Monthly Archives: November 2009

Need to Know: 11/30/2009

Obama Issues Order for More Troops in Afghanistan
President Obama has issued his order to send more troops to Afghanistan, communicating his decision to military leaders late Sunday afternoon during a meeting in the Oval Office, and will spend Monday speaking with foreign leaders to share with them the broad outlines of his new strategy, the White House said.

Statement on Afghanistan
First, Mr Speaker, I made clear that we would increase the number of British personnel in Afghanistan only if we were assured that it would continue to be the case that every soldier and unit deployed is fully equipped for the operations they are asked to undertake. At this morning’s meeting of the Afghanistan and Pakistan national security committee, the Chief of the Defence Staff gave that assurance – that this condition has been met both for the existing force and the additional 500 troops.

Will the Economy Sink the American Empire?
…empires almost always collapse because of internal mismanagement. Either that mismanagement dethrones them outright or, more commonly, makes them much more vulnerable to challengers. This is why worries about Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, et. al. miss the point. The damage they can do to the U.S. is nothing next to the damage we have done – and continue to do – to ourselves.

Maryland University Scientist Developing Virtual Worlds for Defense Strategy
V.S. Subrahmanian, a Maryland computer science professor and director of the University’s Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS), is in the process of developing virtual worlds that aims to guide military commanders through military options and explore potential scenarios, according to India’s DNA news site.

CIA pulls SWIFT one to get peak at your bank records
European Union governments have given in to the pressure and appear set to make a last-minute agreement with the United States to allow its intelligence agencies to monitor bank accounts and transactions across the bloc.

Pakistan’s Youth
This British Council report, ‘Pakistan: the Next Generation’ should be required reading for people who want to understand Pakistan. Dividend or disaster is the theme. The findings are striking – about distrust, disappointment and danger.

Military Seeking Greener Spy Planes With Added Benefits
Unmanned robotic spy planes are now going green as researchers hope to develop aircraft able to fly longer while also conducting surveillance with less threat of detection due to engine noise.

Vote Now On Cyber Arms Control
It’s probably fairly clear that I don’t think an ICAC would help prevent a cyberwar. An ICAC might have some mileage as a means to agreeing that cyber attacks – particularly those aimed at civilian infrastructure – are a Bad Thing, but that’s an aspiration necessarily limited by the nature of the beast to which it refers…

Report: Domestic Terror Threat on the Rise
One of the topics on the agenda is the rising domestic terror threat. But this alarm was sounded months ago, in Apr 09, when DHS released their report entitled Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.

DARPA Funds Nano-UAV Hummingbird
For years, engineers have been working on making smaller and smaller UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). DARPA (Defense Research Advanced Projects Agency) has been taking the lead for years, and is now pushing the envelope by providing a second round of funding for the development of nano-UAVs, unmanned flyers with a mass of just 10 grams, approximately equivalent to two nickels.

Czech Intelligence Reveals Iraqi Plot To Attack RFE/RL
Czech officials say former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein ordered an attack on the Prague headquarters of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty but that the plot was foiled by the country’s intelligence services.

Web service automates WordPress password cracking
Hackers have developed a distributed WordPress admin account cracking scheme that poses a severe risk for the security of blogs whose owners select insecure passwords.

Worth Watching: ArmedwScience

Need to Know: 11/29/2009

Pakistan must step up action against al Qaeda
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called on Pakistan to take tougher action against al Qaeda and step up its efforts to track down the group’s leader Osama bin Laden.

Understanding China
They may have appeared more conciliatory on previous visits by American leaders, but that was largely decorative. The Chinese have a powerful sense of their identity and worth. They have never behaved toward the West in a supplicant manner, for reasons Westerners persistently fail to understand or grasp.

Kian Tajbakhsh faced with new charge; White House calls for release
According to news reports, Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian-American urban planner who earned a Ph.D. from Columbia, faces a new charge of spying. According to the New York Times, Tajbakhsh—already sentenced to 15 years in prison for spying—recently told his wife during her prison visit that a judge at the Revolutionary Court read new charges of “spying for the George Soros foundation” on Monday. The count referenced his work for the Open Society Institute, run by Soros, a financier.

CIA goes hiring in heart of Arab America
In dire need of agents fluent in Arabic, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has made an unusual public show of its recruiting effort in Dearborn — a city of 100,000 with the densest Arab population in the United States.

The role of spies in Latin America
Charges of blackmail and espionage have led to arrests and several rows between a number of Latin American countries.

Vegas fusion center fights terrorism, street crime

Open for more than two years, the Las Vegas “fusion” center is battling terrorism and street crime, a dual mission that has affected how local and federal law enforcement agents view each other and their jobs.

Terrorism Suspected in Russia Train Crash
A crater consistent with a bomb of 15 pounds of TNT was found near the damaged Nevsky Express train No. 166, which derailed late Friday between Aleshkina and Uglovka in a rural area in Northwest Russia, about 170 miles before it would have reached St. Petersburg.

Japanese satellite spies on N Korea
Japan operates two optical intelligence satellites, which take high-precision images in clear daylight weather, and one radar satellite, which can detect objects through clouds and at night. But to monitor different spots daily, two optical satellites and two radar satellites are needed. Such a system is expected to be ready in 2011.

Saddam was telling truth in missing Gulf War pilot
Saddam Hussein was telling the truth, this time. The United States just didn’t believe him. So it took the most powerful military in the world 18 years to find the remains of the only U.S. Navy pilot shot down in an aerial battle in the 1991 Gulf War. Michael “Scott” Speicher’s bones lay 18 inches deep in Iraqi sand, more or less right where a group of Iraqis had led an American search team in 1995.

Information Request for Cybersecurity Competency Models
The U. S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council and the Chief Human Capital Officers Council of Workforce Development Subcommittee recently identified cybersecurity related occupations as high priorities for Governmentwide competency models. OPM is pleased to kick-off the development of these models. This initiative will identify the critical elements of success for the covered workforce, ensuring classification, selection, development, and performance management programs are based on a valid framework.

UUV mothership to deploy intelligence-gathering unmanned underwater vehicles in development by SAIC
U.S. Navy researchers are developing an autonomous submarine that gathers military intelligence information in coastal waters and harbors by deploying and operating small unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) as a distributed, collaborative suite of electronic sensors.

Water Management in Central Asia
As in the case of the Kyrgyz glaciers, many countries may depend on one country’s glacier, or maybe the mountain borders more than one country. Many of these countries that share borders and water supply may at best have differing political interests, and at worst, have ethnic conflicts to add to the mix.

Video: Palantir Cyber Demo
Palantir Cyber brings a unique set of capabilities to this emerging problem – allowing an organization to effectively address their highest priority concerns, including data exfiltration and insider threat.

Worth Watching: Strategypage

Need to Know Thanksgiving Edition: 11/26/2009

Patrols and turkey in Afghan war zone
Thanksgiving Day for soldiers in this valley ringed by towering snowy peaks began with a 6-mile slog to aid village schools without desks and windows, and promises to end with five, once scrawny local turkeys soldiers have been fattening up for the past month. “Just another day, another mission,” several soldiers said as a 25-man patrol from Able Troop, 3-71 Cavalry Squadron, 10th Mountain Division, set out on a cold morning under brilliantly blue skies.

Israel soldier swap talks on hold
Indirect talks between Israel and the Islamist Hamas movement over a prisoner exchange involving Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit have been suspended until Tuesday, according to a Palestinian official.

Middle East power shifting to Turkey and Iran
While the United States and Europe have been struggling to find a path forward in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Afghanistan, and Iran, the strategic ground upon which their assumptions about the region rest has begun to shift dramatically.

USAF Growing Cyber Warfare Ops Center
The newly-created 24th U.S. Air Force, the service’s latest numbered force, aims to establish the first elements of a cyberspace command operations center in San Antonio by the end of December.

US headache over Afghan deserters
One in every four combat soldiers quit the Afghan National Army (ANA) during the year ending in September, published data by the US Defense Department and the Inspector General for Reconstruction in Afghanistan reveals.

SKorea confirms some 5,000 wartime executions
South Korean soldiers and police executed nearly 5,000 citizens during the early months of the 1950-53 Korean War, fearing they could collaborate with invading North Korean troops, a government commission said Thursday.

CMF Participates in Counterpiracy Conference in Beijing
Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) participated in an international counterpiracy conference held recently Beijing. Piracy off the coast of Somalia continues to be a major concern for international shipping operating within 1,000 miles of the coast.

Military Spook In New Civilian Cyber Security Post
Air Commodore Graham Wright CBE was drafted in at some point over the last couple of months. A Jaguar pilot, he was base commander at RAF Coltishall until it closed in 2006. After this, he went to the Ministry of Defence, becoming Director of its Directorate of Targeting and Information Operations (DTIO). DTIO was set up in 2001 to integrate military information operations and targeting, and improve intelligence support to IO. The web’s littered with info on their activities in Iraq in particular, so go digging if you want to find out more about DTIO.

Turkey demands Israel deliver drones
Turkey has warned Israeli defense contractors to deliver on 10 promised drone aircraft in 50 days or the deal may be canceled.

German Military Chief Resigns Over Afghan Air Strike
Germany’s armed forces chief Wolfgang Schneiderhan has resigned, Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said, after accusations the military withheld information about an air strike in Afghanistan.

North Korean Arms Exports Continue
A UN investigation has concluded that North Korea is continuing to export weapons, and using the hard currency obtained to import luxury items for the ruling elite of the communist police state. The UN report detailed North Korean use of false documents and the switching of cargo containers to different ships to throw off investigators.

Wounded soldier Tom speaks about his experience
Corporal Tom Neathway of the Parachute Regiment, a triple amputee noted for his positive determination in the BBC’s ‘Wounded’ programme, has been speaking about his personal experience to those recovering from minor injuries at Royal Air Force Halton’s Primary Care Rehabilitation Facility.

Philippine troops move into the south
Hundreds of Philippine troops have taken over the main government buildings in four southern towns following political violence that has left 57 people dead, including journalists and bystanders.

Worth Watching: Ubiwar