Saturday, January 21, 2012

DTN News - SYRIA UNREST: Syrian Blasts Kill 14, Arab Monitors May Stay

Defense War News Updates: DTN News - SYRIA UNREST: Syrian Blasts Kill 14, Arab Monitors May Stay
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Reuters
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - January 21, 2012: Bombs killed at least 14 prisoners in a Syrian security vehicle on Saturday, and fierce battles erupted between rebels and state forces as the Arab League considered whether to keep monitors in place.
The League looks set to extend its monitoring mission in Syria, given the lack of any Arab or world consensus on how to halt the bloodshed there, an Arab diplomatic source said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the 10-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad, said an explosive device planted on a road in the northwestern province of Idlib had killed 15 detainees and wounded dozens.

Syria's state news agency SANA said a "terrorist" group had set off two explosions on the road between the towns of Idlib and Ariha, killing 14 prisoners and wounding 26. Six police guards were also wounded, some critically.

Activists in Idlib offered a very different account, saying the vehicle had actually been carrying dead bodies. They uploaded videos of corpses on the bloodied floors of a hospital morgue, some of which appeared to be decomposing, and said they had come from the vehicle.

Foreign journalists are mostly banned from Syria and such reports are impossible to verify.

Elsewhere in Idlib, clashes broke out between rebels and troops in the city of Maarat Noaman.

"Ten soldiers were trying to desert and their escape sparked clashes between the army and the rebels. One rebel was martyred when he helped give the defectors cover and nine army personnel were killed," the Observatory's head Rami Abdelrahman told Reuters by telephone from Britain.

The Observatory said troops had clashed with army deserters who had joined the insurgency in the town of Jebel al-Zawiya, also in Idlib province, which borders Turkey.

FIGHTING NEAR DAMASCUS

Rebels seized parts of the town of Douma near Damascus before retreating, activists said. Explosions and gunfire rocked the area, a hotbed of revolt after dark.

The fighting began on Saturday afternoon, after security forces killed four people when they fired on a funeral march for a slain protester. Ensuing clashes left dozens wounded, activists said.

Syria accuses its neigbours of failing to combat arms smuggling to insurgents across their borders. On Saturday Syrian forces killed a Lebanese fisherman and wounded another when they seized their boat at sea, the father of the dead man said.

Residents said the Syrians may have suspected the men of smuggling.

Hundreds of people have been killed during the month-long observer mission, despatched to assess Syria's implementation of an Arab peace plan originally agreed in early November.

Sudanese General Mohammed al-Dabi, head of the 165-strong monitoring team, was due in Cairo on Saturday to submit his report for a League committee on Syria to consider on Sunday.

Syria is keen to avoid tougher action by the Arab League or the United Nations. It has tried to show it is complying with the plan, which demands a halt to killings, a military pullout from the streets, the release of detainees, access for the monitors and the media, and dialogue with opposition groups.

Critics say the Arab monitors have only given Assad diplomatic cover to pursue a bloody crackdown on his opponents.

The opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) told Reuters it had formally asked the League to refer the Syrian crisis to the U.N. Security Council.

But an Arab source said the League was most likely planning only to extend the mission's mandate: "Yes, there is not complete satisfaction with Syria's cooperation with the monitoring mission. But in the absence of any international plan to deal with Syria, the best option is for the monitors to stay.

This month the Syrian authorities have freed hundreds of detainees, announced an amnesty, struck a ceasefire deal with armed rebels in one town, allowed the Arab observers into some trouble spots and admitted a gaggle of foreign journalists.

"TERRORISTS"

Assad also promised political reforms, while vowing iron-fisted treatment of the "terrorists" trying to topple him.

Burhan Ghalioun, head of the SNC, was in the Egyptian capital for meetings with opposition colleagues and Arab League officials.

The group said in a statement he would ask for the case to go to the Security Council in order to get a resolution imposing a no-fly zone or safe zone.

Western powers have failed to overcome Chinese and Russian opposition to any Security Council resolution condemning Syria or imposing sanctions.

The United States and the European Union have toughened their own punitive measures, but have shown no desire to mount a Libya-style military intervention to help Assad's opponents, who include both armed insurgents and peaceful protesters.

Washington warned on Friday that it might soon close its embassy in Syria due to worsening security conditions and said it believed Assad no longer had full control of the country.

U.S. concern about the safety of its mission in Damascus, which was attacked by a pro-Assad crowd in July, intensified after three deadly blasts in the Syrian capital in recent weeks, blamed by Syrian authorities on al-Qaeda suicide bombers.

Closing the embassy would not amount to cutting diplomatic ties, but would reduce direct U.S. contacts with Damascus.

A White House spokesman said Assad's fall was "inevitable" and demanded he halt violence against protesters in which the United Nations says more than 5,000 people have died since March. Syria says 2,000 security personnel have been killed. (Writing by Alistair Lyon and Erika Solomon; editing by Andrew Roche)

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Reuters
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News Contact:dtnnews@ymail.com 
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Friday, January 20, 2012

DTN News: Happy Chinese New Year ~ Year Of The Dragon

Defense War News Updates: DTN News: Happy Chinese New Year ~ Year Of The Dragon 
Source: DTN News By Roger Smith 
 (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - January 20, 2012: We Wish All our Readers and Viewers a Happy Chinese New Year with Great Prosperity and Good Luck in the Year of the Dragon!


*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith 
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News Contact:dtnnews@ymail.com 
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

DTN News - WHITE HOUSE NEWS: Obama Receives Baseball Jersey Honoring 2011 World Series Champions - The St. Louis Cardinals At White House

Defense War News Updates: DTN News - WHITE HOUSE NEWS: Obama Receives Baseball Jersey Honoring 2011 World Series Champions - The St. Louis Cardinals At White House
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Pictures of The Days
 (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - January 18, 2012: U.S. President Barack Obama (C) holds up a uniform given to him by the 2011 Major League Baseball World Series champions St. Louis Cardinals while posing for photographs with the team and first lady Michelle Obama at the White House January 17, 2012 in Washington, DC. Noticably absent from the congratulatory event are the team's former 1st baseman Albert Pujols and former manager Tony La Russa. 
The Cardinal's visit to Washington will include a stop at Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, to visit with patients and their families.

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Pictures of The Days
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News Contact:dtnnews@ymail.com 
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DTN News - BOEING DEFENSE NEWS: 4th Boeing Wideband Global SATCOM Satellite Ready For Liftoff

Defense War News Updates: DTN News - BOEING DEFENSE NEWS: 4th Boeing Wideband Global SATCOM Satellite Ready For Liftoff
>WGS-4 scheduled for Jan. 19 launch from Cape Canaveral
>Satellite 1st in Block II series that includes new radio frequency bypass
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Boeing
 (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - January 18, 2012: Boeing [NYSE: BA] today announced that the fourth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite the company is delivering to the U.S. Air Force has successfully completed prelaunch testing and is ready for launch. WGS-4, the first spacecraft in the program's upgraded Block II series, is scheduled to launch at 7:38 p.m. Eastern time on Jan. 19 aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

The Block II satellites (WGS 4-6) add a switchable radio frequency bypass that supports the transmission of airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance imagery at data rates approximately three times greater than those currently available on Block I satellites.
"This launch will be another important step in advancing communications capabilities for U.S. warfighters and allies around the world," said Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems. "When it enters service, WGS-4 will join three other WGS satellites that deliver critical communications to help warfighters execute missions with greater safety and efficiency."
Boeing built and tested the WGS-4 spacecraft at its manufacturing facility in El Segundo. Upon arrival at Cape Canaveral on Nov. 15, the satellite was moved into a processing facility to complete a series of prelaunch tests that validated the satellite's operational readiness, including its ability to communicate with the ground control segment and launch site.
Boeing has delivered three WGS satellites and is under contract for six more, including WGS-4. They are built on the proven Boeing 702HP platform, which features highly efficient xenon-ion propulsion, deployable thermal radiators, and advanced triple-junction gallium-arsenide solar arrays that enable high-capacity, flexible payloads. The WGS communications payload has unique flexibility that is important to the military, as well as the ability to interconnect terminals that operate in different frequency bands and to reposition coverage beams based on evolving mission needs. WGS supports missions ranging from tactical communications to and between ground forces, to relaying data and imagery from airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $32 billion business with 63,000 employees worldwide. Follow us on Twitter: @BoeingDefense.

   Photo credit: Boeing photo
Neg. #: SEF11-10875-345
Contact:
Tiffany Pitts
Space & Intelligence Systems
Office: 714-372-2307
Mobile: 714-329-3027
tiffany.l.pitts@boeing.com
Cathie Fjeseth
Space & Intelligence Systems
Office: 310-662-7762
Mobile: 310-977-3600
catherine.fjeseth@boeing.com

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Boeing
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News Contact:dtnnews@ymail.com 
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

DTN News - AFGHAN WAR NEWS: Failing To Learn ~ US Resumes Drone Attacks In Pakistan

Defense War News Updates: DTN News - AFGHAN WAR NEWS: Failing To Learn ~ US Resumes Drone Attacks In Pakistan
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Myra MacDonald - Reuters
 (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - January 17, 2012: When Pakistan’s Express Tribune wrote this week that the CIA was likely to resume drone strikes for the first time since November, it included a quote from an unnamed Pakistani official saying that Pakistani authorities believed drones were “strategically harmful but tactically advantageous”.  I tweeted the link and asked who would explain to the Pakistani public that the drone strikes – which have fuelled intense anti-Americanism – were seen even in their own country as “tactically advantageous”.

One of the answers was particularly telling. It was from a supporter of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) of former cricketer Imran Khan – who has risen in popularity on a wave of anti-Americanism, opposition to drone strikes, and belief the government of President Asif Ali Zardari has sold out to the United States. Here is the tweet:
“I find this so infuriating. It is about time the present #Zardari administration was shown the door. #PTI for #Pakistan
Yet the popular view that American money is being used to bribe Zardari into allowing the country to be attacked by U.S. missiles has no basis in reality. In as much as drone strikes are discussed with Pakistan – and there is a great deal of disagreement about how far they should be used - the “red lines” have been negotiated with the Pakistan Army, which controls foreign and security policy.  Such is the lack of transparency in Pakistan.
But if that seems too strange, then let’s look at the approach in the United States to drones.  We might, perhaps, have expected it to use the pause in drone strikes to improve their transparency. Indeed, given their impact in fuelling anti-Americanism, Washington might have considered publishing some photographs to prove its contention that the drone strikes do not cause the kind of civilian casualties assumed in Pakistan? After all, if Iran could down a drone and gain  access to U.S. technology, how much more can be given away in a photograph?
Yet instead, we had a leaked story from the New York Times that the pause in drone strikes was allowing al Qaeda and Pakistani militants to regroup.  (Note to the U.S. administration – rightly or wrongly, a leaked story in the NYT is seen in Pakistan as a statement of policy so it would be far better to come out and say it yourself.) And sure enough, just days after that story, the United States resumed drone attacks.
The big problem with this lack of transparency is that it has become almost impossible to discuss the merits of drone strikes rationally. That has been lethal to the U.S.-Pakistan relationship; it is damaging to the U.S. image in the world as a whole; and it is also distorting Pakistan’s current struggle for power between the civilian government and the military.

TALKING TO THE TALIBAN:AN ELUSIVE PEACE IN AFGHANISTAN

Photo
It is the season for “progress” on Taliban talks. In January 2010, the London conference on Afghanistan put the idea of negotiating with the Taliban firmly on the international agenda. In February 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a major policy speech, insisted it was time the United States began to talk to its enemies. Her speech was accompanied by a leaked report that Washington was in factalready holding direct talks with the Taliban to try to convince them to join a political settlement and sever ties with al Qaeda. And now we have the Taliban agreeing to open a liaison office in Qatar to help speed along the talks process as Washington prepares to withdraw most combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
But what are we actually looking at here? A quick-fix settlement that could provide just about enough cover for war-weary western governments to pull their troops out before Afghanistan descends again into civil war? Or a serious process which might offer an enduring peace? Do we believe the Taliban are now more amenable to talks than they were before? Or rather that domestic political compulsions in the United States are driving it more rapidly towards the exit? 
Let’s be clear. The idea the Taliban would be willing to negotiate some kind of power-sharing deal, and that talks could be helped by measures like the release of prisoners, has been around for a couple of years, if not longer.  Moreover, a lasting settlement would require not just a deal with the Afghan Taliban led by Mullah Mohammed Omar, but also reconciliation among all the different actors inside Afghanistan as well as deep-rooted governance reform. It would  need intensive regional diplomacy to prevent the country’s neighbours from undermining any settlement — whether this be driven byPakistan’s unhappiness with Indian involvement in Afghanistan, or the temptation for Iran to queer the pitch as its row with the west over its nuclear programme worsens.
Arguably the chances of reaching a lasting settlement  are less now than they were before the United States sent extra troops to Afghanistan in 2010 aiming to decisively turn the tide and force the Taliban to the negotiating table from a position of strength.  Since then, the military campaign has splintered the Taliban, making it harder for its Pakistan-based leadership to bring younger and more radicalised fighters  into an overall settlement.  The souring of ties between the United States and Pakistan over 2011 – particularly after the killing of bin Laden on May 2 - and the deteriorating political environment inside Pakistan itself,  all argue against the chances of making a real and enduring peace process work.
In that context, a new book due out this month on the relationship between the Taliban and al Qaeda by Kandahar-based researchers Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn could hardly be better timed. “An Enemy We Created, The Myth of the Taliban/Al Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan, 1970-2010” should be compulsory reading for anyone trying to separate reality from political spin. It is also an essential guide to what might yet be achieved through talks, and what might have been achieved had serious talks been held earlier.
The authors, who edited the memoirs of former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, examine in detail the failure of attempts to convince Afghanistan’s then Taliban rulers to expel Osama bin Laden in the years before the Sept. 11 2001 attacks.  That these attempts were not inevitably  doomed to fail is underlined by their assertion that the relationship between the younger and less experienced Afghan Taliban and the Arabs in al Qaeda was considerably less close than was commonly assumed (an argument also made by other scholars.) 
However, they argue that Washington’s single-minded focus on bin Laden jarred with the Taliban’s often conflicted views - where international pressure to expel al Qaeda competed with their own domestic insecurities as well as concerns about how such a move would be viewed by Muslims outside Afghanistan,  particularly in the Arab world . Even after the Sept. 11 attacks, the authors argue that an outcome other than war might have been possible. “A different development of the conflict is imaginable. Neither the United States nor the Taliban displayed the political will or insight to make it happen.”

It is the season for “progress” on Taliban talks. In January 2010, the London conference on Afghanistan put the idea of negotiating with the Taliban firmly on the international agenda. In February 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,in a major policy speech, insisted it was time the United States began to talk to its enemies. Her speech was accompanied by a leaked report that Washington was in fact already holding direct talks with the Taliban to try to convince them to join a political settlement and sever ties with al Qaeda. And now we have the Taliban agreeing to open a liaison office in Qatar to help speed along the talks process as Washington prepares to withdraw most combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
But what are we actually looking at here? A quick-fix settlement that could provide just about enough cover for war-weary western governments to pull their troops out before Afghanistan descends again into civil war? Or a serious process which might offer an enduring peace? Do we believe the Taliban are now more amenable to talks than they were before? Or rather that domestic political compulsions in the United States are driving it more rapidly towards the exit? 
Let’s be clear. The idea the Taliban would be willing to negotiate some kind of power-sharing deal, and that talks could be helped by measures like the release of prisoners, has been around for a couple of years, if not longer.  Moreover, a lasting settlement would require not just a deal with the Afghan Taliban led by Mullah Mohammed Omar, but also reconciliation among all the different actors inside Afghanistan as well as deep-rooted governance reform. It would  need intensive regional diplomacy to prevent the country’s neighbours from undermining any settlement — whether this be driven by Pakistan’s unhappiness with Indian involvement in Afghanistan, or the temptation for Iran to queer the pitch as its row with the west over its nuclear programme worsens.
Arguably the chances of reaching a lasting settlement  are less now than they were before the United States sent extra troops to Afghanistan in 2010 aiming to decisively turn the tide and force the Taliban to the negotiating table from a position of strength.  Since then, the military campaignhas splintered the Taliban, making it harder for its Pakistan-based leadership to bring younger and more radicalised fighters  into an overall settlement.  The souring of ties between the United States and Pakistan over 2011 – particularly after the killing of bin Laden on May 2 - and the deteriorating political environment inside Pakistan itself,  all argue against the chances of making a real and enduring peace process work.
In that context, a new book due out this month on the relationship between the Taliban and al Qaeda by Kandahar-based researchers Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn could hardly be better timed. “An Enemy We Created, The Myth of the Taliban/Al Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan, 1970-2010” should be compulsory reading for anyone trying to separate reality from political spin. It is also an essential guide to what might yet be achieved through talks, and what might have been achieved had serious talks been held earlier.
The authors, who edited the memoirs of former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, examine in detail the failure of attempts to convince Afghanistan’s then Taliban rulers to expel Osama bin Laden in the years before the Sept. 11 2001 attacks.  That these attempts were not inevitably  doomed to fail is underlined by their assertion that the relationship between the younger and less experienced Afghan Taliban and the Arabs in al Qaeda was considerably less close than was commonly assumed (an argument also made by other scholars.) 
However, they argue that Washington’s single-minded focus on bin Laden jarred with the Taliban’s often conflicted views - where international pressure to expel al Qaeda competed with their own domestic insecurities as well as concerns about how such a move would be viewed by Muslims outside Afghanistan,  particularly in the Arab world . Even after the Sept. 11 attacks, the authors argue that an outcome other than war might have been possible. “A different development of the conflict is imaginable. Neither the United States nor the Taliban displayed the political will or insight to make it happen.”
While this assertion will no doubt be fiercely disputed by historians for years to come, what is relevant to today is that the two sides did not know how to talk to each other.  While the United States was in a hurry – just as it is now keen to bring a quick end to the Afghan war – the Taliban dithered, worried about their position inside Afghanistan. While the United States focused on international terrorism and the threat to its own people, the Taliban filtered its views through the prism of Islam.  Even today, it is hard to see how two such different entities – one a superpower, the other a relatively new and fragmented  movement – can talk to each other directly without an outside mediator, and a great deal of time and patience.
As for the present situation in Afghanistan, the authors argue that a settlement incorporating much of the Taliban movement is becoming harder and harder as the U.S.-led military campaign separates the leadership from new and younger fighters in the field. ”There are still possible interlocutors and options for discussions at the moment, but the veteran Taliban’s leverage over the chain of command is becoming increasingly limited, to a degree that significantly hampers their influence over all parts of the movement currently fighting, rendering the chance of forging a lasting peace more and more unlikely.”
Indeed, while the authors assert that “the supposedly unbreakable link” between the Taliban and al Qaeda was “the principal strategic blunder of the war”, they argue that younger fighters, with no memory of peace in Afghanistan, are now in fact more likely to be drawn towards al Qaeda and other militant groups.
“The new and younger generation of Afghan Taliban are more susceptible to approaches by foreign jihadist groups, including al Qaeda, causing an increasingly ideological shift in the conflict. This development, paired with an overall increase in suspicion among the Afghan population as to the United States and its ‘real intentions’, bodes ill for the future. Current policies … are a key factor driving the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda together…”
None of that is to suggest that talks are pointless, nor that they should not have been started in earnest much earlier.  But it does indicate that it will be incredibly difficult to reach a lasting peace agreement - and bear in mind, the more talk there is of a settlement with the Taliban, the greater is the incentive for their rivals and enemies to prepare for civil war, or for spoilers to try to sabotage the process. (To be fair, the United States and its allies have also been preparing for a situation in which there is no settlement by the end of 2014.)
And in the interests of keeping everyone honest, we should look out for any widening discrepancy between the U.S. domestic political need for a “quick fix” way out of Afghanistan, and the realities on the ground.
                                                                                                           *******************************
“An Enemy We Created” is due to be released on January 18.
And among many good reports on a political settlement on Afghanistan, do also read this overall examination by the Afghan Analysts Network;  and from earlier last year, this report by The Century Foundation (pdf). For a more micro level look at the kind of compromises which might need to be made, read this report by Antonio Giustozzi and Claudio Franco about how the Taliban have been allowing schools to operate in areas under their influence in return for the introduction of a more conservative curriculum.
(Reuters photo by Ahmad Masood)

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Myra MacDonald - Reuters
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News Contact:dtnnews@ymail.com 
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Monday, January 16, 2012

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: MEU Marines Seize Airfield During Helicopter Raid

Defense War News Updates: DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: MEU Marines Seize Airfield During Helicopter Raid
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources   By Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright  , 31st MEU 1/12/2012
 (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada /  IE SHIMA ISLAND, OKINAWA, Japan  - January 16, 2012:  They charged through the turbulent sea of grass under the thunderous rotor wash of a helicopter behind them, clutching their weapons and choosing the proper spots to take cover. Kneeling and steadying their sights on the tree line beyond, they remained aware of the positions of the Marines to their left and right. Once all were in place, the helicopters rose away, leaving the Marines to face one of their many pre-deployment trials: capturing an enemy encampment.

The Marines of Company C, known as “Helo Co.,” Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, successfully executed a helicopter raid exercise here, Jan. 12. The exercise was in support of Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise, a multi-week training exercise conducted before every 31st MEU deployment.

“Today we were conducting an amphibious and airborne assault against an enemy insurgent camp,” said 2nd Lt. Joshua Elliott, platoon commander and assault element leader with Company C. “They were harassing the local Ryukyu government, and our mission was to come in, cordon off the objectives. As the assault element, we would come in, breach any objectives, kill or capture the bad guys, conduct tactical site exploitation and extract with all our personnel.”

For the better part of a day, Marines armed with M249 squad automatic weapons and M16-A4 service rifles overtook various enemy-held positions throughout the training area. Although the day’s operation was one in a long line of training scenarios, the Marines acted with a sense of urgency that is seen in actual combat conditions.

“This training prepares us for any action we might see on the MEU,” said Elliott. “We are America’s expeditionary force-in-readiness, ready to conduct those amphibious assaults, knock the door in and lead the way for follow-on forces. When we deploy with the MEU, we are ready for real-time objectives.”

Sgt. Rafael Navarrete, a squad leader with 2nd platoon, Company C., knows that while the training may be repetitive, it is still worthwhile in the end.

“You can rehearse a million times, but the plan is always going to change,” said Navarrete. “We always have to be prepared to make those adjustments on the move. Nothing’s going to go according to plan.”

To further enhance the training these Marines receive, role players are used as the enemy resistance rather than static targets. Having a retaliatory enemy adds to the quick reaction experience these Marines are expected to have.

“Having an opposition force adds that force-on-force realism,” said Navarrete. “Targets won’t allow you to see how the enemy might act. Role players make the training more realistic.”

As the events of the day drew to a close, not only were the people of the Ryukyu government safe from radicals, but the Marines of Company C., BLT 1/4, 31st MEU, further honed their skills before boarding ship.

“Overall the Marines were able to adjust on the move and were keen to what the squad leaders and platoon commanders had to say,” said Navarette. “The mission was a success.”

The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.
 

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright  , 31st MEU 1/12/2012
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DTN News - IRAN NUCLEAR FACTOR: Major US-Israel Military Drill Postponed

Defense War News Updates: DTN News - IRAN NUCLEAR FACTOR: Major US-Israel Military Drill Postponed
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources AFP
 (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - January 15, 2012: Israel and the United States have agreed to postpone a major military defence exercise scheduled for spring, Israeli public radio reported Sunday, amid rising regional tension over Iran’s nuclear program.

The exercise, “Austere Challenge 12,” would be pushed back to the end of 2012 because of unspecified budgetary concerns, the radio said, citing military sources.

An Israeli defence ministry source speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP the delay had not been finalized.

“No final decision has been made yet, discussions with our American counterparts are ongoing,” he said.

But Israel’s army radio, citing a defence official, said the drill was being postponed to avoid “unnecessary headlines in such a tense period.”

The joint manoeuvre was to have been the biggest yet between the two allies, and was seen as an opportunity to display their joint military strength at a time of growing concern about Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

Israel, the United States and much of the international community accuse Iran of using its nuclear program to mask a weapons drive, a charge Tehran denies.

The postponement appeared to suggest fears the exercise could dangerously ramp up regional tensions, at a time when Iran has already threatened to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz — a chokepoint for one fifth of the world’s traded oil — in the event of a military strike or severe tightening of international sanctions over its nuclear program.

Meanwhile, the United States sent Iran a letter over its threatened closure of the Strait of Hormuz, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said Sunday, without revealing the letter’s contents.

“The U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, sent a letter to Mohammad Khazaie, Iran’s UN representative, which was conveyed by the Swiss ambassador, and finally Iraqi President Jalal Talabani delivered its contents to officials” in Iran, the official IRNA news agency quoted Ramin Mehmanparast as saying.

“We are in the process of studying the letter and if necessary we will respond.”

Last month, the Israelis insisted the joint manoeuvres were planned in advance and denied they were related to Iran.

“The exercise scenario involves notional, simulated events as well as some field training and is not in response to any real-world event,” the military told AFP.

The postponement was not expected to affect a visit to Israel by top U.S. military chief General Martin Dempsey, who is scheduled to arrive later this week and meet with Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.

But the delay was announced as reports suggested unease in U.S.-Israeli relations over the best response to Iran’s nuclear program, and after an Israeli official voiced “disappointment” at Washington’s approach.

Washington has spearheaded a push for international sanctions against Iran, including on its oil exports and financial institutions.

But Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon told public radio he thought U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration should be tougher.

“France and Britain understand that the sanctions must be strengthened, in particular against the Iranian Central Bank,” Yaalon said.

“The U.S. Senate is also in favour, but the U.S. government is hesitating, fearing higher oil prices in an election year,” Yaalon said. “It’s disappointing.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, speaking Sunday ahead of a trip to Britain, also accused the international community of dragging its feet.

“It is regrettable that the international community has not yet used all the means at its disposal to stop the Iranian nuclear program,” he told public radio.

Israel has made no secret of its desire to see crippling sanctions imposed on Iran in a bid to slow its nuclear development, and reports suggest it has also taken other actions to delay the program.

The Jewish state is suspected of involvement both in a computer worm that reportedly set back Iran’s nuclear efforts, as well as a campaign of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists.

Media reports have pointed the finger at Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad.

Foreign Policy magazine reported that Israel’s actions had created friction with Washington, and the Wall Street Journal said on Friday U.S. officials had warned Israel against unilateral military action against Iran.

Yaalon said Sunday that a military strike remained a last resort for Israel.

“Israel must defend itself. I hope that we will not arrive at that point,” he said.

 


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