Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Carter Nominated as Next U.S. Deputy SecDef

Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter has been nominated by the president to become the next deputy defense secretary, replacing William Lynn, according to the White House.
Ashton Carter currently serves as the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. (Rob Curtis / Staff)
Lynn is expected to step down as the Pentagon's No. 2 civilian this fall after more than two and a half years in the post.
Carter currently serves as the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.
Before taking his Pentagon job in 2009, Carter was chair of the International and Global Affairs faculty at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. From 2006 to 2008, he served as a member of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's International Security Advisory Board, according to the White House announcement.
During the Clinton administration from 1993 to 1996, Carter served as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy.
"During that time, he directed military planning during the 1994 crisis over North Korea's nuclear weapons program and was instrumental in removing all nuclear weapons from the territories of Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus," the White House announcement said.
Carter holds a bachelor's degree from Yale University and a doctorate from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.
Lynn told Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on July 1 of his plans to resign, saying the new secretary would be best served by a deputy who could stay through President Barack Obama's first term. He said he would not be able to make that kind of commitment because he'd like to spend more time with his children.
Obama has yet to announce who will replace Carter as Pentagon acquisition chief, but Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley is rumored to be a frontrunner for the job. Before taking the Navy job, Stackley served as a professional staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Carter's nomination now goes to the Senate for review.

NATO Asks More Troops for Kosovo

PRISTINA, Kosovo - NATO has asked for troop reinforcements for Kosovo, a spokesman said Aug. 2, while denying the demand was linked to the recent unrest in the volatile north.
"We can control the situation [in the north], we have enough troops. It is not because of our inability to control the situation. Our soldiers deployed on the ground will need some relief ... and we need [new troops] to back up the soldiers," as reserves, Kosovo Force (KFOR) spokesman Hans Dieter Wichter told Agence France-Presse.
NATO's KFOR mission currently has more than 5,900 soldiers on the ground and Wichter said they asked for a reinforcement of a battalion, usually around 500 troops.
A NATO official in Brussels confirmed to AFP that it had issued "the activation order for the KFOR operational reserve" of a battalion-size unit of several hundred soldiers.
"The deployment will take place over the course of the coming days," the official said. The source would not say where the additional troops were coming from.
Unrest flared in Kosovo last week when the ethnic Albanian Kosovo government ordered police to seize control of two border crossings in northern Kosovo.
Kosovo officials said this was needed to enforce a ban on imports from Serbia that was not being respected by ethnic Serb members of Kosovo's border police on the border with Serbia. In the resulting clashes one ethnic Albanian police officer was killed.
NATO troops stepped in when a border post in Kosovo was set on fire and bulldozed, apparently by ethnic Serbs.
Angry Kosovo Serbs have been blocking the roads leading to the crossing for several days and vowed to remain at the barricades until a solution was found.
Kosovo banned imports from Serbia in response to the same move by Belgrade in 2008, the date the ethnic Albanian majority unilaterally proclaimed its independence from Serbia.
European Union U envoy Robert Cooper met with Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci in Pristina on Aug. 2, diplomatic sources told AFP. Cooper was sent from Brussels to mediate between the Kosovo and Serbian authorities following the recent unrest.
On Aug. 1, Cooper met Serbia's top negotiator Borko Stefanovic and minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanovic.
Stefanovic said the Aug. 1 with Cooper were "difficult and complicated" adding that the Serbian side "expressed the legitimate demands of [Serb] citizens to restore things back to the situation before the crisis," Beta news agency reported.
"We want to enable free movement of people and get back to dialogue ... but the crisis has to be solved in the way we demanded," Beta quoted Stefanovic as saying while addressing Serbs on a barricade in northern Kosovo.
The disputed border crossings are seen as vital by many Kosovo Serbs as they provide a link with Serbia on which northern Kosovo almost exclusively relies for supplies of food and medicine. Over the weekend the first reports emerged of food shortages in some northern Kosovo towns.

Japan Warns of China's Growing Naval Muscle

TOKYO - Japan voiced concern Tuesday over China's growing assertiveness and widening naval reach in nearby waters and the Pacific and over what it called the "opaqueness" of Beijing's military budget.
In its annual defense report, Tokyo also pointed to threats from North Korea's series of nuclear tests and development of a new midrange ballistic missile, and at a lingering island dispute with Russia.
China has been embroiled in separate spats over islands - with Japan as well as with several Southeast Asian nations including Vietnam and the Philippines - which have flared up again over the past year.
The report, approved by Prime Minister Naoto Kan's cabinet, used a Japanese word that can be translated as "overbearing" or "assertive" for China's stance in the disputes with its neighbors, including Japan.
The report, released by the defense ministry, said that in this context, China's "future direction can be a source of concern".
Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa later told reporters that the intended English translation was "assertive", Jiji Press reported.
"We used the expression, thinking the entire international community probably perceives it that way," he said. "This is one way of expressing our hope that China will address these issues through friendly relations."
The paper also said China's defense spending was not transparent, saying that the defense budget publicly announced by China "is widely seen as only part of what Beijing actually spends for military purposes."
"Opaqueness in its defense policies and military movements are concerns for the region, including Japan, and for the international community, and we need to carefully analyze them," it said.
The paper said China is expected to expand its routine activities in the South China Sea, East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
"Considering the recent modernization of China's maritime and air forces, the areas affected by the capabilities will likely expand beyond its nearby waters," the defense paper said.
Japan's defense outlook has moved away from a perceived Cold War threat of a Soviet invasion, while Japan has boosted ground, air and naval forces on the far-southern Nansei islands near disputed islands in the East China Sea.
The paper for the first time also mentioned "risks to the stable use of the 'global commons' such as maritime, cyber and outer space as an emerging security issue in recent years."
The report also labeled North Korea's atomic bomb tests "a significant threat to Japan's security when the North is boosting capabilities of ballistic missiles that could carry weapons of mass destruction".
Japan also reiterated its claim of sovereignty over various islands that are in dispute with its neighbors China, Russia and South Korea.
A row over islands called Dokdo by Seoul and Takeshima by Tokyo flared again this week when three Japanese conservative opposition lawmakers were denied entry to South Korea as they planned to visit a nearby island.
South Korea's defense ministry launched a protest over the claim in the defense paper and urged Japan "to realize they can never expect progress in bilateral military relations without giving up a claim to Dokdo."

First Boxer MRAVs Sent to Afghanistan

BONN, Germany - The new German-Dutch Boxer multirole armored vehicle (MRAV) has been sent on its first operational deployment. Germany has flown five armored personnel carrier variants to the country's training and protection battalion operating around Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan.
The vehicles have been upgraded to the A1 level, which includes additional mine protection.
The remotely controlled light-weapon station also has been elevated by 30 centimeters to enhance its effective range. The station can be armed with the heavy 12.7mm by 99mm machine gun or the 40 mm grenade machine weapon.
Germany currently plans to deploy more armored personnel carriers and a command vehicle variant of the Boxer to Afghanistan during the first quarter of 2012.
As an armored personnel carrier, the Boxer can be used to transport and support an infantry group and its equipment. The binational project of the German and the Dutch militaries aims to fully or partially replace current vehicles, such as the armored personnel carriers M 113 and Fuchs.
The Boxer, which weighs 33 tons before the additional armor fit, is built by ARTEC, a joint-venture of German defense companies Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall Defence.
Britain was originally a partner in the program but dropped out in 2003 when it decided the vehicle didn't suit the then operational requirements for a rapidly deployable expeditionary platform.
The British have since changed their minds but have been unable to field a suitable vehicle due to indecision and a lack of cash. A Boxer-type vehicle is not expected to be fielded until the next decade.
The all-wheel drive 8 by 8 vehicle is built on a modular design that encompasses driving and mission modules. Besides the armored personnel carriers designed for the infantryman of the future (IdZ) system requirements, Germany wants to field a command vehicle, an ambulance vehicle and a driver-training variant of the Boxer.
In total, the first batch ordered contains 472 vehicles in nine different variants: 272 for Germany in four variants and 200 for the Netherlands in five variants. The Boxer is built on assembly lines in Germany and the Netherlands.
Andrew Chuter in London contributed to this story.

U.S., Iraq to Discuss Fighter Jet Deal: Pentagon

WASHINGTON - An Iraqi delegation will visit the United States this month to discuss the purchase of 18 fighter jets, a Pentagon spokesman said Aug. 1.
"Iraq has requested 36 F-16s, (and) a delegation is coming here this month to discuss moving forward on 18 of the jets," Col. David Lapan told reporters.
He added that the two sides were in "just the initial stage" of the purchase and that if a formal agreement were to be reached it would take time to provide the aircraft and train pilots.
"It's a long process. It could be years," he said.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said July 30 he had revived talks to purchase 36 U.S. F-16 fighter jets, rather than the originally mooted 18, in a multibillion-dollar deal that has been on the works for several months.
U.S. officials in Iraq - where 47,000 U.S. troops are still stationed - have said Baghdad can provide for its own internal security but does not have the necessary arms to police its air space, territorial waters and borders.
U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Aug. 1 that Iraq must make a decision quickly over whether it wants any U.S. troops to remain in the country past the end of this year.
A 2008 military pact requires the withdrawal of all U.S. forces by the end of 2011 but could be amended by mutual consent, and proposals for some U.S. trainers to remain have been gaining traction among Iraqi leaders.
The F-16, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, is one of the most widely used fighter jets in the world and has been exported to over 20 countries.

U.S., Vietnam Start Military Relationship

WASHINGTON - The United States and Vietnam on Aug. 1 opened their first formal military relationship since their war, another sign of growing cooperation amid high tensions between Hanoi and China.
The U.S. and Vietnamese militaries signed an agreement in Hanoi setting up cooperation in health, setting the stage for exchanges and research collaboration in military medicine, a U.S. Navy statement said.
The former war foes have been steadily building ties and last month held a joint naval drill. But Aug. 1's agreement marks the first formal military cooperation since the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1995, the navy said.
Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson Jr., the Navy's surgeon general, said that the agreement was not about politics and that the United States hoped for more collaboration on health issues around the region.
"Medicine and medical research are universal languages that all countries and cultures understand. Diseases affect us all in the same way," Robinson said in the statement.
"By working together in areas such as infectious disease research, we not only help each other, we help the world meet these global health challenges," he said.
Despite memories of war, Vietnam has been eager for broader ties with the United States amid a flare-up in its historically tense relationship with China.
Both Vietnam and the Philippines have accused China in recent months of provocations in the South China Sea, where Beijing has a number of territorial disputes.
The United States has stood behind the Southeast Asian nations, repeatedly urging freedom of navigation. However, the United States described last week's exercises off Vietnam's central coast as non-combat, saying they focused on areas such as navigation and maintenance.
The United States is expanding military cooperation despite concern over Vietnam's human rights record. The United States last week demanded the release of Nguyen Van Ly, a Catholic priest and democracy advocate who was re-arrested despite concerns over his health.
A number of U.S. lawmakers have urged President Barack Obama's administration to make better relations with Vietnam contingent on improvements in human rights.

Norway Withdraws Jets from Libya Ops: Military

OSLO - Norway on Aug. 1 withdrew as planned its final four F-16 fighter jets that have been taking part in the NATO-led mission over Libya, the Norwegian military said.
The Norwegian planes, which landed at their bases in Bodoe in the north of Norway and in Oerland in the central west of the country, carried out 583 missions, out of a total of 6,493 flown by NATO since March 31, and dropped 569 bombs, military spokesman Petter Lindqvist told AFP.
On June 10, the center-left government, split over Norway's prolonged participation in the bombing, announced it would gradually withdraw its six F-16 fighter jets stationed at the Souda base on the Greek island of Crete.
The government explained that its small air force could not sustain a large air contribution for a long period of time.
Only eight of NATO's 28 member states have flown bombing missions since the alliance took command of the operation on March 31: Norway, Britain, France, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Italy and the United States.
London has increased its contribution by adding four Tornado jets, effectively making up for the loss of the Norwegian planes.
NATO officials say Norway's departure will not affect the tempo of air operations, which have averaged more than 100 sorties per day including around 50 missions aimed at hitting targets.
The Scandinavian country, shocked by a bombing and shooting spree committed by a far-right extremist, will continue its involvement in the operation with 10 officers posted at the Libya air command centre based in Italy.
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