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German town fears loss of U.S. Army base

Washington Post
By Michael Birnbaum
March 27, 2012

For more than half a century, this garrison town in the rolling hills of southwest Germany has been a small version of America, with Ford Mustangs and pickup trucks from the U.S. Army base next door threading through its medieval streets.

Now, with the Pentagon’s announcement last month of major troop cuts that will slash by a quarter the Army’s presence in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, a long-standing institution of American cultural, political and military influence is slimming down. Thousands of informal U.S. ambassadors are returning home.

Towns whose identities are tied up in red, white and blue are being cut free with the pullback. Four of 12 Army bases in Germany will close, and Baumholder, a town of 4,500 Germans surrounded by 13,500 Americans on base — 4,300 troops, plus their families and other staff members — faces a turbulent future. Many Germans here doubt the base will remain open much longer, although the Army has said it will eventually replace half of the 3,700 troops who will depart by October.

In a town where American uniforms fill dry cleaners’ racks and one restaurant has clocks for three time zones — Baumholder, Baghdad and New York — residents say a closure might shake loose their longtime tilt toward America. …

Read on: www.washingtonpost.com/world/german-town-fears-loss-of-us-army-base/2012/03/23/gIQAoNzzeS_story.html

US Plans No Charges Over Deadly November Strike in Pakistan

By Eric Schmitt, The New York Times News Service
March 25, 2012

The United States military has decided that no service members will face disciplinary charges for their involvement in a NATO airstrike in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, an accident that plunged relations between the two countries to new depths and has greatly complicated the allied mission in Afghanistan.

An American investigation in December found fault with both American and Pakistani troops for the deadly exchange of fire, but noted that the Pakistanis fired first from two border posts that were not on coalition maps, and that they kept firing even after the Americans tried to warn them that they were shooting at allied troops. Pakistan has rejected these conclusions and ascribed most of the blame to the American forces.

The American findings set up a second inquiry to determine whether any American military personnel should be punished. That recently completed review said no, three senior military officials said, explaining that the Americans fired in self-defense. Other mistakes that contributed to the fatal cross-border strike were the regrettable result of battlefield confusion, they said. …

Read on: http://truth-out.org/news/item/8087-us-plans-no-charges-over-deadly-november-strike-in-pakistan

The Russia-NATO summit cancelled

Itar Tass
March 23, 2012

A Russia-NATO summit, which was scheduled in May, is cancelled. According to the official version, the summit was cancelled over “an intensive domestic political calendar in Russia.” However, the experts believe that this step is caused by disagreements of the parties concerned over the European missile defence system.

The Russia-NATO summit has stalled over the European missile defence system, the Kommersant daily reported. Experts noted that the decision to cancel a May meeting between Vladimir Putin and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is linked with the disagreement over the vital issue. This is the missile defence system in Europe. The Russia-NATO summit was scheduled in Chicago in May, the newspaper recalled. However, the NATO general secretary stated that the summit will not be held at the scheduled time. He called as the reason “an intensive domestic political calendar in Russia.” The negotiators have nothing to say to each other, this is why the summit was postponed, director of the Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting Alexander Gusev noted.

“The postponement of the Russia-NATO summit is certainly linked with a quite serious political situation, primarily in Europe, over the deployment of the European missile defence along the borders with Russia. The question was certainly not settled. This primarily concerns relations between Russia and the EU states, so, the places, where the European missile defence systems will be deployed,” he noted. “I would like the summit to be held. All parties are interested in this, namely the United States, the NATO leadership, the EU states and Russia in the same way.”

Read on: www.itar-tass.com/c142/373668.html

This Week at War: Rules of the Game

Foreign Policy
By Robert Haddock
March 23, 2012

What message were U.S. officials trying to send by releasing the results of a CentCom Iran war game?

On March 19, the New York Times described a classified U.S. Central Command war game conducted this month that simulated the outcome of an Israeli attack on Iran. According to U.S. officials who discussed the results with the newspaper, the game “forecasts that the [Israeli] strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead.” Marine Gen. James Mattis, commander of Central Command, found the outcome “particularly troubling” because an Israeli first strike would have “dire consequences across the region and for United States forces there.”

The article, with its discussion of “dire consequences,” is one more indication of the gap between the Israeli government’s calculations concerning Iran and those of the U.S. government. Why that analytical gap exists should be of interest to policymakers. The military’s conclusion that U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region could suffer hundreds of deaths following an Israeli strike could be an indication that U.S. commanders and policymakers have not adequately prepared for such a scenario. But perhaps most important, we should examine what goals U.S. officials had in mind when they leaked the results of the supposedly secret war game to the New York Times.

According to the article, the two-week Central Command war game, called Internal Look, was specifically designed to test internal military communications and coordination among battle staffs in the Pentagon, Central Command headquarters in Tampa, and field units in the Persian Gulf. According to the scenario, Iran would conclude that the United States was an Israeli partner and therefore U.S. military forces in the Gulf were complicit in the Israeli first strike. The simulation had Iranian anti-ship missiles strike a U.S. warship killing hundreds of sailors. The United States then retaliated with its own strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.

This simulation appears to differ sharply from Israeli expectations. …

Read on: www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/03/23/this_week_at_war_rules_of_the_game

Robert Gates: Attacking Iran Would Be A ‘Catastrophe’

By Eli Clifton
March 22, 2012

ran hawks and the GOP presidential candidates like Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney have been slow to acknowledge the inherent dangers of U.S. and/or Israeli military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities while members of President Obama’s cabinet have made the case that sanctions and diplomatic pressure are the best strategy for deterring Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon.

But in remarks delivered last week at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates — himself a Republican — delivered a stern warning to those who push for the “military option” against Iran.

“If you think the war in Iraq was hard, an attack on Iran would, in my opinion, be a catastrophe,” said Gates, as reported by the Jewish Exponent. Gates, who served as Defense Secretary in both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, warned that Iran’s nuclear facilities would be difficult to destroy and an attack would lead Iranians to “rally behind their mullahs.” …

Read on: http://thinkprogress.org/security/2012/03/22/449740/robert-gates-attacking-iran-would-be-a-catastrophe/

More US troops coming, but no bases, says defense chief

By DJ Yap, Philippine Daily Inquirer
March 22, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Thursday described plans to hold more joint military training exercises with the United States as an “expanded VFA [Visiting Forces of Agreement], but definitely with no bases” involved.

He said the “high value” and “high impact” exercises would benefit the armed forces of both the Philippines and the United States–which would be sending over more troops–although he could not say how many servicemen would be participating on both sides.

“I cannot be definite on the number but definitely there will be more participation of forces from both the US and the Philippines,” Gazmin told reporters at Fort Bonifacio during the 115th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Army.

He said the exercises would be different from those conducted in Mindanao, which American forces traditionally visit as part of the annual “Balikatan” joint exercises.

“We are looking at exercises that will be of value to both countries, those high-impact exercises that can help us in a lot of areas,” Gazmin said. …

Read on: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/30307/more-us-troops-coming-but-no-bases-says-defense-chief

Moscow Wants Missile Defense Talks at NATO Summit

March 6, 2012

The Russian president is unlikely to attend a NATO summit in Chicago if the missile defense issue is not on its agenda

The Russian president is unlikely to attend a NATO summit in Chicago if the missile defense issue is not on its agenda, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday.

“Russia has an invitation to the NATO summit; everything depends on the agenda,” he said.

However, if the issue of the NATO missile defense system remains unchanged, then the chances of the Russian president attending the summit “will be even smaller,” he added. …

Read on: en.rian.ru/world/20120306/171790591.html

Northrop Grumman Awarded Large Contract for U.S. Laser Missile Defense Systems

Metro Business Media
March 19, 2012

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) announced today a firm-fixed-price contract from the U.S. Air Force.

The defense contractor will provide Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasure (LAIRCM) systems and support.

Under the $334 million contract Fairfax county-based Northrop Grumman will have until April 2014 to provide the Air Force with LAIRCM technology that will automatically detect a missile launch. Once detected as a threat, the LAIRCM system will activate a high-intensity laser to track and destroy the missile. …

Read on: metrobusinessmedia.com/article/northrop-grumman-awarded-large-contract-or-us-missile-defense-systems-031912

US warns it won’t send food aid if NKorea launches rocket next month

Washington Post
A.P. March 16. 2012

The United States warned Friday it would not send food aid to North Korea if it goes ahead with a rocket launch next month.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. now has “grave concerns” about the Feb. 29 agreement that had eased tensions between the long-term adversaries.

Under the accord, Pyongyang agreed to nuclear concessions and a moratorium on long-range missile tests in return for 240,000 tons of American food aid for the impoverished country.

In a surprise announcement, North Korea said Friday it plans to launch a satellite into space on the back of a long-range rocket between April 12 and 16 off its west coast — a provocative step just as its new leader Kim Jong Un consolidates his power. …

Read on: www.washingtonpost.com/politics/us-says-hard-to-imagine-it-can-give-food-aid-if-nkorea-goes-ahead-with-rocket-launch/2012/03/16/gIQARm7cGS_story.html

White House to share missile-defense secrets with Russia?

March 14, 2012

American authorities could soon be sharing classified data on their missile defense system with Russia in an effort to recruit their former Cold War foe to prepare against possible rocket strikes.

Officials from within the White House tell reporters this week that Washington is considering talks with Moscow that could lead to both nations exchanging top-secret intelligence involving their respective missile-defense systems. Responding to an inquiry on the talks, a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed to Reuters on Tuesday that the Obama administration is indeed looking to iron out a deal with Russia that would satisfy the desires of both nations.

Sharing missile defense data has been a sticking point between the two major nuclear superpowers since the US announced plans to build an anti-missile shield in Europe. Even after both parties agreed to cooperate on anti-missile defense, Moscow and Washington have been at odds over if and how their respective anti-missile programs should be managed jointly. Russia has asked for the United States’ cooperation by insisting that the missile defense systems of the countries be united into one global program; the US, on the other hand, has favored separate programs, although they have at the same time advocated for establishing a working relationship between the two. Should these developments prove true then, the US and Russia could soon ink out a deal that would see Washington siding with Moscow’s demands.

According to the latest reports, the US could be extending to Russia some top-secret intelligence on American interceptor missiles; in return, Russia might very well contribute assistance of their own by offering access to its own radar system and missile-defense program. …

Read on: http://rt.com/usa/news/obama-share-missile-russia-561/