Nestled in a remote corner of the NATO-run airfield in this violent southern province of Afghanistan is a nondescript row of trailers ringed by earthen barriers. Inside one of the trailers on a cool November morning, two flight-suit-clad officers bend over keyboards, flat-screen displays and control sticks. This is the standard Ground Control Station for the U.S. Air Force’s MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. The officers represent a typical flight crew — a pilot and a sensor operator — assigned to the forward-deployed 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron.
Archive of Jan 2010
U.S. Air Force fighters flying from Bagram air base, outside Kabul, played a big part in repelling the attack. The 335th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, deployed to Bagram from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, in North Carolina, had two Boeing F-15E Strike Eagles airborne when the fighting broke out. Those two aircraft quickly diverted to support the ground troops, while four more F-15Es launched to join them.
In a keynote speech delivered at a major civil society conference in London Tuesday, former Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi reflected on the past eight years of international engagement in Afghanistan and called for a new peace process to bring an end to the long-running conflict.
The urgency and relevance of the ongoing debate over negotiations with the Taliban was underlined on Wednesday when the U.N. removed sanctions imposed in 2001 on five former Taliban leaders.
Al-Qaeda Spinoff Threatens Spain
Spain has received demands from an Al Qaeda-affiliated group claiming to hold three Spanish aid workers captive.
German and police groups are uncertain about the German administration’s recently-announced plan to send an extra 850 troops to northern Afghanistan. Since the botched, German-led September air-strike that claimed the lives of 142 Afghan civilians, military and police groups have sought clarification about German forces’ legal mandate to use force. The groups claim that months of extra training and better equipment are needed before a broader mission is possible.
Accordingly, the Review doesn’t propose any major force-structure changes. As for programmatic changes, Gates accomplished all of those in April last year. Rather, the QDR tweaks U.S. military forces and programs at the margins. That said, the Review’s minor changes are all indications that the department is moving in the right direction, however slowly.
Kyle’s Links 1/29/10
by KYLE MIZOKAMI * Al Shabab attacks African Union troops in Mogadishu * Russian-Indian fighter makes first flight * Raid kills AQ foreign-fighter coordinator in northern Iraq * Colombia slams alleged airspace violation by Venezuela * Austria, Ukraine: mechanized infantry gets the girls
U.N. Dispatch: Aid Agencies Amplify Call for Civilian Delivery of Aid in Afghanistan at London Conference
“We must ensure that development does not falter in Afghanistan,” Mercy Corps U.K. director Mervlyn Lee said in his opening remarks to more than one hundred leading development experts, community leaders, civil society activists and government officials at a civil society conference in London Tuesday. Organized by the British and Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group (BAAG), the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) and the High Commission of Canada in London, the conference kicked off four days of events around a U.K.-government-hosted summit on the way forward in Afghanistan.
Photos are circulating showing the Chinese military firing artillery and even tanks from the decks of commercial freighters. “At first glance these pictures appear confusing,” Stephen Miles notes. No kidding. Needless to say, cargo ships don’t make great platforms for tanks, and tanks don’t make great naval artillery. So why bother?
On January 11, a large missile streaked upward from a test site in China. The missile rocketed beyond the atmosphere and struck another similar missile launched from a separate site. Later that day, the official Xinhua news agency announced a ‘test on ground-based midcourse missile interception technology.’
Army cops in Iraq have a new Stryker vehicle variant meant for crowd control. Where most Strykers have just a remote-controlled turret with a gun or grenade launcher, the MP’s new Stryker also has a turret fitted with a Long-Range Acoustic Device — which can broadcast a painful whine to disperse crowds — plus a laser dazzler that temporarily blinds people and a shotgun loaded with rubber bullets.