Air Supremacy? Are We Still the Best? Most Expensive Fighter

Editor’s Note – With the most expensive fighter in history, the F-35, is our Air Force still the dominant force across the globe? Is the F-35 really the leading edge? What about the F-22 Raptor? Is Russia or China that far behind, or are we falling behind?

If you watched the interview Shepard Smith of Fox News had with Chief-of-Staff of the USAF, General Mark A. Welsh III, you would wave flags and declare that, yes, we still are the best and will be ahead of all other air forces for decades to come. (Video of that interview follows the post below by National Review’s Mike Fredenburg.)

Screen shot of interview conducted by Fox News' Shepard Smith with USAF Chief-of-Staff Gen. Welsh
Screen shot of interview conducted by Fox News’ Shepard Smith with USAF Chief-of-Staff Gen. Welsh

In his article, Fredenburg examines the question more deeply; sans the jingoism of Gen. Welsh. Fredenburg is focused on the Russian SU-35 “Flanker” and its capabilities along with our changing fleet of attack fighters, and the rollout of the controversial F-35; the very expensive and technological wonder it is proving to be, or is it?

Not only do we have to answer these question he raises, but we also need to examine the Chinese who boast of their own sueriority they believe they have over the F-35:

A J-31 stealth fighter (background) of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force lands on a runway after a flying performance at the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, Nov. 11, 2014. Reuters/ Alex Lee
A J-31 stealth fighter (background) of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force lands on a runway after a flying performance at the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, Nov. 11, 2014. Reuters/ Alex Lee

China is flexing its newest addition to the country’s growing military fleet, a fourth generation J-31 fighter jet. According to the president of the Chinese company that was commissioned for the project, the J-31 jet can “take down” its American counterpart, the Lockheed Martin F-35.

In an interview with Chinese Central Television, Lin Zuoming, the president of the Aviation Industry Corp. of China, the company that developed the newest jet, is confident the Chinese-developed aircraft can outperform the American version.

“When it takes to the sky, it could definitely take down the F-35,” Lin said. “It’s a certainty.”

But Lin has his sights set on more than just outdoing the F-35. He wants to propel the Chinese company to be global supplier to governments to which the U.S. refuses to sell or those that can’t afford to buy a fleet of F-35 jets, which reportedly cost more than the Chinese models. (Read more here at the International Business Times from last December.)

So just where does the truth lie? Is the USAF selling us ‘rose colored glass’ propaganda, or is Gen. Welsh correct? We hope you read on here and watch that interview at the bottom, especially past the midpoint where he really focuses on the future with the high technology helmets and the F-35.

Also ask yourselves about the Indian Air Force with the SU30 MKI supplied in a joint venture with Russia, and others like Pakistan who we supply with F-104 Starfighter as everyone appears to be gearing up quickly and in great volume. Just who else is selling their fighters? The French are supplying Egypt with the Dussault Rafale…and on it goes.

Can we keep up, especially as expensive as are the F-22s and F-35s? Then ask yourself about who will be supplying whom regarding those countries we will not do business with like Iran, North Korea, and other ne’er-do’wells?

Air supremacy, superiority, or are we kidding ourselves?

What if the World’s Most Expensive Fighter Planes Can’t Defeat Our Enemies?

By Mike Fredenburg – National Review

On April 15, 1953, North Korean Po-2 biplanes strafed a U.S. Army tent on Chodo Island, off the Korean mainland. The attack killed two U.S. servicemen.

Remarkably, that night, more than 60 years ago, was the last time a U.S. soldier lost his life to fire from enemy aircraft. Since the Korean War, U.S. air power has played a critical role in virtually every conflict, and the U.S. has enjoyed near-total air supremacy in every battle it’s fought.

But that streak isn’t going to continue automatically. Despite lavish spending on our air forces; flawed procurement priorities and strategic doctrine, driven by contractors, has put the future of U.S. air power at risk.

Russian SU-35 "Flanker"
Russian SU-35 “Flanker”

Take the new F-22 fighter. It’s the most expensive fighter in the air today, but as a recent story in The National Interest by long-time United States Naval Institute writer Dave Majumdar points out, even its missiles will have a hard time getting past the ability of Russia’s truly fearsome Su-35S Flanker E to jam radars and other sensors.

The F-22 is very stealthy while the Su-35S is not, but a senior U.S. Air Force official tells Majumdar that the F-22 will have a hard time killing the Su-35Ss. These new Flankers are already in service with the Russian Air Force, and independent air analysts see this same plane achieving lopsided kill ratios against the U.S.’s other next-generation fighter, the F-35.

F-15's over the Baltic
F-15 “Eagles”

A FLAWED AIR-POWER STRATEGY

How did we end up with such pricey, brand-new fighters being unable to decisively defeat their opponents? United States air-power doctrine after the Korean War has emphasized “beyond visual range” (BVR) engagements. The idea: With sufficiently sophisticated missile technology, we can destroy enemy fighters from more than five miles away, long before the enemy can engage our aircraft.

The cornerstone of BVR technology, large complex radars, required much bigger fighters to handle the aerodynamic challenges that bulky BVR radars present, as well as huge increases in power and cooling requirements. These larger fighters led to skyrocketing acquisition and maintenance costs. With the advent of stealth, the vision was expanded to include destroying enemy planes from behind a cloak, and costs skyrocketed again.

Visions are not always realized, and recent advances in countermeasures, like the capabilities in the Su-35S, are just another chapter in a long history of BVR missiles not living up to the hype. Expecting BVR capabilities to deliver lopsided results against peer competitors now looks more like wishful thinking than a sound strategy.

So why have billions of dollars of investments into BVR capabilities delivered such disappointing results? There are two main causes:

FEAR OF FRIENDLY FIRE

First, identify-friend-or-foe (IFF) technology — systems that enable forces to identify friendly platforms among potential targets — has not been reliable enough to allow our pilots to fire at blips on their radar screen without fear of committing fratricide. In other words, no matter how good our BVR technology, pilots still needed to get within visual distance before taking a shot. Progress has been made in IFF technology, in part because of better capabilities on our support aircraft, but it remains a problem.

CONTRACTORS OVERPROMISE, UNDERDELIVER

The second issue is that BVR missile technology has consistently failed to live up to the promises made by vendors and senior military leadership. On entering Vietnam, military leaders assured Congress that the radar-guided AIM-7 Sparrow carried by the complex and costly F-4 Phantom would give our pilots a 70 percent probability of a kill per missile fired. Instead, the much hyped Raytheon missile ended up with a BVR kill rate of less than 1 percent. Somewhat chastened, senior military leaders were forced to retrofit guns to the F-4 Phantom.

Our cutting-edge missile technology has consistently failed to live up to the promises made by vendors and senior military leadership.

The problems continued after Vietnam. In “Promise and Reality: Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Air-To-Air Combat” a 2005 paper done for the Air War College, Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Higby (now General Higby) shows in great detail that from Vietnam up to Desert Storm the billions invested BVR missile technology contributed almost nothing to the United States’ domination of the skies.

Combining data from Israeli and American missions, he finds that out of 632 shots taken with BVR-capable missiles, only four resulted in kills from beyond visual range — a scant 0.6 percent. During this same period, 528 air-to-air kills were made at closer range — 144 with guns and 384 with missiles fired at opponents within visual range.

BVR HAS ALMOST NEVER WORKED

Starting with Desert Storm, there was an uptick in the number of kills achieved using the newer AMRAAM missiles, which are designed for relatively long range kills, but because neither the number of missiles used nor the range at which the BVR-capable missiles notched kills was recorded, it’s hard to reach any firm conclusions.

We do have anecdotal evidence: In 1999, when two MiG-25s violated the no-fly zone over southern Iraq, U.S. fighters fired six of our most sophisticated BVR missiles at them. All six missiles missed and the MiG-25s escaped to fight another day. While pervasive coverage by AWACS surveillance and control planes has given our pilots much better friend-or-foe recognition, allowing more BVR shots to be taken, true BVR kills against competent opponents are rare.

Future battles will continue to involve close-range dogfights — where superior numbers of smaller affordable fighters are better than inferior numbers of heavier, less agile, less reliable BVR-focused fighters.

A 2011 RAND report noted that enemies successfully engaged beyond visible range after 1991 “were fleeing, non-maneuvering, and did not employ countermeasures.” “In Operation Allied Force,” the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, RAND notes, “the Serbian MiG-29s that were shot down did not even have functioning radars.”

In other words, we might now be achieving BVR kills against third-rate vastly outnumbered opponents while enjoying pervasive AWACS coverage. But that is a far cry from getting kills against equally skilled peer competitors in contested air space where we may be outnumbered in terms of both planes and missiles.

Historically, our pilots’ superior skills have allowed our big BVR fighters to dominate dogfights despite their large size, but those same pilots flying smaller, less-expensive fighters would still have dominated. In other words, the billions invested in large expensive BVR-focused planes and missiles, while highly correlated with U.S air dominance, was not the cause of that dominance.

Going forward, assuming huge kill ratios predicated on BVR missile technology looks even less wise: We have no record of successfully using such technology against peer competitors with the training and technology to dramatically reduce BVR missile effectiveness (like, say, the Russians’ Su-35S).

Both the United States and its competitors will continue to make large investments to improve BVR missiles and BVR-missile countermeasures. Since neither effort is likely to gain a decisive advantage, future battles will continue to involve close-range dogfights — where superior numbers of smaller affordable fighters are better than inferior numbers of heavier, less agile, less reliable BVR-focused fighters.

QUANTITY OVER QUALITY

It’s unrealistic to expect heavily outnumbered U.S. planes to consistently take down large numbers of enemy fighters at long ranges. The large technology lead the United States once held over other major air powers has nearly evaporated, and regaining our post-WWII lead is well-nigh impossible.

Moreover, other air powers have studied and adopted U.S pilot-training methods, and that gap, once large, has narrowed as well. In 2004, for instance, U.S. F-15 pilots were unpleasantly surprised to find themselves on the wrong side of a 9-to-1 loss ratio in exercises with Indian Air Force pilots flying Russian-designed planes, including small but formidable MiG-21s. We should plan on Chinese and Russian pilots being equally competent.

There are other major problems with large BVR fighters. One such problem is that the cost per hour to fly them is now so great that some of our pilots are only getting about ten hours per month of actual flight time — not nearly enough to maintain superior skills. Further, these fighters’ huge maintenance requirements mean they spend less time in the air than other aircraft.

The F-22 and F-15 can fly far fewer sorties per day than smaller, more reliable fighters such as the F-16. In other words: Large, higher priced, maintenance-intensive BVR-focused planes will often end up delivering less sustained combat power.

F-35A at Eglin Air Force Base
F-35A at Eglin Air Force Base

STEALTH: ANOTHER PRICEY, UNPROVEN INVESTMENT

BVR’s kissing cousin, stealth, is also not the silver bullet it was portrayed to be 20-plus years ago, when development began on the Joint Strike Fighter (the F-35). In fact, counter-stealth technology is advancing and proliferating much more quickly than stealth technology. Recognizing this, the U.S. Navy is wisely hedging its bets by not being too reliant on stealth.

Earlier this year, chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert noted the inevitable limits of stealth: “Let’s face it, if something moves fast through the air, disrupts molecules, and puts out heat — I don’t care how cool the engine can be, it’s going to be detectable.”

With the rapid proliferation of integrated air defenses capable of seeing and targeting stealthy airplanes, the decades-old vision of flying into the teeth of the integrated air defenses of our top competitors and attacking them with impunity is a fast-fading fantasy. A modest premium for cost-effective stealth probably makes sense, but a huge premium for maintenance-intensive stealth doesn’t.

Mathematical battle models, such as the Lanchester-square model, show numerical superiority rapidly swamps quality, meaning larger forces of less-capable planes can sweep opposing forces from the sky while suffering surprisingly small losses. And there’s certainly a good chance we’ll be facing more-numerous forces: Scenarios for defending Taiwan, for instance, have our pilots going up against Chinese pilots that could outnumber us by three to ten times.

The RAND Corporation has done an instructive analysis: Even assuming we have unhittable planes with perfectly accurate missiles and opponents lining up to be shot down like sitting ducks, our forces cede airspace control over Taiwan to China while taking crippling losses in terms of support aircraft. More realistic assumptions have us losing many of our F-22s as well.

Being on the wrong side of projections for these kind of scenarios is a bad place to be for our pilots. Getting to the right side of the equation will not be achieved by the fielding small numbers of $200-million-plus fighters whose core capabilities are inferior to most advanced fighters.

The Air Force wants to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt
The Air Force wants to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt

FANCIER TECH DOESN’T ALWAYS WIN

Advanced technology will always play a critical role in ensuring the success of our fighter aircraft, but we should also remember that quantity, tactics, and training can overcome technology. Ultimately, trying to maintain air-power dominance built on bleeding-edge technology that busts the budget, takes forever to develop, and delivers severely diminishing returns is a losing strategy in a world where technology rapidly diffuses.

Better reliability, while not sexy, facilitates more sorties, puts more planes in the air, and enables better pilot training. In a world where firing up powerful active sensors makes you a target, it might make sense to field smaller fighters that rely more on networked, passive sensors. Traditional fighter performance metrics such as instantaneous turn rate, sustained turn rate, and thrust-to-weight ratio still matter.

Our air-superiority fighters need to deliver unparalleled performance in the air, and they’re not. The USAF even acknowledges that the backbone of our future fighter corps, the F-35, isn’t designed to be an air-superiority fighter. Yet, along with air-superiority missions, the Air Force is counting on this strike fighter to perform close air-support missions that the inexpensive A-10 already does so much better.

These compromises aren’t necessary. For the cost of one F-35, we can buy several air-superiority and close–air-support planes that will deliver far more bang for the buck. Sadly, contractors and top military brass gravitate to the fanciest, most expensive fighters possible with little regard for affordability and maintainability. It’s time to bring back the procurement discipline necessary to buy fighters with the right mix of capabilities and cost.

That kind of strategy will allow us to field them in the numbers needed to maintain the air dominance our armed forces have been able to count on for the past 60 years.


Mike Fredenburg is a past contributor to National Review, the California Political Review, and the San Diego Union Tribune, and was the founding president of the Adam Smith Institute of San Diego, a conservative think tank and PAC.


Fox News interview with Gen. Welsh, USAF Chief-of-Staff by Shepard Smith:

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Mumbai 26/11 Details reveal Pakistan ISI complicity

Editor’s Note – Another major development is emerging, not likely to be aired in the USA, concerning the terrorist attack on Mumbai in 2008. Much is continuing to be revealed.

Known as 26/11 in India, the attacks began on Wednesday, November (11), 26, 2008, and ended on Saturday, November 29, 2008. The severe, gruesome attack is regarded in India the way we regard 9/11 here.

The attackers’ ties to Pakistan and its ISI are now emerging. The Pakistani ISI is the largest of the three intelligence services of Pakistan and has long been suspected of complicity in the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

ISI officers gave orders to 26/11 handlers, says Abu Hamza: Top 10 developments

Reported by Rashmi Rajput, Neeta Sharma – NDTV

New Delhi:  Abu Jundal aka Abu Hamza, whose real name is Zabiuddin Ansari (he has 10 aliases) is being interrogated by intelligence and police officials about his role as a handler during the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.

Abu Hamza - who's real name is: Zabiuddin Ansari has at least 10 aliases.

The following ten points were released:

  1. Abu Hamza has allegedly confessed that he was in a control room in Karachi during the 26/11 attacks, and that he served as one of six handlers who instructed the ten terrorists in Mumbai on how to execute the attacks at different landmarks.
  2. He has allegedly said that officers from Pakistan’s ISI were also in this control room. He however said LeT chief Hafiz Sayeed was not in the Karachi control room.
  3. Hamza was deported by Saudi Arabia earlier this month. He was being tracked by India’s Intelligence Bureau and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for more than a year, say sources.
  4. Abu Hamza was arrested by police in Saudi Arabia last year in connection with a forgery case. He had spent around a year in the jail when US investigating agencies learnt of his arrest. As soon as they were able to confirm his identity as one of the handlers involved in the 26/11 operation, Indian intelligence agencies were roped in. Indian intelligence officials collected DNA samples from his family members in Beed and sent samples to Saudi Arabia. They matched with Hamza’s. That helped persuade Saudi Arabia to hand him over.
  5. Pakistan had reportedly been pressuring Saudi Arabia against deporting Hamza to India. Sources say that Pakistan was worried that once India had access to the handler, it would be able to irrefutably establish how Pakistani “state actors” – possibly from the ISI and the country’s army – were linked to 26/11.
  6. He has allegedly said that after Ajmal Kasab was caught alive during the 26/11 attacks (the other nine terrorists in Mumbai were killed), the handlers who had worked the phones to them were asked to leave Pakistan immediately. He travelled to Saudi Arabia on a Pakistani passport.

    Mumbai’s Taj Hotel, the scene of one in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks. (Photo: Pal Pillai/AFP/Getty Images)
  7. Hamza, 31, is from the Beed district in Maharashtra. He was originally a member of the Indian Mujahideen (IM), an Indian terror group, and was close to its founder, Riyaz Bhatkal. He escaped to Pakistan around 2006, by which time he was wanted for a massive arms haul in Aurangabad – AK47s and huge quantities of the explosive RDX were discovered as part of a major attack planned by the Lashkar.
  8. In 2010, a suspected Lashkar terrorist named Lal Baba Mohammed Sheikh was arrested by the NIA after the German Bakery was bombed in Pune; 17 people were killed. This arrested terrorist told interrogators that Hamza had played a part in the Pune terror attack. He listened to the 26/11 recordings of the phone conversations between the Pakistani terrorists in Mumbai and their six handlers in Pakistan, and identified Abu Hamza’s voice. He said this man was Zabiuddin Ansari from Beed. Indian intel then began tracking Hamza.
  9. He was the Indian hand in 26/11, they suspected – a man who used Hindi terms like prashasan and yuvak in his conversations, Hindi words that suggested he was from India. Of the ten terrorists who executed 26/11, Ajmal Kasab alone was captured alive. He told a court that Hamza had taught his group Hindi before they set sail for Mumbai from Karachi.
  10. Hamza, currently in a Delhi jail, is in the custody of the Delhi Police. He will stay there till July 5. The Mumbai Police wants to question him about the 2006 attacks on local trains in Mumbai, in which 180 people were killed. It moved the Tis Hazari court in Delhi today seeking his custody. The Bangalore Police wants to interrogate him about his alleged role in a bomb blast outside Chinnaswamy Stadium during a cricket match in 2010. The National Investigation Agency which is handling the 26/11 case, also wants to interrogate him.

Violence erupts – Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan

Editor’s Note – The Afghanistan/Pakistan Theater continues to roil with violence. In Pakistan, over 380 prisoners were freed by Taliban attackers, and in Afghanistan, attacks erupted across the country.

Additionally, things are not quiet in Syria again as:

Syria’s ceasefire increasingly was under threat on Sunday as the government vowed a crackdown on a wave of “terrorist attacks” and its forces shelled Homs on the day the first U.N. peace monitors were due to enter the country. (Read the rest here.)

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Kabul bomb wave, rockets fired: Taliban targets diplomats & NATO

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Taliban attack Pakistan prison, free 380 prisoners

By ISHTIAQ MAHSUD – YahooNews

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) — Taliban militants armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades battled their way into a prison in northwest Pakistan on Sunday, freeing close to 400 prisoners, including at least 20 described by police as “very dangerous” insurgents, authorities and the militants said.

The raid by more than 100 fighters was a dramatic display of the strength of the insurgency gripping the nuclear-armed country. The escaped prisoners may now rejoin the fight, giving momentum and a propaganda boost to a movement that has killed thousands of Pakistani officials and ordinary citizens since 2007.

The attackers stormed the prison before dawn in the city of Bannuin Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province close to the Afghan border, said police officer Shafique Khan. They used explosives and hand grenades to knock down the main gates and two walls, said Bannu prison superintendent Zahid Khan.

Taliban freed 380 prisoners - Pakistani soldiers mill about afterward.

“They were carrying modern and heavy weapons,” said Zahid Khan. “They fired rockets.”

Once inside the building, the attackers headed straight to the area of the prison where death-row prisoners were being kept, he said. They fought with guards for around two hours, setting part of the prison on fire before freeing the 380 inmates, including at least 20 “very dangerous Taliban militants,” said Shafique.

Provincial police chief Akbar Hoti said authorities suspected the militants may have had inside help from prison officials.

“I think the officials did not respond as they could have,” Hoti told reporters. “It is also suspicious how the attackers could have exact information about their comrades.”

The militants coordinated with each other using radio handsets as they freed their colleagues in different parts of the prison, said one of the prisoners who did not escape, Amanullah Khan.

“They had hammers to break the locks and doors,” he said. “They shot at locks when they failed to break them open.”

The militants shouted “God is great” and “Long live the Taliban” when they freed Adnan Rashid, who was on death row for his involvement in an assassination attempt against former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, said Amanullah Khan. They honored him by placing a turban on his head, he said.

The prison in Bannu housed 944 inmates. The government used the prison as the main facility to detain scores of Taliban militants arrested in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said provincial minister Bashir Bilour.

“They have previously been in separate prisons, but for some time they have been shifted to this prison,” said Bilour.

He did not know exactly how many militants were released by the attackers.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Asimullah Mehsud claimed nearly 150 militants were freed and made it safely to Mir Ali, a town in the North Waziristan tribal area, the group’s main sanctuary. Militants beat drums to welcome them when they arrived, he said.

Pakistan’s military has launched a series of operations against the Pakistani Taliban, which has forged alliances with al-Qaida and other transnational militant movements based along the Afghan border. The movement is closely linked to the Afghan Taliban, which is battling U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Soldiers and police have killed or arrested hundreds of militants, but the insurgency has proved resilient. Insurgents have carried out suicide bombings and other attacks across the country in retaliation, raising doubts in some quarters over whether the county can survive. Prison breakouts like the one Sunday have been rare.

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Associated Press writer Asif Shahzad contributed to this report from Islamabad.

Obama and Clinton – Negotiate with old enemies?

By SUA Staff

The White House and the State Department are in the midst of discussing future moves with some very strange characters; people we have either been at war with for years, or worked ardently with the former Egyptian regimes to stymie in the past. At one time, no one would have ever dreamed of talks with the Taliban or the Muslim Brotherhood, so what is the current administration up to?

The Taliban

It has been revealed publically that the United States has been in talks with the Taliban regarding a peace deal since early 2009, legally or otherwise. Peace talks with an avowed enemy, an arch-enemy, a supporter and kin to al Qaeda is questionable at best. This appears to be why V.P. Joe Biden said the Taliban were not necessarily our enemy, despite the fact that at one time, they were at the top of the enemy list. It is clear that Obama and crew are more concerned with fulfilling campaign promises then doing what is in the best intersts of the USA.

America and her allies have been at war with the Taliban for ten long years, so why is there an objective to bring them to the peace tea table now? The 16 page National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan will give you a comprehensive summary and includes the various tribes that comprise the Taliban and al Qaeda.

U.S. lawyers and members of Congress expressed deep concern and opposition over the details of this endeavor with the Taliban and had even placed restrictions on the transfer of any prisoners from Guantanamo, let alone Taliban members in the National Defense Authorization Bill (NDAA). It is likely part of the reason for including key text in the NDAA. However, in defiance, the State Department and the White House have moved forward anyway, standing on their ‘signing statements’ as a spring board.

Despite the arguments over negotiating with a known terrorist, or terrorist support groups, the peace talks involve the release of Taliban commanders from Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. The question is, who are these detainees and how bad are they? Just who are these commanders that were selected for release? For a complete list of those on the list click here. In a Congressional hearing, Paul Stockton, a top Pentagon official testified that we are only at war with al Qaeda and not Islam or other radical Islamic factions, which apparently excludes the Taliban.

Noorullah Noori

Three specific commanders, Mullah Khair Khowa, Noorullah Noori, and Mullah Fazl Akhund have already been freed according to SUA sources, but why? These were the baddest of the bad; that’s why they have been in custody so long. In Afghanistan, dual roles and multiple allegiances are the norm and its not a surprise that some of these bad men were also political leaders and office holders. Some were in power along the border with Iran, a place where tribal relationships have no border distinction . It was estimated that five Taliban prisoners were set to be released and three appear to already be well on their way to Qatar where they will be living under asylum conditions with oversight from an unknown committee and enforcement.

Mullah Khowa was the interior minister and governor of Herat Province; the province abutting Iran. What is more that should be known is Khowa had ties with Iran as was presented in legal briefings in cases post 9-11. Please refer to page 85 and 86 here. Khair and Akhund were together after the Taliban fell, and were heading to Quetta when Pakistan intelligence picked them up and handed them over to the United States.

Also captured in the arrest was Mullah Abdul Naizi, who later escaped. It is alleged that the United States demanded that Khowa be part of the peace process after the negotiations, perhaps to minimize the betrayal of notorious Afghan warlord,  General Dustam when he pledged to evacuate Fazl and Noori from the north . Instead, Dustam handed them over for eventual Guantanamo Bay detention . These three and the rest are members of an evil network , the type that would make a horror story author blanch. SUA staff and contacts tell us that any vicious description is a gross understatement; as these people are truly wicked men, men even the Russians feared from the outset of their long military occupational conflict in Afghanistan . If you are so inclined to understand their history, click here.

What may be most important about sending these Taliban commanders to Qatar is that it is more neutral concerning other Middle East conflicts allowing easier future diplomatic agreements. Additionally, many other players in the region will be footing some of the bill to securely house them in the lap of luxury. Are the White House and State also working an angle to include in any agreement in this release to consider it a trade for one Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 25 years old, captured and held by the Taliban since 2009?

Let’s examine some other facts. The Taliban and al Qaeda have worked together for ages and are presently seeking Pakistan’s help to take on the remaining American forces in Afghanistan. The quest is to force an earlier than scheduled exit of American and NATO forces from Afghanistan planned for 2014. One must ask the question, does al Qaeda get a voice at the negotiating table, either overtly or through the Taliban?

It is unlikely that the United States, with the help of NATO membership, will break any alliance between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The United States could easily get duped again with trade and peace deals as Afghanistan and Pakistan are essentially either hidden proxies of Iran and Russia or willing players, playing both ends against the middle. The relationship between the United States and Pakistan is broken and the probability for a make-up session is slim. With current upheaval between the government and the military in Pakistan, it continues to be less than likely that the relationship will warm once again.

A key player in all this chicanery is Vali Nasr, a professor at Tufts University, born in Iran. He is the designated point man tasked with implementing the peace talks with the Taliban, and has been an Obama administration adviser for some time. Nasr is their so-called expert on Middle East policy as well as Islam now. From 2009-2011, Nasr served the administration providing policy advice for Afghanistan and Pakistan and he predicted the Arab Spring and is aligned with the Council of Foreign Relations.

Vali Nasr - Obama Adviser on the Middle East and Taliban

Nasr is a member of the Board of Trustees at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the National Democratic Institute while being a Carnegie Scholar and holding a PhD from MIT. The National Democratic Institute is closely associated with the Democratic Party as well as Socialist International and it was one of their offices that was raided by police in Egypt in December.

Muslim Brotherhood

The State Department is also negotiating with the Muslim Brotherhood in addition to the Taliban. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have ignored and or gambled on Nasr’s advice regarding Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as that of the Arab Spring in which we saw the fall of Egypt to the Muslim Brotherhood and the administration is doing the same when it comes to war-gaming with Syria and Iran.

2012 is re-election year for Barack Obama and arranging a peace with the Taliban would have all the appearances of another check mark in the diplomatic ‘win’ column and the fulfillment of past campaign promises. This dovetails well with the killing of Osama bin Ladin, the assassinations of Anwar Awlaki, and the United States has formally exited Iraq as promised. On the surface, these are great talking points, but where has his foreign policy actually taken the USA? Additionally, since Barack Obama promised to close Guantanamo, so by moving prisoners to another location in a ‘slight of hand’ move that may appease his base without actually closing the base and avoids the contentious military tribunals this administration and the Department of Justice staunchly oppose.

What ever the end story becomes, once the Taliban agreement is complete and how it plays out regarding Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan is still up for debate. However, we clearly are witnessing a gathering of forces with new partnerships with strange bedfellows.

Al-Shahab – The focus is elsewhere as killing increases

Editor’s Note – Al-Shabab is a Somali faction of Al Qaeda that in recent days, has emerged as a killing machine, and Kenyan soldiers have even entered Somalia to confront them. Included below is the latest article on that theater. Border wars and the struggle for control of Somalia have become a major conflict that the UN and NATO forces have essentially ignored. We are witnessing yet another re-do of Mogadishu as US troops land in Uganda, and it is spreading to other regions. Yet, the wars in the Middle East and North Africa also include the massive fighting and death toll on the Kurd group P.K.K.in and around Turkey and Iraq. The PKK has been deemed a terror organization by the United States.

al-Shabab Somali Faction aligned with al-Qaeda

Our diplomatic strategy seems most predominantly focused on Afghanistan and Pakistan despite the myriad issues elsewhere. Currently, Hillary Clinton has a very large delegation with her for her meeting with Karzai. “U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Afghan President Hamid Karzai participated in a joint press conference in Kabul on the eve of Clinton’s visit to Pakistan”. In the Wednesday address, Clinton warned Pakistan against harboring terrorists, using what The New York Times labeled “some of the Obama administration’s most pointed language to date.

Clinton and Karzai discussed the implications of Pakistan providing safe haven to militants including the Taliban and the Haqqani, and Clinton pledged to “push the Pakistanis very hard” on the issue of terrorism. Clinton is scheduled to arrive in Islamabad on Thursday accompanied by an “unusually powerful” delegation including U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey and CIA Director David Petraeus, and will reportedly deliver a message of both “support and pressure” to Pakistan. Despite the “muscular show of diplomatic force,” The New York Times reports that talks may be plagued by “fundamentally different views” held by the two countries on how to combat terrorism. That is an understatement of course, and its not the only set of differing views in that theater.

Pakistan Security Brief – In recent months, Pakistan has “turned the tables” on the U.S. by charging that terrorist safe havens have developed in eastern Afghanistan, which Pakistan suggests is the “new regional hub for Islamist militants.” According to the Washington Post, some analysts have expressed that Pakistan may be “pushing this case as an excuse for not pursuing the Haqqani Network” in Pakistani territory. Meanwhile, the U.S. is pushing Pakistan to accept a proposal allowing for international monitoring bodies to be stationed along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to ensure regional security and non-interference prior to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in 2014.”

Somali Shebab rebels claim dozens of dead AU peacekeepers

By Mustafa Haji Abdi

AFP/Yahoo

Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels displayed “over 70” dead bodies outside Mogadishu on Thursday, which they claimed were African Union peacekeepers killed in battle.

If verified, it would be the worst massacre and largest single defeat that the AU force in Mogadishu has suffered in some four years of bloody battles defending the weak Western-backed government against the hardline Shebab.

“We have killed more than 70 of the enemy soldiers today… We have inflicted heavy losses on them and you can see their dead bodies,” Shebab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage said, displaying the bodies in the dust to reporters.

Angry crowds dragged some of the bodies across the ground, witnesses said.

Photographs show long lines of at least 20 bodies dressed in military uniform laid out in the sand, surrounded by a large crowd with their faces covered.

Witnesses confirmed that the dead bodies were displayed in the extremist Shebab-controlled Alamada area, some 18 kilometres (11 miles) outside the war-torn capital late Thursday, and that the bodies were not Somalis.

“I have seen the largest number of soldiers killed in a battle, I have counted 63 Burundian soldiers, all of them dead, the Shebab brought them on trucks to Alamada,” Hasan Yunus, a witness said.

“Some of the dead bodies were dragged along by angry residents — I could not count them exactly, but there were more than 60,” said Ahmed Jama, another witness.

African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM) troops and government forces have been pushing into remaining rebel areas in Mogadishu, after the bulk of the Shebab abandoned fixed positions in August.

Burundian troops with the 9,000 strong AMISOM force control the sector closest to the fighting and are believed to have led the assault.

Ugandan soldiers make up the bulk of the AU force and control other sections of the anarchic capital.

Despite their pullout from much from the capital, the Shebab have not wavered from their aim to topple the AU-protected government. They still control large swathes of southern and central Somalia, and remain a serious security threat.

Shebab fighters in southern Somalia are also facing assaults from Kenyan troops and tanks backed by air strikes since Nairobi declared war on the insurgents and confirmed it had moved its forces into Somalia on Sunday.

Kenya’s military said Thursday it had seized the coastal area of Ras Kamboni without a fight, a former Shebab stronghold just across the Somali border, said military spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir.

Inland, Chirchir said Kenyan troops were bogged down by “heavy rains” some 100 kilometres (60 miles) inside Somalia, as they prepared to push forward to seize the town of Afmadow, where Somali government forces were fighting.

Nairobi’s unprecedented military incursion into Somalia, which it said had already killed dozens of Shebab fighters, has triggered warnings of bloody retaliation by the Shebab.

The Shebab deny involvement in a spate of attacks and abductions from Kenya — including that of a disabled French woman who died in captivity — that Nairobi says prompted its offensive.

In Somalia, there has been a series of suicide bombings in the capital since the Shebab rebels said they were abandoning face-to-face battles and switching to guerrilla tactics in the city instead.

Earlier this month, a suicide bomber exploded a truck laden with explosives, killing at least 82 people and wounding many more.

But the deaths in Mogadishu Thursday provide a grim warning suggesting that the Shebab remain a powerful military threat.

Shamso Abdulkadir was amongst the giant crowd who came to see the dead bodies, and said that some wore body armour and helmets.

“I have counted 70, most of them were shot in the head and shoulders,” Abdulakdir told AFP.

“Residents gathered to watch the dead bodies after they were publicly displayed, and then afterwards, they were dragged about by people,” she said.

Somali government and AMISOM officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Heavy fighting was reported in the northwest Deynile district throughout Thursday, but Somali government officials had earlier said they were moving alongside AU troops “towards the final strongholds of the terrorist militants”.

Battles began before dawn in Mogadishu as AU-backed Somali forces advanced on holdout Islamist Shebab positions, officials and witnesses said.

The fighting was centered in Deynile suburb, a remaining pocket still held by the Al-Qaeda linked militants, which borders the rebel-held Afgoye, the world’s largest camp for displaced people.