Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pentagon: U.S. supplies bombs to allies in Libya

WASHINGTON - The U.S. military is supplying bombs and spare parts to allies carrying out strikes in the NATO-led air campaign against Libya's regime, the Pentagon said Wednesday.
"We have provided material support, including munitions, to Allies and partners engaged in operations in Libya" since April 1, spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said in an email.
The statement marked the first time the Pentagon had publicly confirmed it was providing ammunition to NATO allies, amid reports some countries were running out of supplies of precision-guided bombs or parts.
Lapan confirmed that the munitions included precision-guided "smart bombs."
Since NATO took the lead in the air campaign on April 1, the U.S. has provided allies and partners with about $24.3 million worth of "repair parts, ammunition and technical support," Lapan said.
Details of U.S. support came as a senior NATO military official said the alliance was stepping up operations in a bid to deliver a decisive blow to Moammar Gadhafi's regime, hitting Tripoli with its heaviest bombardment to date.

PLA Navy Commander Meets Israeli Defense Leaders

TEL AVIV - In an official May 25 visit to Israel, the commander of the Chinese Navy met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his Israeli counterpart, Rear Adm. Eliezer Marom.
In an official May 25 visit to Israel, the commander of the Chinese Navy met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his Israeli counterpart, Rear Adm. Eliezer Marom. (Inbal Griner / Israel MoD)
Barak's office provided no other details of the meeting with Adm. Wu Shengli of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), although an MoD source insisted the visit did not herald changes in Israel's marginal defense trade ties with Beijing, which focus on dual-use capabilities.
Israel-Chinese defense trade ties have essentially been subject to a de facto U.S. veto following the crisis of confidence early in the administration of former President George W. Bush over Israeli technology transfers to a country deemed by Washington as a strategic competitor, if not adversary.
After forcing Israel to cancel a $1 billion-plus deal for Phalcon aerial early warning and control planes and a subsequent period of estrangement pertaining to a later, unreported sale of drones, Israel's MoD committed to consult with Washington on any transfers that could pose an eventual threat to U.S. forces or its allies.
"Our policy of very close consultations with our American friends remains unchanged," the MoD source said. He refused to elaborate on the purpose of Wu's visit or the sites included in the itinerary.
As Barak was hosting Wu at MoD headquarters in Tel Aviv, a former U.S. Air Force chief of staff was speaking just across town.
At the Fisher Institute's annual conference on air power, retired Gen. Michael Moseley warned of "the very high likelihood" that U.S. forces would have to face off against Chinese or Russian technology in future conflicts. He recalled his response to a question once posed to him by former President Bush.
"He asked about the probability of the U.S. having to fight a future war with China or Russia, and my reply was 'near zero' because I had full confidence in the ability of our political leaders to craft the policies and take the decisions needed to prevent such wars," Moseley said.
In contrast, the former U.S. Air Force chief assessed the probability "at near 100 percent… that my son or my son-in-law will have to engage those [Chinese or Russian] systems."

Pentagon: U.S. cutting back troops in Pakistan

WASHINGTON - The U.S. military said Wednesday it has begun pulling some American troops out of Pakistan after Islamabad requested a smaller presence, amid tensions over a U.S. raid against Osama bin Laden.
"We were recently (within past 2 weeks) notified in writing that the government of Pakistan wished for the U.S. to reduce its footprint in Pakistan. Accordingly, we have begun those reductions," spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said in an email to reporters.
There are more than 200 U.S. military personnel in Pakistan serving mostly as trainers as part of a long-running effort to counter al-Qaida and Islamist militants.
But the uneasy relationship between Pakistan and the U.S. has come under severe strain following a unilateral raid by U.S. commandos that killed bin Laden on May 2 in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, home to a military academy.
President Barack Obama's administration has stepped up diplomatic efforts to smooth over the crisis sparked by the raid on the al-Qaida leader's compound, while some lawmakers in Congress have called for cutting aid to Islamabad.
Since the bin Laden operation, the U.S. has kept up CIA drone strikes on militant targets in Pakistan's northwest. The bombing raids are deeply unpopular and often draw public criticism from Pakistani officials.

Pentagon Agency Halts Kill Vehicle Production

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency has suspended production of the latest version of the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), part of the Ground Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) anti-ballistic-missile system, while it looks into a 2010 flight test failure, said the agency's director, Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly.
In May 25 testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense panel, O'Reilly also said a plan to shift program oversight of the Army's Patriot air and missile defense system to MDA could be in place as soon as 2013.
The GMD interceptor missile, which failed during the final moments of a December test, was an upgraded version of the currently deployed GMD system. This upgraded version includes a new EKV, the Raytheon-built component that intercepts an incoming missile in space.
The suspension will last until required design modifications are completed and verified, and the agency has diverted 2011 GMD funding to expedite the modifications.
The GMD program had two test failures in 2010. The first involved EKV quality control.
"We have identified and confirmed that we had an error in the assembly process of the new EKV," O'Reilly said during the May 25 hearing.
He said the problem was fixed by revising the factory's inspection processes.
O'Reilly said the agency has seen no problems in older-model EKVs currently deployed on older GMD systems, nor are there problems with the GMD booster.
As for the December test, O'Reilly did not say what the problem was.
"We have completed almost all of the ground testing to confirm what the problem was and have identified that problem," he said. "We're now in the process of correcting the problem, confirming it on the ground, but the nature of these type of problems make it very difficult to confirm in ground testing."
Investigators have found "one flaw, which … we are aggressively working to resolve it and prove it," O'Reilly said.
MDA will conduct "extensive ground testing" this summer and a non-intercept test with an upgraded EKV, and it will repeat the failed intercept test in 2012.
A Raytheon spokesman deferred comments to Boeing, the GMD program's prime contractor. A Boeing spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.
In March, Boeing's top program official said he believes the problem was solely with the EKV.
Norm Tew, a Boeing vice president and the company's GMD program director, said during a March briefing that the December test was "the cleanest, most picture-perfect flight" conducted "up until the last few seconds."
GMD is designed to protect the United States from long-range ballistic missiles, particularly from North Korea and Iran.
Patriot Transfer
The plan to transfer the Patriot program, first discussed in April 2010, would relieve the Army of certain budgetary responsibilities while providing more stable funding to the program, service officials said at the time.
"The particular proposal we have made for the Army's case is literally to take their leadership that does currently oversee Patriot," O'Reilly said. "They would become part of the Missile Defense Agency, but still … have rating responsibilities to the Army."
The transfer is still being deliberated, and a final decision has not been made, he said.
The Army and MDA also had considered transferring the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) during the last year. But since then, the Defense Department has announced that the MEADS program would come to an end in 2013 because the United States will not move forward with production.
MEADS also involves Germany and Italy. The program's prime contractor is MEADS International, a consortium of Lockheed Martin and MBDA, the European missile company.
MEADS was planned to replace the Patriot system. Pentagon officials have said that due to MEADS delays, the Patriot system needed upgrades. But the Pentagon could not afford to upgrade Patriot and buy MEADS at the same time.

First F-16 Block 50 Delivered to Turkey

ANKARA - Lockheed Martin and its Turkish partner, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), delivered on May 23 the first of a batch of 30 F-16 Block 50 fighter aircraft to the Turkish Air Force, a procurement official said May 25.
Turkey and Lockheed Martin in 2007 signed a $1.8 billion agreement for the 30 advanced jet fighters. The deliveries are scheduled to be completed by late 2012. Lockheed Martin built the first plane and TAI assembled it at its facilities in Akinci, near Ankara. TAI also carried out the first flight tests for the first aircraft.
Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul and the U.S. ambassador to Ankara, Francis Ricciardone, attended a ceremony for the delivery of the first Block 50 aircraft.
In the 1980s and 1990s, TAI assembled more than 200 F-16 aircraft. Lockheed is modernizing more than 100 of these aircraft at a cost of more than $1 billion.
TAI also is prime contractor for Turkey's ambitious attack and utility helicopter programs to be built with Italy's AgustaWestland and U.S. Sikorsky, respectively.
A member of the U.S.-led multinational F-35 consortium, Turkey is planning to buy about 100 of these new-generation fighters until late 2015 when the F-35s are planned to begin joining the Turkish inventory. Ankara is due to buy the F-16 Block 50 fighters as a stopgap solution.

Cable: Pakistan Officers Taught Anti-U.S. Courses

ISLAMABAD - A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable says that senior Pakistani military officers are taught anti-American courses at a prestigious defense university in the heart of the capital.
The cable, published in Dawn newspaper on Wednesday and obtained by WikiLeaks, is likely to fan concerns about loyalties within the military after Osama bin Laden was found living in a garrison city, possibly for years.
Then U.S. ambassador to Islamabad, Anne Patterson, wrote the cable in late 2008 in reference to the National Defence University in Islamabad.
Pakistan officially allied with the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in its war on the Taliban and al-Qaida, but has long been accused of playing a double game in supporting Islamist militant networks.
"Lecturers often 'teach' their students information that is heavily biased against the United States," she wrote.
Instructors, she said, "often had misperceptions about U.S. policies and culture and infused their lectures with these suspicions." She said some students shared those "misconceptions" despite sending their children to study in Britain and the United States.
In contrast, "students and instructors were adamant in their approval of all things Chinese," she wrote.
Patterson was left recommending increased opportunities for colonels and brigadiers "receiving biased NDU training" to hear alternative views of the U.S., and pushed for an exchange program for instructors.
Pakistan's military leaders were humiliated by the discovery that the head of al-Qaida, the world's most-wanted man, had been living possibly for years near the country's top military academy.

India Will Not Join 1,000-Ship Navy Concept

NEW DELHI - The Indian Navy will not join any multilateral groupings, putting to rest the possibility of Indian participation in the U.S.-mooted concept of a 1,000-ship navy.
Addressing the naval commanders here, Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony ruled out India joining such a group unless it is under a U.N. mandate, said a Defence Ministry statement.
While India will join maritime cooperation in the region against terrorism and piracy, there is no plan to join any broader multilateral grouping, a Defence Ministry official said.
The 1,000-ship navy concept, espoused by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, envisioned an operational partnership of naval and coastal forces from friendly countries around the world.
The remarks by Antony also have cast doubt on the U.S.-sponsored Proliferation Security Initiative, the Container Security Initiative and the Regional Maritime Security Initiative, said a Defence Ministry source.
In the context of the recent terrorist attack at a naval base in neighboring Pakistan, Antony said, "The challenges of the Indian Ocean rim, and the volatile neighborhood we live in, make it imperative for us to maintain operational readiness at all times. Recent incidents in our neighborhood have strongly underlined the need to maintain constant vigil. The Navy needs to take stock of the level of operational preparedness from time to time."
Turning to coastal security, Antony said the government has made considerable progress in plugging the gaps, but a lot more needs to be done. Various agencies need to adopt a far more collaborative and cooperative approach, according to the ministry statement.

Pakistan Considers Naval Base Move After Attack

KARACHI - Pakistan said May 25 it was considering whether to relocate its Karachi naval air base after a Taliban attack killed 10 security personnel and destroyed two U.S.-made surveillance aircraft.
The assault on May 22 was the worst on a military base since the army headquarters was besieged in October 2009, further embarrassing the armed forces three weeks after Osama bin Laden was found living under their noses.
After the attack took 17 hours to repel, Adm. Noman Bashir, the chief of naval staff, conceded that a relocation was possible.
"When the Mehran base was established 36 years ago it was far from the population. But now it is surrounded by civilian populations on all sides, thus the security risks have multiplied," said navy spokesman Commander Salman Ali.
Karachi is Pakistan's financial capital and the assault was the fourth on the navy in a month after three bombings in late April killed nine people.
The city, which is used by NATO to ship supplies to Afghanistan, has also suffered scores of killings linked to ethnic and political tensions between migrant Pashtuns from the northwest and the local Urdu-speaking majority.
Ali said it would be impossible to relocate each of the more than a dozen navy bases in Karachi, but said serious thought was going into Mehran, the only navy air base in the sprawling city of 16 million.
"Relocation is a highly technical and cumbersome task. It is not a matter of days. The authorities are thinking about all possibilities and requirements before shifting Mehran elsewhere," said Ali.
Despite the string of recent attacks, the spokesman insisted that other installations in the port city were "safe and satisfactorily secure."
Pakistan's Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar, who accompanied the prime minister on a visit to China last week, said Islamabad had asked Beijing for help in building a naval base at its deep-sea port of Gwadar, west of Karachi.
China's foreign ministry said May 24 it was unaware of the request.
The Mehran base, about 10 kilometers from Karachi's international airport, was set up in 1975.

USMC Chief Looks to Offset China in Pacific Region

U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos wants to send more of his Marines to the Pacific to offset China's expanding influence in the region.
Amos said America's military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan have kept more U.S. forces from working with militaries in the southeast and southwest Pacific allowing a growing Chinese military to further establish itself.
"We'd liked to be more engaged in the Pacific, in the southwest Pacific, and that area of the world than we are. Our ability to be able to have that kind of forward presence in that part of the world is challenged right now because we are occupied in another section of the world," Amos said at a May 24 dinner hosted by the Center for New American Security, a Washington think tank.
The head of the Marine Corps said he didn't expect a military conflict with China anytime soon, but he said China's growing reach should concern U.S. leaders. Amos' comments come a week after Chinese People's Liberation Army Chief of Staff Gen. Chen Bingde visited the U.S. as a guest of the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen.
"I think we need to be there. I don't think we're there to anywhere we need to be. I think our nation understands that. We'd like to turn that around," Amos said.
In a series of rare public speeches for the Chinese leader whose position is roughly equivalent to the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said a "gaping gap" still remains between the two respective countries' militaries.
Amos is just the latest U.S. military leader to speak about his service's plans following the Afghanistan drawdown. U.S. Army leaders have also made their case to deploy Reserve and National Guard units to places such as Africa and South America on what are called "theatre security cooperation" missions to train foreign militaries.
The discussions for future service deployments come as military and congressional leaders debate future cuts to the defense budget. Amos said his service is already preparing to cut its manning down from 202,000 to 186,800 Marines. The U.S. military as a whole is already planning to reduce its footprint in Europe.
The last "five or six" years of spending are over, he said. Military leaders in each service will have to look for efficiencies and reduce spending.
"The Marine Corps will only ask for what it needs. We're done asking for what we want," Amos said he told Congress.
That means cutting programs that go over budget as the Marine Corps decides what Amos said "is good enough" for a service trying to both modernize and reset from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Robert Gates already cancelled the Corps' Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program in January.
"There are some things that we absolutely have to do. There are some things that I think we can postpone and then there are other things that we maybe start to recapitalize in four or five years," Amos said.
The Marine Corps will not automatically expand the fleets of vehicles that performed well in Iraq or Afghanistan, either.
Amos used the example of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle better known as the MRAP. While it may have saved countless Marines in Iraq, its weight is a burden. He said the Corps will put a premium on mobility as it looks to field a new combat vehicle.
Amos said he expects what he described as a return to the Corps' "frugal roots" to last throughout his term as commandant and beyond.
"This traditional dip is typically eight to 10 years … so I think this will be an issue for the 36th commandant and it's going to be an issue for the 37th commandant when we'll begin to realize some growth and some modernization of significant proportions," he said.

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