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Pentagon's new strategy beefs up Army, Marines

By John Yaukey
January 27, 2010

Draft of 4-year plan suggests major impact on Isle bases

Boots on the ground will trump jets in the air or boats in the
water in the Pentagon’s forward-looking, four-year plan due out Monday
alongside the 2011 defense budget.

The Quadrennial Defense Review will recommend beefing up the Army and Marine
Corps, now stretched thin in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a draft
version of the document.

Many of the cuts in expensive weapons have already started.

For Hawai’i and Guam — home to some of the most expensive conventional weapons the nation deploys, as well as to legions of foot soldiers — the report will have manifold consequences, although it’s not yet clear what they are.

The various military branches are expected to outline how they’ll be affected by the QDR and the proposed 2011 defense budget Monday.

The defense budget has been growing by an annual average of 4 percent, which would mean a $563 billion package for 2011, depending on whether it includes special funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

If included, the war funding could boost the overall request to $700 billion or more.

The Obama administration has said it wants to include war funding in the annual budget, rather than adding it in as needed, the way the Bush administration did.

“The defense budget is now more people-oriented,” said Loren Thompson, a top defense analyst with the Virginia-based Lexington Institute. “You’re going to see more emphasis on fighting unconventional warfare and less on weapons like aircraft carriers and bombers — more on people and less on equipment.”


China Says Missile Defense System Test Successful

Digital Journal
January 11, 2010

China’s armed forces successfully tested a system for intercepting missiles in mid-flight on Monday, state media reported.

While China released few technical details of the test, the official Xinhua News Agency said that ”ground-based midcourse missile interception technology” was tested and achieved the expected objective.
”The test is defensive in nature and is not targeted at any country,” Xinhua said.

This test appears to be another step in the intensifying animus brewing between China, and Taiwan. China has repeatedly issued strong warnings against Taiwan after their purchase of United States made arms, including the PAC-3 air defense missiles. China has repeatedly vowed violent means might be necessary in order to bring Taiwan back into the Communist country’s control.

China split with Taiwan during a civil war in 1949 but regularly claims that the self-governing, democratic Taiwan as part of its territory. Beijing has warned of a disruption in ties with Washington if the sale goes ahead, but has not said what specific actions it would take.

China is in the middle of a major technology upgrade for it’s military forces, and missile technology is now considered one of the country’s strengths, and if this test indeed went as well as reported, might put it a step ahead of the United States’ own missile defense technology.


US, Russia in talks over global missile defense

China Daily
January 21, 2010

The United States and Russia are currently in discussion over the issue of global missile defense, said U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle here on Wednesday.

Beyrle told the Ekho Moskvy radio station that Washington and Moscow were discussing the possibility to involve Russia into a system of global missile defense, on which two rounds of negotiations have been held between experts from the two countries.

The diplomat also said the two sides are discussing measures to develop cooperation in this field, adding that their talks on strategic arms reduction were to conclude in the very near future.

In a late December visit to Russia’s Far East, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Russia must develop offensive weapons systems to counter the U.S. missile shield plans.

Putin said Russia would provide more information about its offensive weapons in exchange for more information on the U.S. missile defense systems, and would link such a demand with the new nuclear arms control treaty.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced on September 17, 2009 to abandon the Bush-era missile defense shield program while initiating a “phased, adaptive approach” of the plan in Eastern Europe.

The Bush administration planned to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic as part of its European missile shield to protect its European allies from missile threats from the so-called “rogue states.”

Russia strongly opposed the measure, saying it poses threat to its security.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev welcomed Obama’s announcement by officially declaring to scrap plans to install short-range Iskander missiles in its western Kaliningrad enclave.

However, Moscow’s urge for Washington to further expound the new approach merely received lukewarm response.

NATO, Russian chiefs of staff to meet next week

NATO and Russian chiefs of staff will meet in Brussels on January 26 for the first time since the outbreak of war between Russia and Georgia in August 2008, a spokesman for the NATO military committee said on Wednesday.

Colonel Massimo Panizzi told a press briefing that the Chief of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, General Nikolai Makarov, was expected to attend the meeting with NATO military committee, which brings chiefs of staff from the 28 NATO nations.

“It will be the first time that the Russian chief of staff has taken part in such a meeting since the Georgian affair,” he said.

The two sides will discuss about furthering military cooperation, including Russia’s possible contribution to the NATO-led military efforts in Afghanistan and fight against terrorism, he said.

“Afghanistan will be one of the most important items on the agenda, given that these discussions will take place on the eve of the international conference on the country organized in London,” he said.

The relations between NATO and Russia were frozen after the August 2008 war. Though Georgia remains a source of tension, the relations between the two sides have improved in recent months.

In December 2009, NATO and Russian foreign ministers met in Brussels and agreed on enhancing military cooperation.


Japanese residents elect mayor opposing US base

Tokyo (AFP)
By Kyoko Hasegawa
January 24, 2010

Japanese voters in a city on Okinawa island elected a mayor Sunday who opposes plans for a controversial new US air base, complicating a row with Washington over relocating troops.

Two candidates in Nago city were squaring off over whether or not to give local support to a plan — currently under review by the centre-left national government — to build a major new Marine Corps air base there.

Susumu Inamine, 64, who campaigned on a platform of rejecting the base, ousted Yoshikazu Shimabukuro, 63, with a more-than 1,500-strong majority.

Official figures showed nearly 77 percent turnout by the city’s 45,000 voters.

“I’ve run this election campaign with the pledge of not to build a base” in the coastal area of Nago city, Inamone told more than a hundred of his supporters who shouted and applauded in rapture. “I’ll keep to this campaign promise with firm conviction,” he said.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has said he may scrap an agreement with Washington to relocate the base from its current site in a crowded urban area of Okinawa to a quieter coastal site in the Nago area by 2014.

The issue has strained ties between Tokyo and Washington, which marked the 50th anniversary of their security pact last Tuesday, since Japan’s new leaders took power four months ago ending a half-century of conservative rule.

The southern island of Okinawa, which saw some of the bloodiest battles of World War II, hosts more than half of the 47,000 US troops in Japan.

While some local businesses benefit from the heavy American military presence, many residents have long opposed it, citing crimes committed by servicemen as well as noise, pollution and the threat of accidents. …


Protesting Navy Base Construction that will Destroy Coral Reefs in South Korea

Call for Signatures
Protesting Navy Base Construction
that will Destroy Coral Reefs in South Korea

jeju Military Base
The proposed Navy base on Jeju Island in South Korea

The South Korean government plans to build a Navy base where pristine coral reefs, fishing, and tangerine groves are now integral to the people’s way of life.

The base construction is soon set to begin in Gangjeong. The villagers are currently setting up a tent camp along the rocky shore line where the Navy intends to pour concrete to cover the rocks and tiny marine life to make their wharfs where the Aegis destroyers will be homeported. The ships, from the South Korean and US fleets, are outfitted with “missile defense” systems and will surely be used to continue surrounding China’s coastal region. Jeju Island, now called the peace island, will thus become a prime military target.

The coral reefs have been named by the United Nations as key environmental treasures that should be saved. Building a naval base on top of these wonders of nature will not ensure they will be protected. The traditional way of life in this small fishing and fruit growing community will be severly impacted. …

With that in mind I wish to compile a list of organizations and concerned individuals from around the world who wish to voice their protest with the US and South Korean governments about this Navy base. If you would like to be listed on this letter please send me your name. group name, and your city/state or country. Write me at globalnet@mindspring.com

It is the least we can do.

Bruce K. Gagnon,
Coordinator, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

LASTEST on Jeju Island

A 70 year old man is in comma after hitting his head on the stone when he was pushed by a police man. He was protesting against the police who was pushing an old woman.

A Korean Confederation of Trade Union activist was carried to the hospital but released hours later.

Village people and Jeju activists are doing a candle light vigil overnight in the confined area. The police blocked the people entering the place.

A Jeju activist there says, once they are all taken away by the police tomorrow, they may not be able to enter the area again.

In the area for the planned ceremony, all the barricades of cars by the village people were removed.

A wire fence was set up. And the contacted cranes have begun the basic construction process. There are about six cranes in the area for tomorrow’s continued construction.

Follow it all – with pictures and video: http://nobasestorieskorea.blogspot.com/

Preventing a Space Pearl Harbor: SBSS Program to Monitor the Heavens

Defense Industry Daily
January 18, 2010

In January 2001, a commission headed by then US Defense Secretary-designate Donald Rumsfeld warned about a possible “space Pearl Harbor” in which a potential enemy would launch a surprise attack against US-based military space assets, disabling them. These assets include communications satellites and the GPS system, which is crucial for precision attack missiles and a host of military systems.

“The US is more dependent on space than any other nation. Yet the threat to the US and its allies in and from space does not command the attention it merits,” the commission warned.

One of the systems that grew out of the commission’s report was the Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) project, which is developing a constellation of satellites to provide the US military with space situational awareness using visible sensors. …

The SBSS system is intended to detect and track space objects, such as satellites, anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons, and orbital debris, providing information to the US Department of Defense as well as NASA. The SBSS is a stepping stone toward a functional space-based space surveillance constellation. …

The initial SBSS satellite is expected to improve the US government’s ability to detect deep space objects by 80% over the MSX/SBV system.

The MSX/SBV system was a late 1990s missile defense test satellite; by 2002 most of its sensors had failed. However, 1 small package called the SBV sensor was able to search and track satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GEO) using visible light. …

Building on the success of the MSX/SBV visible sensor, the SBSS Block 10 will further develop the technology and replace the SBV sensor. Block 10 will involve the development of 1 satellite as a pathfinder for a full-constellation of space-based sensors. …

Jan 15, 2010: Boeing in Seal Beach, CA received a $30.9 million contract exercising the option for CY2010 maintenance and operations services to provide the requirements for the development and delivery of the logistics infrastructure of the Space Based Space Surveillance Block 10 system. At this time, $7.8 million has been obligated.


Despite prevention efforts, U.S. military suicides rise

Stars and Stripes
By Halimah Abdullah, McClatchy Newspapers
January 16, 2010

Eight years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq have etched indelible scars on the psyches of many of the nation’s service members, and the U.S. military is losing a battle to stem an epidemic of suicides in its ranks.

Despite calls by top Pentagon officials for a sea change in attitudes about mental health, millions of dollars in new suicide-prevention programming and thousands of hours spent helping soldiers suffering from what often are euphemistically dubbed “invisible wounds,” the military is losing ground.

The Department of Defense Friday reported that there were 160 reported active-duty Army suicides in 2009, up from 140 in 2008. Of these, 114 have been confirmed, while the manner of death in the remaining 46 remains to be determined.

“There’s no question that 2009 was a painful year for the Army when it came to suicides,” said Col. Christopher Philbrick, the deputy director of the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force, in a statement, despite what he called “wide-ranging measures last year to confront the problem.”

While the military’s suicide rate is comparable to civilian rates, the increase last year is alarming because the armed services traditionally had lower suicide rates than the general population did.

“I look at the numbers of each service, and that rate has gone up at the same rate across the services,” Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a gathering of military mental health professionals and advocates last week. “This isn’t just a ground force problem.”

Some of the suicides are young men, fresh from deployments and haunted by memories, who shoot themselves after they return from their second or third tours in Iraq or Afghanistan, or when romantic relationships turn sour, sometimes due to long separations or post-traumatic stress.

Others are career officers who quietly nurse addictions to drugs or alcohol and finally decide to silence their ghosts.

An increasing number are female soldiers, who rarely committed suicide before but now are killing themselves at a much higher rate. …


Many issues left to resolve on Guam

Stars and Stripes
by Terry Weaver
January 17, 1010

The federal government has been slow to respond to Guam’s infrastructure requirements and public needs as the military looks to use the island to base at least 8,000 Marines Gov. Felix Camacho said Friday.

In the 3½ years since the expansion plans were announced, he said, many concerns have gone unanswered as Guam tries to secure money for transportation, water, sewage, landfill and other improvements needed to accommodate the influx of people and construction. …

Frustrations about the buildup — which could temporarily bring nearly 80,000 people to the island of 178,000 people — are mounting on Guam in the wake of the military’s public hearings on the massive project.

Repeated comments from young protesters at the hearings have swayed some public officials to ask for more time to study the proposal. Others, such as Sen. Judith Guthertz, have changed their positions on working with the military to secure more land on the island for the Marines’ base and a firing range. Bases currently sit on about a third of Guam’s 212 square miles.

Much of the land the military wants is controlled by the government of Guam, including some reserved for a homesteading program for native Chamorro families. …


Russian parliament leaders warn against U.S. leverage in START deal

China View – Xinhua
January 17, 2010

Russia should firmly defend its security interests in talks with the United States over a new nuclear arsenal cut deal, Russian parliamentary leaders said Saturday.

“Our interests of national security must be our primary goal in signing the new treaty,” said Sergei Mironov, Federation Council Speaker and leader of the Fair Russia party, in a meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev at Zavidovo of Tver region.

The new document to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty(START-1) that expired on Dec. 5, 2009, said Mironov, should be signed on an equal basis.

When Moscow engaged in negotiations with Washington over specific issues such as number of nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles, he said, no compromise shall be made at the cost of national interests.

Russia and the U.S. “must undoubtedly have equal rights and duties under the new treaty,” which first and foremost applies to mutual inspections, said Boris Gryzlov, Russian State Duma Speaker, as cited by the Interfax news agency.

He also voiced support on the linkage between the issues of strategic weapons cut and missile defense, while downplaying U.S. edge on the missile defense.

Equal reductions of warheads would be detrimental to Russia and lead to Moscow’s “geographical lose-out,” said Liberal Democratic leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, as Russia is surrounded by multiple U.S. missile bases.

Zhirinovsky insisted Russia must not slash its deployment of multiple independent reentry vehicles, and ensure equal rights on mutual inspections.

The strategic arms reduction shall not pose threat to Russia’s basis security, said Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov.

If Russia cannot retain its current nuclear power, he said, its security will be intimidated and it will not become U.S. equal.

“There can be no parity with the Americans anyway because they have 30-fold superiority over us in terms of conventional armaments. We can’t make a minimum concession,” he said.

Insisting Russia and the United States ratify the new START treaty simultaneously, Medvedev also stressed its significance to Russia.

“This is a foreign policy issue, but it is of extreme importance and will, in the final analysis, determine the face of Russia for years to come,” he said.

Moscow and Washington have exerted intense efforts trying to clinch a deal on the new START treaty.

The talks are expected to resume in the second half of this month, said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier.

The START-1, signed in 1991 between the then Soviet Union and the United States, obliged both sides to reduce the number of their nuclear warheads to 6,000 and delivery vehicles to 1,600.

The new treaty’s outline agreed by the two presidents at a July summit in Moscow included slashing nuclear arsenals to 1,500-1,675operational warheads and delivery vehicles to 500-1,000.


With Defense Test, China Shows Displeasure of U.S.

The New York Times
By Andrew Jacobs and Jonathan Ansfield
January 12, 2009

China said late Monday that it had successfully tested the nation’s first land-based missile defense system, announcing the news in a brief dispatch by Xinhua, the official news agency. “The test is defensive in nature and is not targeted at any country,” the item said.

Even if news accounts on Tuesday did not provide details about the test — and whether it destroyed its intended target — Chinese and Western analysts say there is no mistaking that the timing of the test, coming amid Beijing’s fury over American arms sales to Taiwan, was largely aimed at the White House.

In recent days, state media have been producing a torrent of articles condemning the sale of Patriot air defense equipment to Taiwan. China views the self-ruled island as a breakaway province, separated since the civil war of the 1940s, and sees arms sales as interference in an internal matter.

The Defense and Foreign Ministries have released a half-dozen warnings over the weapons deal, saying it would have grave consequences for United States-China relations. …