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Stop NATO News February 22, 2011

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1. Star Wars: U.S. Recruiting Space Allies

2. Space War: Pentagon’s Fourth Domain

3. Japan Assigns Medics To NATO’s Afghan War Mission

4. NATO Caucasus And Cental Asia Representative In Georgia For NATO Conference

5. Afghan Official: NATO Air Strike Kills Family Of Six

6. After Gates, Clinton Visits: U.S. Deputy Secretary Of State In Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia

7. Poland Backs West’s Caspian-To-Baltic Pipeline

8. Russia: Ambassador Summoned Over U.S. Backing Japan On Kuril Dispute

9. Latest U.S. Drone Strike Kills Three More In Pakistan

10. Pakistan: 118 Deadly Drone Attacks Killed Only Two Top Alleged Terrorists

11. Tunisia: McCain Offers Military Assistance For “Model Revolution”

12. Pakistani Intelligence: U.S. Killer Worked For CIA

13. Eastern Partnership: Poland’s EU Presidency To Spur West’s Drive To The East

14. NATO Completes Massive Anti-Submarine Warfare Drills In Eastern Mediterranean

15. Persian Gulf: U.S. Military Chief Continues Weeklong Middle East Trip

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1. Star Wars: U.S. Recruiting Space Allies

http://www.news.com.au/technology/sci-tech/star-wars-us-recruiting-space-allies/story-fn5fsgyc-1226009220367

Associated Press
February 21, 2011

Star wars – US recruiting space allies

The US military wants to better protect its satellites and strengthen its ability to use them as weapons.

As the uncharted battlefield becomes increasingly crowded and dangerous, Pentagon leaders say a new military strategy for space is needed and called for greater cooperation with other nations on space-based programs to improve America’s ability to deter enemies.

“It’s a domain, like air land and sea,” General Kevin Chilton, who headed US Strategic Command until he retired recently, said.

The US, he said, needed to make sure that it protected and maintained the battlefield capabilities it got from space-based assets, including global positioning data, missile warning system information, and communications with fighters or unmanned drones.
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Last year, the US launched the top secret space plane, the X-37B, in what some onlookers called the first salvo in the “weaponisation of space”.

It landed some nine months later, but to date, there has only been speculation about its purpose based on observation of its movements.

The US plans to launch another space plane sometime around May. China and Russia are both reported to be working on similar projects.

Recently, Russia suggested the US may have used an electromagnetic pulse weapon to cripple the launch of one of its satellites.

While the new military strategy stresses the peaceful use of space, it also underscores the importance of orbiting satellites in both waging and deterring war.

“We need to ensure that we can continue to utilise space to navigate with accuracy, to communicate with certainty, to strike with precision and to see the battlefield with clarity,” deputy defense secretary William Lynn said

Mr Lynn and other Pentagon leaders say space has become more congested, competitive and contested, and the US needs to keep pace.

General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the US and other nations must develop rules of the road for space that lay out what is acceptable behaviour and movement there.

At a forum put on by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Gen Cartwright said nations need to have guidelines that govern the approximately 22,000 manmade objects orbiting Earth, including about 1100 active satellites.

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2. Space War: Pentagon’s Fourth Domain

http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5iN7alL6nGKq8xpqstXi0-MoSbwUQ?docId=6013317

Associated Press
February 21, 2011

Space: A competitive and hotly contested warfighting frontier for the US military
By Lolita C. Baldor

-The U.S….needs to make it known that even if another nation attacks an American satellite, the U.S. military response wouldn’t be limited to a space-based action, officials said. It could turn to any of its warfighting capabilities.

WASHINGTON: The U.S. military needs to better protect its satellites and strengthen its ability to use them as weapons as the uncharted battlefield of space becomes increasingly crowded and dangerous, Pentagon leaders say.

A new military strategy for space, as mapped out by the Pentagon, calls for greater co-operation with other nations on space-based programs to improve America’s ability to deter enemies.

“It’s a domain, like air, land and sea,” said Gen. Kevin Chilton, who led U.S. Strategic Command until he retired late last month. “Space is not just a convenience. It’s become a critical part in every other (battlefield) domain.”

The U.S., Chilton said, needs to make sure that it protects and maintains the battlefield capabilities it gets from space-based assets, including global positioning data, missile warning system information, and communications with fighters or unmanned drones that are providing surveillance or firing missiles against the enemy.

As the U.S. and other countries depend more on their satellites for critical data, those assets become greater targets for their enemies.

“It’s prudent to anticipate that, at this point, we will not go into a future conflict with a sophisticated adversary and not expect to be challenged in the space domain,” Chilton told The Associated Press in an interview. “We need to be thinking about how we would go into future conflicts and make sure that we un-level (that) battlefield in our favour.”

While the new strategy — the first of its kind — stresses the peaceful use of space, it also underscores the importance of satellites in both waging and deterring war.

“We need to ensure that we can continue to utilize space to navigate with accuracy, to communicate with certainty, to strike with precision and to see the battlefield with clarity,” said William Lynn, deputy defence secretary.
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The strategy offers little detail about offensive operations in space. But defence officials say that China, Iran and others have demonstrated their abilities to take action in space.
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The new space strategy, endorsed by top Pentagon and intelligence officials, also shows the importance of having alternatives. For example, if a satellite signal is being jammed, officials should be able to go to another or to an air or sea-based signal.

The U.S. also needs to make it known that even if another nation attacks an American satellite, the U.S. military response wouldn’t be limited to a space-based action, officials said. It could turn to any of its warfighting capabilities.
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Online:
National Space Strategy: http://tinyurl. com/4vsdopr

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3. Japan Assigns Medics To NATO’s Afghan War Mission

http://www.istockanalyst.com/ article/viewiStockNews/articleid/4906943

Kyodo News
February 20, 2011

Japan asked to treat injured in plan to send medics to Afghanistan

TOKYO: The U.N. security mission in Afghanistan has asked Japan to treat injured people under its envisioned plan to dispatch Self-Defense Forces medical officers to the Central Asian country to provide human resources training, Japanese government sources said Sunday.

The International Security Assistance Force, led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has not specified who it wants the Japanese medics to treat, but the possibility that it could include soldiers injured in battle cannot be denied, the sources said.

If injured soldiers are to be treated by SDF medical officers, it could draw criticism that such action would effectively constitute participation in the use of force, which is banned under Japan’s Constitution.

To carry out the envisaged dispatch, the Japanese government would have to conclude an agreement with ISAF that would require Diet approval, but parliamentary deliberations on such an accord would likely be rough.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan told U.S. President Barack Obama during their meeting last November that Japan would positively consider dispatching medics to Afghanistan.

Since then, the Japanese government has been considering sending around 10 medical and nursing officers to Kabul to train and provide guidance to doctors and staff at the Afghan military’s medical facilities.

In December, the government dispatched a team made up of representatives of the Defense Ministry and the Foreign Ministry to consult with the Afghan government and ISAF as well as to check the security situation and see what kind of activities the Japanese medical mission would engage in, the sources said.

At that time, ISAF, which carries out operations against the Taliban, asked that the Japanese medics treat the injured in addition to training local medical personnel, the sources said.

It also became apparent that Japan would have to conclude an agreement with ISAF that would stipulate the legal status, rights and duties of the SDF medical and nursing officers as they would be conducting activities as members of the international security mission, the sources said.

While the Japanese government had earlier considered the possibility of implementing the dispatch by the time Kan visits the United States in June, the complications have forced it to stall its consideration of the plan, they said.

Attacks by insurgents occur frequently in Afghanistan, where more than 700 foreign troops and more than 800 Afghan soldiers were killed last year.

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4. NATO Caucasus-C. Asia Rep In Georgia For NATO Conference

http://en.apa.az/news.php?id=141174

Azeri Press Agency
February 21, 2011

NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative to visit Azerbaijan in June
Viktoria Dementyeva

Baku: NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the South Caucasus and Central Asia James Appathurai plans to visit Azerbaijan in June, the office of James Appathurai told APA.

Earlier the visit to Azerbaijan had been planned for March, but was put off as it coincided with the Novruz holiday. James Appathurai will visit Georgia late in March, but will not come to Azerbaijan. He will attend a NATO conference in Tbilisi.

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5. Afghan Official: NATO Air Strike Kills Family Of Six

http://en.trend.az/regions/world/afghanistan/1832992.html

Deutsche Presse-Agentur
February 21, 2011

NATO airstrike kills six civilians, Afghan official says

A NATO airstrike targeting a group of alleged insurgents mistakenly killed an Afghan family of six, an Afghan official said Monday, DPA reported.

“A rocket from a NATO airplane mistakenly hit a house, killing a couple and their four children,” Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, the provincial governor’s spokesman, said. “Three Taliban fighters were also killed in the attack.”

The airstrike took place late Sunday in Khogyani, a district in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

The attack came one day after President Hamid Karzai condemned NATO airstrikes that had allegedly killed some 50 civilians in the neighbouring province of Kunar.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed the airstrike in Khogyani, saying it was investigating the operation which resulted in Afghan civilians being accidentally killed and wounded.

“Following the engagement, coalition forces observed three vehicles travelling to a local hospital. The passengers of the vehicles later reported the roof of their compound collapsed during the engagement, resulting in the casualties” the ISAF statement said.

Patrick Hynes, director of NATO’s operations centre, said they were investigating “a deeply regrettable accident”… .

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6. Post-Gates, Clinton: U.S. DoS Deputy In Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia

http://en.trend.az/news/politics/1832792.html

Trend News Agency
February 21, 2011

U.S. deputy secretary of state to arrive in Baku
E. Tariverdiyeva

Baku: U.S. First Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg will arrive in Baku on Feb. 24, the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan said on Monday.

“Steinberg will arrive in Baku from Tbilisi,” an embassy official said.

U.S. senior officials visited Azerbaijan last summer. Pentagon Chief Robert Gates and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Baku.

As Armenian media outlets reported, citing the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Tigran Balayan, the delegation headed by Steinberg will also visit Armenia on Feb. 23.

In December, after an 18-month absence of a U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Matthew Bryza to the post.

According to the U.S. Constitution, the candidates nominated by the president must be approved by the Senate. However, as Congress is between sessions, the president may make appointments independently.

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7. Poland Backs West’s Caspian-To-Baltic Pipeline

http://en.trend.az/capital/energy/1832943.html

Trend News Agency
February 21, 2011

Poland reiterates support for Nabucco project

Baku: Poland is backing the Nabucco gas pipeline, designed to transport gas from the Caspian region and the Middle East to EU countries, but building interconnectors between countries to help one another during a supply crisis is key for Europe’s energy security, New Europe reported according to Poland’s top diplomat.

“We support Nabucco,” Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski told New Europe in Strasbourg. Sikorski paid a visit to the European Parliament in Strasbourg to present the state of play of the preparations for Poland’s Presidency in the EU Council.

According to Sikorski, Poland is the country which has concluded the first agreement with an external supplier on energy based on the Third Energy Package.

“Europe as a whole has energy supplies from three directions but we need to build the physical interconnectors and the legal basis so we can help one another in a crisis so nothing that resembles the gas crisis of two years ago happens,” Sikorski said.

Nabucco gas pipeline project is worth 7.9 billion euro, with its construction planned to start in 2012 and the first supplies to be commissioned in 2015. The project’s participants include the Austrian OMV, Hungarian MOL, Bulgarian Bulgargaz, Romanian Transgaz, Turkish Botas and German RWE.

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8. Russia: Ambassador Summoned Over U.S. Backing Japan On Kurils

http://www.interfax.com/newsinf.asp?pg=3&id=223923

Interfax
February 21, 2011

U.S. ambassador summoned to Russian Foreign Ministry over Kuril Islands issue

MOSCOW: U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle was invited to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Monday, where he was informed of Russia’s fundamental position on the South Kuril Islands.

“U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle was invited to the Russian Foreign Ministry on February 21 for talks with Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin. John Beyrle’s attention was drawn to the recent statement made by officials with the U.S. Department of State and of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, which expressed support for Japan’s territorial claims to Russia,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, posted on its official website on Monday.

“In this connection Russia’s basic and invariable position on Russian sovereignty over the South Kuril islands was set forth once again,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

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9. Latest U.S. Drone Strike Kills Three More In Pakistan

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-02/22/c_13742578.htm

Xinhua News Agency
February 21, 2011

U.S. drone attack kills 3 in Pakistani tribal area

ISLAMABAD: At least three people were killed on Monday evening in a latest U.S. drone attack in Miranshah, a main town in the northwestern Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan, local sources said.

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10. Pakistan: 118 Deadly Drone Attacks Killed Only 2 Alleged Terrorists

http://rt.com/usa/news/usa-drone- bombs-terrorists

RT
February 21, 2011

US fires 118 drone bombs, kills only two most wanted terrorists

According to independent estimates a total of 118 CIA drone attacks on Pakistan killed only two terrorists on the US ‘most-wanted’ list.

The CIA spent over $1 million per drone attack. The high cost and high number of attacks proved quite fruitless given the result – two highly sought terrorists killed.

The National Counterterrorism Center said the two who were killed were Sheik Saeed al-Masri, a top Al-Qaeda operative, and Ahmed Mohammed Hamed Ali, who was part of the attacks on US embassies in 1998.

Thirteen others killed were high value targets and another 581 were low-level. A senior Pakistani official referred to the vast majority of targets as “mere foot soldiers” who had no influence or power.

The US military however contended the program has been successful and has disrupted the operational capacity of al-Qaeda.

Nevertheless, the numbers bring about important questions on the efficiency, costs and benefits of such operations.

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11. Tunisia: McCain Offers Military Assistance For “Model Revolution”

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/ default.asp?page=20112\22\story_ 22-2-2011_ pg4_5

Reuters
February 21, 2011

US offers Tunisia security aid for ‘model’ revolution

-Senator John McCain says Tunisia has become a model for the region

TUNIS: Washington has offered Tunisia help in shoring up security following its “model” revolution, US Senator John McCain said on Monday.

A popular uprising in the North African state last month ended president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s 23 years of rule, sending shock waves through the Arab world and inspiring further revolts, one of which toppled Egypt’s president 10 days ago.

“The revolution in Tunisia has been very successful and it has become a model for the region,” McCain, the leading Republican on the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, told Reuters after meetings with Tunisian government officials.

“We stand ready to provide training to help Tunisia’s military to provide security,” he said.

Elections to replace Ben Ali are expected by July or August. But new protests have erupted in recent days against the interim government tasked with organising the vote for failing to address rising crime rates and lingering poverty.

Tunisia’s ouster of Ben Ali…inspired Egypt’s uprising and has also encouraged mass demonstrations elsewhere in the Arab world, including in neighbouring Libya where scores of people have been shot dead by security forces.

US Senator Joe Lieberman, travelling with McCain, said the situation in Libya was “tragic”.

“The Tunisian military played a constructive role… but the military in Libya has been against the people,” Lieberman told Reuters. “That is unacceptable.”
….

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12. Pakistani Intelligence: U.S. Killer Worked For CIA

http://www.rnw.nl/english/bulletin/ pakistan-intelligence-says-us-gunman- cia-0

Agence France-Presse
February 21, 2011

Pakistan intelligence says US gunman is CIA

A Pakistani intelligence official said Monday that an American in custody for killing two men was an undercover CIA contractor, setting off new friction in a crisis with the United States.

Washington voiced fear for the safety of Raymond Davis, who says he acted in self-defence. The United States has put intense pressure on Pakistan to free him, arguing that he enjoys diplomatic immunity.

But the unpopular government in Pakistan is also feeling heat from the political opposition not to cave in to US demands, with analysts even warning that the case could bring down the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

“It is beyond any shadow of a doubt that he was working for CIA,” an official from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“He’s on contract. He’s not a regular CIA guy, but he’s working for CIA. That’s confirmed,” the Pakistani official said.

US Senator Lindsey Graham also last week referred to Davis as an “agent.” Davis was arrested in eastern Pakistan, the base of virulently anti-Indian groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba which was linked to the 2008 siege of Mumbai.

Police told AFP they recovered a Glock pistol, four loaded magazines, a GPS navigation system and a small telescope from his car, after the shooting on a busy street in Lahore on January 27.

A third Pakistani was struck down and killed by a US diplomatic vehicle that came to Davis’s assistance. US officials denied Pakistan access to the vehicle and the occupants are widely believed to have left the country.

Washington has postponed a round of talks with Afghanistan and Pakistan, but Islamabad has said the matter is before the courts, although one compromise would be for the families to pardon Davis, in keeping with Islamic law.

“We remain concerned about him and our message to Pakistan remains he should be released as soon as possible,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said in Washington.

Crowley said Pakistan has told the United States that Davis is staying “in the safest possible location in Lahore,” adding: “Clearly, we hold the government of Pakistan fully responsible for his safety.”

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told the lower house on Monday that he was confident “that both the Pakistani and the US governments will not allow the Davis case to come in the way of mutually beneficial partnership” .

He said Pakistan was mindful of its international obligations under the Vienna Convention and other agreements.

But he added: “I want to assure this House and the nation that my government will not compromise on Pakistan’s sovereignty and dignity. We are a responsible government and conscious of the sentiments of our people.”

On Monday, a judge at Lahore’s top court ordered the government to appear on March 14 to respond to private petitions related to Davis’ incarceration, the law on diplomatic privileges.

The court last week deferred any judgement on whether Davis has diplomatic immunity and gave the foreign ministry until March 14 to determine his status.

In Washington, a US official said that the diplomatic immunity was “about as clear as it gets under international law.”
….

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13. Eastern Partnership: Poland’s EU Role To Spur West’s Drive East

http://www.thenews.pl/international/artykul149775_ eastern-partnership-central-to-polands-eu-presidency.html

Polish Radio
February 21, 2011

Eastern Partnership central to Poland’s EU presidency

Preparations for Poland’s six-month presidency of the EU by in July this year are in full swing at the Foreign Ministry with the Eastern Partnership to take centre stage.

The Eastern Partnership is a project initiated by Poland and Sweden aiming to integrate six Eastern European states within EU structures.

The Polish presidency will host an Eastern Partnership summit in the autumn, after it was agreed to move it from Budapest in March. Participating will be the EU’s head of diplomacy Catherine Ashton, as well as various meetings of economy ministers, heads of border structures and various NGOs.

Andrzej Cieszkowski, the representative at the Foreign Ministry for Eastern Partnership, says that the Polish presidency is expected to be the most active in promoting the Eastern Partnership.

“We have opened negotiations with all the participating states, except Belarus. Negotiations concerning both the association deals as well as deals pertaining to free trade zones, talks on this issue are underway with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia and Armenia is soon to join in,” he told Polish Radio.

The Eastern Partnership has also opened projects such as anticorruption programmes, support for developing small enterprises as well as border control. The European Investment Bank has opened a special fund supporting investments in the Eastern Partnership states amounting to over one and a half billion euro.

The Eastern Partnership programme was launched in 2009 and embraces Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan as well as Belarus.

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14. NATO Ends Massive Anti-Sub Warfare Drills In E. Mediterranean

http://www.aco.nato.int/page424205217.aspx

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Transformation
February 21, 2011

Exercise Proud Manta 2011

Last week, Exercise Proud Manta 2011 came to conclusion after two weeks of intense Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) activity. Ten NATO nations provided six submarines, 19 aircraft (including ship-borne helicopters) and eight surface ships for NATO’s largest annual event of this type. Operating in the Ionian Sea to the Southeast of Sicily contributing forces from Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States trained and practiced at being both hunter and hunted.

A Royal Navy helicopter squadron took part in Proud Manta for the first time with Merlin Mk1 maritime patrol helicopters from 814 Naval Air Squadron flying 2,250km across Europe from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Helston, Cornwall in order to take part in the exercise and practice hunting submarines alongside other NATO helicopters. …

Another new addition to this year’s exercise was the inclusion of gliders (low-cost unmanned, autonomous undersea vehicles) in support of the exercise. Developed by the NATO Undersea Research Centre (NURC), La Spezia, Italy, the gliders collected in situ, 3-dimensional environmental data to support improved operational planning and decision-making tools. As opposed to traditional propelled autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), gliders use shifts in mass to steer and changes in buoyancy to dive and surface, and can stay at-sea for very long periods of time.

For 18 days the gliders operated autonomously, sending data every three hours through an Iridium satellite link back to a command and control room at NURC….”We have developed sophisticated models and software to ensure effective glider mission planning and safe operations management during the exercise – according to Michel Rixen, NURC’s Proud Manta 11 scientist-in- charge – Glider data have been exploited continuously in ocean prediction systems and anti-submarine warfare tactical decision aids to support and optimize operational planning and asset management”.
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For Rear Admiral Gualtiero Mattesi Commander Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) speaking from his flagship ITS ETNA, the exercise had been of particular success in two ways. “It has offered excellent training opportunities for all the participants getting everyone, ships, planes, helicopters and submarines, all talking to one another and improving their communications and methods….”

Proud Manta 11 ended with an all-day live media event which included lifting members of the media to ITS ETNA from where they could observe German frigate LUEBECK, Italian and UK helicopters and a German P-3C engage in submarine hunting and attack. The climax of the slowly unfolding drama was the dramatic appearance of the Greek SSK class submarine PROTEUS, which for the benefit of the awaiting photographers, came to the surface.

Asked by the media why all this was still relevant to NATO Captain Luthiger pointed out that the number of submarines in the world continues to increase and many nations clearly consider them a must-have in their national arsenals…. .

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15. Persian Gulf: U.S. Military Chief Continues Weeklong Mideast Trip

http://www.defense.gov/news/ newsarticle.aspx?id=62878

U.S. Department of Defense
February 21, 2011
American Forces Press Service

Mullen Continues Middle East Trip in Qatar
By Donna Miles

DOHA, Qatar: The top U.S. military officer arrived here in the Qatari capital today, continuing his weeklong trip through the Middle East after concluding what he called frank, reassuring talks with leaders in Saudi Arabia about widespread regional unrest.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters concern about violence surrounding many of the pro-democratic movements that have rippled through the region – and how Iran might exert its power in the process – dominated his talks today with Saudi political and military leaders.

The chairman emphasized that he does not believe Iran played a role in toppling the regimes of Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak or in stirring up other protest movements. “These are, by and large, internal issues, as opposed to issues fomented by some external force,” he said.

But nonetheless, Mullen said, the United States and its allies in the region are wary that Iran might use the upheaval as a chance to exert influence. He called Iran “a country that continues to foment instability in the region and take advantage of every opportunity.”

“There are always concerns in this region with Iran. Certainly the United States has them, as well as all the regional players,” he told reporters after concluding today’s meetings in Riyadh. “Certainly that was part of the discussion today with the Saudis.”

In the Saudi capital of Riyadh, the chairman met with Prince Mohammed bin Niyif, assistant interior minister for security affairs; Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, commander of Saudi Arabia’s national guard; Prince Khalid bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, assistant defense and aviation minister for military affairs; and Lt. Gen. Qubail, deputy chief of the general staff. He also met with U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia James Smith and his staff.

Mullen said his talks focused largely on the tumult in Bahrain, where a violent weekend left many anti-government protestors dead. “Obviously the Saudis, in particular — but everybody in the region — is watching what’s happening in Bahrain very closely,” he said.

The Saudi government, concerned that whatever happens there could spill over to Saudi Arabia’s eastern province, has expressed support for Bahrain’s ruling Khalifa family and sent a warning to Iran.

“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia stands with all its capabilities behind the state and the brotherly people of Bahrain,” the government-run Saudi Press Agency announced in a statement. Saudi Arabia expressed “absolute rejection” of foreign tampering in Bahrain’s affairs.
….
The chairman arrived here today for the second leg of a trip that also includes stops in United Arab Emirates, Djibouti and Kuwait, and possibly Bahrain.

Tonight in Doha, Mullen will be the guest of honor at a dinner hosted by Maj. Gen. Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah, the Qatari armed forces’ chief of staff. He has meetings slated tomorrow with Sheikh bin Hamad al Thani, ruling emir of Qatar since 1995.

From there, Mullen is slated to travel to United Arab Emirates, where he will meet with leaders and attend the International Defense Exposition and Conference in Abu Dhabi. Later this week, he will visit Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, then will conclude his trip in Kuwait with ceremonies marking the 20th anniversary of its liberation during Operation Desert Storm.

Although the visit had been long-scheduled, Mullen told reporters traveling with him, its context changed dramatically in light current events. He dismissed the notion that his trip shows the United States is taking sides in regional conflicts, emphasizing the importance of peaceful resolution to the current situation in the strategically important Gulf region.

“We have a longstanding relationship with the leaders in these countries,” he said, noting his own close ties with their military leaders. “That doesn’t mean we don’t all share concern about what has happened and look to the future,” he said. “It is really important that we reaffirm the relationship” and evaluate “what has occurred and how we are going to look to the future together.”
….

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  1. rosemerry
    February 23, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Iran “a country that continues to foment instability in the region and take advantage of every opportunity.”
    “There are always concerns in this region with Iran. Certainly the United States has them, as well as all the regional players,” he told reporters after concluding today’s meetings in Riyadh. “Certainly that was part of the discussion today with the Saudis.”
    It is wonderful that not only has he reassured the Zionists that Israel will remain favoured, but Mullen has found every extremist Arab leader ready to join forces with the good ole USA to ensure no democracy should sully the oil flow to the hands of the big corporations.

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