Archive for the ‘Pentagon’ Category

China Hosts Vast Spy Network, Computer Invasion Force

March 28, 2009

A vast electronic spying operation has infiltrated computers and has stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including those of the Dalai Lama, Canadian researchers have concluded.

By JOHN MARKOFF
The New York Times

In a report to be issued this weekend, the researchers said that the system was being controlled from computers based almost exclusively in China, but that they could not say conclusively that the Chinese government was involved.

The researchers, who are based at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto, had been asked by the office of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader whom China regularly denounces, to examine its computers for signs of malicious software, or malware.

Their sleuthing opened a window into a broader operation that, in less than two years, has infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including many belonging to embassies, foreign ministries and other government offices, as well as the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan exile centers in India, Brussels, London and New York.

art.hacker1.cnn.jpg 
The leader of these Chinese hackers says there “is always a weakness” on networks that allows cyber break-ins. 

The researchers, who have a record of detecting computer espionage, said they believed that in addition to the spying on the Dalai Lama, the system, which they called GhostNet, was focused on the governments of South Asian and Southeast Asian countries.

Intelligence analysts say many governments, including those of China, Russia and the United States, and other parties use sophisticated computer programs to covertly gather information.

The newly reported spying operation is by far the largest to come to light in terms of countries affected.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/
03/29/technology/29spy.html

Related:
China boosts military, cyberwarfare capabilities

Chinese Hackers Routinely Attack U.S. Computers

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Pentagon to show softer side to the world

March 25, 2009

After seven years of war, American foreign policy has become nearly synonymous with the brawny side of its military. But the US armed forces may now be moving to show a different face to the world.

Last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates recommended an admiral better known for humanitarian and diplomatic initiatives than for muscle-flexing to assume a critical command post in Europe.

By Gordon Lubold | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Adm. James Stavridis is an unusual choice to fill a job usually held by the Army. In his two years overseeing US military operations in South and Latin America, he has built a reputation for running a different kind of command – deploying hospital ships and soccer teams while contending with drug trafficking and corruption.

Stavridis may be able to bring that balance to Europe, where deliberations over Afghanistan over the next few years will be critical to that mission’s success.

“It’s a terrific appointment,” says Carola.

In this April 21, 2008 file photo, Adm. James Stavridis, talks ... 
In this April 21, 2008 file photo, Adm. James Stavridis, talks with reporters during a news conference in Lima, Peru. Stavridis is expected to be President Barack Obama’s choice to be the next NATO commander, succeeding Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock.(AP Photo/Karel Navarro, File)

Read the rest:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0325
/p03s03-usmi.html

See also:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/new
s?pid=20601087&sid=ao6Mce2c88Y0

Gates readies big cuts in weapons

March 17, 2009

As the Bush administration was drawing to a close, Robert M. Gates, whose two years as defense secretary had been devoted to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, felt compelled to warn his successor of a crisis closer to home.

By Bryan Bender
The Boston Globe

The United States “cannot expect to eliminate national security risks through higher defense budgets, to do everything and buy everything,” Gates said. The next defense secretary, he warned, would have to eliminate some costly hardware and invest in new tools for fighting insurgents.

What Gates didn’t know was that he would be that successor.

Now, as the only Bush Cabinet member to remain under President Obama, Gates is preparing the most far-reaching changes in the Pentagon’s weapons portfolio since the end of the Cold War, according to aides.

Two defense officials who were not authorized to speak publicly said Gates will announce up to a half-dozen major weapons cancellations later this month. Candidates include a new Navy destroyer, the Air Force’s F-22 fighter jet, and Army ground-combat vehicles, the officials said.


F-22

More cuts are planned for later this year after a review that could lead to reductions in programs such as aircraft carriers and nuclear arms, the officials said.

As a former CIA director with strong Republican credentials, Gates is prepared to use his credibility to help Obama overcome the expected outcry from conservatives. And after a lifetime in the national security arena, working in eight administrations, the 65-year-old Gates is also ready to counter the defense companies and throngs of retired generals and other lobbyists who are gearing up to protect their pet projects.

“He has earned a great deal of credibility over the past two years, both inside and outside the Pentagon, and now he is prepared to use it to lead the department in a new direction and bring about the changes he believes are necessary to protect the nation’s security,” said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary.

Read the rest:
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/wash
ington/articles/2009/03/17/gates_readi
es_big_cuts_in_weapons/

Related:
Russia Pressing “Reset,” Medvedev Orders Military To Re-Arm
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Pentagon Rethinking Strategy, Planning, Budgeting and Weapons-Buying

Pentagon Rethinking Strategy, Planning, Budgeting and Weapons-Buying

March 14, 2009

The protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are forcing the Obama administration to rethink what for more than two decades has been a central premise of American strategy: that the nation need only prepare to fight two major wars at a time.

By Thom Shanker
New York Times
.
For more than six years now, the United States has in fact been fighting two wars, with more than 170,000 troops now deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. The military has openly acknowledged that the wars have left troops and equipment severely strained, and has said that it would be difficult to carry out any kind of significant operation elsewhere.

To some extent, fears have faded that the United States may actually have to fight, say, Russia and North Korea, or China and Iran, at the same time. But if Iraq and Afghanistan were never formidable foes in conventional terms, they have already tied up the American military for a period longer than World War II.

A senior Defense Department official involved in a strategy review now under way said the Pentagon was absorbing the lesson that the kinds of counterinsurgency campaigns likely to be part of some future wars would require more staying power than in past conflicts, like the first Iraq war in 1991 or the invasions of Grenada and Panama.

In an interview with National Public Radio last week, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates made it clear that the Pentagon was beginning to reconsider whether the old two-wars assumption “makes any sense in the 21st century” as a guide to planning, budgeting and weapons-buying.

The discussion is being prompted by a top-to-bottom strategy review that the Pentagon conducts every four years, as required by Congress and officially called the Quadrennial Defense Review. One question on the table for Pentagon planners is whether there is a way to reshape the armed forces to provide for more flexibility in tackling a wide range of conflicts.

Among other questions are the extent to which planning for conflicts should focus primarily on counterinsurgency wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan, and what focus remains on well-equipped conventional adversaries like China and Iran, with which Navy vessels have clashed at sea.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/15/washi
ngton/15military.html?_r=1&hp

Guantanamo detainees gloat; say they planned Sept. 11

March 10, 2009

The five detainees at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay prison camp charged with plotting the September 11 attacks have filed a document expressing pride at their accomplishment and accepting responsibility for the deaths of nearly 3,000 people, The New York Times reported on Monday.

Reuters

File:National Park Service 9-11 Statue of Liberty and WTC fire.jpg

The document, which the newspaper said may be released publicly on Tuesday, describes the five men as the “9/11 Shura Council,” and says their actions were an offering to God, according to excerpts of the document read to a reporter by an unidentified government official, the report said.

“‘To us,’ the official read, ‘they are not accusations. To us they are a badge of honor, which we carry with honor,'” the paper said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090310/t
s_nm/us_guantanamo_document

New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/10/u
s/10gitmo.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=guant
anamo&st=cse

Related:
 Al-Qaeda, Gitmo Quandary: After Prison, Suppose Just One Terrorists Destroys Your Way of Life?

President Obama says he will close Gitmo next year….

Afghan Supplies, Russian Demands, Obama’s Big Challenge

February 4, 2009

THE Taliban didn’t wait long to test Barack Obama. On Tuesday, militants bombed a bridge in the Khyber Pass region in Pakistan, cutting off supply lines to NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan. This poses a serious problem for President Obama, who has said that he wants more American troops in Afghanistan. But troops need supplies.

The attack was another reminder that the supply line through Pakistan is extremely vulnerable. This means that the Obama administration might have to consider alternative routes through Russia or other parts of the former Soviet Union. But the Russians were unhappy about the Bush administration’s willingness to include Ukraine and Georgia in NATO, and they will probably not want to help with American supply lines unless Mr. Obama changes that position.

By George Friedman
The New York Times

Related:
American Troops In Afghanistan Out On A Limb?

Alex Nabaum

 

THE Taliban didn’t wait long to test Barack Obama. On Tuesday, militants bombed a bridge in the Khyber Pass region in Pakistan, cutting off supply lines to NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan. This poses a serious problem for President Obama, who has said that he wants more American troops in Afghanistan. But troops need supplies.

The attack was another reminder that the supply line through Pakistan is extremely vulnerable. This means that the Obama administration might have to consider alternative routes through Russia or other parts of the

In addition to our guaranteeing that NATO will not expand further, the Russians seem to want the United States to promise that NATO forces will not be based in the Baltic countries, and that the United States will not try to dominate Central Asia. In other words, Russia wants the United States to pledge that it will respect the Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union. They will probably want this guarantee to be very public, as a signal to the region — and the Europeans — of Russian dominance. This is one guarantee that Mr. Obama will not want to give.

There is also no certainty that countries in the Russian sphere of influence, like Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, would agree to let the United States use these routes without Russian permission.

Here is where Mr. Obama could use some European help. Unfortunately, that’s not likely to come soon. Many Europeans, particularly Germans, rely on Russia’s natural gas. In January, the Russians cut natural gas shipments to Ukraine. As much of the Russian natural gas that goes to Europe runs through Ukraine, the cutoff affected European supplies — in the middle of winter. Europeans can’t really afford to irritate the Russians, and it’s hard to imagine that the Germans will confront them over supply routes to Afghanistan. Pakistan, unfortunately, is hardly a reliable partner either.

So how can Mr. Obama reconcile the two goals of strengthening the American presence in Afghanistan while curbing Russian expansionism? The answer is to rely less on troops, and more on covert operations like the C.I.A. Covert operators are far more useful for the actual war that we are fighting (and they can carry their supplies on their backs). The primary American interest in Afghanistan, after all, is preventing terrorist groups from using it as a base for training and planning major attacks. Increasing the number of conventional troops will not help with this mission.

What we need in Afghanistan is intelligence, and special operations forces and air power that can take advantage of that intelligence. Fighting terrorists requires identifying and destroying small, dispersed targets. We would need far fewer forces for such a mission than the number that are now deployed. They would make us much less dependent on supply deliveries, which would help solve our Russian problem.

Winding down the conventional war while increasing the covert one will demand a cultural change in Washington. The Obama administration seems to prefer the conventional route of putting more troops on the ground. That would be a feasible strategy if supply lines to Afghanistan were secure. The loss of that bridge yesterday demonstrates very clearly that they are not.

 

George Friedman is the chief executive of Stratfor, a global intelligence company, and the author of “The Next 100 Years.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/04/o
pinion/04georgefriedman.html?_r=1

American Troops In Afghanistan Out On A Limb?

February 4, 2009

Could American troops in Afghanistan be out on a limb?

It seems so.

Attacks on the U.S. and NATO supply lines from Pakistan continue.  The Taliban seems to have realized that attacking the supply route has less risk that facing U.S. and NATO troops in the field.

Pakistani trucks, bound for neighboring Afghanistan, wait for ... 
Pakistani trucks, bound for neighboring Afghanistan, wait for road open on the outskirts of Landi Kotal, a town close to the Pakistani tribal area Khyber, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009. The Khyber route was cut Tuesday when suspected militants set off a bomb that wrecked a bridge across a rocky gorge near the pass. The red metal bridge was twisted and partially collapsed at one end.(AP Photo/Qazi Tariq)

The U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan cannot follow the Taliban into Pakistan, which has resulted in U.S. drone attacks which Pakistan continues to protest.

Today, Kyrgyzstan’s government submitted a draft bill to parliament calling for the closing of the U.S. base at Manas that is key to the military campaign in Afghanistan. The U.S. Air Base has been especially important, both the State Department and Pentagon say….

And yesterday the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff — that just a week ago asked for more troops for Afghanistan to get to some 35,000 — got a Pentagon study recommending lower goals in Afghanistan.

Evan Thomas at Newsweek is already calling Afghanistan “Obama’s Vietnam.”

Lots to think about….

Related from CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asia
pcf/02/04/pakistan.NATO.trucks/index.html

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/
02/03/kyrgyz.base/index.html

Related:
 Russia Boosts Aid To Neighbors; Wants U.S. Base, Influence Ended

 Pentagon study: US should pare Afghanistan goals

Can Obama succeed in the ‘land of the unruly?’ Afghanistan Won’t Be Easy

Obama’s Vietnam

Troubling Obama Trends Seen By Some In Military? Why Die For “Limited Goals” In Afghanistan?

Afghan Supplies, Russian Demands, Obama’s Big Challenge

Senior U.S. commanders are finalizing plans to send tens of thousands of reinforcements to Afghanistan’s main opium-producing region and its porous border with Pakistan, moves that will form the core of President Barack Obama’s emerging Afghan war strategy.
.
From the Wall Street Journal:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123370741
624945711.html

http://cadillactight.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/th
e-geography-of-afghanistan/

Pentagon study: US should pare Afghanistan goals

February 3, 2009

A classified Pentagon report urges President Barack Obama to shift U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan, de-emphasizing democracy-building and concentrating more on targeting Taliban and al-Qaida sanctuaries inside Pakistan with the aid of Pakistani military forces.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has seen the report prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but it has not yet been presented to the White House, officials said Tuesday. The recommendations are one element of a broad policy reassessment under way along with recommendations to be considered by the White House from the commander of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. David Petraeus, and other military leaders.

By ROBERT BURNS and PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writers

A senior defense official said Tuesday that it will likely take several weeks before the Obama administration rolls out its long-term strategy for Afghanistan.

The Joint Chiefs’ plan reflects growing worries that the U.S. military was taking on more than it could handle in Afghanistan by pursuing the Bush administration‘s broad goal of nurturing a thriving democratic government.

Instead, the plan calls for a more narrowly focused effort to root out militant strongholds along the Pakistani border and inside the neighboring country, according to officials who confirmed the essence of the report. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the plan publicly.

The recommendations are broadly cast and provide limited detail, meant to help develop the overarching strategy for the Afghanistan-Pakistan region rather than propose a detailed military action plan.

During a press conference Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs noted the ongoing “comprehensive reviews” of Afghan policy, but did not say when they would be made public.

The assessments, Gibbs said, are critical for Obama’s intent to “evaluate the current direction of our policy and make some corrections as he goes forward.”

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman would not comment Tuesday on the details of the Joint Chiefs’ report, but acknowledged that the U.S. relationship with Pakistan is a critical component for success in Afghanistan.

“When you talk about Afghanistan, you can’t help but also recognize the fact that the border region with Pakistan is obviously a contributing factor to the stability and security of Afghanistan, and the work that Pakistan is doing to try to reduce and eliminate those safe havens, and the ability for people to move across that border that are engaged in hostile intentions,” Whitman said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090203/
ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_afghanistan

Obama Orders U.S. Defense Cut 10%

January 31, 2009

The Obama administration has asked the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to cut the Pentagon’s budget request for the fiscal year 2010 by more than 10 percent — about $55 billion — a senior U.S. defense official told several newspeople.

For as long as anyone can remember, the Department of Defense built its budget based upon a national strategy that the National Command Authority authorized.  Simply stated, the President and his top advisors told DoD what they would need, say a two simultaneous war strategy in two different threaters, and the Pentagon costed that stategy in terms of manpower, aircraft, ships, etc.

In its starkest terms, building the DoD budget was like asking yourself where you wanted to go, asking the cab driver how much that would cost and then setting aside the money to get you where you needed to be.

When we want to go, say, to church, we give the cab driver the money needed for that trip.

Apparently, in the new era of the Obama Administration, we’ll just give the cab drive $3.00 and ask “How far can we go?”

The Obama administration has asked the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to cut the Pentagon’s budget request for the fiscal year 2010 by more than 10 percent — about $55 billion — a senior U.S. defense official told FOX News.

Last year’s defense budget was $512 billion. Service chiefs and planners will be spending the weekend “burning the midnight oil” looking at ways to cut the budget — looking especially at weapons programs, the defense official said.

Some overall budget figures are expected to be announced Monday.

Obama met Friday at the White House with a small group of military advisers, including Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman, and Gen. Jim Jones, National Security Council chairman.

Many will applaud the president for cutting what is widely seen as an over-inflated budget.  But many others will see the way this cut was made as questionable without the strategic thought underpinning the budget number.  And many wives, friends, husbands and family members of service members will want to know if their service people are now more at risk….

*****************

By Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg

U.S. defense budget cuts may target spending on weapons as the Obama administration juggles paying for personnel and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

“The most expensive part of our budget is our people,” Admiral Michael Mullen said in an interview yesterday. “There’s not a lot of flexibility with respect to people, unless you start” reducing forces.

That is unlikely, meaning the weapons procurement budget, which averaged about 20 percent of fiscal 2008 and 2009 defense spending, will come under increased scrutiny, Mullen said.

“We’ve got to fund the wars we are in,” and that “puts an awful lot of pressure” on decreasing spending on weapon modernization and the repair of war-worn equipment, he said.

The largest part of the weapons accounts is tactical aircraft, shipbuilding and ground equipment produced by Lockheed Martin Corp., Boeing Co., Northrop Grumman Corp., General Dynamics Corp., Raytheon Co. and BAE Systems Plc.

Earlier this week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned two congressional defense committees that “one thing we have known for many months is that the spigot of defense spending that opened on 9/11 is closing.”

Read the rest:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20
601087&sid=ar9QVxBv0YIs

Related:
How To Pay For 21st Century Military

Obama Team Wants Pentagon Budget Focused More on Current War, Less on Future Programs

 Obama Told His Actions On Gitmo Could “jeopardize those who are fighting the war on terror”

Afghanistan: Greatest Challenge, Modest Goals, But More Troops; Obama With Joint Chiefs Wednesday

January 27, 2009

Amid preparations for a major troop build up in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Tuesday that the United States cannot become bogged down in the unrealistic goal of turning the country into an economically prosperous nation.

By ANNE FLAHERTY
Associated Press

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates waits to testify at the ... 
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates waits to testify at the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, January 27, 2009.REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES)

Instead, the U.S. must limit its focus to what it can achieve within five years, he said. The focus should be trying to ensure terrorists don’t regain control of the region and use it to coordinate attacks, Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

He also indicated that military strikes against terrorist targets in Pakistan are likely to continue, despite Islamabad’s view that they are unhelpful.

“If we set ourselves the objective of creating some sort of Central Asian Valhallah over there, we will lose because nobody in the world has that kind of time, patience or money to be honest,” said Gates, referring to the mythic haven of purity.

Gates testified as President Barack Obama considers options for drawing down operations in Iraq and doubling the force size in Afghanistan. Obama planned to meet Wednesday with the service chiefs.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090127
/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/congress_gates_23