Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Air Force Times Daily News Roundup for 16 January

Today's top military news: January 16, 2007

Early Bird Brief

The Early Bird Brief features exclusive summaries of the Current News Early Bird. Published every morning by the Department of Defense.


TOP STORIES


Defense Secretary, In Afghan Capital, Scolds Iran
(New York Times, January 16, 2007)
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said that Iran was "acting in a very negative way" in the Middle East and that the United States was building up its forces to demonstrate its resolve to remain in the Persian Gulf. Speaking to reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels before flying to Afghanistan, Gates said, "We are simply trying to communicate to the region that we are going to be there for a long time." Delivering that message to Iran—and to allies in the region worried that Washington is consumed with stabilizing Iraq — is one of Gates' priorities on a trip to the region this week that will take him later to the Persian Gulf.


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Iraq Edges Closer To Iran, With Or Without The U.S.
(Los Angeles Times, January 16, 2007, Pg. 1)
The Iraqi government is moving to solidify relations with Iran, even as the United States turns up the rhetorical heat and bolsters its military forces to confront Tehran's influence in Iraq. Iraq's foreign minister, responding to a U.S. raid on an Iranian office in northern Iraq last week, said that the government intended to transform similar Iranian agencies into consulates and negotiate more border entry points with Tehran. The U.S. military is still holding five Iranians detained in the raid on grounds that at least some of them worked for Iran's intelligence service.


More Troops In Iraq, But Success Will 'Take Time'
First Of Extra 21,500 Vowed By Bush Arrive

(USA Today, January 16, 2007, Pg. 9)
The new security plan for Iraq will need time to take hold and may not yield significant results for several months, the outgoing U.S. commander there cautioned. Gen. George Casey told reporters that some of the 21,500 additional U.S. troops President Bush promised for Iraq last week have already begun arriving.

Second Hanging Also Went Awry, Iraq Tape Shows
(New York Times, January 16, 2007, Pg. 1)
Iraq's turbulent effort to reckon with the violence of its past took another macabre turn when the execution of Saddam Hussein's half brother ended with the hangman's noose decapitating him after he dropped through the gallows trapdoor. The calculations of weight, gravity and the momentum — a grim science that has produced detailed "drop charts" used for decades in hangings around the world—appeared to have gone seriously awry in the case of Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, former head of Hussein’s secret police.

Some At Guantanamo Mark 5 Years In Limbo
Big Questions About Low-Profile Inmates

(Washington Post, January 16, 2007, Pg. 1)
Shackled at the wrists and blinded by special goggles, the first captives from the U.S. war in Afghanistan were ushered to makeshift prison cells thousands of miles from the battle, at the U.S. naval station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, five years ago last week. In the administration's effort to obtain raw intelligence in early 2002, officials said, it was easier to ship hundreds of men with unclear allegiances to a naval base in Cuba and ask the hard questions later. But with a government focused on interrogations, a bureaucracy lacking tolerance for risk and a detention policy under legal attack, the United States has found it difficult to free many of the detainees, regardless of the information it has on the threat they pose.

Pakistan Will Close Four Camps To Foil Afghan Terror
(Washington Times, January 16, 2007, Pg. 1)
Pakistan's government will close four refugee camps near its border with Afghanistan to help prevent Afghan insurgents from gunrunning and seeking safe haven in the country, Islamabad's ambassador to the United States said. Mahmud Ali Durrani said the residents of two of the camps will soon be sent back to Afghanistan as part of a new program to better control the 1,550-mile shared border.


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GATES TRIP


U.S. Courts Allies' Support On Iran
(Wall Street Journal, January 16, 2007, Pg. 3)
In hitting the road to sell the new U.S. strategy for Iraq and other aims, two of President Bush's top aides are hammering the same message: that the cost of U.S. failure would be a stronger and increasingly aggressive Iran. The threat of Iran's rise has become for the U.S. a sort of diplomatic glue, which the globetrotting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are now using to patch together an alliance aimed at helping heal not only Iraq, but also Lebanon and the Palestinian conflict.

Gates Sees Iran As 'Negative'
Urges Iran To Change Its Ways In Iraq, Region

(Washington Times, January 16, 2007, Pg. 11)
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said that Iran is "doing nothing to be constructive" in Iraq, insisting it was up to Tehran to change its policies in Iraq and across the region before it can hope for better ties with the United States. But the defense secretary also said recent moves by President Bush to bulk up U.S. forces and military assets in the Persian Gulf should not be considered a prelude to possible action against Iran.

Gates: Iran Sees Leverage Over U.S.
(Miami Herald, January 16, 2007)
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said that new U.S. military moves in the Persian Gulf were prompted, in part, by signals from Iran that it sees the United States as vulnerable in Iraq. Gates indicated that Iran's perception of U.S. vulnerability was part of the reason the Pentagon decided last week to send a second aircraft carrier battle group and a Patriot antimissile battalion to the Gulf area.


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IRAQ


U.S. Officials Call Baghdad Plan Workable
(Los Angeles Times, January 16, 2007)
U.S. officials in Baghdad said that the latest plan to calm the violent capital, where dozens more were killed or found dead in political violence during the day, will succeed because Iraqi politicians will come through this time. Despite widespread doubts about the efficacy and loyalties of Iraq's Shiite-dominated government and armed forces, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. said at a news briefing that American officials had put Iraqis at the helm of security operations. "We will support them, but the Iraqis will be in the lead," Khalilzad said.

Top U.S. General In Iraq Says New Plan To Pacify Baghdad May Take Months To Show Results
(New York Times, January 16, 2007)
With the first wave of additional soldiers already arriving to bolster a new campaign to secure beleaguered Baghdad, the top American military commander in Iraq warned that it could take months before there were any real signs of progress. "As with any plan, there are no guarantees of success, and it's not going to happen overnight," said the commander, Gen. George W. Casey Jr. "But with sustained political support and the concentrated efforts on all sides, I believe that this plan can work."

Poll: Bush's New Iraq Strategy Fails To Rally Public Support
(USA Today, January 16, 2007, Pg. 5)
President Bush's address to the nation last week failed to move public opinion in support of his plan to increase U.S. troop levels in Iraq and left Americans more pessimistic about the likely outcome of the war. In a USA Today/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday, more than six of 10 persons backed the idea of a non-binding congressional resolution expressing opposition to Bush's plan to commit an additional 21,500 U.S. troops to Iraq. However, those surveyed were split, 47 to 50 percent, over whether Congress should deny funding for the additional troops.

Use Of Kurdish Troops In Baghdad Debated
Plan Is Part of Bush's New Strategy

(Washington Post, January 16, 2007, Pg. 15)
The Kurdish makeup of two of the three Iraqi army brigades due to be sent to Baghdad under President Bush's new strategic plan is drawing concern from Iraqi and U.S. experts. Questions have been raised about whether the Kurds would fight Sunni insurgents in Baghdad at a time when some Sunni clerics and organizations have spoken out against aiding U.S. troops and the Iraqi government. But there is also concern that the soldiers would be heavy-handed if sent into heavily Shiite areas. Recognized as being among the better-trained fighters in Iraq, the two brigades were formed out of Kurdistan's Pesh Merga militia.

U.S. Military May Join Iraq Against Militia Leaders
Bush Authorization Could Spark Deadly Confrontations

(Boston Globe, January 14, 2007, Pg. 1)
U.S. military officials say the Bush administration has given them new authority to target leaders of political and religious militias in Iraq who are implicated in sectarian violence, including the powerful Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Such a showdown, key to Bush's plan to increase the number of U.S. troops in Baghdad, could spark a deadly confrontation with Shiite militias, which enjoy widespread popularity in Shiite neighborhoods. It could also erode support for the fragile government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has agreed to the plan.

Iraqi Translator Praises Special Visa
(Philadelphia Inquirer, January 16, 2007)
A former Iraqi translator for the U.S. military says his life was saved when he was granted a special visa to live in the United States, a status made available to only 50 Afghan and Iraqi nationals annually who served in the same capacity. The 27-year-old Sunni Arab, set to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, says he was threatened by enraged fellow students at his college, survived a car bombing, and learned that his name was listed on the doors of mosques calling for his death. The former translator, who will not use his real name, and a second witness who held a similar job are to testify behind screens to protect their identities.


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CONGRESS


How U.S. Is Deferring War Costs
(Christian Science Monitor, January 16, 2007, Pg. 1)
To pay for World War II, Americans bought savings bonds and put extra notches in their belts. President Harry Truman raised taxes and cut nonmilitary spending to pay for the Korean conflict. During Vietnam, Washington raised taxes but still watched deficits soar. But to pay for the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush administration has used its credit card, counting on the Chinese and other foreign buyers of its debt to pay the bills. Now, as President Bush is promising to boost the number of troops in Iraq, there is increased scrutiny over how the country is going to pay for it all.


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DEFENSE DEPARTMENT


Mettle Merits Medals
Services Weigh Standards In Awarding Decorations

(Washington Times, January 14, 2007, Pg. 1)
A Pentagon task force is assessing the standards for awarding military medals to ensure there is as much uniformity as possible between the four service branches in awarding commendations. Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy, says one thing is already clear. Except in one case, he has not seen any evidence of "medal inflation"—commanders handing out Bronze Stars or campaign medals under questionable circumstances. "The objective is to reduce the differences, such that the presence of a medal on a chest means the same thing, or as close as we can get to it," he said. "I think the troops probably care less about the qualifying circumstances as they do about the consistency."


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AFGHANISTAN


British Soldier Dies In NATO Strike
(Los Angeles Times, January 16, 2007)
A British soldier was killed and several were wounded when NATO troops attacked a militant base in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province, officials said. NATO said its troops were "engaged from several insurgent positions."


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PAKISTAN


Pakistan Kills Rebels Near Afghan Border
(Los Angeles Times, January 16, 2007)
The Pakistani army launched an airstrike on a militant camp in a tribal area bordering Afghanistan, killing most of the 25 to 30 militants present, a military spokesman said. The region, South Waziristan, has long been a hotbed of support for the Taliban and the al-Qaida terrorist network, despite an army campaign begun in late 2003 to clear them out.


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AFRICA


‘Black Hawk' General In Covert Ops With Warlord's Son
(New York Post, January 15, 2007)
A controversial U.S. general and a Somalian warlord whose father was responsible for the infamous "Black Hawk Down" violence in 1993 are now allies in the war against al-Qaida-connected fanatics in East Africa. In an extraordinary set of circumstances, Lt. Gen. William Boykin, deputy undersecretary of defense, and warlord Hussein Farah Aidid, were intimately involved in covert operations on the Horn of Africa that resulted in the rout of Islamic fanatics from Somalia earlier this month.


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IRAN


U.S. Beefs Up Force To Calm Gulf Fears
Iran's Threats Alarm Arab States

(Washington Times, January 16, 2007, Pg. 6)
The Pentagon has began building up its military presence in the Persian Gulf, including bringing in defensive Patriot missiles, after friendly Arab states privately expressed alarm over Iran's increasingly bellicose pronouncements. Some in the Bush administration began to fear that unless Washington reassured the Gulf states, it would lose their support at a critical juncture in the Iraq war. Without the support of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other predominately Sunni Muslim countries, achieving reconciliation in Iraq would be much more difficult, defense sources say.

Iranian Nuclear Program Said To Have Ground To Halt
(Philadelphia Inquirer, January 16, 2007)
Iran said it was installing 3,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium at one of its nuclear facilities, effectively confirming that its nuclear program was running behind schedule, as the devices were to have been in place two weeks ago. Diplomats in Vienna, where the International Atomic Energy Agency is based, said that the enrichment program had ground to a halt.


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INTELLIGENCE


Interrogation Research Is Lacking, Report Says
Few Studies Have Examined U.S. Methods

(Washington Post, January 16, 2007, Pg. 15)
There is almost no scientific evidence to back up the U.S. intelligence community's use of controversial interrogation techniques in the fight against terrorism, and experts believe some painful and coercive approaches could hinder the ability to get good information, according to a new report from an intelligence advisory group. The Intelligence Science Board examined several aspects of broad interrogation methods and approaches and found that no significant scientific research has been conducted in more than four decades about the effectiveness of many techniques the U.S. military and intelligence groups use regularly. Intelligence experts wrote that a lack of research could explain why abuse has been alleged at U.S. facilities in Afghanistan, Cuba and Iraq.

The Legal Tangles Of Data Collection
(Washington Post, January 16, 2007, Pg. 9)
When it comes to data collection, federal laws often have been outpaced by technology, critics say. And sometimes, the executive branch carves out its own exception. U.S. law requires that law enforcement officials obtain a warrant to tap someone's phone or intercept e-mail, for example. But President Bush, drawing on decades-old precedent, asserts that he has "inherent authority" to authorize agents to intercept electronic communications without a warrant in the interest of national security. That is the rationale underpinning the National Security Agency's warrantless-wiretapping program. But the new Democratic-run Congress has vowed to renew scrutiny of this program and others that involve collection and analysis of Americans' personal data.

CIA Emphasizes Flexibility In New Strategy
Director Wants More Openness Between Spies, Data Analysts

(USA Today, January 16, 2007, Pg. 5)
The CIA plans to increase its use of "open sources" such as newspapers and blogs and to outsource more software development to commercial contractors under a 22-point strategy being put in place. The CIA's "Strategic Intent," distributed to agency employees in December and posted on its public website this month, stresses improved flexibility and fewer barriers between departments. It contains several corporate-style flourishes, including ongoing employee input, an advisory board drawn from business and academia and "action teams" assigned to implement the plan.

Judge Allows Lawsuit By Fired CIA Agent
(Washington Post, January 16, 2007, Pg. 5)
A fired CIA employee, who collected prewar intelligence that Iraq was not developing weapons of mass destruction, may continue with a lawsuit challenging his dismissal, a federal judge in Washington ruled. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler decided on technical grounds that the lawsuit could not be dismissed. She did not rule on the contention by the plaintiff, identified only as "Doe," that he was fired because he refused to alter intelligence that contradicted Bush administration policies.


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BUSINESS


Assembly Line Tactic For New Jet
(Los Angeles Times, January 16, 2007)
Not since the days of Rosie the Riveter have the nation's military aircraft been built on an assembly line. For almost as long as anyone can remember, fighters and bombers have been built like houses: one by one, each taking weeks, if not months, to come together. But if all goes well, the newest jet in the nation's arsenal will be assembled more like a car: on a moving line in a process that the Pentagon hopes will dramatically cut costs and speed production. "We're going to build one a day, which the industry hasn't seen in a while," said Randy Secor, deputy program manager for the F-35 Lightning II at Northrop Grumman, which will assemble the center fuselage in Palmdale, Calif. The assembly will be shipped to Lockheed-Martin's Fort Worth plant to be mated with other sections of the aircraft. The Texas plant also will have a moving assembly line.


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WAR PROTESTS/RALLIES


Why They Fight — From Within
Two Navy Men Create An Outlet For Military Protests On the Web

(Washington Post, January 16, 2007, Pg. C1)
For Jonathan Hutto and David Rogers, life has become something of a surreality show. The two Navy men, comrades in arms, are waging a war against a war. Working from within, Hutto, Rogers and others have established AppealforRedress.org, a Web site that enables active-duty, reserve and National Guard troops to appeal directly to Congress to withdraw military personnel from Iraq.


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OPINION


What Congress Can (And Can't) Do On Iraq
David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey

(Washington Post, January 16, 2007, Pg. 19)
Two former Justice Department lawyers who served in Republican administrations, commending on congressional moves to cut off funding for the Iraq war, write that the Supreme Court has long ruled that Congress cannot attach unconstitutional conditions to otherwise proper legislation, including spending bills. Congress could—if the leadership mustered veto-proof majorities—immediately cut off funding for U.S. operations in Iraq or refuse to pass new appropriations once the current ones expire. But under our constitutional system, the power to cut off funding does not imply the authority to effect lesser restrictions, such as establishing benchmarks or other conditions on the president's direction of the war. Congress cannot, in other words, act as the president's puppet master, and so long as currently authorized and appropriated funding lasts, the president can dispatch additional troops to Iraq with or without Congress's blessing.

Our Tunnel Vision
Richard Cohen

(Washington Post, January 16, 2007, Pg. 19)
When politicians and commentators detail all that the Bush administration did wrong, I wonder whether any of it really matters. Would things have turned out differently if we had done everything right? Was Iraq so "broken" we never could have fixed it? Was Hussein's despotism an avoidable tragedy, or was it, instead, a tragic necessity? I tend to think now we never could have made it work. As there was in Vietnam, there is a piece of Iraq — its culture, it religions, its history — that we do not understand. This war has lasted longer than we expected not just because we were inept or understaffed or fired the Baathists or discharged the army — but because we don't understand the country.

Surge Of Indicators
Lawrence Kudlow

(Washington Times, January 16, 2007, Pg. 14)
While pundits and politicians say the new Bush plan won't work, market investors are voting with their money for a much more positive verdict. And after surveying the details of the new Iraq strategy, I'm casting my lot with the investors. The U.S. military buildup not only will provide better security for Iraq's democratically elected government, but also enhanced security for the entire region. Political opposition by Democrats and Republicans to Bush's new strategy may be hardening, but financial markets point to a much more positive scenario.

Ending An Opium War
Poppies And Afghan Recovery Can Both Bloom
Anne Applebaum

(Washington Post, January 16, 2007, Pg. 19)
NATO is fighting a war to eradicate opium from Afghanistan, but policymakers might look to Turkey's approach to the problem as a model. In the 1970s—the era of "Midnight Express"—the drug trade threatened Turkey's political and economic stability. Just like in Afghanistan, a ban was tried, and it failed. As a result, in 1974 the Turks, with American and U.N. support, tried a different tactic. They began licensing poppy cultivation for the purpose of producing morphine, codeine and other legal opiates. Legal factories were built to replace the illegal ones. Farmers registered to grow poppies, and they paid taxes. The U.S. government still supports the Turkish program, even requiring U.S. drug companies to purchase 80 percent of what the legal documents euphemistically refer to as "narcotic raw materials" from the two traditional producers, Turkey and India. Why not add Afghanistan to this list?

Gitmo's Good Work
Gordon Cucullu

(New York Post, January 16, 2007)
A retired Army officer and author of "Separated at Birth: How North Korea Became the Evil Twin" writes that the Guantanamo Bay prison keeps behind bars bad guys who would inflict terrible pain on America and our friends. "From these same men, it gets vital information that has had and continues to have a major positive effect on prosecution of the war—information that has broken up operative cells in America and Europe, stifled recruiting, intercepted money trails and set the terrorists back on their heels. If that is the sum of five years' work, then well done, Guantanamo, well done indeed."

Halt The Pentagon's Intelligence Takeover
Melvin A. Goodman

(Baltimore Sun, January 16, 2007)
A former CIA analyst writes that the expected confirmation of retired Navy Adm. Mike McConnell as director of national intelligence will complete the Pentagon's takeover of U.S. intelligence and end any pretense of civilian influence, let alone control, of that community. The absence of an independent civilian counter to the power of military intelligence threatens civilian control of the decision to use military power and makes it more likely that intelligence will be tailored to suit the purposes of the Pentagon.

The Future Of Iraq
Bill O'Reilly

(Washington Times, January 16, 2007, Pg. 15)
It is my contention that no matter what happens in Iraq in the future, the world press will spin it negative as long as President Bush is in the White House. Quite simply, most of the media believe the Iraq conflict is a disaster, and even if things were to improve there, the media now have a vested interest in America's failure.

Mr. Stimson And The American Way
Charles Fried

(Wall Street Journal, January 16, 2007, Pg. 21)
A Harvard Law School teacher writes that Defense Department official Charles Stimson showed ignorance and malice in deploring the pro bono representation of Guantanamo detainees by lawyers in some of the nation's leading law firms, and in calling on their corporate clients to punish them for this work. On the contrary, they are acting in the best traditions of the profession. It is the pride of a nation built on the rule of law that it affords to every man a zealous advocate to defend his rights in court

'Spherical Situation Awareness' Will Be Key To Global Security
Michael W. Wynne

(Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 16, 2007, Pg. 444)
The Air Force secretary writes that the traditional battle domains of ground, air and cyberspace are becoming interconnected. "We used to talk about 360-deg. awareness. Today, we have evolved to 'spherical situation awareness.' This calls for a new habit of thought and joint and coalition operational capabilities—a comprehensive view, at once vertical and horizontal, real-time and predictive, penetrating and defended in the cyber-realm."

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