Afghanistan Wants to Buy Russian Choppers After Moscow’s Success in Syria

The Russia's Helicopters aerobatic team performs at the MAKS 2015 International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky outside Moscow.

 

Russia’s share in the global arms market is growing, despite the increased competition. The popularity of Russian arms is increasing due to their high quality and the growth of Russia’s political authority.

Moscow’s well-prepared operation in Syria has once again demonstrated the reliability and efficiency of Russian weapons and professionalism of Russian military experts. New potential partners are establishing contact with Russia with the intention to sign arms contracts, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported.

The US, for its turn, has to grit its teeth tight as Washington now has to admit its geopolitical and economic failures.

The US strategists have been trying to keep the Afghan authorities under constant control, but Kabul is nevertheless turning towards Moscow. The Kabul government asked Russia to supply artillery and Mi-35 combat helicopters to fight numerous extremists, whose number significantly increased after the US military operation in the country.The Kabul’s request is a serious blow to Washington, and the US press reacted to it immediately. Some American journalists write in their usual manner that Russia would “seize” the opportunity and create an additional reason for confrontation with the United States.

However, other media sources and experts have a more balanced view. They believe that Moscow’s new foreign policy would make the Afghan politicians view Russia as a new reliable and trusted ally in the context of Western military forces’ withdrawal from the country.

Advertisements

Afghan Forces Need US Military Support for Years to Come – Senior General

The Afghan security forces still need broad support from the US and coalition armed forces in their battle against the Taliban and other Islamist groups, Army Brigadier General Wilson Shoffner said

 

US-Coalition force’s deputy chief of staff for communication claims that the Afghan security forces still need broad support from the US and coalition armed forces in their battle against the Taliban and other Islamist groups.

    The Afghan security forces still need broad support from the US and coalition armed forces in their battle against the Taliban and other Islamist groups, Army Brigadier General Wilson Shoffner said, according to the Department of Defense News.

“[T]he Afghan armed forces still require broad support, and that’s one of the reasons why the Resolute Support mission remains critical,” Shoffner, the US-Coalition force’s deputy chief of staff for communication, told a press conference in the Pentagon by telephone on Thursday.

Shoffner claimed the Afghan units had “definitely been tested this fighting season, but they’re holding their own and they have demonstrated their courage and resilience.”

However, he acknowledged continuing major “capability gaps” in close air support, aviation, intelligence and logistics, and admitted that the Afghan army and other national units would continue to need US aid and support over the next several years.Shoffner praised the Afghan military for having “conducted deliberate, planned operations that are well resourced and they’ve performed very well.”

“We’ve seen this starting in January in Helmand province… in Zabul province and Ghazni and we’ve seen that in the last two weeks in Nangarhar province,” he added.

However, the US senior officer admitted that the Afghan forces continued to suffer from major failings, especially in coordinating their operations.

“[W]henever they employ their forces hastily or do so in an uncoordinated manner — and by that I mean the army doesn’t coordinate with the police… or with air or fire support — they’re far less effective,” he acknowledged.

Afghanistan was suffering from a larger number of home-made bomb explosions and high-profile Taliban attacks in the capital, Kabul, the general claimed.

Military Cargo Transits Through Russia to Afghanistan Expired – Government

U.S. and British soldiers chat at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan in January.

The decision was made after the corresponding UN Security Council resolution on the topic expired.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The Russian government’s instruction on military cargo transits through the country to Afghanistan has expired, according to a document on the government’s website on administrative information published on Monday.

 

On July 6, 2009, Moscow and Washington signed the Military Transit Agreement on regular transit of US military equipment and personnel to Afghanistan over Russian territory.Under the agreement, US military transport aircraft could make at least 4,500 flights per year to Afghanistan via Russian airspace.

Earlier this year, under the NATO-Russia arrangement, Moscow has allowed Afghanistan-bound NATO transport to ship non-lethal equipment through its territory as an alternative to transit routes through Pakistan, where NATO convoys have frequently been targets of militant attacks.

R

Down the rabbit hole: Bin Laden raid was staged after extensive Pakistan-US negotiations – report

 Mideast Russia's photo.

Washington fabricated several key claims regarding the 2011 mission in which a US Navy SEAL team killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, according to legendary journalist Seymour Hersh in the latest challenge to the White House’s narrative of the raid.

Hersh, writing in the London Review of Books, has alleged that the United States government and Pakistani officials in fact worked closely–attempting to smooth political and financial concerns between the two nations–prior to the May 2011 assault on bin Laden’s Abbottabad, Pakistan compound.

“The White House still maintains that the mission was an all-American affair, and that the senior generals of Pakistan’s army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) were not told of the raid in advance. This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration’s account,” Hersh wrote.

“The White House’s story might have been written by Lewis Carroll: would bin Laden, target of a massive international manhunt, really decide that a resort town forty miles from Islamabad would be the safest place to live and command al-Qaida’s operations?”

Contrary to US claims, bin Laden was not located through tracking of his couriers but through a “walk-in,” Hersh wrote in the piece, which was sourced mainly by a “retired senior intelligence official,” among a handful of anonymous others.

In August 2010, a “former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad” approached the CIA’s station chief at the US embassy in Islamabad to report bin Laden’s whereabouts. Once deemed reliable, the unnamed source — later moved to Washington to work as a CIA consultant — collected the outstanding $25 million reward offered by the US for information about bin Laden.

Bin Laden, Hersh wrote, was captured by Pakistan in 2006 and kept warehoused at the expense of Saudi Arabia, which wanted to keep the Al-Qaeda leader under wraps based on Riyadh’s close ties to the jihadist group. In addition, bin Laden was also considered a bargaining chip for Pakistan against Al-Qaeda and Taliban.

“The ISI was using bin Laden as leverage against Taliban and al-Qaida activities inside Afghanistan and Pakistan,” the retired official told Hersh. “They let the Taliban and al-Qaida leadership know that if they ran operations that clashed with the interests of the ISI, they would turn bin Laden over to us. So if it became known that the Pakistanis had worked with us to get bin Laden at Abbottabad, there would be hell to pay.”

Once confronted by the US about bin Laden’s location following the “walk-in” source’s information, Pakistan sought increased military aid and a “freer hand in Afghanistan” from the US in exchange for bin Laden.

 Pakistani Army Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of Pakistan’s ISI, negotiated and facilitated terms surrounding the raid, including the assurance that “Pakistan’s army and air defence command would not track or engage with the US helicopters used on the mission.” The Pakistani officials operated under the assumption that President Barack Obama would not trumpet the killing in public for at least a week — which was not the eventual result.

“Then a carefully constructed cover story would be issued: Obama would announce that DNA analysis confirmed that bin Laden had been killed in a drone raid in the Hindu Kush, on Afghanistan’s side of the border,” Hersh wrote.

 

Upon reaching the facility in Abbottabad, Navy SEAL Team Six encountered no resistance, as an “ISI liaison officer flying with the Seals guided them into the darkened house and up a staircase to bin Laden’s quarters,” Hersh wrote.

The “invalid” bin Laden “was cowering and retreated into the bedroom. Two shooters followed him and opened up. Very simple, very straightforward, very professional hit,” the retired official said. Bin Laden was not, as the White House said, killed by the SEALs out of self-defense amid a firefight.

The SEALs had so much clearance, Hersh wrote, that after the raid – which included the crashing of a Black Hawk helicopter – they were able to wait several minutes unimpeded for additional air transportation outside the compound in a resort town very near Pakistani military installations and rife with armed personal bodyguards at private residences.

During the raid, bin Laden’s body was torn to pieces by rifle fire, according to the account, and parts of his body were later “tossed out over the Hindu Kush mountains.” His burial at sea consistent with Islamic custom — a claim made by US officials — was also fabricated, Hersh wrote.

  The supposed cache of intelligence material taken from the compound was another lie, Hersh reported, used to justify the raid.

Mi-17V-5 helicopters delivered to Afghanistan will be serviced by US companies

000000

Mi-17V-5 helicopters delivered to Afghanistan under a contract with US Department of the Army will be serviced by US companies in accordance with the US legislation, Voenno-promishlenniy Courier reports.

The corresponding tenders will be issued. Russian party is ready to provide all the necessary support. CEO of Russian Helicopters Holding Company, Alexander Mikheev, said: «the whole project will be implemented using a “one-stop shop” approach».

Last October the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation reported that Russia implemented contract for delivery of Mi-17V-5 helicopters on behalf of Afghan National Army. 63 helicopters of the type were delivered to Afghanistan under the contract between Rosoboronexport and US Department of the Army signed in 2011.

What’s the Catch? Poland Gets ‘Free’ US Armored Military Vehicles

The Polish Army has received 45 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, all donated by the US government.

As the United States scales down its operations in Afghanistan, it’s looking for creative ways to get rid of its surplus military equipment. One solution: give it Poland, free of charge. But the fact that the European nation is engaged in zero combat missions raises concerns about who will actually benefit from such a gift.

The Polish Army has received 45 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, all donated by the US government. The vehicles are barely used. Each has driven less than 3,000 kilometers, and in total, the MRAP’s are estimated to be worth over $7.5 million.

“In the short term, the equipment will be used in exercises, military training, and when necessary, in combat,” General Lech Majewski, General Commander of the Armed Forces and Types of Special Forces, said at a press conference on Wednesday.

 

US Ambassador Stephen Mull said that the offering is just one of several benefits of partnering with the US.

“This is an example of a strong tradition of Polish-American partnership, and the example of a sustained commitment by the US to protect Poland,” Mull said, according to Polskie Radio.

But Poland is not currently defending itself, and is engaged in no military conflicts. Given that Poland is one of the only nations which has expressed willingness to provide arms to the Ukrainian military, many wonder if this equipment might find its way onto the battlefield.

Last week, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a law which established a joint military brigade between Ukraine, Lithuania, and Poland. On Tuesday, Ryszard Czarnecki, of the Polish Law and Justice Party, called on both Poland and the larger European Union to pursue measures to “push Russia away from our borders.”

 

If Poland follows through with these plans, this raises the possibility that the US may be indirectly arming the Ukrainian military.

In addition, the vehicles can hardly be considered “free,” since such complex machines require millions of dollars in maintenance. A single, supposedly free military helicopter given to the Newark police ended up costing the department $2 million in upkeep and refurbishment, according to NJ Advance Media. A fleet of 45 would cost considerably more.

If the Polish military wants to utilize the gift in a real way, it will cost them plenty. This fact could encourage the Polish to sell.

“We Americans are proud of our partnership with Poland,” Ambassador Mull said as the vehicles were handed over. “[We’re] determined to deliver on our commitment to provide Poland with lasting security and prosperity.”

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150226/1018813507.html#ixzz3SvMYo7Ss

Forever War? Future Pentagon Chief Considers Leaving Troops in Afghanistan

A US soldier at the site of a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan.

US Defense Secretary nominee Ashton Carter says if security conditions continue to go downhill in Afghanistan, he would consider reversing the Obama administration’s current plans to withdraw most of US troops from the region.

Carter responded to a 91-page questionnaire the Senate Armed Services Committee gave him before his confirmation hearings start on Wednesday, answering “yes” to whether he would consider changing the troop drawdown plan. Islamic State militants are reportedly trying to expand their presence in Afghanistan, and Carter told the Senate committee that he would work to make sure that didn’t happen – including changing the number of troops that leave, if at all.

US troops have been in Afghanistan since October 2001, reaching a high of 32,000. President Obama last summer announced that he would reduce the U.S. military presence by the end of 2015 and keep about 10,000 troops in the region to train Afghan forces and to work on counterterrorism. There would be a further reduction by the end of next year, with fewer than 1,000 remaining to staff a security office in the capital city of Kabul.

 

Republican legislators have criticized the planned reduction, saying Obama was acting in a haphazard way. “The President’s decision to set an arbitrary date for the full withdrawal of US troops in Afghanistan is a monumental mistake and a triumph of politics over strategy. This is a short-sighted decision that will make it harder to end the war in Afghanistan responsibly,” said Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), who earlier this month became the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. “It will embolden our enemies and discourage our partners in Afghanistan and the region.”

McCain will lead Wednesday’s hearing on Carter’s nomination, and the topic of troop withdrawal is expected to be front and center.

Some 2,181 members of the US military have been killed in Afghanistan during the 13 years of the Afghan conflict. Even with a US troop withdrawal, NATO will still have an Afghan presence – about 12,000, including some US soldiers attached to NATO in Afghanistan.

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/news/20150203/1017718765.html#ixzz3QmZK16J5

v