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Japanese Government may Approve US Military Base Relocation

October 24 2009

Following a report by Japan’s Asahi newspaper, it seems that the odds are improving for Japan’s newly christened left-leaning government to approve the movement of a US military base, Reuters reported.

The movement would combine the facility, currently located in the southernmost part of Okinawa, with other military facilities in the area, allowing for realignment and reaffirming US-Japanese relations. Ideally, the plan is to close the helicopter airfield and minimize or eliminate troop deployments entirely.

Futenma, the base in question, is actually located in the certain of a major urban area of the region. A series of incidents, including plane and helicopter crashes as well as violent crime stemming from US personnel, have prompted much civil unrest in the area.

Some of the farther left-leaning factions in the Japanese government, including the ruling Democratic Party’s primary coalition partner, have instead called for the base to be moved off the island entirely, suggesting that the base is one of the primary reason that Okinawa is so far behind, economically speaking, from the rest of the country.


AFRICOM…..Establishments in Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and other African nations

By yahyasheikho786

AFRICOM…..Establishments in Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and other African nations, the US will gradually establish a network of military bases to cover the entire continent« Niqnaq

Oct 1 marked the one-year anniversary of the activation of the first US overseas military command in a quarter of a century, Africa Command. AFRICOM was established as a temporary command under the wing of US European Command a year earlier and launched as an independent entity on Oct 1 2008. Its creation signalled several important milestones in plans by the US and its NATO allies to expand into all corners of the earth and to achieve military, political and economic hegemony in the Southern as well as the Northern Hemisphere. AFRICOM is the first US regional military command established outside of North America in the post-Cold War era. The Pentagon set up Northern Command in 2002 after the 9/11 attacks to take in the US, Canada and Mexico. Its area of responsibility includes more nations than any other US military command: 53.


US upgrading military bases in Afghanistan

October 18, 2009

While Washington is weighing its options on sending more troops to Afghanistan, the US army is spending billions of dollars on upgrading its bases in the war-torn country.

The Washington Post said on Sunday that the US military has wanted to spend 1.3 billion dollars on more than one-hundred military projects across Afghanistan.

Based on the report, 30 million dollars of the money will be spent on the main US base located near the northern Afghan city of Bagram.

The move is aimed at ensuring that Afghanistan’s infrastructure can support US and NATO forces for years to come.

The US military has already spent roughly 2.7 billion dollars on construction in the last three years.

This comes as Washington says it closed its 2009 fiscal year with a record 1.4 trillion dollar budget deficit.

The report comes as US President Barack Obama is weighing a request for the deployment of an additional 40,000 troops in Afghanistan.


Czech Republic expects new U.S. missile defense proposals

RIA Novosti
October 21

Prague expects the U.S. to present new specific U.S. missile defense proposals, Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Tomas Pojar has told RIA Novosti.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced in September that Washington was scrapping the Bush administration’s plans for a missile shield in Central Europe due to a re-assessment of the threat from Iran. The missile shield would have seen the deployment of a radar in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland. Russia had fiercely opposed the plans as a national security threat.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is expected to present the Obama administration’s new missile defense proposals to Czech Republic during his visit to the country later this week.

“The U.S. delegation has already presented new modified missile defense architecture on September 17 in Prague. We said we were ready to further negotiate on the issue and are ready to take part in establishing a new modified missile defense system,” Pojar said.

The Czech leadership “expects the U.S. to put forward specific proposals: we expect the Americans to give us their own perspective of further cooperation with Prague,” he said.

“As soon as the Czech Republic receives these proposals, we would undoubtedly begin studying them. We have not yet received… such specific proposals from Washington,” the diplomat went on.

He added that his country was in favor of close cooperation with Russia on missile defense.


Gates to Press Asia, NATO for More Afghanistan Support

American Forces Press Service
By Donna Miles
October 19, 2009

As Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates travels this week to Japan and South Korea before heading to a NATO defense ministers conference in Bratislava, Slovakia, he’s expected to ensure the issue of support for Afghanistan remains solidly on front burner.

In a break from the frequent national defense team sessions President Barack Obama has called in recent weeks as he reevaluates the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, Gates will be on the road this week, shoring up long-standing alliances.

But senior defense officials traveling with him confirm that he’ll also press for more coalition support at every stop along the way.

In Tokyo, the secretary will get his first challenge in that regard as he becomes the first U.S. Cabinet member to meet with the newly installed Japanese Democratic Party government. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama announced last week that Japan’s naval refueling mission that supports the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan will end in January.

Japan’s Maritime Defense Force has been deploying a supply ship and destroyer to provide fuel and water to U.S. and British naval ships in the Indian Ocean since 2001. The mission will end after the agreement, which has been renewed annually for the past eight years, expires.

“The refueling operation has been of great value to the coalition in support of operations in the Indian Ocean,” a senior defense official traveling with the secretary told reporters. Should Japan go ahead with plans to end this support, he said, the United States “would certainly support their contributions in any other way if they can’t continue the refueling operation.”

Another defense official offered a stronger assessment of U.S. expectations. “Whether it’s refueling or anything else,” he said, “we would hope and expect that Japan makes a significant contribution that’s commensurate with its role in global affairs.”

Gates has no plans to take a specific list of alternatives, and recognizes that nonmilitary contributions can be extremely important, the official said.

In addition to the refueling operation, Japan is one of the biggest donors to the efforts in Afghanistan – pledging $2 billion for the cause since 2001, of which $1.79 billion has been implemented, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said. Those funds have supported reconstruction, humanitarian assistance, governance and security efforts. Japan paid $125 million that covered all Afghan National Police salaries for six months, he added.

Of $500 million Japan pledged at the Paris donor’s conference in June 2008, $300 million supported Afghanistan’s August elections, he said.

Japan also contributes to police training. …


$100 million new US bases in Bulgaria, Romania

Digital Journal
by Andrew Moran
October 19, 2009

The United States government is forking over $100 million to build new military bases in Bulgaria and Romania. Last month, the Obama administration ended plans to construct missile-defense shields in other parts of eastern Europe.
In September, the Obama administration stated they would cease any construction of a missile-defense shield and troops in Czech Republic and Poland, however, the Pentagon is planning to spend more than $100 million to build new military bases in Bulgaria and Romania …

More than 2,000 soldiers are taking part in exercises near the two eastern European nations.
This latest commitment by the Pentagon consists of a $50 million military base in Romania, which will house 1,600 US troops and a $60 million base in Bulgaria to house 2,500 soldiers. …


Nuclear base police cut backs spark fears

The Independent
By Sam Marsden
October 12, 2009

Defence chiefs are considering cutting numbers of the specialist police who guard military facilities including the UK’s nuclear deterrent, an industry leader warned today.

The prospect of reducing the size of the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) is “incredibly worrying”, said Eamon Keating, national chairman of the Defence Police Federation.

The Sun reported that 900 MDP officers – a quarter of the total – were facing the axe under an ongoing review into defence spending.

Mr Keating said he was aware that a report into MoD security providers – including the MDP, soldiers and private firms – had been completed and distributed to defence officials. …

The MDP is a civilian police force responsible for the security of MoD facilities around the UK.

This includes Royal Navy bases, nuclear installations and even married quarters in barracks.

MDP officers have also served overseas, including in Iraq, Bosnia, Jordan and Kosovo, and a number are currently working in Afghanistan.

Mr Keating said the force was “the world leader” in the type of policing it carries out.

He warned that it would be a “false economy” for the MoD to replace MDP officers with service personnel or private security guards.

He said: “The MoD are looking at cutting costs – on a one-for-one basis a police officer costs significantly more than a soldier or security guard.

“The reality is anywhere they have been replaced in the past, they normally put two or three security guards or soldiers in their place.” …


U.S. forces in Israel for missile drill

October 9, 2009

Amid smoldering tension with Iran, U.S. forces are deploying in Israel for a strategically important ballistic missile defense exercise, considered one of the most complex ever conducted by the two allies.

Juniper Cobra 2009, the latest in a biennial series that began in 2001, will focus on how well U.S. and Israeli forces can integrate and operate together in any future confrontation with the Islamic Republic.

U.S. officials insist that the exercise, due to commence Monday and end next Friday, is routine. “This exercise is not related to or in response to any world events,” the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv stressed.

But the maneuvers have taken on added importance since the U.S. administration scrapped plans to deploy land-based ballistic missile defense systems in Eastern Europe in August. The focus will now be on U.S. naval forces in the Mediterranean and the North Sea.

“Military exercises like Juniper Cobra do not take place in a vacuum,” according to the Texas-based security consultancy Strategic Forecasting. …


Security of Pakistan nuclear weapons questioned

Associated Press
October 12, 2009

An audacious weekend assault by Islamic militants on Pakistan’s army headquarters is again raising fears of an insurgent attack on the country’s nuclear weapons installation. Pakistan has sought to protect its nuclear weapons from attack by the Taliban or other militants by storing the warheads, detonators and missiles separately in facilities patrolled by elite troops.

Analysts are divided on how secure these weapons are. Some say the weapons are less secure than they were five years ago, and Saturday’s attack would show a “worrisome” overconfidence by the Pakistanis. …

Security at Pakistan’s isolated nuclear installations is believed to be significantly higher than at the army headquarters, which was relatively relaxed by the standards of other nations. Thousands of people and vehicles enter the headquarters compound in Rawalpindi daily, and the 10 attackers, while able to take dozens of hostages Saturday and kill 14 people before a commando raid ended the siege, never penetrated to the heart of the complex. …

No action or decision involving a nuclear weapon can be undertaken by fewer than two persons. But Gregory acknowledged the possibility of collusion between cleared officers and extremists.

The personnel assigned to sensitive nuclear posts go through regular background checks conducted by Pakistan’s intelligence services, according to a 2007 article in the journal Arms Control, co-written by Naeem Salik, a former top official at Pakistan’s National Command Authority, which oversees the nuclear arsenal.

“It is being acknowledged by the world powers that the system has no loopholes,” Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, a military spokesman, said Monday. “The system is foolproof, as good and bad as their own systems.” …


North Korea ready to restart nuclear talks

Open Democracy
by Geraint Rees
October 6, 2009

North Korea could agree to return to multilateral talks on ending its nuclear weapons programme, depending on the outcome of planned bilateral talks with the United States.

Following a three-day visit by Chinese premier Wen Jiabao to North Korea, Kim Jong-il indicated he would be willing to resume the six-party talks on disarmament that were abandoned in April. Quoted in state media, Kim insisted that returning to the talks was dependent on the outcome of his planned bilateral talks with the US, which he hoped would convert ‘hostile relations’ between the two countries into ‘peaceful ties’. …

Today’s remarks by Kim Jong-il are the strongest indication yet that North Korea is willing to return to the negotiating table over its nuclear ambitions. …