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Okinawans demand closure of U.S. bases

The Japan Times
October 18, 2012

Okinawans expressed anger Wednesday over the alleged rape of a local woman by U.S. sailors, an incident that came hot on the heels of another alleged sexual assault involving a marine in the prefecture.

Calls to remove all U.S. bases from Okinawa swelled in response to the rape allegations, with Miyoko Ashimine, head of a local group dealing with gender issues, demanding their immediate closure.

“With Ospreys in the sky and weapons on land, where can local residents walk (in safety)?” asked Ashimine, referring to the U.S. Marine Corps’ recent deployment of tilt-rotor MV-22 Ospreys to the Futenma air station on Okinawa Island despite safety concerns.

The chairman of Okinawa’s prefectural assembly, Masaharu Kina, said local residents have suffered since the end of World War II because of the presence of U.S. bases.

“The United States says it will enforce strict discipline every time there is an incident, but that won’t resolve anything,” Kina said. …

Read on: www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20121018a9.html

Israel Will Practice Shooting Down Iran’s Missiles (And Denying They’re Iran’s)

By Spencer Ackerman
October 17, 2012

Just in time for a presidential election in which both candidates compete to be besties with Israel, the U.S. and Israeli militaries are holding a big, high-profile exercise to practice shooting Iranian missiles out of the sky. Only neither country wants to say the exercise is about either Iran or presidential politics.

Starting in late October, the U.S. and Israel will spend three weeks jointly testing the abilities of their Patriot missile batteries, Aegis ships, networked command systems and newer interceptors to prevent everything from rockets to armed drones to long-range ballistic missiles from hitting Israel from multiple locations. It’ll be the closest operational look the U.S. has gotten thus far to Israel’s new Iron Dome system to protect against short-range missiles and rockets. About 3,500 U.S. troops will participate in what Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, commander of the U.S. Third Air Force, called “the largest exercise in the history of the longstanding military relationship between the U.S. and Israel.”

The joint tests, dubbed “Austere Challenge 2012,” are part of a series of missile-defense drills that the U.S. and Israel schedule every two years. Only this year, there’s a contextual difference that’s hard to ignore: the prospect of an Israeli strike on Iran, which is likely to prompt retaliation from Iran and its terrorist proxies on Israel’s borders; and persistent tension between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, which has become an issue in the politics of both countries. …

Read on: www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/10/us-israel-missiles/

U.S. Defense Chief Warns of Digital 9/11

Wall Street Journal (blog)
By Rachel King
October 11, 2012

The scale and speed of cyber attacks is escalating and companies face more risk than ever before. Armed with technology that can help attribute attacks, the United States now has the capacity to locate attackers and hold them responsible, said U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Thursday night, in his first policy speech on cybersecurity. The Department of Defense is also updating its rules of engagement and procedures that guide a potential military response to a cyber attack.

Senior defense officials say a sophisticated virus attack against Saudi Arabian state oil company ARAMCO in August is an example of this escalation. “All told, the Shamoon virus was probably the most destructive attack that the private sector has seen to date,” said Leon Panetta, U.S. Secretary of Defense in his first policy speech on cybersecurity. Secretary Panetta spoke Thursday night at a Business Executives for National Security dinner.

The Shamoon virus attacked 30,000 Saudi ARAMCO workstations and replaced crucial system files with an image of a burning U.S. flag. That virus added false information that overwrote all of the real data on those machines. The government declassified information to help the public understand the magnitude of the threat. …

Read on: http://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2012/10/11/u-s-defense-chief-warns-of-digital-911/

U.S. Military Is Sent to Jordan to Help With Crisis in Syria

New York Times
By Michael R. Gordon and Elisabeth Bumiller
October 9, 2012

The United States military has secretly sent a task force of more than 150 planners and other specialists to Jordan to help the armed forces there handle a flood of Syrian refugees, prepare for the possibility that Syria will lose control of its chemical weapons and be positioned should the turmoil in Syria expand into a wider conflict.

The task force, which has been led by a senior American officer, is based at a Jordanian military training center built into an old rock quarry north of Amman. It is now largely focused on helping Jordanians handle the estimated 180,000 Syrian refugees who have crossed the border and are severely straining the country’s resources.

American officials familiar with the operation said the mission also includes drawing up plans to try to insulate Jordan, an important American ally in the region, from the upheaval in Syria and to avoid the kind of clashes now occurring along the border of Syria and Turkey.

The officials said the idea of establishing a buffer zone between Syria and Jordan — which would be enforced by Jordanian forces on the Syrian side of the border and supported politically and perhaps logistically by the United States — had been discussed. But at this point the buffer is only a contingency. …

Read on: www.nytimes.com/2012/10/10/world/middleeast/us-military-sent-to-jordan-on-syria-crisis.html

Ballistic Missile Defense: More on X-Band Radar Locations

September 27, 2012

The recent National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Report Making Sense of Ballistic Missile Defense indicates that in addition to deploying Aegis Ashore sites in Romania and Poland, the Missile Defense Agency would like to deploy a TPY-2 X-band radar at each site. Specifically the report states (in its appendix on System Cost Methodology) that: “As part of the Phased Adaptive Approach for the European missile defense system, MDA has proposed that each interceptor site location include a forward-based (FBM) AN/TPY-2 X-band radar system.” If true, this statement has several interesting possible implications about the MDA’s radar plans.

First, it would seem to provide further support for the idea, most clearly spelled out in the telephone press conference announcing the NAS Report’s release, that the Aegis radars really play a secondary role in the EPAA. As discussed in the post of September 13, 2012, in the NAS view of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, the Aegis radars primarily serve as communication relays to the interceptors, transmitting the target track data from the more powerful X-band radars.

Alternatively, it could reflect plans to co-locate a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD battery with each Aegis Ashore site, since a TPY-2 radar can be used as either a Forward-Based X-band (FBX) radar or a THAAD Battery radar. However, it is hardtop see why this would be needed, unless doubts existed about the ability of the Aegis Ashore site to defend itself from ballistic missile attack.

Secondly, if true, this statement would indicate that the supply of available TPY-2s is beginning to dwindle. The U.S. currently plans to plans to buy 11 TPY-2 X-band radars, with the last of these scheduled to be delivered in fiscal year 2015. Three of these are already deployed as FBXs in northern Japan, Israel, and Turkey. …

Read on: http://mostlymissiledefense.com/2012/09/27/ballistic-missile-defense-more-on-x-band-radar-locations-september-27-2012/

Boeing trucks ahead with 8-wheeling laser weapon

By Jonathan Skillings
October 6, 2012

The promise of laser weapons is that they will dispatch enemy missiles and other threats at the speed of light. Progress on those weapons systems, however, sure has been a heck of a lot slower.

When last we heard from Boeing about the HEL TD (High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator) program in June 2011, the defense contractor had just finished system integration of key components, including the installation of the beam control system and other hardware on the 8-wheeled, 500-horsepower Oshkosh HEMTT (Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck).

This week, Boeing said that it’s now engaged in the next phase of its contract with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, in which it will install a 10-kilowatt solid-state laser in the system, which has been slightly renamed as HEL MD, for High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator. Field tests will take place in the coming year to let the high-power SSL system show off its dexterity at acquiring, tracking, and defeating “threat-representative” targets. …

Read on: http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-57525513-76/boeing-trucks-ahead-with-8-wheeling-laser-weapon/

S. Korea set to announce US missile deal

October 7, 2012

South Korea plans to announce a new deal with the United States aimed at extending the range of its ballistic missiles to cover the whole of North Korea, a report said Saturday. …

The official declined to discuss details but a diplomatic source told Yonhap the agreement would more than double the range of Seoul’s ballistic missiles to 800 kilometres (500 miles), from the current limit of 300 km.

It would mean the whole of North Korea would be within reach but the missiles’ maximum payload would reportedly stay at 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds).

The existing deal with Washington, which allows Seoul limited access to US missile technology, is up for renewal at the end of the year.

All of South Korea is within striking distance of North Korean missiles and President Lee Myung-Bak said in March that Seoul needed a “realistic adjustment” of its missile capabilities. …

Read in full: www.bangkokpost.com/news/asia/315807/s-korea-set-to-announce-us-missile-deal-report