Sunday, March 17, 2013

DTN News - SYRIA CIVIL WAR: Syrian General Apparently Defects, Says Morale Among Troops At A Low

Defense News: DTN News - SYRIA CIVIL WAR: Syrian General Apparently Defects, Says Morale Among Troops At A Low
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Laura Smith-Spark. Chelsea J. Carter and Amir Ahmed, CNN
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - March 17, 2013:  A top Syrian general has reportedly defected from President Bashar al-Assad's government, telling an Arabic news station in an interview that aired Saturday that morale among security forces in Syria is at a low.

The reported defection followed the United Nations announcement that one of its employees, a teacher, was killed during fighting between rebels and government forces at a refugee camp outside Damascus.

If confirmed, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Ezz al-Din Khalouf's defection is the latest in a series of such moves by high-profile government officials, raising questions about the stability of al-Assad's government two years into the civil war gripping the country.

Khalouf, head of logistics and supply for the Syrian army, told the Arabic news network Al Arabiya that many tied to al-Assad's government have lost faith, but continue to pledge their allegiance to the president.

"It is only for appearance's sake to present an image to the international community showing that the regime is the one that pulls together all segments of Syrian society under."

Khalouf told Al Arabiya he had been working with rebels to defect. He appeared in the interview with his son, a Syrian army captain, who defected with him.

There was no immediate reaction from the Syrian government on the reported defection, which follows the two-year anniversary of the uprising.

Rebels posted what they claim are two videos on YouTube that offer proof that they helped Khalouf and his family escape Syria through Daraa province into Jordan.

CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of the videos, but Al Arabiya reported the interview with Khalouf was conducted in Jordan.

U.N. employee killed at camp

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees confirmed Saturday that a member of its teaching staff was killed Wednesday trying to flee the fighting at the Khan Eshieh refugee camp in Syria.

Nasri Khalil Hasan was killed while trying to make his way with his wife and four children to a makeshift shelter after the camp was reportedly struck by an artillery shell, the UNRWA said in a statement.

Hasan was hit by shrapnel from a subsequent explosion, it said.

Because the hospital at the refugee camp was not open, he was taken to a hospital in the nearby city of Jdaydeh, according to the UNRWA. He died at the hospital the next day, the agency said.

Cluster bombs linked to civilian casualties

The news of Khalouf's apparent defection and the death of Hasan came the same day a human rights group accused Syrian forces of using an increasing number of cluster bombs in residential areas.

Human Rights Watch says its researchers have identified 119 locations across Syria, where at least 156 cluster bombs have been used from August to mid-February.

The result is "mounting civilian casualties," the rights group said.

Human Rights Watch said it has investigated two cluster bomb attacks in the past two weeks -- in Deir Jamal, near Aleppo, and Talbiseh, near Homs.

These attacks killed 11 civilians, including two women and five children, and injured 27 others, the rights group said.

"Syria is expanding its relentless use of cluster munitions, a banned weapon, and civilians are paying the price with their lives and limbs," said Steve Goose, director of the arms division at Human Rights Watch.

"The initial toll is only the beginning because cluster munitions often leave unexploded bomblets that kill and maim long afterward."

The Syrian government did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.

In October, Syrian armed forces denied the possession or use of cluster bombs.

A statement released through the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said "misleading media outlets" had published "untrue news claiming the Syrian Arab Army has been using cluster bombs against terrorists."

The Syrian army "does not possess such bombs," it said, adding that the media reports were "aimed at diverting the public opinion from the practices of the armed terrorist groups against civilians."

The Human Rights Watch report is based on field investigations, analysis of video footage posted by activists and eyewitness reports, it said.

The collection of data does not include details of casualty numbers but many deaths and injuries have been documented, the group said.

"Remnants of at least 156 distinct cluster bombs have been identified so far from the video footage," the group said.

"Human Rights Watch has documented government use of cluster munitions, both air-dropped and ground-delivered, but it has seen no evidence of cluster munition use by opposition rebel groups."

Weapons are indiscriminate

Another rights group, Amnesty International, has accused the Syrian government of using cluster bombs in civilian areas.

"Civilians continue to be at the receiving end of increasingly frequent indiscriminate attacks by Syrian government forces," Amnesty said in a report Thursday.

"Internationally banned cluster munitions are being used daily against civilian residential areas in towns and villages, in utter disregard for the most fundamental principles of international humanitarian law."

The report said the "vast majority" of abuses were committed by Syrian government forces, but that rebel groups are also carrying out abuses such as kidnapping and summary executions.

Syria is not one of the 111 states worldwide that have signed up to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans their use. The United States also is not a signatory.

Cluster munitions are widely viewed as unacceptable because the bomblets spread across a wide area and make no distinction between civilians and fighters.

Death toll

CNN cannot independently verify death tolls or other accounts of violence in Syria.

Last month, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said about 70,000 people had been killed in the two-year-old conflict.

The Syrian army continued to hunt "terrorists" -- its description of rebel fighters -- in several areas on Saturday, including outside Damascus and Homs, and in Idlib province, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Laura Smith-Spark. Chelsea J. Carter and Amir Ahmed, CNN
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*Photograph: IPF (International Pool of Friends) + DTN News / otherwise source stated
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: U.S. Army Prepares For Next Network Integration Evaluation

Defense News: DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: U.S. Army Prepares For Next Network Integration Evaluation
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Claire Heininger, U.S. Army
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - March 16, 2013: With two units now readying for Afghanistan with the Army's new tactical communications network, the service will continue to drive technology forward through its next Network Integration Evaluation this spring.

Soldier training, vehicle integration, system check-outs and other preparations are well underway in advance of Network Integration Evaluation, or NIE, 13.2, which begins in May at Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range, N.M. It is the fifth in the series of semi-annual field evaluations designed to keep pace with rapid advances in communications technologies and deliver proven and integrated network capabilities to Soldiers. 

The NIEs are not stand-alone events, but build on previous exercises by improving the Army's integrated network baseline and incorporating Soldier feedback into system functionality and training methods. As the Army continues to field network capability sets with systems and doctrine vetted through the NIE, the events will further evolve to include joint and coalition involvement next year.

"The NIE offers us the ability to evaluate and improve the network incrementally," said Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, the Deputy for Acquisition and Systems Management, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, known as ASA(ALT). "It forces the community together in an environment where Soldiers are telling us what we did well and what we didn't do well -- very graphically, very visually, very obviously."

From combined arms maneuver across more than 150 miles of desert to subterranean operations in mountain caves, NIE 13.2 includes mission threads designed to measure network performance at all echelons, from the brigade commander down to the dismounted Soldier. It will include an aerial tier to extend the range of communications and operational energy solutions to more efficiently power networked equipment.

"We've got some good questions, and the scenario will allow us to get at a lot of those operational pieces," said Col. Elizabeth Bierden, chief of the Network Integration Division, Brigade Modernization Command, or BMC. "We've seen many of the systems before, but I think we just get the network better every single time." 

The main focus for NIE 13.2 is the Follow-on Test and Evaluation, or FOT&E, for Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, known as WIN-T, Increment 2, the Army's mobile network backbone. WIN-T Increment 2 provides an enhanced capability over the current Increment 1 version used today in Afghanistan, including unprecedented "on-the-move" communications capabilities down to the company level. A successful test will enable the Army to keep fielding WIN-T Increment 2 to operational units beyond Capability Set 13, which is now being delivered to select brigade combat teams, or BCTs, preparing for deployment.

During the FOT&E, the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division will conduct the full range of military operations -- from movement to contact to peacekeeping -- and stretch the WIN-T network over even greater distances than during NIE 12.2, which was the unit's first formal chance to assess the system. Following that evaluation in May 2012, the Army aggressively pursued and implemented corrective actions to address the areas identified for improvement, and 2/1 AD Soldiers have also become more comfortable and proficient with the equipment.

"The training is more hands-on, and with the knowledge we already have we're able to go more in-depth," said Spc. Erik Liebhaber, who has participated in three NIEs and said training for 13.2 incorporated specific scenarios that Soldiers had previously encountered in the field. "That's a big part of the continuity." 

Other systems under formal test include Joint Battle Command-Platform (JBC-P), the Army's next-generation situational awareness and blue force tracking technology; Nett Warrior, a smartphone-like system for dismounted leaders; the Area Mine Clearance System-Medium Flail, an armored vehicle designed for clearing large areas of anti-tank and anti-personnel landmines; and Tactical Communication and Protection System, designed to prevent hearing injury while allowing Soldiers to remain cognizant of their environment during combat. A dozen additional systems, such as those comprising the aerial tier, will receive less formal evaluations.

Both JBC-P and Nett Warrior have actively incorporated user feedback from several previous NIE cycles into their hardware and software designs.

"It's gotten a lot simpler to use," Staff Sgt. Lance Bradford said of JBC-P. "That was our largest suggestion to them -- you've got to get this more user-friendly."

Soldier feedback and lessons-learned from the NIEs not only affect the conduct of future NIE iterations, but have also been applied to the process of producing, fielding and training units on Capability Set (CS) 13, which is the Army's first such communications package to provide integrated connectivity throughout the BCT. The NIEs informed all aspects of CS 13, from how network systems are installed onto a vehicle, to which training approach is most effective, to which Soldiers within a brigade are issued certain pieces of equipment. 

Two BCTs of the 10th Mountain Division, now in the final stages of training before deploying to Afghanistan later this year, are receiving lessons-learned and recommended operational uses for the equipment that were developed during the NIE process. Serving as Security Forces Advise and Assist Teams (SFAATs), the units will rely on the new network as they work closely with the Afghan forces, take down fixed infrastructure and become increasingly mobile and dispersed in their operations.

While NIE missions to date have confirmed that CS 13 can support such operations, they have not been limited to the Afghan mission. The NIE 13.2 scenario will set the stage for future exercises that will include new offensive and defensive operations replicating what units may face in other regions, including joint and coalition involvement beginning with NIE 14.2 next spring. 

"We are trying to set the stage for a joint and multinational effort in 14.2, and so we're looking across functions at Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, close air support, air ground-integration, with the major objectives focused on joint entry operations and the joint network," said Brig. Gen. Randal Dragon, BMC commander. "We'll be in a position to look at a number of those joint functions and we'll set the stage through the series of NIEs we have coming up."

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Claire Heininger, U.S. Army
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*Photograph: IPF (International Pool of Friends) + DTN News / otherwise source stated
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

DTN News - INDIA DEFENSE NEWS: Russia To Deliver First 10 Fighter Engines To India By April

Defense News: DTN News - INDIA DEFENSE NEWS: Russia To Deliver First 10 Fighter Engines To India By April
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Ria Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - March 16, 2013: Russia’s Ufa-based engine maker will deliver the first 10 of 920 AL-31FP engines for the Su-30MKI Flanker-H to India before the end of March, the manufacturer said on Friday.

The contract with India, the largest one with a foreign client in post-Soviet history, was signed last October, and engine deliveries are to be completed by 2022.

Under a 2000 general contract for licensed manufacturing of 140 Su-30MKI air superiority fighters and AL-31FP engines, India had an option of buying an additional number of aircraft engines.

In 2007, the Indian Air Force ordered an additional 40 MKIs. As of January 2013, the IAF had 157 Su-30MKIs in service and it plans to have a fleet of 272.

The Ufa engine manufacturing association is Russia’s largest aircraft engine producer. It produces aircraft engines for Su and MiG family fighters and spare parts, as well as engines for automobiles, gas pumps and turbines, and provides maintenance and support services.

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*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Ria Novosti
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*Photograph: IPF (International Pool of Friends) + DTN News / otherwise source stated
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News