Thursday, August 19, 2010

DTN News: Israeli Military Confronts New Foe - The Internet

Defense News: DTN News: Israeli Military Confronts New Foe - The Internet
Source: DTN News / By Josef Federman (AP)
(NSI News Source Info) JERUSALEM, Israel - August 20, 2010: The security obsessed Israeli military is confronting a new adversary — trying to control what its own soldiers post to the Internet.
Facebook, along with YouTube and other popular sites, is turning into a formidable nuisance for the army, as young recruits in this tech-crazy country post embarrassing and potentially sensitive information online, circumventing tight military controls.
The issue exploded onto the national agenda this week when a young ex-soldier posted pictures of herself in uniform, posing in front of handcuffed, blindfolded Palestinian prisoners on her Facebook page under the heading "Army — The Best Time of My Life."
The controversial posting, along with a series of other recent gaffes, highlights the challenges facing Israel's high-tech military — known, among other things, for its shadowy electronic-warfare units — as it struggles to keep up with the ever-shifting sands of the Internet.
Last month, a video of Israeli soldiers dancing to the drunken party anthem "TiK ToK" during a patrol in the West Bank emerged on YouTube, earning them a reprimand.
Around the same time, a secret intelligence unit launched a Facebook group for its members that divulged details of the secret base where they served. The site was removed several days later after the army found out.
And, in perhaps the most serious breach, a military raid in the West Bank had to be called off earlier this year after a soldier posted details about the upcoming operation on Facebook.
Such incidents illustrate "how difficult it is for the military to operate, stick to policy, and keep people in line in light of the new communication realities," said Sheizaf Rafaeli, director of the Sagy Center for Internet Research and the Study of the Information Society at the University of Haifa.
That's in stark contrast to the traditional media, over which Israel's military censor has long maintained tight control.
Both Israeli and international news outlets are required to submit reports with potentially sensitive material for review, and the censor's office often returns them with words or even entire sections blacked out. Access is severely limited to military personnel, from field soldiers to the army's top echelons, and it can take weeks to line up an interview with key commanders. Once approved, there are tight restrictions — quotes often must be run through the army spokesman's office and soldiers frequently can't be named or photographed.
The emergence of the latest pictures dominated Israeli news shows Tuesday, drawing tough criticism from the army and receiving heavy coverage in the Arab media.
Palestinians, along with Israeli human rights groups, denounced the photos as a cruel symbol of Israel's four-decade occupation, and the Arab satellite channel al-Jazeera interspersed its coverage with pictures of Abu Ghraib, the notorious U.S. prison in Iraq where American soldiers tortured inmates.
The former Israeli officer, Eden Aberjil, struck a defensive tone in interviews with Israeli media, insisting she did nothing wrong and saying she was surprised she had offended anyone.
"I have nothing to say sorry about. I treated them really well, I didn't abuse them, I didn't curse them, I didn't humiliate them. I merely took a picture near them," Aberjil told Channel 2 TV.
She said the men were civilians from the Gaza Strip who had been caught trying to enter Israel, apparently in search of work, and she posed for the pictures because she had never met anyone from Gaza.
Aberjil, who the army said is in her mid-20s, denounced any comparisons to Abu Ghraib as "delusional," saying she was astonished by the attention she had received and accusing the army of abandoning her. She claimed similar things take place in the army "every day."
She did, however, say she was sorry if the pictures, taken in 2008, had hurt anyone's feelings. She said she removed them after learning that others felt they were inappropriate.
Asked whether the posting violated Facebook's code of conduct, the company said "it appears that the girl in question removed the photos from her account on her own — and we were not involved in the removal of these photos in any way." It declined further comment.
The army said it permits soldiers to utilize social-networking sites, but only to upload unclassified material. It said all soldiers are taught about the guidelines.
One officer, speaking on condition of anonymity under military guidelines, said the censorship office has ways to monitor the Internet and make sure sensitive information does not appear online.
However, in cases deemed embarrassing but not a threat to security, such as the Aberjil pictures, "there is nothing anyone can do," he said.
Capt. Barak Raz, an army spokesman, said the issue was about morals, not security.
"I'm not concerned with the fact that photos were uploaded. As the military, we're concerned that such photos were taken to begin with, which are a gross violation of our ethical code," he said. "This isn't who we are as a military."
Because Aberjil is no longer in the army, it's unclear whether she can be punished.
Rafaeli said that while the military would like to curb the use of social media for the purposes of secrecy, PR and internal control, it is "probably up against an insurmountable challenge."
Before, soldiers would have words censored out of letters that were sent home, but because of the Internet and social media, this is "no longer feasible," he said.
Social networks are a part of everyday life for today's generation of American military service members as well.
Many keep in touch with friends and family using Facebook, and they are savvy users of YouTube, Twitter and Flickr. A YouTube video featuring Afghanistan-stationed soldiers re-enacting Lady Gaga's "Telephone" music video, for example, gained viral popularity earlier this year.
Recognizing the reach of these services, the Pentagon announced earlier this year that everyone from troops in the field to the highest brass and civilian leaders will be allowed to use social networking sites on the military's non-classified computer network.
The policy followed a seven-month review in which the Defense Department weighed the threats and benefits of allowing the wide use of Internet capabilities. It permits commanders to cut off access — on a temporary basis — to safeguard a mission or reserve bandwidth for official use.
With the decision, the army unblocked YouTube, MySpace and more than a dozen sites that had been closed in May 2007.
*Link to this article "Israeli Military Confronts New Foe - The Internet ~ By Josef Federman (AP) "
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact:
Associated Press writers Aisha Mohammed and Ian Deitch in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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DTN News: Aerospace/Defense Headlines - News Dated August 19, 2010

Defense News: DTN News: Aerospace/Defense Headlines - News Dated August 19, 2010
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - August 19, 2010: Comprehensive daily news related on Aerospace/Defense for the world of TODAY.

*Comprehensive daily news related on Aerospace/Defense for the world of TODAY.

Thursday August 19, 2010

Wednesday August 18, 2010

DTN News: U.S. Department of Defense Contracts Dated August 19, 2010

Defense News: DTN News: U.S. Department of Defense Contracts Dated August 19, 2010
Source: U.S. DoD issued August 19, 2010
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - August 19, 2010: U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) Contracts issued August 19, 2010 are undermentioned;



Sysco Food Services of Seattle, Kent, Wash., is being awarded a maximum $540,815,000 fixed-price with economic price adjustment, sole-source contract for full line food distribution. Other location of performance is Alaska. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, federal civilian agencies and the Department of Defense. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. The date of performance completion is Feb. 25, 2012. The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (SPM300-09-D-3160).

Hydro-Aire, Inc., Burbank, Calif., is being awarded a maximum $7,865,190 firm-fixed-price, sole-source contract for tire parts. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Air Force. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. The date of performance completion is Sept. 30, 2011. The Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is the contracting activity (SPRHA1-10-C-0043).


ITT Advanced Engineering & Sciences, Annapolis Junction, Md., is being awarded a $455,026,747 firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost-only indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity contract for production of up to 5000 Joint Counter Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare (JCREW) 3.2 mounted systems to meet urgent requirements of the Department of Defense in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Mounted JCREW systems are electronic jammers designed to prevent the initiation of radio-controlled improvised explosive devices and are critical to protecting U.S. personnel from the threat posed by improvised explosive devices. This contract is for the urgent procurement and support of JCREW systems, to be used by forces in each of the military services of the Central Command area of responsibility. Work will be performed in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (95.35 percent); Annapolis Junction, Md. (3 percent); Charleston, S.C. (1.09 percent); and Clifton, N.J. (0.56 percent). Work is expected to be completed by September 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities website, with two offers received. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-10-D-6300).

Austin Brockenbrough & Associates*, Richmond, Va. (N62583-10-D-0408); Burns & McDonnell Engineering Co., Kansas City, Mo. (N62583-10-D-0409); Enterprise Engineering*, Anchorage, Alaska (N62583-10-D-0410); Pond and Co., Norcross, Ga. (N62583-10-D-0411); and Robert and Co., Atlanta, Ga. (N62583-10-D-0412), are each being awarded a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, multiple award contract for architect-engineering support services for new and existing petroleum, oils and lubricants facilities to support the design of sustainment, restoration and modernization and military construction projects at Department of Defense (DoD) fuel facilities worldwide. The maximum dollar value for all five contracts combined is $100,000,000. No task orders are being issued at this time. Work will be performed at various DoD facilities worldwide including, but not limited to, the contiguous United States (60 percent) and outside the contiguous United States (40 percent). The term of the contract is not to exceed 60 months, with expected completion date of Aug. 18, 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured with eight offers received; five firms were selected for award. These five contractors may compete for task orders under the terms and conditions of the awarded contract. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Specialty Center Acquisitions, Port Hueneme, Calif., is the contracting activity.

Force Protection Industries, Inc., Ladson, S.C., is being awarded a $64,097,528 firm- fixed-price contract modification under previously awarded contract (M67854-07-D-5031) for the purchase of 1,946 seat survivability upgrade kits and the associated non-recurring engineering efforts, for installation on the Cougar CAT I A1 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. The installations will be performed in Afghanistan (80 percent), Kuwait (5 percent), and on vehicles at home stations in the U.S. (15 percent). Work is expected to be completed by February 2011. The contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

Terra Group Corp., Allentown, Pa., is being awarded firm-fixed-price delivery orders #0007 and #0009 in the respective amounts of $8,037,810 and $10,200,000 under a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (M67854-08-D-5083) for light weight water purification systems. Work will be performed in Allentown, Pa., and is expected to be completed by Nov. 30, 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $10,200,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

General Electric Aviation, Lynn, Mass., is being awarded a $6,309,149 order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-09-G-0009) to provide engineering and engine system improvement services in support of the F414 Component Improvement Program. Work will be performed in Lynn, Mass., and is expected to be completed in June 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.


AGEISS Environmental, Evergreen, Colo.; Booz Allen Hamilton, San Antonio, Texas; Portage Environmental, Inc., San Antonio, Texas; and TEAM Integrated Engineering, San Antonio, Texas, were awarded a $200,000,000 contract which will bridge the gap between the expiration date of existing contracts and the competitively awarded Global Engineering, Integration and Technical Assistance 2011 follow-on contracts. At this time, $4,000 has been obligated. AFCEE/ACX, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, is the contracting activity (FA8903-10-D-8500/8501/8502/8504).

Boeing Satellite Systems, El Segundo, Calif., was awarded an $182,177,702 contract which will provide the necessary items to begin production of Wideband Global SATCOM Satellite 7. At this time, $164,446,487 has been obligated. MCSW/PK, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the contracting activity. (FA8808-10-C-0001)

Booz Allen Hamilton, Herndon, Va., was awarded a $23,712,712 contract which will provide survivability-vulnerability strategic planning, analysis and security analysis for U.S. European Command. At this time, $3,983,124 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity (SP0700-03-D-1380; Delivery Order 362).

CAE USA, Inc., Tampa, Fla., was awarded a $21,289,460 contract which will provide one C-130 H weapons system trainer device, in the initial flight test ready operational flight for the Egyptian Air Force. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. ASC/WNSK, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8621-10-C-6285).

Kestrel Institute, Palo Alto, Calif., was awarded a $10,734,887 contract which will develop and demonstrate new technology that provides comprehensive, automated techniques to allow end users to safely execute new software of uncertain provenance. DET 1 AFRL/PKDA, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8650-10-C-7026).

DRS C3 & Aviation Co., Oakland, N.J., was awarded a $5,724,994 contract to design, test and produce boresight measuring equipment and adapters for F-15 and F-16 aircraft. At this time, no funds have been obligated. WR-ALC/GRVKBB, Robins Air Force base, Ga., is the contracting activity (FA8533-10-D-0014).

*Small business

DTN News: Boeing C-130 AMP Head-Up Display Endorsed By Headquarters US Air Force Directorate Of Operations

Defense News: DTN News: Boeing C-130 AMP Head-Up Display Endorsed By Headquarters US Air Force Directorate Of Operations
Source: DTN News / Boeing
(NSI News Source Info) LONG BEACH, Calif.,- August 19, 2010: Boeing [NYSE: BA] announced today that Headquarters U.S. Air Force Directorate of Operations (HQ USAF/A3O) has endorsed the company's C-130 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) Head-Up Display (HUD) and Head-Down Primary Flight Display (HDPFD) as the aircraft's primary flight reference. The endorsement follows four years of design reviews, lab evaluations and demonstrations with the Air Force customer.
A primary flight reference is a requirement in all aircraft and must include airspeed, altitude and attitude data, as well as flight path information for the pilots. The C-130 AMP HUD is a transparent display of flight data that allows the pilots to maintain an "out-the-window" viewpoint rather than looking down at cockpit instruments as on a standard C-130. "This endorsement means C-130 AMP pilots can now use the HUD as their sole primary flight reference, allowing them to use their head-down displays for other data," said Mahesh Reddy, C-130 AMP program manager for Boeing. "We involved the Air Force customer from the beginning of the design reviews. This allowed them to ask questions along the way, become familiar with the product and make all necessary adjustments to the HUD design."
The C-130 AMP was approved for low-rate initial production (LRIP) on June 19. The first two LRIP aircraft are scheduled for induction in August and October at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Ga., where the Air Force will perform the Lot 1 installations. Boeing delivered the first two AMP kits and will upgrade five of the 20 LRIP aircraft.
*Note; Above image ~ The third C-130 Avionics Modernization Program aircraft flew for the first time on Jan. 17, three weeks ahead of schedule. Boeing test pilot Mike Leone and crew conducted the two-hour flight from the company's San Antonio facility. AMP gives the warfighter more situational awareness with a head-up display and six full-color display screens.
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 $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.
Jennifer Hogan
Maintenance, Modifications and Upgrades
Mobile: 405-818-7859

DTN News: India May Spend $2 Billion Upgrading Su-30 Fighters

Defense News: DTN News: India May Spend $2 Billion Upgrading Su-30 Fighters
Source: DTN News / Ria Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - August 19, 2010: India could spend up to $2.34 billion on modernization of its fleet of Su-30MKI Flanker-H fighters with the participation of Russian companies, the country's Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.
The upgrade program may proceed in several stages, starting from 2012, at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), with assistance from the warplanes' Russian manufacturers, the Defense Ministry said.
Indian media reported in May that the modernization project, codenamed Super 30, would involve the installation of new radars, onboard computers, avionics and BrahMos supersonic missiles on 40 Su-30MKI fighters.
The Indian Air Force currently operates about 100 Su-30MKI fighters and plans to produce another 170 aircraft in the next 10 years under a license from Russia.
*Link to this article "India May Spend $2 Billion Upgrading Su-30 Fighters - Ria Novosti"
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact:

DTN News: Serbia - Close Cooperation Between Armed Forces Of Serbia, China

Defense News: DTN News: Serbia - Close Cooperation Between Armed Forces Of Serbia, China
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources including ISRIA
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - August 19, 2010: Minister of Defence Dragan Sutanovac said in Beijing after meeting with Chinese Minister of National Defence General Liang Guanglie that there is close cooperation between the armed forces of Serbia and China, but noted that there is always room for improvement of relations.
Sutanovac stated that Serbia received assurances that the Chinese Army will continue to support reforms in the Serbian Army and will continue to grant funds according to the situation.
He outlined that the meeting was also dedicated to the cooperation of Serbia and China in the arms industry, and expressed confidence that there are opportunities for joint ventures in this area and that such military equipment could be offered to other countries.
After the meeting, representatives of the defence ministries signed a grant contract by which the Chinese Army is to present computer equipment worth €500,000 to the Serbian Army.
Sutanovac also visited the air base of the 24th Air Division in Tianjin where an air show was organised for the guests from Serbia.
The delegation of the Serbian Ministry of Defence was among the first foreign delegations that was shown the manoeuvrability of the Chinese multi-role combat aircraft J-10.
Sutanovac affirmed that China has shown that it can make sophisticated military equipment that can be used in Serbia too, but also to offer it to countries that traditionally buy weapons from Serbia.
He confirmed that soon four Serbian Army officers will travel to China to study, and that in September two Chinese officers will arrive in Belgrade to attend Serbian language courses and school for command-staff training.
Serbia can offer cooperation in the field of military education and at the Military Medical Academy and wants to make use of the experience that China has had in the field of peacekeeping operations, he added.Sutanovac expressed his wish that Serbian Army officers visit the Chinese Centre for peacekeeping missions.
Guanglie pointed to the improvement of military relations between the two countries and expressed gratitude for Serbia’s support to the One-China policy.
He noted that China is ready to make a joint effort with Serbia in order to strengthen further development of their bilateral strategic partnership.
Guanglie invited the armed forces of the two countries to continue to strengthen ties and find new areas of cooperation.
Sutanovac will continue his visit to China by visiting the military academy for special units of the Chinese Army, after which he will travel to Shanghai.
*Link to this article "Serbia - Close Cooperation Between Armed Forces Of Serbia, China - ISRIA"
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact:
Related Info on J-10 Fighter Jet

DTN News: Pentagon - China's Military Power Growing

Defense News: DTN News: Pentagon - China's Military Power Growing
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources including ABC News/International & By ANNE FLAHERTY Associated Press Writer
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - August 19, 2010: China's drive to transform itself into a major military power is being pursued in a secretive manner that increases the potential for misunderstanding and military conflict with other nations, the Pentagon says in a new report.
The Defense Department's annual assessment, released Monday, says Beijing is upgrading its hefty arsenal of land-based missiles, modernizing its nuclear forces and expanding its fleet of attack submarines.
The effort comes as China has suspended military-to-military talks with the U.S., which could reassure the U.S. about the motives behind Beijing's military buildup.
U.S.-China relations have been particularly strained in recent months, as China rejected the results of an investigation blaming North Korea for the sinking of a South Korean warship. China's military buildup also is seen as a threat to the U.S. ability to defend Taiwan.
The congressionally mandated report doesn't contain any surprises. It's long been known that China — emerging as a world economic powerhouse — is pouring billions of dollars into offensive and defensive military capabilities to protect its regional interests.
But U.S. officials say the trend is disappointing because of the secrecy surrounding the moves, which make it difficult to gauge Beijing's intentions.
China has refused to meet with senior Pentagon officials this year, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was rebuffed from traveling to China during a visit to Asia in June.
"It's been ambiguous over the past several months," a senior defense official said of how the Pentagon regards its relationship with China. The official, not authorized to speak publicly, spoke on condition of anonymity.
The report states that "the limited transparency in China's military and security affairs enhances uncertainty and increases the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculation."
China has been dismissive of U.S. accusations that the growth and modernization of its military poses a threat.
U.S. officials say China could do more to promote stability in its region and join Western nations in denouncing Iran and North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
"Beijing's answer has been sometimes yes and sometimes no," Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said earlier this year.
Among the findings in the Pentagon report is that China has as many as 1,150 short-range ballistic missiles and is acquiring an unknown number of medium-range missiles.
China also is developing artillery systems with the ability to strike across the Taiwan Strait, the report states.
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact:
Pentagon report:—CMPR—Final.pdf
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
Related News:
*The Chinese Military ChallengeWall Street Journal

DTN News: Iraq TODAY August 19, 2010 - Last US Combat Brigade Pulls Out Of Iraq

Defense News: DTN News: Iraq TODAY August 19, 2010 - Last US Combat Brigade Pulls Out Of Iraq
Source: DTN News / AFP
(NSI News Source Info) BAGHDAD, Iraq - August 19, 2010: The last American combat brigade pulled out of Iraq and crossed into Kuwait at dawn on Thursday, almost seven and a half years after the US-led invasion ousted Saddam Hussein, a US military spokesman said.
The 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, crossed the border with the neighbouring Gulf emirate at about 6:00 am (0300 GMT), ahead of the planned declaration of an end to combat operations at the end of the month.
The pullout came two days after a suicide bomber killed 59 people at a Baghdad army recruitment centre in Iraq's deadliest attack this year, sparking concern the country's forces are incapable of handling security on their own.
"Yes, they did," Lieutenant Colonel Eric Bloom told AFP, confirming US media reports that the 4th Stryker Brigade had crossed into Kuwait. "The last one crossed at about 6:00 am this morning."
"They have a few more days to clean the equipment, prepare the equipment, get it ready for shipment, and then they'll fly out (back to the United States)."
It took three days for the 360 military vehicles and 1,800 soldiers to get down the road from Baghdad, through the Shiite south and into Kuwait, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Bloom said about 56,000 US soldiers remained stationed in Iraq, with that figure set to drop to 50,000 by September 1, less than a third of the peak figure during "the surge" of 2007.
At that point, the US mission in Iraq will be re-christened "Operation New Dawn", from "Operation Iraqi Freedom" -- the name given to American operations here since the 2003 invasion.
"And we'll continue to go through our responsible drawdown to meet that drawdown by 1 September," Major General Stephen Lanza said in an interview with US television channel MSNBC. "It is about a transition to a change of mission, going from combat operations to stability operations."
US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley, live on MSNBC as the footage was shown, described the end of combat operations as a "historic moment," but vowed that America's long-term commitment was unwavering.
"The last thing that we want to see is an occasion where we have to send troops back into Iraq yet again so we are ending the combat phase of our involvement in Iraq for a second time.
"We're not ending our involvement in Iraq. We will have important work to do. This is a transition. This is not the end of something. It's a transition to something different. We have a long-term commitment to Iraq."
Crowley said the conflict had come "at high expense" after one trillion dollars was spent in Iraq and 4,400 lives were lost.
"We've invested heavily in Iraq and have to do everything we can to preserve that investment to integrate Iraq along with the neighborhood into a much more peaceful situation that serves their interests as well as ours."
In a letter dated August 18 and posted on the White House website, President Barack Obama also hailed the end of combat operations but made no mention of the final combat troops leaving.
"Shortly after taking office, I put forward a plan to end the war in Iraq responsibly," the letter said.
"Today, I'm pleased to report that -- thanks to the extraordinary service of our troops and civilians in Iraq -- our combat mission will end this month, and we will complete a substantial drawdown of our troops."
All US troops are supposed to leave the country by the end of next year, according to the terms of a bilateral security pact, and Obama has insisted the ongoing withdrawal is on schedule and will not be altered.
The US troop pullouts have come despite warnings from senior Iraqi politicians and officers about the dangers of an early exit given the security situation and political uncertainty.
According to Iraqi government figures, July was the deadliest month here since 2008, though the US has disputed that toll.
Iraq's top military officer told AFP last week on the sidelines of a defence ministry conference in Baghdad that US forces may be needed in the conflict-wracked nation for a further decade.
"At this point, the withdrawal is going well, because they are still here," Lieutenant General Babaker Zerbari said.
"But the problem will start after 2011 -- the politicians must find other ways to fill the void after 2011. If I were asked about the withdrawal, I would say to politicians: the US army must stay until the Iraqi army is fully ready in 2020."
American military officers, however, say they are confident their Iraqi counterparts are ready to take over.
The pullout also coincided with the arrival of James Jeffrey, the new US ambassador to Iraq, who presented his diplomatic credentials Wednesday to the conflict-torn nation's head of state, President Jalal Talabani.
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact:

AFP News Headlines

Last US combat brigade pulls out of Iraq


AFP - 1 hour 13 mins ago

BAGHDAD (AFP) - The last American combat brigade pulled out of Iraq and crossed into Kuwait at dawn on Thursday, almost seven and a half years after the US-led invasion ousted Saddam Hussein, a US military spokesman said. More »

  • Pakistan, Russia back Afghanistan at rare summit


    AFP - Yesterday, 07:28 pm

    SOCHI, Russia (AFP) - The presidents of Pakistan and Russia, two states with a history of difficult relations with Kabul, on Wednesday backed the Afghan government's fight against rebels at a rare summit meeting. More »


    AFP - Yesterday, 06:35 pm

    DAMASCUS (AFP) - The number of visitors to Syria for the first seven months of this year has risen by 55 percent compared to the same period last year, the tourism ministry said on Wednesday. More »

  • UAE talks with BlackBerry 'making progress'


    AFP - Yesterday, 06:04 pm

    DUBAI (AFP) - The United Arab Emirates is making progress in talks with the Canadian makers of BlackBerry smartphones, said an official who expressed hope a ban on some of the device's key services can be avoided. More »

  • Militant group confirms death of leaders in Lebanon: SITE


    AFP - Yesterday, 05:57 pm

    DUBAI (AFP) - Fatah al-Islam, an Al-Qaeda-inspired group that fought a devastating battle with the Lebanese army in 2007, has confirmed the death of two of its leaders, the SITE monitoring service said on Wednesday. More »

  • Greece reassures Arab allies over Israel ties


    AFP - Yesterday, 05:51 pm

    ATHENS (AFP) - Greece moved Wednesday to reassure Arab allies over the strength of its friendship, following an improvement in ties with Israel after a landmark visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. More »

  • Israel media publish new Facebook soldier-prisoner shots


    AFP - Yesterday, 05:47 pm

    JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli media carried new pictures on Wednesday of troops posing with handcuffed Palestinian prisoners, two days after a former soldier caused uproar for posting such images on Facebook. More »

  • New Facebook soldier- prisoner shots published


    AFP - Yesterday, 04:32 pm

    JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli media carried new pictures on Wednesday of troops posing with handcuffed Palestinian prisoners, two days after a former soldier caused uproar for posting such images on Facebook. More »

  • Three farmers killed in central Iraq attack


    AFP - Yesterday, 08:25 pm

    BAQUBA, Iraq (AFP) - Three farmers were killed and leaflets pinned to their bodies Wednesday, warning against cooperation with American and Iraqi forces in a brutal act of intimidation as thousands of US troops leave. More »

  • French NGO says Hamas seized equipment, medical files


    AFP - Yesterday, 03:40 pm

    GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) - French aid group Help Doctors accused the Palestinian Hamas organisation on Wednesday of seizing equipment and files from one of its Gaza clinics which it closed in June. More »