U.S. base deployment in Uzbekistan will dent Russia’s influence in Central Asia

U.S. base deployment in Uzbekistan will dent Russia’s influence in Central Asia

MOSCOW: Washington’s plans to deploy a military base on Uzbek territory could entail negative political and economic consequences for Moscow, Lt. Gen. Leonid Sazhin, a Russian military expert, told Interfax-AVN.

According to recent media reports, Washington launched negotiations with Tashkent addressing the possible establishment of a so-called Operative Reaction Center in Uzbekistan, which could accommodate warehouses storing weapons and military hardware following the U.S. forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014.

Such a scenario is “quite probable,” Sazhin said.

“A tentative decision on this matter was most likely adopted before Mr. Karimov [Uzbek President Islam Karimov] turned his back on Russia once again – too many overseas visitors traveled there,” the expert said.

Uzbekistan quit the Collective Security Treaty Organization in June 2012.

“The deployment of such an American facility, no matter what they call it, will entail negative political and economic consequences both for Russia and the Central Asian region in general,” he said.

“Although Americans claims that they are fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan today, it will be them who, by deploying their facility in Uzbekistan, will lead Taliban members there,” Sazhin said.

“Taliban ideologists will inevitably take advantage of the American presence in Uzbekistan to fuel anti-American sentiments among the local population and win some of them over to their side. As a result, anti-American sentiments will spill over into anti-government demonstrations, ” the Russian expert said.

“This problem also has a military-economic component. Americans know how to count money. It is more profitable for them to store weapons withdrawn from Afghanistan nearby than drag them all the way to [America],” he said.


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NATO Inadvertently Kills TTP Commander Cloistered In Afghanistan Refuge

[That’s the problem with bombing near your secret allies–sometimes your bombs kill the wrong people (SEE: The Real War –vs– The Illusions).  The TTP were brought into action against the Pak Army, not  against NATO.  The Tehreek e-Taliban Pakistan enclave in Afghanistan was intended to be a hide-out from Pakistani attackers, not Western ones.  In case anyone still wonders about the Pakistani Taliban, they are an American-sponsored organization, intended to create a mirror image set-up along the Durand Line, creating a “safe haven” in Afghanistan for anti-Pakistan fighters, which would be the equivalent of the Afghan Taliban’s safe area Pakistan’s tribal region (SEE:  NW Afghanistan, Where Afghan and Pakistani Taliban Stage Mass Assaults Together In Govt. Vacuum).]  

Nato airstrike kills Maulvi Dadullah among 13 in Afghanistan

 

The strike in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province killed Maulvi Dadullah, the self-proclaimed Taliban leader in Pakistan’s Bajur tribal area that lies across the border, late Friday afternoon, coalition spokesman Maj Martyn Crighton said.    – File Photo by AFP

 

KABUL: A Nato airstrike in eastern Afghanistan targeting a group of insurgents near the Pakistani border killed at least 13 militants including Taliban leader Maulvi Dadullah on Friday, the international military coalition said.  

Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan confirmed that Amir of the Taliban in Bajaur, Maulvi Dadullah had been killed in the Nato strike along with 12 other militants.

Dadullah reportedly took over after Bajur’s former Pakistani Taliban leader, Maulvi Faqir Mohammed, fled to Afghanistan to avoid Pakistani army operations.

He had reportedly claimed responsibility for last year’s kidnapping of 30 children who had mistakenly crossed the Pak-Afghan border and also on many attacks against security forces and government installations.

Ahsanullah Ahsan while talking to DawnNews exclusively said that Maulvi Abu Bakr had been appointed the caretaker Amir of the TTP.

The TTP spokesman added that the Taliban had plans to attack high profile targets in the country but refused to give further details on the pretext of security concerns.

It added that Dadullah’s deputy, identified only as Shakir, was also killed in the strike.

The strike in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province killed Maulvi Dadullah, the self-proclaimed Taliban leader in Pakistan’s Bajur tribal area that lies across the border, late Friday afternoon, coalition spokesman Maj Martyn Crighton said.

Crighton would not say whether an unmanned drone or manned aircraft had launched the missiles.

Pakistani intelligence officials said Dadullah and 19 others were killed in the attack. Initially, they said the strike was on Pakistani territory, but later they conceded it was in Afghanistan.

Conflicting reports out of the rugged and remote regions along the Afghan-Pakistan border are common shortly after an attack.

Kunar provincial official Aslam Gul Mujahid said the airstrike killed 20 people, including Dadullah.

It was unclear whether Pakistani and coalition officials coordinated the strike or whether Nato fired on the militants after noticing activity on the border.

However, Crighton said there was no coordination between Pakistani and coalition military leaders on the airstrike. ”This was an independent operation and not associated with any others,” he said.

Zahir Shah Sherazi contributing to reporting for the story

The Same People Who Claim the U.S. Is Leaving Afghanistan, Claim Uzbek Base Rumor Is Russian Disinformation

Sabotage?–Deadly explosion rocks Venezuela’s biggest refinery

Deadly explosion rocks Venezuela’s biggest refinery

An explosion caused by a gas leak rocked a refinery in western Venezuela early Saturday, killing at least 19 people and injuring dozens, an official said. Amateur footage posted on YouTube showed the refinery engulfed in a ball of flames.

Deadly explosion rocks Venezuela's biggest refinery
AP – A huge explosion rocked Venezuela’s biggest oil refinery early Saturday, killing at least 19 people and injuring more than 50 others in the deadliest disaster in memory in the country’s key oil industry.

Balls of fire rose over the Amuay refinery, one of the largest in the world, in video posted on the Internet by people who were nearby at the time.

Those killed included a 10-year-old boy, and at least 53 people were injured, Falcon state Gov. Stella Lugo said on state television. She said firefighters had controlled the flames at the refinery on the Paraguana Peninsula in western Venezuela, where large clouds of smoke were rising.

 

AMATEUR FOOTAGE OF THE REFINERY IN FLAMES
Posted on YouTube by ‘TavoTillTheWorldEnds’.

 

“The areas that had to be evacuated were evacuated,” Lugo said, according to the state-run Venezuelan News Agency.” The situation is controlled. Of course they’re still a fire rising very high, but … the specialists tell me there is no risk of another explosion.”

The blast occurred after 1 a.m. when a gas leak created a cloud that ignited, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said. Some nearby houses were damaged by the blast, he said on television.

“That gas generated a cloud that later exploded and has caused fires in at least two tanks of the refinery and surrounding areas,” Ramirez said on state television. “The blast wave was of a significant magnitude.”

Images in state media showed the flames casting an orange glow against the night sky. One photograph showed an injured man being wheeled away on a stretcher.

Ramirez said oil workers will determine what caused the gas leak and were inspecting the damage along with troops. He said supplies of fuel had been cut off to the part of the refinery that was still in flames.

Troops were securing the area at the refinery, Lugo said. Vice President Elias Jaua said on his Twitter account that the military was deployed to the area and that air ambulances were dispatched to ferry the wounded. The defense minister was traveling to the refinery along with Ramirez and other officials, Jaua said.

Amuay is part of the Paraguana Refinery Complex, which also includes the adjacent Cardon refinery. Together, the two refineries process about 900,000 barrels of crude a day and 200,000 barrels of gasoline.

It was unclear to what extent the explosion might affect oil shipments from Venezuela, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

State Dept. Formulates Guidelines for Avoiding Accidental Nuclear War In Central Asian Contest with Russia

[Many thanks to the folks at Larouche-PAC for pointing-out the following publication from our beloved State Dept.  The assembled American experts have assessed our current path and sought to define rules of engagement that would prevent a miscalculation by the Imperial planners, which would accidentally unleash thermonuclear war with Russia.  This topic is urgently relevant to the currently unfolding American co-opting of the Uzbek and Tajik governments, as well as the further division of Kyrgyzstan between East and West.

The solution proposed by these “genius” planners is to hopelessly intertwine the US and Russia, through cooperation on issues of economic trade and drug control in Central Asia ( Beneficial interdependence ), so that neither side would contemplate finding answers in a nuclear exchange.]

“Along these lines, Gen (ret.) James Cartwright has suggested the concept of ‘entanglement’ as having beneficial aspects.” 

INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ADVISORY BOARD

Report on

Mutual Assured Stability: Essential Components and Near Term Actions

 

A definition for the desired end state was developed:

A relationship among nations and international organizations (such as the European Union) in which nuclear weapons are no longer a central feature for their security, deterrence based on nuclear destruction is no longer necessary, and the likelihood of nuclear war is treated as remote because their relationship is free of major, core security issues such as ideological, territorial, or natural resource competition issues, and the benefits from peaceful integration in economic, political, and diplomatic spheres provide a counterbalance to the perceived advantages of nuclear conflict.

 

Beneficial interdependence: Interdependence in humanitarian and economic, as well as national security realms contributes to the benefits of mutual assured stability. Along these lines, Gen (ret.) James Cartwright has suggested the concept of “entanglement” as having beneficial aspects. Candidate actions are:

o Increase economic interdependence and investment. Russia agrees to measures of transparency on trade and investment from abroad (reciprocal action); specific actions include:
–Ending Jackson-Vanik restrictions;
–Finalizing WTO membership;
o Extend collaboration with Russia to stop drug trafficking from and through Afghanistan; develop collaboration on promotion of healthy lifestyles;
o Develop further collaborations with Russia on infectious disease (e.g. TB) preventive health promotion;
o Establish cooperation in science & technology (S&T) for safe, secure oil and gas transport, oil and gas exploration, and recovery; and
o Establish science and technology (S&T) cooperation in nanotechnology, pharmaceutical research, and other areas of common interest.

 

Appendix A – Summary of Recommendations
Recommendation 1. Conduct strategic stability talks with Russia to address matters of force structure, posture, and doctrine to avoid strategic surprise or misunderstanding.
Recommendation 2. Conduct talks with Russia to develop a common understanding of the essential components necessary for mutual assured stability, and a plan for building these components and achieving this new relationship.
Recommendation 3. Conduct a joint U.S.-Russia review of the requirements for national and multinational missile defense in the coming years as missile technology continues to spread, with the goal of achieving a shared understanding of each nation’s requirements for effective missile defense.
Recommendation 4. Change U.S. doctrine and posture away from defining our nuclear posture based on perception of Russia as the primary threat, toward a doctrine of general deterrence, a posture in which attacks from any direction are discouraged without singling out a particular adversary or enemy (reciprocal action required).
Recommendation 5. Continue the Nuclear Security Summit process, with its focus on securing nuclear materials and preventing nuclear smuggling.
Recommendation 6. Conduct talks with Russia for developing a mutual understanding of each other’s motivation for the possession of nuclear weapons, including tactical and hedge/reserve weapons; engage Russia via the NATO-Russia Council, particularly in dialogue on the motivations for tactical nuclear forces.
Recommendation 7. Work together with Russia on standardization of classification guidelines for nuclear-related information (to avoid conflict regarding sharing of data because of differences between U.S. and Russian classification guidelines).
A-2. Summary of Recommendations
Recommendation 8. Work jointly on the definition of a “gold standard” in technologies and best practices for nuclear materiel security, based on CTR work; the creation of a process for continuous evolution of the standard based on changes in threat, technology improvement, and changes in other circumstances; and the development of associated transparency measures for mutual assurance.
Recommendation 9. Conduct talks to define appropriate and acceptable measures useful to influence other nations toward responsible nuclear materiel security, using an appropriately tailored standard.
Recommendation 10. Develop agreements on sharing early warning data with Russia and using satellites to jointly monitor ballistic missile launches (reciprocal action required).
Recommendation 11. Develop agreement with Russia to give five-year advance notice on deployment of new nuclear systems (reciprocal action required).
Recommendation 12. Declare fissile material stocks to each other.
Recommendation 13. Develop a U.S.-Russia understanding on how each would act or not act if a nuclear weapon was used anywhere else in the world.
Recommendation 14. Increase U.S.-Russia economic interdependence and investment, including ending Jackson-Vanik restrictions; develop agreement with Russia for greater transparency on trade and investment from abroad (reciprocal action required).
Recommendation 15. Extend collaboration with Russia to stop drug trafficking from and through Afghanistan; develop collaboration on promotion of healthy lifestyles.
Recommendation 16. Develop further collaborations with Russia on infectious disease (e.g. TB) preventive health promotion.
A-3. Summary of Recommendations
Recommendation 17. Establish cooperation with Russia in science & technology (S&T) for safe, secure oil and gas transport, oil and gas exploration, and recovery.
Recommendation 18. Establish S&T cooperation with Russia in nanotechnology, pharmaceutical research, and other areas of common interest.

Mexican shooting wounds two US embassy staff

Mexican shooting wounds two US embassy staff

Forensic personnel check a US diplomatic vehicle attacked with gunfire in the Tres Marias-Huitzilac highway in Morelos, Mexico. (AFP/Nuvia Reyes)

MORELOS, Mexico: Mexican federal police shot at a US diplomatic car as they chased criminals south of Mexico City on Friday, in a chaotic incident that left two US embassy employees wounded.

The two staffers, along with a Mexican marine accompanying them, were treated for their wounds at a hospital and were out of danger, the Mexican and US governments said, in separate statements.

The Mexican navy and public security ministry said federal police officers were conducting anti-crime operations in the area when the incident took place.

The US embassy trio were heading to a military installation in the town of El Capulin when they were approached by a vehicle whose unidentified passengers displayed weapons, the navy and ministry said in a joint statement.

“The driver of the diplomatic vehicle used evasive manoeuvres and when it returned on the highway, the passengers in the attacking vehicle opened fire on the diplomatic vehicle,” the statement said.

“Moments later three other vehicles joined the chase and shot at the US embassy vehicle,” it said.

The statement did not specify who the four attacking vehicles belonged to, or whether it was police bullets that wounded the three victims.

It said, however, that the US diplomatic car “was hit by multiple bullets from personnel of the federal police on the Tres Marias-Huitzilac highway.”

Photos at the scene showed an SUV with diplomatic plates riddled with bullet holes and its tires blown out.

The shooting took pace in the state of Morelos, which has suffered a surge in murders in recent weeks amid a turf war between drug cartels. The bodies of four women were found on another highway near Cuernavaca last week.

Mexico is in the throes of a violent drug war that has left more than 50,000 people dead since President Felipe Calderon deployed soldiers to combat cartels in 2006.

The United States cooperates closely with Mexico under the $1.6 billion Merida Initiative, which provides training for Mexican law enforcement officials as well as equipment to combat drug trafficking.

The US State Department said in a brief statement that the two embassy employees had received “appropriate medical care and are in stable condition.”

“We are working with Mexican authorities to investigate an incident this morning in which two employees of our embassy in Mexico City came under attack by unknown assailants,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

The two wounded employees were taken to a hospital in the city of Cuernavaca, some 90 kilometres south of Mexico City, the Mexican official said on condition of anonymity.

The newspaper Reforma, citing Mexican marine sources, identified the US citizens as Jess Hoods Garner, 49, and Stan Dove Boss, 50.

After the shooting, the army and the police closed a 10-kilometre stretch of highway as well as access to a wooded area around the scene of the incident near the town of Tres Marias.

The road, which has a heavy police presence, is used by Mexico City residents on weekend trips to Cuernavaca, a tourist destination known as “The City of Eternal Spring” and home to a pre-Hispanic temple.

The incident came 18 months after two US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents were shot while driving in a car between Mexico City and the northern city of Monterrey in February 2011.

One of the agents, Jaime Zapata, died in the attack by members of the feared Los Zetas cartel.

– AFP/de

Russian Press Reports US Acquiring Uzbek Military Base After 2014

U.S. Uzbekistan negotiates with the creation of a rapid reaction center after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in 2014, reports Russian daily Kommersant today.

“This is the largest U.S. military base in Central Asia,” said the newspaper citing Uzbek Foreign Ministry sources.

The center would coordinate military actions in the event of a worsening of the situation after the withdrawal of Allied troops from Afghanistan.

U.S. and the regime of Islam Karimov in Tashkent in power for more than 20 years, still negotiating how many American soldiers will integrate the military base.

The center will serve as a storehouse for weapons and military equipment are now used by the allied coalition in Afghan territory, part of which will be transferred to the Uzbek armed forces.

Within the last NATO summit in Chicago and both parties signed an agreement on the transit of military cargoes.

In addition, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a sign of goodwill Uzbekistan has excluded the black list of countries with which they can cooperate militarily because of its human rights violations.

In November 2005, Karimov ordered U.S. forces to leave the Uzbek military base in Karshi-Janabad, where they were in 2001.

Karimov was reacting to criticism from the White House for the May 2005 killing of hundreds of civilians in violent popular uprising in Andijan.

According to Kommersant, Russia has received with concern the news of a possible opening of a new U.S. military base in Central Asia, a region that the Kremlin considers its backyard.

“Our partners Uzbeks should carefully consider all the possible consequences of the expansion of cooperation with the U.S. military,” said a diplomatic source coaster.

In principle, the U.S. must leave the Manas air base in neighboring Kyrgyzstan, where he works for years a transit center in 2014.

Both Russia and China and Iran have called on Washington to date your military presence in Central Asia, a region that hosts major energy resources.

U.S. received permission from Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to build a corridor through their territories, in order to get supplies to its troops in Afghanistan.

USArmy Corps of Engineers Holds Seminars for Counternarcotics Projects In Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan

WINCHESTER, Va. – The U.S. Marine Corps once used the slogan, “We’re looking for a few good men.”

Recently, representatives from the Middle East District went to two countries in the Central Asian States looking for a few good contractors.

To support the U.S. Central Command’s counternarcotics program in Central Asia, district project managers, contracting officers and specialists, and area office personnel are conducting design reviews, participating in bid awareness seminars, and awarding contracts in the region.

The counternarcotics program, which totals approximately $12 million in fiscal year 2012, focuses on improving border crossings in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, according to Robert Strom, program manager, Support for Others Branch. The projects are primarily border crossing facilities or training complexes to help the host nations carry out their efforts to counter trafficking in narcotics.

USCENTCOM conducts security cooperation exchanges with Central Asian nations, including military education and training, global peacekeeping operations initiatives, counternarcotics assistance, and civil military cooperation programs, according to a USCENTCOM release. The programs are important for building security capabilities and maintaining regional security.

“We have 11 projects in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to award this fiscal year,” Strom said. “The projects are relatively small and are spread out over dispersed locations. Because of the value of the contracts, we expect local firms will be competitive for the work. To help get local companies prepared, we worked with the U.S. Embassy in both locations to set up bid awareness seminars.”

Getting assistance from the embassy staffs was critical for this outreach effort, according to Mike Weaver, deputy for small business. “The embassy made the arrangements for a suitable location for the seminars, advertised them, and hired translators to help during the presentations.

“These types of seminars help to educate local contractors about our contracting processes,” Weaver said. “Contractors must understand our requirements and how to do business with the Army Corps of Engineers in order to submit good proposals. Quality proposals help us make successful contract awards. And that’s our goal: projects that are constructed by successful contractors.”

Helping contractors understand U.S. contracting processes

During the bid awareness seminars in May, Strom, Weaver, and Dr. Khaled Masoud, chief of the United Arab Emirates/Central Asian States Area Office, spoke to contractors about how to prepare acceptable proposals. Counternarcotics project managers from the U.S. Embassy also attended these sessions.

More than 65 representatives, mostly construction contractors from 28 companies, attended the seminar in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The seminar in Almaty, Kazakhstan, brought 22 registered participants from nine construction companies.

Strom opened both seminars with a projection of timelines for each phase of the process, starting with the planning and design phase and continuing through construction completion. He described each project’s location, scope of work and a rough estimated value, as well as legal considerations, ethics, and contract law authority that contractors must abide by in U.S. government contracting.

Weaver then defined acquisition terms, registration and solicitation processes, bonding requirements, and Defense Base Act Insurance to participants. He described procedures for submitting proposals and finished by describing source selection and evaluation processes.

Masoud briefed attendees about site visits and post-award considerations, including the notice to proceed, preconstruction conference, submittals, mobilization, resource management tools, quality control, construction issues, and contract closeout.

The second day of both seminars was arranged so prospective companies could meet face-to-face with U.S. government officials to ask questions, get clarifications, or discuss issues and concerns.

Among those concerns, according to Weaver, was “the registration process in the Central Contractors Registration database, called CCR, that all contractors working with DOD have to overcome. While it is not a complicated process, it could prove a little difficult or confusing for international companies,” he said.

Other agencies were invited to attend the seminars to increase professional networking, Weaver said. Those included the Defense Logistics Agency, which handles material and supply, and U.S. Central Command Joint Theater Support Contracting Command.

“The USACE bid seminar in Almaty was an outstanding event,” said Lt. Cmdr. David Jones, C-JTSCC. “There was a great deal of excitement from the vendors’ perspectives as they seemed eager to conduct business with the U.S. government. The lead contracting officer (Weaver) provided invaluable information on conducting business with the U.S. government. C-JTSCC will look to emulate this event in its own future bid seminars.”

Representatives of Kaznex, the authority responsible for licensing and regulating products and services suppliers in Kazakhstan, also attended.

“Everyone in attendance learned something new and seemed satisfied with their time investment,” Masoud said.

Conducting Design Reviews with Using Agencies

With the schedule set for the bid awareness seminars, the opportunity existed to simultaneously conduct the design reviews with the host nations’ using agencies and the Embassy counternarcotics program managers.

“We’re at the 95 percent design review stage,” Strom said, “so it was necessary for our architect, Dave Colberg, and the architect-engineer firm, Louis Berger Group, to sit down with the using agencies to make sure the design documents meet their requirements before we put them out for bid.”

The users included the host nations’ customs offices, canine training centers and border patrol agencies.

The Louis Berger Group, led by Jim Stroup, presented 11 facilities that will help Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan increase their capabilities for combating drug trafficking, such as border posts, scanning facilities and canine training centers, according to Weaver.

Each project review consisted of project background and an introduction of the site and architectural plans, followed by the common approaches of the various systems including civil, mechanical, fire protection, and electrical systems and sources, Weaver said. The using agencies provided feedback and each meeting concluded with consensus.

The group also discussed related topics, including site access, badging, security and the weather, a key consideration in construction scheduling in this region, according to Strom.

In addition to the trips in May, other Middle East District headquarters team members are traveling to Central Asia to support the counternarcotics projects.

A team recently traveled to Dushanbe, Tajikistan, to award a $3.7 million contract for a national training center, and an electrical engineer performed a construction assessment in May for canine training centers in Shymkent and Taraz, Kazakhstan. These canine training centers were awarded in the fiscal year 2010 program and are nearly complete.

The Middle East District’s field offices in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan – and the embassy counternarcotics program managers – routinely support and participate in the site visits, customer meetings and contracting activities, Ballard said.

During the May meetings in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, representatives of the host nations expressed their appreciation for U.S. assistance with the counternarcotics projects, according to Weaver.

“And they spoke favorably of the relationship between their governments and the United States,” he said.

US Army Corps. of Engineers Helping To Build Better Police States In Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan

[SEE:  Smashing Greater Central Asia I, II, III, IV]

USACE supports Defense Department’s counternarcotics strategy in Central Asia

Story by Joan Kibler  

Building for counternarcotics program in Central Asia
The Middle East District, through its Kazakhstan Resident Office, is completing kennel facilities at three locations in that country. Kennel facilities help Central Asian States counter trafficking in narcotics.

WINCHESTER, Va. – Consider that proceeds from illicit drug trafficking can help finance insurgent attacks against U.S. soldiers, help an ill-intentioned group destabilize a friendly nation, or arm pirates with high-powered weapons, and it is clear why the Department of Defense is investing in a strong, sustained counternarcotics program.

The Defense Department’s far-reaching counternarcotics strategy calls for government agencies to build the capacity of Central Asian partners to secure their borders and prevent illicit drugs from entering, and ill-gotten proceeds from exiting, their region. At the next level, combatant commands are responsible for developing their counternarcotics strategic plans in line with the DOD policy.

The Middle East District’s counternarcotics program in Central Asia is accomplished at the behest of U.S. Central Command, with active projects at multiple locations in Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

“CENTCOM Operations Directorate is our customer, and the program has several stakeholders as well,” said Robert Strom, program manager, Support for Others Branch. “We can’t accomplish this work without the close cooperation of the U.S. Embassy staffs in those countries, particularly the Office of Military Cooperation. Several organizations within the host nations are also stakeholders – such as their customs offices, border patrol agencies, and canine training centers. We’ve formed good partnerships with these agencies to make sure we’re building facilities that meet their needs.”

The projects are border crossing facilities or training complexes to help the host nations carry out their efforts to counter trafficking in narcotics, according to Strom.

“The locations for these border facilities are often mountainous or remote,” he said, “and there may be multiple facilities constructed in a specific country. The purpose is to enable these countries to have control at their borders.”

The district’s first efforts in the counternarcotics program started in fiscal year 2010, with a project inherited from the Afghanistan Engineer District and a rushed schedule to award five contracts.

The early program proved problematic for several reasons, including the contractors’ inexperience with working on U.S. government contracts and the district’s inability to get sufficient “eyes on the project.”

Strom pointed out that those early efforts netted a number of lessons learned, resulting in corrective action for managing the counternarcotics program.

“We are improving our program management by sending charrette teams to the sites to develop the planning and programming reports,” Strom said.

In early 2011, the district’s Engineering Division contracted the Louis Berger Group to develop reports for various projects in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Depending on site requirements, projects may consist of new construction, repair, or a combination of the two. Louis Berger delivered programming documents, cost estimates, draft site plans, conceptual floor plans, and furniture and equipment lists, where applicable, for several projects. These documents helped define the requirements for the fiscal year 2012 program.

“We also learned that we need to do a better job of educating local contractors about U.S. government contracting processes and Corps of Engineers construction requirements,” Strom said. “We’ve hosted multiple contractor awareness sessions. We also learned that we need to require offerors to provide their construction licensing as part of their proposals; we have to be sure they’re qualified to do the work.”

The district also put additional resources on the program. In addition to Strom, John Ballard serves as a project manager for several counternarcotics projects. James Slomer started out as the lead architect until deploying for a separate mission, at which point David Colberg stepped into the role. Contracting Division dedicated Dan Hanas and Peter DeMattei to the program.

And then there’s the Construction Operations side.

The district now has a resident office at Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan, which also oversees counternarcotics work in that nation, and project offices in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan established specifically for the counternarcotics work. Host nation citizens serve as project engineers and administrative assistants in these locations.

The field office staffs are supported by Construction Operations employees in Winchester – such as construction managers, contract administration staff, and quality assurance inspectors.

“Delivering these projects successfully requires the expertise of so many disciplines – from civil and structural engineers, to construction representatives, to contracting officers and specialists, attorneys and project managers,” Ballard said. “These are small projects that need a piece of everyone’s efforts to make them successful.”

“When I learned that the district had the mission to construct these small counternarcotics projects in Central Asia, I wanted the opportunity to oversee them,” said Dr. Khaled Masoud, chief of the United Arab Emirates/Central Asian States Area Office. “We have many stakeholders interested in the success of these projects because of their importance to the defense of their countries, as well as ours.”

Strom said that the district is working much closer with CENTCOM Operations Directorate and the Offices of Military Cooperation to improve their customer satisfaction.

Projects nearly complete include kennel facilities in Kazakhstan and border facility upgrades in Kyrgyzstan.

Because of contractor performance issues in the fiscal year 2010 program, the district took corrective action by terminating contracts and re-awarding the work, as necessary. Two projects in Tajikistan were re-awarded: a $546,856 contract to finish two border guard posts (in April) and a $3.7 million national training center (in July).

The district expects to award three contracts for projects in Kazakhstan and four contracts for projects in Kyrgyzstan, representing 11 separate projects, by the end of the fiscal year.

The Unsecured Borders of the Stans

[In the photo above, the ditch is the border…someone moved enough gravel to bridge it with a foot path.  In the photo below this blurb, we see an Uzbek outpost, consisting of narrow bridge guard tower and metal shack.  (Thanks to photojournalist Catherine Ivashchenko for these fine, hard to acquire pictures of the problems.)  Perfect examples of the problems controlling cross-border traffic in Central Asia.  US forces are coming to the area to put an end to all of that.  Their operations will be under the rubric of  “counter-narcotics.’  CENTCOM is taking-on a monumental task in helping Tajikistan secure its borders.]  

Whose water, whose land … How is life in the disputed border areas of Kyrgyzstan

FERGANA NEWS

Catherine Ivashchenko

Rights to photos of the author

Kyrgyzstan has a 371 kilometer undocumented sites borders with Uzbekistan andTajikistan. This 58 sites that could potentially at any time become a source of conflict, including the loss of human life. So, a few weeks ago on the border with Uzbekistan, there was another conflict, two people were killed and two were wounded. “Fergana” already written about why the twenty years of independence have failed to solve the problems undocumented border. The correspondent of “Fergana” Catherine Ivashchenko went to press tour in Jalal-Abad and Batken regions to see how people live in the disputed border areas and the challenges faced.

Press tour was organized with the support of the Peace and Development Programme UNDP. The project has a regional dimension and aims to strengthen cross-border cooperation to conflict prevention in the border communities of the three countries.  (READ HERE)