Thursday, December 30, 2010

Blast kills at least 14 civilians in Afghanistan

Dec 30 A roadside bomb blew up next to a minibus at a crowded intersection on a major highway in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, killing at least 14 civilians, officials said.

Kabul, Afghanistan
A minibus packed with civilians, including women and children, was blown apart by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand Province on Thursday, and officials said 14 passengers were killed and at least four wounded.
Afghan and NATO military officials blamed Taliban insurgents for what a NATO spokesman called a “despicable attack” meant to kill innocents.
It was at least the second time this month that a roadside bomb had killed more than a dozen civilians in Helmand, where American-led NATO forces have intensified their campaign against the Taliban over the past six months and insurgents have increasingly turned to roadside bombs known as IED (improvised explosive devices).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

US : failed missile defence tests costs $100bn

Late on Wednesday, the US tested its newest round of interceptors, spending $100m to blast a missile from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean towards California.
The anti-ballistic missile system failed, as the kill vehicle designed to blow the projectile out of the sky missed its target, adding to a long-list of unsuccessful tests for the expensive weaponisation scheme.
Since the end of the cold war the US has spent "approximately $100bn" on missile defence systems, Richard Lehner, a spokesman for the Missile Defence Agency, told Al Jazeera.
Wednesday’s failed long-range test was important because it involved an attempt to intercept a dummy warhead, rather than the usual testing scheme of just maneuvering the missile to a particular point in space, said Ian Anthony, the research coordinator for the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a think-tank in Sweden.

Despite constant technological problems with the system, the White House has requested $9.9bn for missile defence programmes for the next fiscal year (2011), Anthony told Al Jazeera.
Those vast sums of money concern Theodore Postol, a professor of science and international security at MIT and a former scientific adviser to the head of US naval operations. The weapons expert, hardly a liberal dove, just doesn’t believe missile defence can work technologically.

Technological failures and massive financial costs aside, if Barack Obama, the US president, is serious about reducing the possibility of nuclear war, then it seems developing new missile systems isn’t the best way to inspire international trust.

"The US will always say that missile defence is a defensive system," said Tom Sauer, a professor of international relations at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. "The problem is that the Russians or Chinese may perceive it as threatening or offensive. When it comes to missile defence, perspective is everything."
Vladimir Putin, Russia’s prime minister and a former KGB agent who is well versed in cold war history, called US plans for a missile shield in Eastern Europe "very similar" to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when the world teetered on the brink of nuclear war.
"The Bush administration planned to have a radar station in the Czech Republic and interceptors in Poland," Dr. Sauer said. Obama has not ended the missile programme in Eastern Europe, he has just amended it slightly.
"Current plans call for deployment of land-based SM-3 interceptors (a modified surface to air missile) in Poland and Romania to defend Europe against short to medium range ballistic missiles," said Missile Defense Agency spokesman Lehner.

Waste in U.S. Afghan aid seen at billions of dollars

Waste and fraud in U.S. efforts to rebuild Afghanistan while fighting al Qaeda and the Taliban may have cost taxpayers billions of dollars, a special investigator said on Monday.
Arnold Fields, special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said the cost of U.S. assistance funding diverted or squandered since 2002 could reach "well into the millions, if not billions, of dollars."
"There are no controls in place sufficient enough to ensure taxpayers' money is used for the (intended) purpose," said Fields, whose independent office was created in 2008 to energize oversight of what U.S. auditors have described as a giant, poorly coordinated aid effort that has sunk some $56 billion into Afghanistan since 2002.
Of that sum, some $29 billion has gone to building up Afghanistan's nascent security forces, many of whose members cannot read and are just learning to shoot.
Another $16 billion has gone to trying to develop this poor country, where life expectancy is just 45 years and only 28 percent of people are literate, and to strengthening governance, said Fields, a retired Marine Corps major general.

Experts believe it will take years to build an effective government that can provide basic services in Afghanistan, where corruption and the lack a functional justice system have driven many villagers into the arms of the Taliban.
Efforts to bolster Afghanistan's weak central government and in many cases its dysfunctional local leadership took center stage last week when a White House review of the nine-year-old war reported some military success but cautioned there was more to be done on improving governance and curbing corruption.

President Barack Obama is under pressure to show results in Afghanistan in the first half of 2011 so he can start bringing U.S. troops home in July.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

War in Afghanistan News reports.  Operations are reported in the following provinces:  Paktiya, Zabul, Paktika and Wardak.
Afghan and Coalition Forces were busy in Wardak Province last night with one Taliban leader killed, another captured, 605 kg of hashish, artillery shells, detonation fuses, RPG boosters, mortars and more were also recovered.
Paktiya Province
Afghan National Police and ISAF forces retrieved an IED from a local hospital in Tsamkani District, Paktiya province today. The IED, covered in a scarf and placed in a trash bag, consisted of two mortar rounds connected to a cell-phone trigger. ANP and ISAF removed the IED from the hospital courtyard and secured the area.
A suicide bomb detonated at a bazaar near an International Security Assistance Force operating base in Gardez District, Paktiya province today.More information will be released when it is available.
Zabul Province
An Afghan National Police patrol discovered two drug caches in Qalat District. The Afghan police clearing operation, conducted in two different compounds, resulted in a discovery of 1,333 pounds (605 kg) of hashish and one detained suspected insurgent in possession of drugs.
Paktika Province
Afghan and coalition forces detained one suspected insurgent and killed another during an operation targeting a Taliban leader in Paktika province last night.The targeted individual plans and implements improvised explosive device ambushes and attacks, as well as provides guidance to fighters in his network.
Based on intelligence reports, the security force targeted a compound in Yosuf Khel District. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to exit the compound peacefully before moving to clear the building. During initial clearance, the security force killed an individual who threatened the security force.
After the area was secure, the security force conducted initial questioning at the scene before detaining the suspected insurgent. The security force also found a machine gun on target.
The assault force ensured the safety of the women and children for the duration of the search.

Wardak Province
An Afghan civilian tip led an ISAF patrol to a weapons cache in Maidan Shahr District, Wardak province. The cache consisted of two 140 mm artillery shells, one 107 mm rocket, one 122 mm rocket warhead, one 122 mm shell, one 125 shell, one 57 mm shell, two 82 mm mortar shells, 100 detonation fuses, 200 small arms rounds, 10 rockets-propelled grenade boosters and motors.