Archive for October, 2012

Soldier of Fortune Magazine Weekly Article Briefing 19-26 Oct. 2012

October 28, 2012

A murder-suicide bomber in Faryab province killed at least 40 people at a
mosque in Faryab province.

Two Taliban leaders and one Haqqani leader were killed by ISAF forces.

An urgent message from RKB.

SOF is giving away a Grayman Knives Mega Pounder 7.5 with teeth.

Russian troops took out 49 militants in the Caucasus during an anti-terror

Jordanian authorities captured 11 members involved in an al-Qaeda plot.

During a skirmish between Turkish troops and Kurdish rebels, nine people were

Guinea-Bissau accused Portugal of backing an attempted coup.

Troops from the First Armored Division carried out training with some lighter
gear than one would expect from an armored division.

Reserve MPs take the beat in Bagram one day at a time.

Two Taliban leaders were arrested and a Haqqani network leader was killed
during operations in Afghanistan.

A Soldier wounded in an IED attack in Iraq received belated recognition for
his wounds.

ChiCom vessels are lurking around the Senkaku Islands again.

An F-4D crew that was missing in action for 43 years was laid to rest at
Arlington National Cemetery.

The United States is passing on lessons in defeating IEDs that have been
learned on the battlefield.

The United States is reportedly expanding its base in Djibouti to carry out
more anti-terror operations.

MI5 official’s diaries reveal tensions between UK, US spy agencies

October 28, 2012

Guy Liddell
Newly declassified personal diaries belonging to a senior British intelligence official reveal tensions between British and American spy agencies in the years immediately following World War II. The National Archives, an executive agency operating under the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Justice, released the diaries on Friday. They belong to Guy Maynard Liddell, a longtime British intelligence operative who rose to the post of Deputy Director General of MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency. Liddell meticulously kept a diary during most of the 1940s and 1950s, in which he detailed both personal information and details of his work at MI5. Two volumes of his diaries (from 1939 to 1945, edited by Nigel West) have already been published. Now a third installment has been declassified by the National Archives, containing Liddell’s diary entries from the late 1940s and 1950s. The diaries project what some intelligence historians describe as “a certain friction” between postwar British and American intelligence services. Even though the two countries were largely viewed as allies in the immediate postwar period, their respective intelligence agencies did not always see eye to eye. In one instance, Liddell describes his American colleagues as “utterly incapable […] of seeing anybody’s point of view except their own” and accuses them of being “quite ready to cut off their noses to spite their faces”. He also comes across as skeptical of the then-newly established Central Intelligence Agency, which, he writes, “someday” may be able to produce information that would be “worth disseminating, evaluating, or coordinating”. In 1947, shortly after the CIA’s founding, Liddell wrote with a degree of uncertainty that “in the course of time, [the Agency] may produce something of value”. Further on he relayed the opinion of CIA Deputy Director Edwin Kennedy Wright, who apparently told British intelligence officials that in American intelligence organizations “500 people were employed to do what 50 people would do” in the UK. In an earlier part of his diary, Liddell comes across as dismissive of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover, whom he describes as “a cross between a political gangster and a prima donna”. The British intelligence official says Hoover routinely resorted to “unscrupulous acts” and would readily undermine British security goals in order to protect the interests of his fiefdom. The diaries also show that Liddell was a staunch and sincere supporter of MI6 intelligence officer and Soviet double spy Guy Burgess. Liddell dismissed rumors that Burgess could be secretly working for the Kremlin almost unlit the day in 1951 when the MI6 spy actually defected to Moscow. Liddell retired from MI5 in 1953, feeling deeply disillusioned following the defection of Burgess and Donald Maclean, both of whom were members of the Cambridge Five Soviet spy ring.

Intelligence News YOU may have missed…..

October 26, 2012

Jeffrey Paul Delisle
►►CIA officer reportedly among dead in Afghanistan bombing. The attack, which was carried out in a remote area of Kandahar Province, occurred when a guard working for the Afghan intelligence service detonated a suicide vest as a delegation of American coalition members and Afghan intelligence officials arrived at the intelligence office in the Maruf District. The blast killed Ghulam Rasool, the deputy intelligence director for Kandahar Province, two of his bodyguards, another Afghan intelligence official, and some Americans, including the CIA officer. A spokeswoman for the CIA declined to comment.
►►Canadian intel officer was ‘on Russian payroll for years’. Former navy intelligence officer Jeffrey Paul Delisle, who pleaded guilty this month to spying, was leaking secrets to Russia, sending classified data about Canada as well as the United States, according to David Jacobson, the US ambassador in Ottawa. So far, the Canadian government has refrained from revealing the identity of “the foreign entity” to whom Delisle passed the classified information. Ambassador Jacobson refused to specify the nature of the information, saying only that “there was a lot of highly classified material”.
►►Panama wants to adopt euro as legal tender. Panama, one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, wants to adopt the euro as legal tender to run alongside the country’s US dollar economy. Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli made the request to German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a visit to Europe. The president indicated he had every faith that the crisis in the eurozone would soon be at an end, adding that Panama “would be possibly the only country in the world to have two currencies, the euro and the dollar”.

Jordan claims arrest of seven-member Syrian spy cell in Amman

October 25, 2012

Jordan and its surrounding region
Security services in the Kingdom of Jordan announced on Tuesday the detention of seven Syrian nationals who were allegedly caught with sophisticated communications devices in their possession. The announcement was made in a laconic press release issued early yesterday evening by Jordan’s Public Security Directorate (PSD), which is the Kingdom’s counterintelligence agency operating under the Ministry of the Interior. The press release said a Syrian national had been arrested in Jordanian capital Amman following “intelligence tips”. Following his detention, the man allegedly told his interrogators that he was a member of a larger Syrian spy cell active in and around Amman. On Monday, PSD forces conducted simultaneous raids across Amman and the nearby city of irbid (50 miles north of the capital), and arrested another six Syrians. According to the PSD, the detainees were found to be in possession of 35 “advanced communications devices” that are “banned in the Kingdom of Jordan”. Sources tell intelNews that the devices are portable two-way radio transceivers, which appear to be satellite-enabled and to have encryption capabilities. In addition to the transceivers, Jordanian counterintelligence allegedly confiscated three laptop computers and a “night vision device”. Special Police Force spokesman Mohammed Khatib told reporters on Tuesday that the seven Syrians were collaborating with Jordanian authorities, but refused to provide specific information on their identities, condition or whereabouts. The government of Jordan said earlier this month that it currently hosts over 200,000 Syrian refugees on its soil as a result of the ongoing civil war in its neighboring country. Although the country has consciously tried to stay clear of involvement in the deepening Syrian crisis, many Jordanians believe it is only a matter of time before Syria’s destabilization begins to affect Jordanian politics and society. Last weekend, Jordanian police said that several “foreign armed groups” had been apprehended while trying to enter the country illegally. Another unidentified group was allegedly dismantled while planning a series of suicide attacks against shopping centers and foreign diplomatic missions in Amman.

For Your Eyes Only Military News

October 24, 2012

Syria: Iran Prepares For The End

October 23, 2012: The rebels are getting anti-aircraft missiles and as these weapons show up in one area after another the Syrian Air Force must bomb from a higher altitude. This means much less accurate attacks since the government does not have smart bombs. Fewer rebel fighters and more civilians are being hit.
The army still has several bases that are cut off from ground supply and surrounded by rebels. The soldiers under siege are demoralized and many surrender the first chance they get (away from officers who might shoot them). Losing these bases is bad for morale, as is the fact that the army keeps losing everywhere, while getting more and more bad publicity for air force attacks that kill mostly civilians. While most Alawites are still determined to fight to the end no matter what, a growing number are seeking another way out of this mess.

While Sunni Arabs from many nations have come to fight for the rebels, many Shia Arabs are being encountered fighting for the government. These include Hezbollah men from Lebanon and Iraqi Shia from pro-Iranian militias in Iraq. Hezbollah has been firing rockets across the border into rebel held Syrian villages. Rebels claim that thousands of Hezbollah gunmen have moved into Syria to fight for the Assad dictatorship. Meanwhile Iranians are taking over the task of providing bodyguards for senior members of the Assad government. Too many Syrians, including a growing number of Shia, want the Assads gone and the Iranian bodyguards give the Iranians some more leverage on the Assads. But Iran is basically tied to a lost cause.

Turkish artillery continues to fire a few shells into Syria each day, to discourage more Syrian fire into Turkey, including five killed on the 3rd. So far this month over a dozen Turkish civilians have been killed or wounded by this Syrian Army fire. Return fire by Turkish artillery has caused the Syrians to try real hard to not fire in the direction of Turkey (despite the many rebel bases just across the border in Turkey.)

Most Syrian rebel groups have agreed to join a new military coalition that would coordinate their efforts in taking down the Assad government. The main rebel military organization, the FSA (Free Syrian Army) is largely for supplying rebel fighters inside Syria. The FSA is based in Turkey and has less and less control over combat leaders inside Syria. Turkey and Qatar were behind this new deal, and applied lots of pressure to get many different rebels groups to agree. But the deal has not been signed yet, and many not be for another week or two. Meanwhile the FSA is constantly assuring donors that the Islamic radical groups are under control. But everyone agrees that such control is partial, and not complete. The general belief is that, once the rebellion is over, the Islamic terrorists will go back to attacking those that disagree with them (which includes almost everyone in the world.)

October 22, 2012: A Jordanian soldier was killed when his unit encountered a group of armed men trying to cross the border into Syria and a gun battle broke out. The twelve armed men were arrested. This was the first death of a soldier on the border since the Syrian civil war began. It’s increasingly common for Sunni Arabs in Jordan to join the rebels, usually after obtaining weapons in Jordan (which means they can’t cross legally.)

Elsewhere in Jordan police arrested 11 men and charged them with being Islamic terrorists planning to attack targets in Jordan. The arrested men had obtained mortars and assault rifles smuggled in from Syria. This was blamed on the growing number of Islamic terrorist groups operating in Syria, who continue to support worldwide Islamic rule. While these groups work with the rebels, they also plan to take over Syria after the rebel victory and turn Syria into a religious dictatorship. In the meantime, the Islamic terrorists support violence in neighboring countries. A lot of the aid for the rebels, coming from groups in Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Gulf states, is earmarked for Islamic radical groups only. This is causing problems for countries bordering Syria, where Islamic terrorists are not welcome.

October 21, 2012:  A car bomb went off in a Christian neighborhood of the capital, near police headquarters, killing 13 and wounding many more. This was the first bombing directed at Christians, who are five percent of the populations and have generally sided with the Assads.

October 20, 2012: In Lebanon there was gunfire in the capital as a large anti-Syrian demonstration took place, protesting the death of an anti-Syrian security official the day before. Lebanon has long been divided over Syria. The Shia minority (about 40 percent of the population) favored the Assad dictatorship in Syria. Most Lebanese are hostile to Syria, in part because Syria occupied most of the country from 1990 to 2005, as part of the peace deal that ended the 1975-90 civil war. The Syrians used the occupation to aid Hezbollah and operate many criminal enterprises (some of which remained after Syrian troops were forced by Lebanese and Syrian pressure to leave in 2005.)

Another reason for anti-Syrian sentiments is the desire by many Syrians to make Lebanon part of Syria again. Over the last two thousand years, that was often the case. But for most of the last century Lebanon has been independent and most Lebanese want to keep it that way.

October 19, 2012: A bomb went off in a Christian neighborhood in the Lebanese capital, killing a senior security official (and seven others) who was openly anti-Assad. This angered many Lebanese who are still bitter about decades of Syrian interference in Lebanese affairs. Police arrested a former government official (Michel Samaha), long known as pro-Syria and accused him of planning the operation. Police say Michel Samaha admitted he transported explosives from Syria in his own automobile.

October 18, 2012: Warplanes bombed a residential area of Maaret Al Numan (a town near the Turkish border that the rebels captured nine days ago) and killed over 40 civilians. One bomb hit a mosque, where women and children had gone to seek shelter from the air raids. In the capital a suicide bomber detonated his explosives near the Interior Ministry, but he was the only casualty.

October 17, 2012: Syrian airliners have been banned from operating at EU (the 27 member European Union) airports. Syrian airliners can still fly through EU airspace, and can land if there is an emergency. This is yet another effort by the EU to force the Assad government to halt its attacks on Syrian civilians.
Outside the northern town of Maaret Al Numan rebels shot down a Syrian air force helicopter.

ETHIOPIA:  The Kenyan Alliance

October 23, 2012: Ethiopia continues to congratulate itself on the peaceful (so far) transition of power following the death of Meles Zenawi in August. Meles ruled Ethiopia for 21 years. Ethiopia has also had a history of very violent power transitions. The new prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, was Meles picked successor, so he arrived with the mantle of authority. Meles made Hailemariam his second-in-command in 2010, and in retrospect it appears Meles had a power transfer plan in mind. Ethiopia has new national elections in 2015.

October 20, 2012: The African Union peacekeeping operation Somalia (AMISOM) is touting the seizure of the Somali port of Kismayo as a victory but one that does not signal the defeat of the Somali Al Shabaab Islamist militia.

The Kenyan military performed extremely well in the latter phases of the attack on the port and Kenyans are proud of the Kenya Defense Force’s (KDF) achievements. However, diplomats in the Horn of Africa know the real victor in Somalia is Ethiopia. The Kenyans were more acceptable military interveners than the Ethiopians, because so many Somalis regard the Ethiopians as invaders, even if a large of majority of Somalis oppose Al Shabaab. Ethiopia is the geographic nexus of the horn. It borders on Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, and Kenya. It is also the region’s economic powerhouse. Ethiopia’s alliance with Kenya gives it a reliable security partner in the Horn. Trouble with Islamist Sudan (northern Sudan) brought Kenya and Ethiopia together. Tribal disturbances along the Kenya-Ethiopia border forced their governments to work together on bi-lateral security issues. The Somali experience, however, has sealed that alliance. (Austin Bay)

October 18, 2012: Peace negotiations between Ethiopia and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) have broken down again. Kenya was serving as the mediator in the newest round of talks.  The ONLF said that Ethiopia had demanded that the rebel group recognize the authority of the Ethiopian constitution as a pre-condition for talks. The ONLF said that the condition was unacceptable because the talks were supposed to begin without pre-conditions. There is a Kismayo connection to the talks. Many ethnic Ogaden Somalis live in Kismayo and surrounding areas. Kenya had hoped that positive negotiations between the ONLF and Ethiopia would help improve political cooperation among Ogaden clans in southern Somalia.

October 17, 2012: A grenade attack in Coast state wounded ten Kenyan policemen. The policemen were searching a house and had found a weapons cache. Police attributed the grenade attack to the Somali Al Shabaab. Kenyan authorities believe Al Shabaab is responsible for several grenade attacks and shootings in Coast state that have occurred this year.

October 16, 2012:  Somali government and Kenyan military forces said that they are confronting a security vacuum in the city of Kismayo. Somali forces have arrested several dozen suspected Al Shabaab fighters in the port city.
Kenya charged Sheik Mohammed Dor with inciting violence in the country. Dor is a member of parliament and represents a Muslim area. Dor denied the charges. He is also accused of supporting the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC). The MRC is a separatist organization which favors secession for the Coast province.

October 15, 2012: A Kenyan municipal leader was hacked to death in the Coast province town of Kwale.  Police called the man’s murder a revenge slaying for the arrest Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) leader, Omar Mwanbyadzi. A gunfight broke out when police arrested Mwanbyadzi and two people died in the firefight.

October 14, 2012: Kenya held ceremonies commemorating Kenya Defense Forces Day. This is also the first anniversary of Kenya’s intervention in Somalia.

October 12, 2012: Al Shabaab has threatened Kenya with further retribution for its involvement in Somalia. An Al Shabaab spokesman vowed to wage war on Kenyan soil.

October 11, 2012: Ethiopian troops in armored vehicle and trucks are reportedly massed in the Somali border town of Luq. A Somali National Army (SNA) commander reported that the Ethiopian soldiers are preparing for a major offensive on Al Shabaab controlled territory.
October 9, 2012: Kenya claimed that its military forces killed over 3,000 Al Shabaab fighters since it intervened in Somalia in October 2011.  Kenya lost 22 soldiers in Somalia.

Ethiopia released 75 Eritreans captured in March during a cross border raid on a military camp. The prisoners were Eritrean soldiers and Ethiopia held them as prisoners of war.  Seven of the released Eritrean applied for political asylum in Ethiopia.

October 2, 2012: AMISOM units extended their control over the Somali port of Kismayo. Al Shabaab fighters claimed they set off a bomb in the port. They also said they would launch further attacks on AMISOM soldiers.  The Somali government estimated the Al Shabaab still has between 4,000 and 5,000 fighters in southern Somalia.

October 1, 2012:  Kenyan naval vessels shelled Al Shabaab coastal positions in the Kismayo area as sporadic fighting continued in the area.

ATTRITION: Death By Default

October 23, 2012: It’s rare for a navy to lose a ship to lawyers, but it sometimes happens. The most recent such loss occurred in Africa, where an American financial firm (N.M.L. Capital) used a decade old bond default by Argentina to persuade a local judge to seize an Argentinian warship visiting Ghana. The three-masted ship Libertad, with 330 crew and cadets aboard was seized on October 2dn. Argentina insists that international law prohibits the seizure of warships like this, but the Ghana court points out that the Argentinian ship is for training, powered by sail unarmed and that the defaulted bonds allowed such seizures. The American bond holders are demanding $20 million from Argentina if they want their sailing ship back.

N.M.L. Capital has $370 million worth of those bonds it is trying to collect on.
Argentina defaulted on $95 billion in government bonds in 2001, and made deals with most bond holders (in order to rebuild its international credit rating) by paying about 30 percent of the value of the defaulted bonds. Not all bondholders accepted that deal and some went to American courts to sue Argentina for the full amount of about $1.6 billion in bonds. Success in those lawsuits led N.M.L. Capital to seize Argentinean government property wherever it could.

Back in Argentina the head of the navy was fired, as was the head of the national intelligence agency (which is supposed to keep an eye on those who are still trying to collect on those old bonds). Normally the Argentinian Navy does not send its ships outside the Americas, but the government is trying to encourage trade with Africa and the training ship was sent on a rare “good will” tour of African ports.

ARTILLERY: FireFinder Follow-On Fielded

October 23, 2012: The U.S. Army is finally replacing its older AN PQ-36/37 FireFinder artillery spotting radar systems with the new and improved AN/TPQ-53. Troops in Afghanistan continue to call the new version “FireFinder” or “counterfire radar” even though the new TPQ-53 is a visibly new and different looking system, each consisting of two trucks (one for the radar the other for the control center and backup generator.)

Two years ago the U.S. sent the AN/TPQ-53 to Afghanistan for final testing. Earlier this year the army ordered 51 of the AN/TPQ-53 systems. Easier to use and repair, as well as more reliable than its predecessor (the AN/TPQ-36/37), the TPQ-53 can also scan all around (360 degrees), rather than just 90 degrees (as with the older system), and is faster as well. The army wants to buy at least 180 TPQ-53s, for about $9 million each. But so far the army only has money to buy about fifty of them. The older FireFinder is cheaper and still gets the job done. This is why some countries (like Iraqi) want it. Many Iraqis have seen the older FireFinder in action. They know it works.

The older FireFinder (AN/TPQ-36/37) radar had to overcome a bad reputation it acquired when it first came to Iraq. That was often for failing to detect incoming mortar fire. These were problems that were fixed. FireFinder was developed in the 1970s, based on Vietnam experience with enemy mortar and rocket attacks, but didn’t get a real combat workout until after September 11, 2001.

Both the old and new FireFinders are radar systems which, when they spots an incoming shell, calculates where it came from and transmits the location to a nearby artillery unit, which then fires on where the mortar is (or was). This process takes 3-4 minutes (or less, for experienced troops.) FireFinder worked as advertised but got little use until U.S. troops entered Iraq. After that FireFinder was very effective and heavily used. Too heavily used. There were not a lot of spare parts stockpiled for FireFinder and several hundred million dollars-worth had to be quickly ordered. The manufacturer has also introduced new components that are more reliable and easier to maintain.

Some FireFinders failed to catch incoming fire because the enemy was using tactics that fooled the radar. For example, in Iraq, American bases were generally on higher ground than the mortars firing at them. Putting bases on the high ground enables you to watch more of the surrounding terrain. But FireFinder needs a line-of-sight to get a good fix on the firing weapon’s position. If the mortar was too far below the radar, FireFinder could not accurately spot where the fire was coming from.

Another problem was that if the mortar was too close FireFinder was much less likely to quickly determine where the fire was coming from. So the enemy mortar teams got as close as they could before firing. This still made the mortar teams vulnerable to counterattack by coalition troops but not the immediate (in a few minutes) artillery fire that FireFinder can make happen under the right conditions.

At first, the army was going to halt further upgrades on FireFinder, which, after all was developed over thirty years ago, and begin developing the TPQ-53, a new system that can better deal with the kinds of problems encountered in Iraq. But FireFinder had been so useful that new upgrades were pursued anyway, while work continued on the TPQ-53. The upgrades have also been made available to other users of FireFinder (including allies in the Middle East, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey). FireFinders are still doing most of the work out there, and it will be several years before TPQ-53 replaces a significant number of them.


October 23, 2012: India has ordered 200 of the air-launched version of the BrahMos missile from Russia. India is already using ground and ship launched versions. Three years ago, the BrahMos block II cruise missile failed its first operational test as a ground launched weapon. The cause was a defective guidance system, which was fixed.

The Indian Army and navy have so far bought over a thousand BrahMos. The navy is arming most of its large warships with BrahMos and the army is buying 80 launchers in the next ten years. Russia has not yet ordered any BrahMos, although there are plans to obtain it for new surface ships. The recent Indian purchase was for the lighter (2.5 tons) version for use by aircraft. A similar lightweight version is being developed for submarines.

The basic 3.2 ton BrahMos has a range of 300 kilometers and a 300 kg (660 pound) warhead. Perhaps the most striking characteristic is its high speed, literally faster (at up to 1,000 meters/3,100 feet per second) than a rifle bullet. Guidance is GPS or inertial to reach the general area of the target (usually a ship or other small target), then radar that will identify the specific target and hit it. The high speed at impact causes additional damage (because of the weight of the entire missile.)

India and Russia developed the weapon together, and now offer the BrahMos for export. The high price of each missile, about $2-3 million (depending on the version), restricts the number of countries that can afford it. The weapon entered service with the Indian navy in 2005. Different versions of the PJ-10 can be fired from aircraft, ships, ground launchers or submarines. The maximum speed of 3,000 kilometers an hour makes it harder to intercept, and means it takes five minutes or less to reach its target. The air launched version weighs 2.5 tons, the others, three tons or more.

The 9.4 meter (29 foot) long, 670mm diameter missile is an upgraded version of the Russian SS-NX-26 (Yakhont) missile, which was still in development when the Cold War ended in 1991. Lacking money to finish development and begin production, the Russian manufacturer eventually made a deal with India to put up most of the $240 million needed to finally complete two decades of development. The BrahMos is being built in Russia and India, with the Russians assisting India in setting up manufacturing facilities for cruise missile components. Efforts are being made to export up to 2,000, but no one has placed an order yet. Russia and India are encouraged enough to invest in BrahMos 2, which will use a scramjet, instead of a ramjet, in the second stage.

This would double speed, and make the missile much more difficult to defend against.

India indicates it plans to make the missile a major weapon system. The BrahMos can carry a nuclear warhead, but is designed mainly to go after high value targets that require a large warhead and great accuracy. The BrahMos could take out enemy headquarters, or key weapons systems (especially those employing electronic or nuclear weapons.)

WARPLANES: F-22 Rival Revised

October 23, 2012: India is revising the terms of its deal to work with Russia to build a rival for the American F-22/F-35 “5th generation” fighters. India is insisting on building more of the new T-50 (or PAK-FA) in India, and outfit Indian T-50s with Indian or Western electronics and other equipment. As part of this change, India will buy fewer T-50s built in Russia. That order has been cut from 200 to 144. Russia says the T-50 will now enter service in 2019, but India is willing to delay its version an additional year or more in order to modify the “T-50I” to Indian specifications.

Earlier this year it was revealed that the T-50 has been delayed two years. It will now, barring more delays, be ready for mass production in 2019. India was not happy about this. India is picking up half the $6 billion dollar development cost and feels they are not having enough say in how the project proceeds. A two year delay means rising costs and the Russians have not announced any budget changes yet. Moreover, the $6 billion only covers work on the basic aircraft. All the avionics will be extra, and India is unclear of how much extra.

That’s apparently the main reason why India is now going to supply its own electronics, something the Russians are not happy about and are unable to prevent. India has had serious (and expensive) problems with Russian development cost projections before. India originally planned to buy 250 of the new T-50s, for about $100 million each. That number fell to 200 and now 144. An increasing number of Indians now see the T-50 possibly following the same cost trajectory as the F-22.

The T-50 prototype first flew two years ago and India will get its first flyable prototypes in two years. Russians and Indians have been doing a lot of tinkering with the design. While the T-50 is the stealthiest aircraft the Russians have, it is not nearly as stealthy as the F-22, or even the F-35 or B-2. The Russians are apparently going to emphasize maneuverability instead of stealth. India wants more stealth and would prefer a two-seat aircraft. There are also problems perfecting the engines for the T-50 and the defensive electronics.

This puts the T-50 at a big disadvantage against the F-22 or F-35, which try to detect enemy aircraft at long distance, without being spotted, and then fire a radar guided missile (like AMRAAM). These problems are apparently the main reason for the two year delay.

The T-50 is a 34 ton fighter that is more maneuverable than the 33 ton Su-27, has much better electronics, and is stealthy. It can cruise at above the speed of sound. It also costs more than twice as much as the Su-27. Russia is promising a fighter with a life of 6,000 flight hours and engines good for 4,000 hours. Russia promises world-class avionics, plus a very pilot-friendly cockpit. The use of many thrusters and fly-by-wire will produce an aircraft even more maneuverable than earlier Su-30s (which have been extremely agile).

The T-50 is not meant to be a direct rival for the F-22 because the Russian aircraft is not as stealthy. But if the maneuverability and advanced electronics live up to the promises, the aircraft would be more than a match for every fighter out there except the F-22. If such a T-50 was sold for well under $100 million each there would be a lot of buyers. For the moment the T-50 and the Chinese J-20/30 are the only potential competitors for the F-22. Like the F-22 development expenses are increasing, and it looks like the T-50 will cost at least $120 million each (including a share of the development cost) but only if 500 or more are manufactured. Russia hopes to build as many as a thousand.

Only 187 F-22s were built because of the high cost. American developers are now seeking to apply their stealth, and other technologies, to the development of combat UAVs. Thus by the time the T-50 enters service, in 7-10 years, it may already be made obsolete by cheaper, unmanned, stealthy fighters.

The latest American warplanes, the F-22 and F-35, are often called “5th generation” fighters. This leaves many wondering what the other generations were. The first generation of jet fighters was developed during and right after World War II (German Me-262, British Meteor, U.S. F-80, Russian MiG-15.) These aircraft were, even by the standards of the time, difficult to fly and unreliable (especially the engines). The 2nd generation (1950s) included more reliable, but still dangerous to operate, aircraft like the F-104 and MiG-21. The 3rd generation (1960s) included F-4 and MiG-23. The 4th generation (1970s) included F-16 and MiG-29. Each generation has been about twice as expensive (on average, in constant dollars) as the previous one. But each generation is also about twice as safe to fly and cheaper to operate. Naturally, each generation is more than twice as effective as the previous one. The Russians are still working on their 5th generation, although some of the derivatives of their Su-27 are at least generation 4.5. One of the reasons the Soviet Union collapsed was the realization that they could not afford to develop 5th generation warplanes to stay competitive with America. The Russians had a lot of interesting stuff on the drawing board and in development, but the bankruptcy of most of their military aviation industry during the 1990s has left them scrambling to put it back together ever since. At the moment, the Russians are thinking of making a run for the 6th generation warplanes, while will likely be unmanned and largely robotic.

Secrecy News

October 24, 2012


This morning former CIA officer John Kiriakou pleaded guilty to one count of disclosure of information identifying a covert agent, a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

“When KIRIAKOU disclosed the identity of Officer A to Journalist A, KIRIAKOU acted willfully in that defendant knew the disclosure was illegal,” according to a Statement of Facts approved and signed by Mr. Kiriakou today.

Under the terms of a plea agreement, the parties agreed that a prison term of 30 months would be “the appropriate sentence in this case.”  Other charges against him, including several counts under the Espionage Act, would be dismissed.

By foregoing a trial, Mr. Kiriakou loses an opportunity to try and persuade a jury that his motives were benign, and that the harm to national security resulting from his disclosure was negligible and insignificant.  But he gains an early resolution of the case, which could otherwise drag on for months and years, as well as a sentence that would likely be much shorter than if he were to be found guilty at trial.


In the world of security clearances for access to classified information, the term “reciprocity” is used to indicate that one executive branch agency should ordinarily recognize and accept a security clearance that has been granted by another executive branch agency.

This is not just a nice, cost-efficient thing to do, it is actually a requirement of law.  Under the 2004 intelligence reform law, “all security clearance background investigations and determinations… shall be accepted by all agencies.”

This requirement for mutual recognition and acceptance applies equally to the higher order clearances of the intelligence community, where reciprocity is intended to promote employee “mobility” throughout the intelligence system, according to the 2009 Intelligence Community Directive 709.

So possessing a clearance from one agency should simplify the process of access approval at another agency.  But the opposite is not supposed to be true.  If an agency refuses for some reason to recognize the clearance granted by another agency, that refusal is not supposed to incur loss of clearance in the original agency.

Officially, such “negative reciprocity” is not an authorized, legitimate security clearance practice.  And yet there are signs that it is being adopted within the Department of Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA), which rules on contested security clearance cases.

A new paper by attorney Sheldon I. Cohen describes a series of DOHA rulings in which a perverse form of negative reciprocity has been used to justify the denial or revocation of a security clearance, to the obvious detriment of due process.

“While the burden of proof has always been placed on the employee by the DOHA Appeal Board to show why he or she should be granted a security clearance, until now there was a modicum of a right to confrontation, and a right to challenge the evidence presented by the government,” Mr. Cohen wrote.

But in a ruling he describes, “anonymous redacted reports and other agency’s decision are enough to deny or revoke a DoD clearance regardless of contrary evidence.”

In a series of recent decisions, the DOHA Appeal Board “has accepted unsigned, unsworn, summary statements from unidentified persons in government agencies [that are] in direct conflict with live testimony at a hearing to deprive or revoke security clearances of government contractor employees.”

To avoid or limit the fallout of negative reciprocity, Mr. Cohen advises DoD employees and contractors to immediately appeal any adverse clearance decision, “at least to get [their] side of the issues on the record.”  Left unchallenged, it appears that adverse decisions by other agencies will be presumed reliable by DOHA and that any later attempt to rebut them “will most probably be rejected.”

See “Has the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals Become a Star Chamber Court?” by Sheldon I. Cohen, October 19, 2012.

The Department of Defense last week published a three-volume “DoD Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) Administrative Security Manual,” DoD Manual 5105.21, October 19, 2012.


Newly updated reports from the Congressional Research Service which Congress has not made publicly available include the following.

Congressional Oversight, October 17, 2012

Contemporary Developments in Presidential Elections, October 18, 2012

U.S. International Trade: Trends and Forecasts, October 19, 2012

President of the United States: Compensation, October 17, 2012

Peru in Brief: Political and Economic Conditions and Relations with the United States, October 18, 2012

Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy, October 18, 2012

China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities — Background and Issues for Congress, October 17, 2012

Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress, October 18, 2012

France pressing for Western military intervention in Mali, claim sources

October 24, 2012

Mali and the Independent State of Azawad
The government of France is holding secret talks with American and other Western officials to explore options for a concerted military intervention in Mali, according to diplomatic sources. A Tuareg rebellion in the northern part of Mali, which began earlier this year, culminated in the unilateral declaration of the Independent State of Azawad. The new state, which borders Algeria, Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso, is controlled by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (NMLA). The NMLA is partially staffed by former members of the Libyan Army during the rule of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi. But it is also said to incorporate armed members of Ansar Dine, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), all of which claim to have links with al-Qaeda. Many French observers view the Independent State of Azawad as the African version of mid-1990s Afghanistan, which eventually served as the base for Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda. But even though the French government has come out in favor of armed intervention in northern Mali, it has denied persistent rumors that it is contemplating sending French troops in the West African country. Instead, Paris officially favors intervention by the Malian Army backed by African Union troops and using logistical support provided by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). However, in an article published yesterday, The Associated Press claimed that, behind the scenes, the French government is trying to convince the US and other Western countries to participate in a military intervention in Mali. The article cited anonymous French and American diplomats in claiming that senior officials from both countries are secretly meeting in Paris this week to discuss “intelligence gathering and security” in Mali. The diplomats, who spoke to the news agency “on condition of anonymity”, said that participants in the secret meeting included US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson. The article also claimed that Paris intends to transfer several unmanned surveillance drones from Afghanistan to western Africa before the end of the year. The AP reporter contacted a US State Department spokesman, who said he was unaware of any French military or done deployment in Mali, and added that Washington and Paris were closely working with African nations “on a plan to address the crisis”.

Wild Edibles: How to Identify and Eat Field Garlic

October 23, 2012


Disclaimer: Eating certain wild plants can be deadly!!

Be certain to consult a professional (or a really good field guide) in order to positively identify this plant before trying this for yourself. The owners of this site will not be held responsible for any lapses in judgment or stupidity when handling or consuming wild plants.

Field Garlic (Allium vineale) is a plant that I smelled long before I actually identified and used. I remember as a young boy cutting my the grass and smelling the distinct odor of onions (or what I though was onion) and wondering where it came from. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered it was in many cases field garlic (some were actually wild onion as well).

How to Identify Field Garlic

The first step before eating any wild edible is to positively identify it. Since Field Garlic has some poisonous look-a-likes (most notably Star of Bethlehem), it’s very important you learn to positively identify this plant before attempting to consume it.

When you first start successfully identifying this plant you’ll begin to notice how often you mistook it for grass — and then you’ll begin noticing it everywhere. Here are some key features to look for in order to positively identify Field Garlic:

Long, narrow leaves growing in bunches: Since the leaves emerge from layered, underground bulbs, you’ll usually see the leaves in bunches. They average around 1 to 3 feet tall.
Hollow leaves: From a distance it may look like grass but upon close inspection when torn you’ll notice that the leaves are hollow and tube-like similar to chives.
Underground bulbs: When you dig around the base and pull up the plant you’ll see it attached to a bulb (this picture shows multiple plants and bulbs).
Umbrella-like flower clusters: In late spring and summer you can find the purplish flower-heads containing clusters of tiny six-petaled flowers.
Smells “onion-like” when bruised or broken: This is the best way to distinguish the Alliums from its poisonous look-a-likes. If there’s no smell or doesn’t smell like onion IT’S NOT AN ALLIUM!!

Where to Find Field Garlic

You can find Field Garlic on lawns, in backyards, on disturbed soil, and in open woods throughout its range.

Here’s the range map indicating where Field Garlic has officially been found:

How to Eat Field Garlic

There’s really no special preparation for Field Garlic other than cleaning the bulbs/leaves and peeling the papery sheath of the bulb as you would any onion or garlic for that matter:

After cleaning, you can use Field Garlic’s bulbs in any recipe that calls for garlic or onion and the leaves can be chopped like and used in the place of chives.

I like adding both chopped bulbs and leaves to an omelet with chopped bacon — yummm :)

Soldier of Fortune Magazine Weekly Article briefing 13-19, Oct, 2012

October 20, 2012

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced the
identification of two Vietnam War MIAs, an Air Force F-4D crew.

Belal Khan, a Taliban leader in Nangarhar province, was killed by ISAF
forces, while two other Taliban leaders were captured.

SOF is giving away a Grayman Knives Mega Pounder 7.5 with teeth.

The pilot of an AH-64 Apache was awarded the Air Medal for a mission in which
he took out twenty enemy positions.

Qurashi, a Taliban leader in Kunduz province, was confirmed to have been
killed during ISAF operations Saturday.

Robbers went on a homicidal rampage, killing 21 people in northern Nigeria.

A survivor of the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut recounted his

French police arrested 39 people who were part of a heroin smuggling ring.

Army snipers in Afghanistan help their ANA counterparts keep an eye on the

Army EOD troops are blowing up old bombs in Kosovo.

Army pilots looked over one of the possible competitors to replace the

USS Carr seized $26 million worth of cocaine after a P-3 forced smugglers to
dump their cargo.

When his platoon was hit by an IED, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Labadie’s first
thought was for his fellow troops.

Iran and the United Arab Emirates are facing off over islands in the Persian

Fungal Meningitis: Know the Subtle Symptoms

October 17, 2012

ap Meningitis outbreak nt 121005 wblog Fungal Meningitis: Know the Subtle Symptoms

Health officials are urging thousands of back pain patients to be on the lookout for symptoms of fungal meningitis amid an outbreak that has killed at least five people and sickened 42 across seven states.

The outbreak has been linked to spinal steroid injections, a common treatment for back pain. The steroid, called methylprednisolone acetate, was made by the New England Compounding Center, a specialty pharmacy in Framingham, Mass. that has recalled three lots — 17,676 vials — of the drug and shut down operations.

Roughly 75 clinics in 23 states that received the recalled vials have been instructed to notify all affected patients.

See a list of affected clinics

“If patients are concerned, they should contact their physician to find out if they received a medicine from one of these lots,” said Dr. Benjamin Park of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adding that most of the cases occurred in older adults who were healthy aside from back pain.

Meningitis affects the membranous lining of the brain and spinal cord. Early symptoms of fungal meningitis, such as headache, fever, dizziness, nausea and slurred speech, are subtler than those of bacterial meningitis and can take nearly a month to appear. Left untreated, the inflammatory disease can cause permanent neurological damage and death.

“Fungal meningitis in general is rare. But aspergillus meningitis — the kind we’re talking about here — is super rare and very serious,” said Dr. William Schaffner, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. “There’s no such thing as mild aspergillus meningitis.”

The disease is diagnosed with a lumbar puncture, which draws cerebrospinal fluid from the spine that can be inspected for signs of the disease. Once detected, it can be treated with high doses of intravenous antifungal medications, possibly for months.

Twenty-nine of the meningitis cases — three of them lethal — have been in Tennessee, where more than 900 residents received the drug since July. Cases have also been reported in Virginia, Michigan, Indiana, Maryland, Florida and North Carolina.

Robert Barry, 71, received an injection from one of the recalled vials about six weeks ago.

“They told me that if I begin to develop headache, nausea or trouble walking — if I believe that Obama won the debate — I should go to the emergency room,” said Barry, who lives in Berlin, Md.

Unlike bacterial meningitis, fungal meningitis is not transmitted from person to person. Only people who received the steroid injections are thought to be at risk, but only one in 100 of them have developed signs of the disease.

“At the moment the attack rate appears to be 1 percent or less, but of course more cases are sure to develop,” said Schaffner, adding that the level of contamination may have varied from vial to vial. “Some patients also received more than one dose, which would increase their risk.”