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Ukraine ‘interested’ in European missile defense – NATO chief

RIA Novosti
February 24, 2011

Ukraine is interested in cooperating with NATO in building the European missile defense system, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Thursday.

“This morning, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister and I discussed our cooperation in building a missile defense system, and I have taken into consideration that Ukraine is interested in such cooperation,” Rasmussen said after talks with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko in Kiev.

During the talks the sides discussed the possibility of launching expert consultations aimed at analyzing Ukraine’s possible contribution to the cooperation, the NATO chief said.

Rasmussen said Russia has also been invited to cooperate in the creation of the European missile defense system.

Moscow insists on setting up a joint European missile defense network with NATO, while the alliance favors two separate systems that would exchange information.


ME revolts threaten US military bases

February 24, 2011

The recent uprisings in Arab states have raised serious concerns in the US over the major reliance of its military operations on its bases across Persian Gulf’s Arab nations.

About 27,000 American troops are deployed at US military bases in numerous Arab countries in the region, including Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, AFP reported.

As the Bahraini government brutally cracks down on the country’s pro-democracy protesters, at least 4,000 American troops are stationed there as part of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet headquarters.

The persisting turmoil in the Persian Gulf state will most likely threaten US military operations in the Middle East region.

However, Pentagon has publicly described the ongoing uprisings as ‘popular movements’ that would not at all affect its naval headquarters or other bases in the region.

According to former American diplomat David Aaron, “No single base or agreement represents an Achilles heel, but in general, the network is critical for American military power.”

US military operations in most Arab states are mainly focused on exercising control over oil shipping routes in the Persian Gulf.

Taking into account the likely consequence of the Egyptian revolution and other mass uprisings in the other Arab world, there is a high possibility that the US will suffer a major decline in its vast military power and influence in the region.

The loss is certain to serve as a huge drawback for the US in the Persian Gulf area, as it would no longer be capable of monitoring Iran’s military activities.


President Obama Allocates 10.7 Billion for Missile Defense

PR Newswire
February 17, 2011

Riki Ellison, Chairman and Founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA), www.missiledefenseadvocacy.org, has released a statement on the release of the presidents’ 2012 budget request in regard to missile defense. Ellison is one of the top experts in the world in the field of missile defense. . His comments follow below:

“The President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense released the 2012 Department of Defense Budget Monday. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated in testimony to the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that ‘the overall budget for missile defense is going from $10.2 billion to $10.7 billion…we are putting another $500 million into it.’

“Secretary Gates further stated that:

“‘Part of the half billion dollar increase is to implement the phased adaptive array missile defense that we have agreed to in Europe, but also, frankly, to increase our ability to defend our ships and our troops against theater level threats, missile threats. Hezbollah alone has 40,000 rockets and missiles at this point including anti-ship cruise missiles that have a range of 65 miles. So we are putting more money into Aegis capable ships. We will have 41 of these by the end of 2016, 28 by the end of 2012. They defend our ships. They defend- have the potential to defend our ground troops.’

“The aggregate missile defense budget is a balance consisting of procurement funds to deploy capability to our nation’s combat commanders, along with research and development money to ensure the continuing viability and technological advancement of missile defense. Both areas of the budget are equally important as the threat continues to proliferate in numbers, accuracy and sophistication.

“The 2012 budget rightfully addresses missile defense procurement, adhering to the combat commanders’ immediate needs of defending their operating areas in the Pacific, the Middle East and European theaters. These needs will be met with the procurement of regional interceptor and sensor systems including Patriot, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), AN/TPY-2 radars, Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IA/IB and Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) systems. …

Read on: www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/policy-public-interest-latest-news/president-obama-allocates-107-billion-for-missile-defense-116430329.html

U.S. military interests could suffer

National Post
By Peter Goodspeed
February 15, 2011

Could the tiny Persian Gulf island state of Bahrain be the next U.S. diplomatic domino to fall in a rapidly changing Middle East?

As riot police in Bahrain attacked hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators Monday with tear gas, rubber bullets and concussion grenades, U.S. strategic interests in the Gulf appeared poised to receive yet another battering from the revolutionary wave that is sweeping the Arab world. …

There are concerns large-scale Shiite unrest in Bahrain might encourage similar protests among Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority. But perhaps the biggest impact of any Shiite uprising would be renewed calls to end the significant U.S. military presence in Bahrain.

The tiny oil-producing state just off the east coast of Saudi Arabia is home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, headquarters for a U.S. Marine Corps amphibious unit and a crucial base for U.S. Air Force jet fighter interceptors and spy planes. …

In the 1990s, the U.S. presence was renewed and expanded as a result of the First Gulf War. The Fifth Fleet, with 15 warships and an aircraft carrier battle group, has made Bahrain its headquarters since 1991.

Still, the U.S. military presence has always been a sore point in the emirate’s tumultuous politics …

Washington would find it difficult to threaten Iran or to enforce international sanctions against Tehran’s nuclear program without its bases in Bahrain.

Read more: www.nationalpost.com/news/world/military+interests+could+suffer/4283371/story.html

RummyLeaks: U.S. Used Several Bases in Uzbekistan

by Joshua Kucera
February 10, 2011

The story of the U.S.’s ill-fated airbase at Karshi-Khanabad, Uzbekistan, is well known. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. quickly got permission from Uzbekistan to set up operations at the base, known as K2, for its attack on Afghanistan. K2 was a key operations hub until 2005, when the U.S. State Department objected to how the Uzbekistan government fired on protesters in the eastern Uzbekistan city of Andijan, killing several hundreds. Shortly thereafter, Uzbekistan kicked the U.S. out of K2.

What has long been rumored, though, is that the U.S. was using some other bases, as well. And now we appear to have official confirmation of that, for the first time, from an unlikely source: Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. secretary of defense during that period. Rumsfeld, in an unusual move to coincide with the release of his new memoirs, Known and Unknown, has posted many relevant documents — mostly formerly classified government memos — on his website. (The Danger Room blog calls it “Rumsfeld WikiLeaking Himself,” which I will shorten to RummyLeaks for future reference.) It makes for fascinating reading: go to the search page and type in “Uzbekistan,” for example, and 32 documents pop up.

One of the more intriguing ones is an itemized accounting (pdf) of what the U.S. was paying Uzbekistan for the use of K2. Rumsfeld released the document to support his argument with Senator John McCain and others over paying Uzbekistan for K2 even after the U.S. was evicted (about which more soon in an upcoming EurasiaNet piece). But in it, there appears to be confirmation that the U.S. also used bases at Shakhrisabz, Jizzak and Kokaidy. …


U.S. Military Launches Secret Satellite to Test Space Spy Tech

By Stephen Clark
Febraury 6, 2011

A trailblazing payload for the National Reconnaissance Office successfully rocketed into orbit on a Minotaur 1 booster Sunday, beginning a secret mission testing new ways to collect intelligence from space.

The mission was codenamed NROL-66 in the agency’s rocket acquisition naming system. The payload is also called RPP, which is short for Rapid Pathfinder Program.

“I commend everyone who made this launch successful,” said Robert Brodowski, director of the NRO’s advanced science and technology directorate. “This mission is just one example of our ability to rapidly build and launch small spacecraft with on-orbit capabilities that increase the value of NRO systems to our nation’s future.”

An NRO spokesperson disclosed before launch the payload will demonstrate better ways for U.S. government satellites to gather intelligence.

“If you have heard our director speak, one of his priorities is to have a healthy science and technology effort,” said Rick Oborn, an NRO spokesperson. “This particular payload carries some of the work we do in techniques and methods to improve intelligence collection. All part of our work to keep improving the value of our data.”

The U.S. spy satellite agency hasn’t revealed what techniques or sensors the craft will test in space. Its cost, contractor and size are also secret.

But the lightweight payload launched on a Minotaur 1 rocket, the smallest booster used by the NRO since the agency’s existence was declassified in 1992. The Minotaur’s nose cone can fit a spacecraft as large as a kitchen refrigerator, and the four-stage rocket can haul nearly 1,000 pounds into low-altitude polar orbits.

The Minotaur launcher blasted off at 4:26 a.m. local time (7:26 a.m. EST; 1226 GMT) from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The launch was delayed from Saturday by a transmitter glitch in the Air Force’s network of tracking and communications equipment.

The six-story rocket swiftly climbed into the predawn sky, breaking the sound barrier seconds later and shedding its powerful first stage a minute after liftoff. Its second stage burned for another minute to propel the rocket nearly 400,000 feet high.

Two more Minotaur stages were supposed to accelerate the vehicle to more than 17,000 mph before deploying the satellite.

An NRO press release Sunday said the launch was successful. …


Air Force to cut 2,300 officers from its rolls

Stars and Stripes
By Geoff Ziezulewicz
February 3, 2011

RAF MILDENHALL, England — Some Air Force officers could see themselves involuntarily out of a job by this fall under a new force management program announced Wednesday.

Despite the service implementing a multi-year program in 2010 to reduce the ranks, the Air Force still ended the fiscal year with approximately 2,300 officers more than it needed, according to an Air Force news release.

Enlisted goals have been met, and this next round of separations will affect commissioned officers, the release states.

Air Force retention is at its highest level in 16 years.

The Air Force said in March 2010 that it was looking to get rid of 5,750 people by fiscal 2012. Last March, the service had more than 335,000 airmen, well above its fiscal 2010 authorized end-strength of 331,700.

“Retention projections for fiscal years 2011 and 2012 continue to be high,” Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff, said in the release. “Without additional measures, we could grow to 7,000 over our authorized end strength by the end of fiscal year 2012.”

In addition to those projections, the “need to operate within our means” was another factor in the decision, he said.

As part of the plan to reduce the force, the service will introduce force-shaping boards for junior officers beginning this May.

The board will consider the 2006 to 2008 commissioned year groups in the judge advocate general, biomedical science corps and medical service corps categories. Officers not selected by the board for retention will have to separate by Oct. 1, according to the release.

A reduction-in-force board will begin in September for mid-grade officers, but eligible officers can apply for voluntary separation in March that would have them leave the force by Oct. 1. This board will consider officers commissioned from 1999 to 2005 in the line-of-the-Air Force, chaplain, JAG, biomedical science and medical service categories. Those not selected for retention will separate by Feb. 1, 2012.

“This is a difficult time,” Schwartz said in a Wednesday e-mail to airmen. “The results of last year’s reductions are no doubt affecting units and lives across our Air Force family.

“With a very talented, all-volunteer force answering our nation’s call in a variety of global commitments, it is not easy to select Airmen for early transition from the active duty force.”

In the end, the boards will retain the top 90 percent of officers within the affected categories in the eligible year groups, according to the Air Force. …


NATO surrenders Europe to U.S. Global Missile Shield Project

Media Monitors Network
by Rick Rozoff
February 9, 2011

“The Aegis Combat System is a product of the Strategic Defense Initiative. Last year President Obama pushed for an increase in the system’s Standard Missile-3 interceptors to 436, up from the previous year’s request of 147 of the missiles costing $10-15 million apiece….NATO’s summit in Lisbon last November has delivered almost the entire European continent to a 21st century version of Star Wars.”

On January 27 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization took the most decisive step yet toward the implementation of the decades-old project first proposed by the Ronald Reagan administration for a Strategic Defense Initiative, popularly known as Star Wars.

In what will be the culmination of five years of extensive planning by the U.S. and NATO to construct an impenetrable interceptor missile shield to cover the European continent, the military bloc announced on the above date that it had handed over the first-ever theater ballistic missile defence capability to NATO military commanders at the NATO Combined Air Operations Centre in the German city of Uedem, which occurred “after NATO technicians computer-tested a software system linking anti-missile equipment from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United States.” …

Late last month pro-American Romanian President Traian Basescu, recruited last year by his American counterpart Obama to host Standard Missile-3s on his nation’s soil, said:

“The United States remains our strategic partner and our main ally in the field of security. Today, the main vector of our cooperation is the anti-missile shield. We wish to conclude this year the bilateral negotiations.” [27] In 2005 the Pentagon secured the use of four military bases in Romania, including what is being upgraded into a strategic air base.

Two days before the above quote appeared on the Internet, it was reported that the U.S. Air Force had “augmented the hardware of a missile defense radar facility in Greenland,” NATO ally Denmark’s possession, and that it “has already upgraded early warning radar sites at Beale Air Force Base in California and at Fylingdales Royal Air Force Station in the United Kingdom,” and “intends to update two more of the sites.” [28] An island between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans is an odd location for tracking imaginary Iranian and North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles. …

Read in full: http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/83058

STSS demo satellites ready for missile defense testing

Spaceflight Now
By Stephen Clark
February 7, 2011

The Missile Defense Agency says it is merging its $1.7 billion STSS tracking satellite mission with ground- and sea-based interceptor tests, a campaign officials hope will enable the military to launch kill vehicles against missiles before they fly in range of conventional radars.

If proven, the ability to detect and track missiles from space will give commanders another tool to go along with sensors based on land, at sea and in the air. The addition of a space-based detection network, which STSS is designed to demonstrate, could give strategic, regional and theater defense systems more warning of an enemy missile and permit the launch of interceptors against the threat earlier than ever before.

Existing radars and tracking systems, including the mobile sea-based X-band radar platform, can only see missiles and warheads in a limited area, usually in the launch or re-entry phases of flight. STSS is supposed to show officials if satellites can provide a global perspective on missile flights.

“STSS brings unique capabilities to missile defense,” said Doug Young, vice president of missile defense and warning programs at Northrop Grumman Corp., which built the satellites. “It’s the only system capable of tracking ballistic missiles through all phases of flight, starting with boost extending through midcourse and terminal phases.”

Not only can STSS track missiles, it can map a missile’s trajectory and pass the data to sea- or land-based interceptors to destroy the threat. …

Read on: www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1102/07stss/

Report: Russia warns US over missile defense plans

Associated Press
By Vladimir Isachenkov
February 7, 2011

Russia sees the planned U.S. missile defense system as a potential threat to its nuclear forces and may review its participation in a landmark nuclear arms treaty, officials said Monday.

The New START deal, the centerpiece of Barack Obama’s efforts to reset ties with Russia and the most significant arms control pact in nearly two decades, took effect last week. It limits each country to 1,550 strategic warheads, down from the current ceiling of 2,200.

The treaty doesn’t prevent the U.S. from building new missile defense systems, but Russia has warned that it reserves the right to withdraw from the treaty if the United States significantly boosts its missile shield.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov reaffirmed Monday that a buildup in the U.S. missile defense capability would prompt Moscow re-consider its obligations under the New START treaty.

“If the U.S. increases the qualitative and quantitative potential of its missile defense … a question will arise whether Russia should further abide by the treaty or would have to take other measures to respond to the situation, including military-technical measures,” Ryabkov said, according to Russian news agencies.

Russia was strongly critical of the previous U.S. administration’s plan to deploy missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic and hailed Obama’s decision to scrap it. But the Kremlin has remained concerned about revamped U.S. missile defense plans and continued to see them as potentially dangerous to its security. …

Read more: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110207/ap_on_re_eu/eu_russia_us_nuclear