Special Forces Needs Race Cars–Enter NASCAR

[Admiral McRaven is intent on turning the Special Forces into a bunch of superheroes, equipped with the latest Mission Impossible gadgetry, to supplement their UAV networks and A-Team plans to create a bunch of roving bands of warrior-priests or knights-paladin, a force of do-gooders sent forth to right the wrongs of the world.  This deal with NASCAR will equip them with souped-up hot rods and fire retardant clothing for their superhero outfits, as well as the mechanical training sometimes needed to service their fleet of comic book supercars.  Eventually, this “new Army” mentality is supposed to infect the entire Army, so that they will all consider themselves to be hyper-patriotic American avengers.]

NASCAR, U.S. Army Special Ops announce strategic partnership

By Kenny Bruce

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR and the military have always enjoyed a close relationship, but it will be closer than ever with a collaborative effort that was announced Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.

N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue, Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland and NASCAR President Mike Helton made the announcement of a strategic alliance between the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and NASCAR.

The alliance, while broad-based, will target specific needs of the military such as engine performance, fuel and power supplies, vehicle blast modeling, simulation, seat design, aerodynamics and suspension for its vehicles, as well as flame resistant clothing and driver training.

“What we have learned in our community, and I see it in this industry is, is you put a bunch of smart guys together in the same room, they’re gong to come up with solutions and techniques to achieve those solutions that we never would have thought of,” Lt. Gen Mulholland said.

“Literally, this is our first step. What we realized is we need to make this collaboration happen. The next step is to figure out what the processes are. … We’ve already had some of that.”

Gov. Perdue called the Memorandum of Agreement – made possible by the N.C. Department of Commerce, the N.C. Military Foundation, the N.C. Motorsports Advisory Council and USASOC Mobility – a “historic partnership” that “will have worldwide implications.

“It improves safety and performance of military vehicles for our troops and creates jobs and investment opportunities in North Carolina,” she said.

Lance DeSpain, executive director of the N.C. Military Foundation, said today’s soldiers face specific challenges in the field that require “new and innovative solutions.”

Working with the motorsports community, he said, would not only provide new ideas, but would likely cut down the amount of time those ideas can become a reality.

“Our motorsports community are the best in the world at solving similar challenges and they do it every day,” he said. “And they do it quickly. Today, when our special operators ask for vehicle modifications, the new product or technology response time can take as long as six years. In the racing world, we’ve come to learn six days is often the amount of time you get to get to the finish line.”

Karzai Met With Taliban Supporter Cleric On Saturday, After Friday’s Rebuff from Pakistani Govt.

[Karzai is attempting an end-run around the Pak. Govt., as he tries to set-up Taliban meet, after Zardari said they couldn’t help with the connection.  Karzai may or may not be doing America’s will in this matter–time will tell.]


ISLAMABAD, (AP) —

A Pakistani cleric with ties to Afghanistan’s Taliban says he has met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who asked for his help in getting the insurgents to the negotiating table.

Maulana Samiul Haq said he told Karzai Saturday in Pakistan that he would help so long as it was clear what was wanted from the Taliban.

Haq runs a large seminary where many of the insurgent leaders once studied and reportedly still provides recruits for the Taliban fighting in Afghanistan.

Karzai’s meeting suggests he is pressing ahead with moves to contact the Taliban inside Pakistan.

On Friday, he asked Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders for help, but the meeting did not apparently make much progress.

Even If Pakistan Really Can’t Produce Mullah Omar, It Can Produce Mullah Baradar

Afghanistan, Pakistan poles apart following trilateral summit over Karzai’s Taliban demand fiasco

Islamabad, Sat, 18 Feb 2012ANI

Islamabad, Feb 18 (ANI): Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s blunt demand to Pakistan for bringing Taliban leaders to the negotiating table has shocked the political and military leadership in Islamabad, keeping both countries poles apart in terms of reconciliation with the Taliban even after two days of high-level talks.

 

“Deliver Mullah Omar? If that is the expectation, then there’s no reality check then. Then they’re not only unrealistic, but preposterous,” these were the words of Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar over Karzai’s demands.

 

Khar’s words on Friday summed up how a trip hailed by Karzai as the most important in the past decade concluded without any solution, The Express Tribune reports.

 

Pakistan was quick to play down the hype of its role, saying that, even though it is in favour of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process, it has never spelt out its strategy.

 

A wide range of issues including counter-terrorism and other regional matters were discussed between President Asif Ali Zardari, President Hamid Karzai and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the trilateral summit.

 

Zardari brushed aside allegations that Pakistan’s security establishment was supporting the Taliban in attacks against coalition forces stationed in Afghanistan.

 

“I deny this notion that any of our armed forces are directly or indirectly involved,” Zardari added. (ANI)

Taliban Responsible for Martyring 36 Shia in Parachinar, Pakistan

Taliban Responsible for Martyring 36 Shia in Parachinar, Pakistan – Updated

 

The toll in the Parachinar blast occurred on Friday increased to thirty-six when six critically injured victims succumbed to their injuries on Saturday, Geo News reported.

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – The toll in the Parachinar blast occurred on Friday increased to thirty-six when six critically injured victims succumbed to their injuries on Saturday, Geo News reported.

According to sources, two injured persons martyred today in Lady Reading Hospital while four others in different hospitals that pushed the toll to 36.

The funeral of the victims who martyred on Friday in a suicide attack here will be offered today in their ancestral areas, Geo News reported. Business hubs and markets of the area were closed in mourning.

Thirty people were martyred and around 54 others injured in a suicide attack and subsequent firing by security forces on those who protested the incident at a busy market outside a mosque in Parachinar city, the headquarters of Kurram Agency on Friday.

Wahhabi Militant commander Fazal Saeed Haqqani, who had recently quit the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) led by Hakimullah Mahsud and formed his own faction, the TTP Islahi, claimed responsibility for the Parachinar attack.

————-

A Wahhabi suicide bomber targeted the Shia traders’ dominated market in the Parachinar area of Kurram Agency on Friday martyred at least 28 Shia Muslims and wounding more than 47 others in the bloody suicide blast in the Kurram Agency headquarter Parachinar.

According to reports from Kurram Agency, The bomb exploded at Main Market of Parachinar has badly damaged the shops in the market as a result of the blast targeted the Shia Muslims of the tribal area.

“It was a suicide attack. Many killed and injured,” a senior Pakistani security official confirmed.

The Shia elders of the kurram agency claimed that the suicide bomber was coming from the Farooqia Mosuqe (Masjid-e-Zarar) a bastion of Wahabi Taliban terrorists situated at main market targeted the Shia Muslims of Parachinar claims 8 lives.

The Shia dominated Parachinar is the main town in Kurram Agency, part of Pakistan’s tribal belt on the northwestern border with Afghanistan that was suffering the bloody sectarian violence from the Saudi-backed Taliban and Wahbais against the Shia Muslims from last three decades.

Security forces cordoned off the area after the blast. Rescue teams reached at the scene soon after the blast and shifted bodies and injured people to hospital. Emergency has been imposed in district headquarter hospital.

Threats to US: Pentagon officials drop three surprises

Threats to US: Pentagon officials drop three surprises

As the Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and America’s top military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey fielded budget questions on Capitol Hill Thursday, the Pentagon’s key intelligence officials were warning of ‘current and future worldwide threats’ to US national security in another less-attended hearing. Here are three top surprises that they acknowledged to lawmakers.

– Anna Mulrine, Staff writer


From left, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director David Petraeus, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess take their seats on Capitol Hill in Washingtonlast month prior to testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP/File)

1. ‘Radical’ elements in US forces

Senior US military and intelligence officials are warning of their growing concern that rogue “radical” elements are operating – or preparing to operate – “within the ranks” of the intelligence community and armed forces.

“The potential for trusted US government and contractor insiders using their authorized access to personnel, facilities, information, equipment, networks or information systems in order to cause great harm is becoming an increasingly serious threat to our national security,” said Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Trusted insiders now have unprecedented access to US government information and resources in secure work environments,” he added.

He warned of those who have become “self-radicalized,” as well as “lone wolves,” particularly “within our ranks.”

As a result, the DIA and other Pentagon offices are developing an “insider threat” document, designed to identify perils from within. Burgess pointed to the “recent massive WikiLeaksdisclosure,” which, he charged, “compromises our national security and also endangers lives.”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper listens to a question while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington last month. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP/File)

2. Doubts about Iran’s nuclear ambitions

Despite the hype surrounding Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology, the country’s leaders are “not likely” to develop weapons unless attacked, the panel said.

The same goes for plans to close the vital Strait of Hormuz waterway, according to General Burgess. Though Iran can close the strait (“at least temporarily”), launch missiles, and even tap terrorist surrogates worldwide “if attacked,” military-intelligence officials assess that it is “unlikely to initiate or unintentionally provoke a conflict.”

What’s more, senior intelligence officials expressed some doubt that Iranian officials are actively interested in developing a nuclear weapon.

Said James Clapper, director of national intelligence (DNI): “There are certain things that they have not yet done and have not done for some time.”

On this point, the panel was robustly challenged by some lawmakers. “I’m very convinced that they’re going down the road to developing a nuclear weapon,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina.

Still, the Pentagon officials stuck to their analysis. Though Iran has enough highly enriched uranium to build a weapon “if political leaders chose to do so,” Burgess explained, he said that the prospect of stepped-up sanctions is frightening to Iranian officials. “I don’t think they want a nuclear weapon at any price.”

Intelligence officials have raised questions about the the ability of the Afghan National Army, shown here at a weapons exhibition in Kabul, to operate independent of NATO. (Omar Sobhani/REUTERS/File)

3. Too pessimistic about Afghanistan?

US intelligence officials openly acknowledge that they upset some US military officials with overly “pessimistic” assessments of the war.

Mr. Clapper told lawmakers that some senior military officials “took issue” with the DNI’s national intelligence estimate, which they “generally felt” was not positive enough. The commanders felt “generally it was pessimistic about the situation in Afghanistan … and the prospects for 2014,” when most US forces are slated to leave the country.

For example, the assessment pointed to “persistent qualitative challenges” within the Afghan security forces that “continue to impede their development into an independent, self-sustaining security apparatus.” What’s more, it pointed out that the Afghan National Army’s reliance on NATO“for many critical combat enabling functions underscores its inability to operate independently.”

In what might be considered a hallmark of faint praise, the intelligence assessment pointed out that, “nevertheless, Afghanistan’s population generally favors the Army over the police” – a force seen by many Afghans as corrupt.

In defending his seemingly dour assessments, Clapper shared with lawmakers his recollections of being an intelligence analyst in 1966 for Gen. William Westmoreland, commander of US forces inVietnam war. The experience, he said, caused him to lose his “operational innocence.”

He also recalled serving as chief of intelligence during Operation Desert Storm. Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf “protested long and loud” about the accuracy of intelligence that “didn’t comport with his view.”

Intelligence officials tend to wrestle with “glass half empty” scenarios, Clapper said. “I don’t find it a bad thing.”

Russia Offers To Finance and Build Iran-Pakistan “Peace Pipeline”

Pak-Iran gas pipeline: Russia wants contract without bidding

Also offers to finance the cost of pipeline construction.

ISLAMABAD: Amid pressure from the United States to shelve the much-needed Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, Russia has asked Pakistan to award a $1.2 billion pipeline-laying contract to its energy giant Gazprom without going into bidding process.

“If Pakistan accepts the demand of Russia and awards the contract to Gazprom, the largest explorer of natural gas in the world, Moscow will also provide financing for the project,” an official told The Express Tribune.

Moscow floated the proposal during a four-day trip of Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to Russia earlier this month.

“However, Pakistan has not shown any willingness to grant the contract without inviting bids from competing parties, which will violate its Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules,” the official said.

An official of the petroleum ministry told The Express Tribune that Russia expressed interest in the Iran pipeline project, but he did not confirm whether Moscow sought the contract for Gazprom without bidding. Petroleum secretary could not be reached for comment.

Sources said the US opposition to Iranian gas supply to Pakistan also came up for discussion during Khar’s visit. The US has imposed sanctions on Iran due to suspicions over its nuclear programme while Tehran insists that its programme is peaceful and meant for energy supply.

Though Russian authorities expressed worry over the US pressure, they supported Iran and Pakistan in pushing ahead with the project, sources said.

Pakistan has already formally invited the Russian giant Gazprom to participate in two multi-billion-dollar gas pipeline projects – Iran-Pakistan and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipelines.

In a meeting of the Pak-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission held on September 22, 2010 in Russia, Pakistan invited Gazprom to lay the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. Earlier during deliberations in August 2010 in Russia, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari also discussed the option of involving Gazprom in the pipeline project.

Gazprom has also expressed interest in building energy storages in Pakistan.

At present, Pakistan is facing mounting pressure from the US to shelve the Iran pipeline project. Besides, there are financing problems as well. Country’s largest explorer Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDC) and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) have already refused to finance the project.

OGDC management fears that its foreign shareholders will withdraw investment from the company if it entered the Iranian project while NBP is worried that its foreign branches may come under US sanctions and may be closed.

Pakistan and Iran have already signed a sovereign-guarantee agreement on the project. They have also inked a gas sale and purchase agreement for import of 750 million cubic feet of gas per day (mmcfd) with a provision to increase the volume to 1 billion cubic feet per day.

Under the guarantee agreement, Pakistan is bound to start first flow of gas in 2014 and will have to pay a penalty equal to the cost of 750 mmcfd of gas which amounts to $8 million per day if it fails to receive gas by the stipulated time.

The government has awarded consultancy services contract to German firm ILF Engineering Services at a cost of $55 million which is working in collaboration with the National Engineering Services of Pakistan (Nespak).

Published in The Express Tribune

Total Disinformation Piece–Another Smokescreen from Pakistan’s Controlled Press

[Keeping with the official ISI policy of relying on Pakistani forgetfulness and recycling reported arrests of its most notorious terrorists, the following reported arrest of ISI Faisalabad office “mastermind” relies upon two recycled terrorists, Abdur Rehman and Qari Usman.  Rehman was reportedly killed in a shoot-out with Indian forces in Kashmir, on October 3, 2011.  The report below claims that Qari Usman was arrested after the March 8, 2011 blast, but he was later photographed at another arrest for chaining 68 boys to the floor of his madrassa in Karachi on December 14, 2011.  This totally fabricated cover story intended to whitewash ISI mistakes is much like the repeated deaths of Ilyas Kashmiri (who will no doubt return from the dead again, whenever it is convenient to do so).]  

‘Mastermind’ of suicide attack at ISI Faisalabad office arrested

Published: February 18, 2012

Vehicle lies mangled at the site of the blast last year. PHOTO: FILE

FAISALABAD: Faisalabad police claimed to have arrested the alleged mastermind of the suicide attack at Inter Services Intelligence’s (ISI) Faisalabad office on March 8, 2011, in which at least 34 people were killed while another 90, including an ISI official, were injured.

Abdur Rehman alias Kaka was arrested on a tip-off from Jameel Town, in the vicinity of Ghulam Muhammad Abad police station, by a special police team headed by DSP Gulberg Ashiq Jatt.

The accused was presented before the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) No. 1, where Judge Ishtiaq Ahmad granted the police six days’ physical remand for interrogation.

Rehman was arrested in light of the information provided by another accused, Qari Usman during interrogation, who had been arrested in an injured condition from the site of the blast.

The suspect planted a bomb in a car which exploded at a CNG station situated adjacent to an ISI and Military Intelligence (MI) office in Faisalabad, killing 25 people on the spot, while another nine later succumbed to their injuries.

Many of those injured were trapped under debris for hours or hit by shrapnel, after the blast reduced the building to rubble. Most casualties were recovered from the site of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) building and gas station which also suffered heavy damage.

Additionally, 35 vehicles were destroyed in the blast that created a 10-foot deep crater at the site.

The then City Police Officer (CPO) Faisalabad Dr Usman Anwar stated that about 150 kilograms of explosive material was used in a silver-coloured Mehran by the attackers, the target being the ISI building.

A six-member team of the Counter Terrorism Wing (CTW) of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had collected samples of the explosive material from the crime scene and sent them to Islamabad for analysis. The cause of the blast was a remote device and it created a crater around four feet deep and 10 to 12 feet wide.

Published in The Express Tribune