Sunday, May 30, 2010

DTN News: Australia's Role In Afghanistan

Defense News: DTN News: Australia's Role In Afghanistan
Source: DTN News / Military World
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - May 30, 2010: Australia has approximately 1,090 defence personnel working in Afghanistan, as part of Operation SLIPPER.
In April, 2009, the Australian Government announced an additional 450 troops would be sent to Afghanistan. When they arrive, Australia's contribution will be approximately 1,550.
Primarily, Operation SLIPPER contributes to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
There are also about 800 personnel deployed in other parts of the Middle East, providing support for Operation SLIPPER.
**(Uruzgan Province) Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force 1 - About 440 Australian personnel. MRTF1 is engaged in construction works in Uruzgan Province and is also helping to train the Afghan National Army. It is mainly comprised of engineers and mechanised infantry and cavalry.
**(Uruzgan Province) Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) - Up to 330 Australian personnel. The SOTG provides security and protection to members of Mentoring and Reconstruction Force 1. It consists of commandos, members of the Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) and support personnel.
**(Kandahar) Air Force Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) - Up to 75 Australian personnel. The CRC is based at Kandahar Airfield and controls southern Afghan operational airspace.
**(Kandahar) Force Level Logistic Asset - About 60 Australian personnel. This unit provides logistical support to ADF operations throughout Afghanistan, from a national logistics asset in Kandahar.
**(Across Afghanistan) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Detachment. 30 Australian personnel. This unit operates the SCANEAGLE UAV, a remote-controlled aircraft used for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering.
**(Kandahar) Rotary Wing Group (RWG)- About 65 Australian personnel. The RWG operates two CH47D medium lift helicopters for Kandahar Airfield. The helicopters provide combat support, quick response force and medical evacuation missions.
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact:

DTN News: U.S. Releases Uruzgan Investigation Findings ~ Afghanistan

Defense News: DTN News: U.S. Releases Uruzgan Investigation Findings ~ Afghanistan
Source: DTN News / Military World
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - May 30, 2010: US Forces-Afghanistan released its findings today from the investigation into the Feb. 21 civilian casualty incident that killed up to 23 Afghans and injured 12 others in Uruzgan Province.
The extensive investigation report submitted to Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Commander NATO ISAF/U.S. Forces-Afghanistan cites several shortcomings in training, communication and decision-making, and offered numerous recommendations.
Gen. McChrystal has directed that certain actions be pursued immediately. "Our most important mission here is to protect the Afghan people; inadvertently killing or injuring civilians is heartbreaking and undermines their trust and confidence in our mission. We will do all we can to regain that trust," he said.
The investigation, led by U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Timothy McHale, Deputy Commander for Support, U.S. Forces Afghanistan, reviewed the actions of a U.S. Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) unit and its higher headquarters, coalition aircraft, and support provided by U.S. Air Force Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) personnel. The report concluded that three vehicles carrying more than 30 civilians were mistaken for an insurgent convoy and engaged by coalition aircraft. The ODA ground force commander believed the vehicles contained a group of insurgents attempting to execute a flanking maneuver to reinforce insurgents in his area.
Gen. McChrystal, who offered a personal apology to the Afghan people and met with President Hamid Karzai immediately following the Feb. 21 incident, briefed President Karzai on the findings of the investigation earlier this week.
"This was a deeply regrettable incident and I share the sadness felt by the people of Afghanistan over this loss of innocent life," said President Karzai. "General McChrystal pledged to me that the most exhaustive investigation would be conducted to determine what happened and why, and I believe this has been done. I am also confident that appropriate actions are being taken with regard to those involved in the incident, and most importantly, to ensure measures are taken to prevent such accidents from happening again."
Investigation recommendations approved by Gen. McChrystal entail actions to be taken in pre-deployment training, as well as the conduct of operations in Afghanistan.
* U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), which is responsible for pre-deployment training at individuals' and units' home stations, will review and implement several changes in training. These include a rigorous series of challenging Counterinsurgency (COIN) training scenarios, use of case studies and vignettes to better educate and train for leading COIN operations, and standardization of terminology for use in the highly-stressed operational environment, which will be reinforced in pre-deployment training.
* ISAF Joint Command (IJC) and the U.S. Forces-Afghanistan J7 Training Directorate will develop a Mobile Training Team to evaluate and train unit command posts in the field on COIN operations, and develop an ongoing program to better educate and train for leading COIN operations. This will include intensive training on the process of identifying and engaging combatants in accordance with Rules of Engagement and Tactical Directives that govern operational conduct. * All units identified in the report are also directed to incorporate or retrain on the appropriate procedures for Civilian Casualty reporting.
"As partners with the Afghan people in our mission, we must always be honest with ourselves about what we do well and what we can do better," said Gen. McChrystal. "When we make a mistake, we must be forthright and we must do everything in our power to correct that mistake. I know our actions following this thorough investigation will help us to prevent mishaps that result in harm to the people we are sworn to protect."
The recommendations of the investigation report are responsive to findings of deficiencies that contributed to the accident. These included:
Although the ground force commander displayed tactical patience in letting the situation develop for several hours before the engagement, the UAV crew provided inaccurate reporting and in-country command posts failed to properly analyze the situation.
The ground force commander lacked a clear understanding of who was in the vehicles, the location, direction of travel and likely course of action of those vehicles.
Poorly functioning higher headquarters command posts failed to provide the ground force commander with the evidence and analysis that the vehicles were not a hostile threat.
Information that the convoy was anything other than an attacking force was ignored or downplayed by UAV personnel.
Following a review of Maj. Gen. McHale's investigation, Gen. McChrystal issued General Officer Memoranda of Reprimand (GOMOR) to four officers, including senior leaders at the Battalion and Brigade level. The GOMORs, while administrative in nature, may be placed in the official record of each of these officers once they have had a chance to respond. Gen. McChrystal also issued Memoranda of Admonishment to two junior officers involved, which will remain in their local file.
Also included among recommendations adopted by Gen. McChrystal is a request to Headquarters, U.S. Air Force to develop command level guidance on tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) regarding employment of Remote Pilot Vehicles. He also requested an Air Force investigation of the assessments made and actions taken by the specific UAV crew involved.
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact:

DTN News: Our Soldiers Have Shed Enough Blood: It Is Time To Come Home From Helmand

Defense News: DTN News: Our Soldiers Have Shed Enough Blood: It Is Time To Come Home From Helmand
*The strategy of sending patrols out to be shot at by the Taliban is needlessly costing the lives of British troops
Source: Denis MacShane MP The Observer, Sunday 30 May 2010
(NSI News Source Info) LONDON, U.K. - May 30, 2010: It is time to stop the blood sacrifice of our young soldiers in Afghanistan. In June 2003, Tony Blair initiated the grim ritual of reading out the names of the fallen at the start of each prime minister's questions. David Cameron's first words as PM at the Dispatch Box after the Queen's Speech were an incantation to the new victims of a war that is as unwinnable as it is unwanted by the people of both Britain and Afghanistan.
In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev described Afghanistan as a "bleeding wound". Last week, US general Stanley McChrystal called it a "bleeding ulcer". Britain has no general, no "master of strategy" as the inscription on Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke's statue outside the Ministry of Defence puts it, with the 21st-century vision to stop the blood-letting as officers and men are sent as IED fodder. War is too important to be left to generals. Unfortunately ministers past and present have flinched from thinking strategically. If the object is to stop Afghanistan from again becoming a base for al-Qaida to launch attacks, there are alternatives to sending out men on foot patrols to be blown up by hidden bombs or shot by snipers who fade back into the hills.
The new defence secretary is now known as "13th-Century Fox" after his colonial, quasi-racist rant about Afghanistan as a 13th-century nation. President Karzai is an obsessive reader of British and American papers. Liam Fox's patronising contempt has done serious damage to Britain's influence in Kabul. Instead of apologising gracefully, Fox blustered and tried to explain away his gaffe. But he did hint at a truth when he suggested that Britain should look to reducing its military profile in Afghanistan. Unfortunately this outbreak of wisdom was slapped down by the foreign secretary, William Hague.
In Canada, the Conservative government has confirmed its troops will leave next year. There is new thinking in the Netherlands, one of Britain's key Nato allies, where the government collapsed over Afghanistan. Nato has new duties to guard its Baltic flanks and ensure that the melting Arctic becomes a sea of trade and peace. It no longer needs to define its existence by occupying Afghanistan.
There is fresh thinking among Tory MPs. In the Commons last week, Patrick Mercer MP, a former commanding officer of an infantry regiment, made the point that Britain's terrorists were bred and trained in Yorkshire, not Afghanistan. Another Tory MP, the former shadow defence minister Julian Lewis, said Britain should create sovereign strategic bases in Afghanistan to support the government and ensure al-Qaida does not return, but stop the pointless patrols that are target practice for the Taliban.
Every six months, a new commander is sent from London to head the fighting soldiers in Afghanistan. These brigadiers rotate, so that, instead of fighting one six-year war, we have fought 12 six-month wars, so that future red tabs can punch their tickets. The can-do, will-do power-point style of the British army impresses politicians, and every visiting minister and journalist is in awe of these tough, sun-burnt, dedicated professionals. It is hard to say that they and their generals are wrong, but the time has come to put parliament and elected ministers in charge. The pro-war tabloids say they are backing our boys. They are not: they are backing the generals. Officers and men ready to criticise the campaign have no voice.
Diplomats and development aid should be redirected to Pakistan and India, as well as to China and Iran, to remove the widespread feeling among Muslim communities that this is Kipling's west again seeking to control the lives of people whose customs and needs they do not understand. The burning issue of Kashmir, where 70,000 Muslims have been killed since the Indian army took over full control of the disputed region 20 years ago, needs to be put on the international agenda. The White House is clearly looking for an exit strategy. Britain also needs to begin PMQs without a roll-call of the dead and maimed. We have done our duty. It is time to come home.
*Denis MacShane is Labour MP for Rotherham and a former FCO minister
Disclaimer statement
Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information supplied herein, DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Unless otherwise indicated, opinions expressed herein are those of the author of the page and do not necessarily represent the corporate views of DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News.

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY May 30, 2010 ~ Prospect Of Peace Talks Heightens Rifts Among Taliban Ranks

Defense News: DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY May 30, 2010 ~ Prospect Of Peace Talks Heightens Rifts Among Taliban Ranks
Source: By Sherin Jabarkhil For 2010-05-19
(NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - May 30, 2010: Some officials in the Afghan capital are saying that offers of jobs, security, financial incentives and exile have heightened existing tensions in the Afghan Taliban’s ranks.
The peace and reconciliation plan will offer those incentives to militants willing to denounce violence and accept the Afghan constitution, said an official who has been part of the National Advisory Peace Jirga, scheduled for the end of this month.
"Many insurgent commanders and foot soldiers are tired of insurgency and are waiting to join the government. The Hamid Karzai government already has gained the consent of the international forces in this regard", the official told Central Asia Online.
Tempting offers from the government are magnifying tensions among upper- and lower-level Taliban leaders, the official added.
Even the supreme Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, favours a peace deal, said a senior member of the Afghan National Council. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the council member told Central Asia Online that Mullah Omar was facing problems in his leadership and a lack of resources, making him willing to strike a deal.
Mullah Omar has been quoted several times as saying he is willing to talk with the Afghan government only after international forces leave the country. Other Taliban members reportedly are willing to negotiate before coalition forces leave, which may be one source of tension among Taliban factions.
Mullah Omar and his erstwhile military right-hand man, Mullah Baradar, might have differed on reconciliation. The Pakistani arrest of Mullah Baradar in February made the point moot, but some counterinsurgency analysts theorised that Mullah Omar wanted a role for Pakistan in any reconciliation with Afghanistan. On the other hand, analysts said, Mullah Baradar had reached out to the UN and the Afghan government, bypassing Pakistan.
After police arrested Mullah Baradar, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, who served as civil aviation minister during Taliban regime, expected to be named Mullah Omar’s deputy. But a formal decree from the Quetta Shura promoted Mullah Qayum Zakir to that post and that of Taliban defence minister.
The promotion of Zakir did not sit well with Mullah Mansoor, according to sources close to the Taliban. Pakistani intelligence reportedly arrested Mansoor but released him after he accepted Zakir’s authority.
However, tensions in the south still exist between the two mullahs, observers on the scene have said. They often compete for power by increasing forces from their own tribes, a tribal elder in Helmand said.
Many counterinsurgency analysts say those two commanders are among the diehard Taliban leaders unlikely to give up, since they have ties to al-Qaeda. They also are closely allied to the Haqqani and Hafiz Gul Bahadur networks in North Waziristan, but are despised by some other groups within the Taliban and by some of the non-Taliban insurgent groups, such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami.
The tension has not yet sparked intra-Taliban fighting, informed sources told Central Asia Online. But the sources reported combat between Taliban and Hizb-e-Islami fighters in many places, the most important of which was a battle in northern Baghlan province in March that took about 100 lives from both sides.
Battles within the Taliban for control of a zone or province are a serious matter, counterinsurgency experts say, because control of a province enables the victor to profit from the drug trade, kidnappings and donations from terrorist networks in foreign countries.
Whatever the reason for the rifts between militants, they serve the reconciliation plan, the anonymous official in Kabul said, because they spur more insurgents to contact the government about laying down their arms.
Disclaimer statement
Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information supplied herein, DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Unless otherwise indicated, opinions expressed herein are those of the author of the page and do not necessarily represent the corporate views of DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News.

DTN News: Russia To Test New Model Of Kalashnikov Assault Rifle In 2011

Defense News: DTN News: Russia To Test New Model Of Kalashnikov Assault Rifle In 2011
Source: DTN News / Ria Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - May 30, 2010: State tests of the new model of Kalashnikov automatic rifles will be held in Russia next year, Izhmash Director General Vladimir Grodetsky said on Tuesday.
The new model of the legendary assault rifle, the AK-200, is based on the AK-74M and differs in weight (3.8 kilograms/8.4 lbs vs. 3.3 kilograms/7.3 lbs) and the magazine capacity (30, 50, 60 rounds vs. 30).
The AK-74, a developed version of the Kalashnikov rifle's first model, the AK-47, was introduced in 1974 and used by the Soviet forces during the Afghanistan conflict.
The AK-47 was originally created by Mikhail Kalashnikov, who as a WWII soldier was inspired to design the weapon after being wounded in 1941. While his first attempts were unsuccessful, he was given a position in weapons development, and by 1947 he had perfected his masterpiece.
Since then, the AK-47 has become the most widespread and famous assault rifle. Used by some 50 armies around the world, as well as countless urban guerrilla movements, it is also featured on the flag of Mozambique.
Kalashnikov received Russia's highest honorary title on his 90th birthday last November. Accepting the award, Kalashnikov voiced regret that his creation, the world's most widely used rifle, has been often misused.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev described the AK-47 at the ceremony as "an excellent model of Russian weaponry" and "a national brand that makes each citizen proud."