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16 juin 2013 7 16 /06 /juin /2013 07:20
Does Competitive Defense Contracting Make Sense?

June 14, 2013 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: Lexington Institute; issued June 13, 2013)

 

Competitive Defense Contracting: When It Makes Sense (and When It Doesn't)


Competition has become the mantra of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) acquisition corps. The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics, Mr. Frank Kendall has gone on record saying “I think that nothing, nothing, works better than competition to drive cost down.” DoD has established metrics for competition, sort of like a quota system. Many more prime contracts are being competed. The idea is to the greatest extent possible to replicate the commercial marketplace.

Unfortunately, the defense marketplace does not resemble the ideal free market where competition produces optimal market efficiency. Indeed, there are reasons to believe that the competition goals set by DoD and the policies implemented to encourage competition are not contributing to acquisition cost savings. A recent study of the defense industrial base by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments concluded that efforts to increase competition based on the presumption “that the defense industry operates like a normal free market is not only unlikely to improve efficiency, but have often made things worse.”

The defense sector is really a state monopoly and should be treated as such. There are approaches to improving performance and reducing costs such as performance-based contracts. But to pretend that this sector can be a mirror of the commercial marketplace is wrong and ultimately counterproductive to the goals of reducing costs for defense goods.

There is a natural place for competition in the defense marketplace. In the early phases of a major program – concept definition, technology development and risk reduction – there is value in competition. DoD has experimented with continuing a second contractor through later program stages, including into full-rate production, with mixed results. Also, there are a range of goods and services that are commoditized and can be treated the same in the defense market as they are in the commercial world. Hence, the defense customer can use competition to achieve reduced price for a specified level of performance. This kind of competition is inherent in the products themselves and in their use. It is natural.

But for platforms, major weapons systems and networks, products that are likely to be in the force for decades and undergo repeated upgrades, certainty, reliability, quality and effectiveness must be the considered. Beyond a rather obvious point, competition for this set of goods and services is not natural but forced.

Click here to download the full study as PDF (24 pages)

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 21:50
Norway's Military Conscription To Be Extended To Women

Jun. 14, 2013 Defense News (AFP)

 

OSLO — Norway will soon become the only country in Europe to extend its military conscription to women in peacetime after parliament reached agreement on the issue Friday.

 

All of the parties represented in parliament, with the exception of the small Christian Democrat party, agreed to back a proposal by the center-left government for a “gender-neutral” military conscription.

 

In practice, that means that Norway’s mandatory one-year military service will be extended to women, probably as of 2015, according to the defense ministry’s proposal.

 

“Norway will be the first European country to draft women in peacetime,” a defense ministry spokesman, Lars Gjemble, said.

 

A number of other European countries have gone in the opposite direction in recent years, moving away from conscription toward professional armies.

 

Norway’s parliament is expected to adopt the bill by a broad majority, but a date has yet to be set for the vote.

 

The move is seen as a step toward gender equality and a bid to diversify the competencies within the military.

 

It is not due to a lack of conscripts: only 8,000 to 10,000 Norwegians are called up each year, among the some 60,000 who are theoretically eligible.

 

The conscripts are selected based on physical and psychological tests, as well as their motivation.

 

“This is a historic day,” said Defense Minister Anne-Grete Stroem-Erichsen.

 

“And it comes the very week when we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of women obtaining the right to vote,” she added.

 

Norwegian women have been allowed to do military service on a volunteer basis since 1976. They currently represent about 10 percent of conscripts.

 

Even before the adoption of a “gender-neutral” military service, the defense ministry had set a target of 20 percent women in the armed forces by 2020.

 

Outside of Europe, some countries such as Israel require both men and women to complete their military service.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 21:45
Mali: nouveau projet d'accord Bamako/rebelles touareg sur la table

15 juin 2013 22h45 Romandie.com (AFP)

 

OUAGADOUGOU - Un nouveau projet d'accord entre le pouvoir malien et les rebelles touareg occupant Kidal, dans le nord du Mali, a été mis au point samedi, dont les deux camps doivent discuter dimanche, a-t-on appris auprès des négociateurs.

 

Les parties vont recevoir le document final ce (samedi) soir et chacun va l'analyser cette nuit, et demain (dimanche) tout le monde se retrouvera pour l'examiner ensemble en plénière, a déclaré à quelques journalistes un responsable militaire international.

 

Il s'exprimait à l'issue d'une réunion d'experts militaires de Bamako et des groupes armés touareg, assistés de militaires du Burkina Faso, de la force africaine au Mali (Misma), de la future mission onusienne (Minusma) et de l'opération française Serval.

 

Lancées le 8 juin par le président burkinabè Blaise Compaoré, médiateur régional, les difficiles négociations de Ouagadougou doivent permettre un retour de l'armée malienne à Kidal dans la perspective de l'élection présidentielle prévue le 28 juillet dans tout le Mali.

 

Les experts militaires, qui ont planché toute la journée sur les modalités du redéploiement de l'armée malienne dans la ville de Kidal, se montraient confiants dans l'issue des discussions.

 

Je pense qu'on pourra parapher le texte demain (dimanche) et le signer lundi, a affirmé la source militaire internationale.

 

Je crois que c'est bon, a confirmé l'un des officiers appartenant à la délégation de Bamako.

 

Bientôt le drapeau malien flottera sur Kidal. Il reste les derniers réglages à faire, avait lancé plus tôt l'ancien ministre Tiébilé Dramé, négociateur principal des autorités maliennes, après une nouvelle rencontre avec les mouvements touareg sous l'égide du chef de la diplomatie burkinabè Djibrill Bassolé, accompagné de diplomates qui l'assistent au nom de la communauté internationale.

 

Ca a l'air d'aller, avait jugé de son côté Pierre Buyoya, le chef de la Misma.

 

Les discussions entre les émissaires du pouvoir malien et la délégation conjointe touareg du Mouvement national de libération de l'Azawad (MNLA) et du Haut conseil pour l'unité de l'Azawad (HCUA) ont buté ces derniers jours sur les exigences de Bamako, obligeant à renégocier un premier projet d'accord qui avait été accepté par les rebelles touareg.

 

Les désaccords ont porté principalement sur le calendrier et les modalités du retour de l'armée malienne à Kidal et du cantonnement et du désarmement des combattants touareg.

 

Le régime de Bamako a réclamé que le désarmement des rebelles soit réalisé sitôt les soldats maliens revenus à Kidal. Mais les négociateurs internationaux ont fait valoir que ce n'était pas faisable techniquement et ont proposé de commencer par un cantonnement de ces combattants.

 

Les poursuites judiciaires engagées contre des chefs rebelles par la justice malienne ont été aussi une pomme de discorde: Bamako en a refusé durant la semaine la suspension, malgré les demandes formulées par les médiateurs au nom de la paix.

 

Les mouvements armés touareg se sont installés fin janvier à Kidal à la faveur de l'opération militaire française Serval contre les groupes islamistes armés liés à Al-Qaïda. Les jihadistes avaient pris en 2012 le contrôle du nord du Mali, s'alliant d'abord au MNLA qui avait lancé l'offensive, avant d'évincer ce mouvement dans la région.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 21:35
Australian Collins-class submarines, HMAS Dechaineux and HMAS Waller

Australian Collins-class submarines, HMAS Dechaineux and HMAS Waller

 

June 14, 2013 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: Australian Department of Defence; issued June 14, 2013)

 

Collins Class Submarines Update

 

Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Mike Kelly today announced further significant initiatives to both maintain the capability of Australia’s Collins Class submarine fleet and further improve Collins Class maintenance, sustainment and availability.

 

The Collins Class submarine fleet of six submarines is an essential part of Australia’s national security capability.

 

The first Collins Class submarine, HMAS Collins, was commissioned in July 1996. The sixth and last of the Collins Class, HMAS Rankin, was commissioned in March 2003. The Collins Class was designed with a theoretical platform life of 28 years, which provides for an on paper indicative service life for the fleet of 2024 to 2031.

 

A Service Life Evaluation Program was undertaken by Defence in 2012 to identify any issues that would prevent the Collins Class from achieving their indicative service life. The study also considered the possibility of a service life extension for the Collins fleet.

 

The study found there is no single technical issue that would fundamentally prevent the Collins Class submarines from achieving their indicative service life or a service life extension of one operating cycle for the fleet, which is currently around seven years, excluding docking periods. Based on the commissioning dates of the submarines, this provides an indicative service life of the fleet of 2031 to 2038.

 

Combined Pass approval for Collins Obsolescence Management

 

In this context, Ministers Smith and Kelly today announced that the Government has provided Combined Pass approval for the first stage of SEA 1439 Phase 3.1 Collins Obsolescence Management to resolve obsolescence in the Integrated Ship Control Management and Monitoring System in the Collins Class submarine fleet.

 

The Integrated Ship Control Management and Monitoring System was designed in the 1980s to control, manage and monitor essential Collins Class submarine functions such as manoeuvring, power and life-support.

 

It is a highly automated computerised system which enables the crew of the Collins Class to control, monitor and manage the large number of diverse and complex systems on board the submarines.

 

The Integrated Ship Control Management and Monitoring System has performed effectively and reliably since the Collins class entered service in the 1990s. However, it is essential to ensure the system can be maintained for the remaining indicative extended service life of the Collins Class fleet.

 

The Government has approved ASC Pty Ltd to work with Saab Systems in the first instance to engineer replacements for obsolescent system components and update and test the system in on-shore test facilities and subsequently one Collins Class submarine.

 

This first stage work is valued at around $65 million and will be conducted at ASC Pty Ltd in Adelaide in South Australia.

 

The Government has also given approval for Defence to plan for the second stage of the project to update the system in the remaining five Collins Class submarines once installation and testing in the first submarine has been completed. Government consideration of the second stage is scheduled for 2017.

 

Major reform to the maintenance of Collins Class Submarines: Implementation of Coles Review Full Cycle Docking Period to Two Years

 

Ministers Smith and Kelly today also announced a major reform in the maintenance of the Collins Class submarine fleet, to improve submarine availability across the fleet of six submarines by reducing the planned full cycle docking period for each submarine from three years to two years.

 

This reform is part of the extensive transformation program being implemented in the Collins Class submarine fleet maintenance and sustainment following the Study into the Business of Sustaining Australia’s Strategic Collins Class Submarine Capability, led by Mr John Coles (the Coles Review).

 

Implementation of the Coles Review recommendations will improve Collins Class availability through a variety of mechanisms including the delivery of more efficient logistic support arrangements, implementation of performance based maintenance contracts with defence industry, and development of a revised approach to the programming of planned maintenance and usage.

 

A key recommendation of the Coles Review was that a reduction in the duration of planned maintenance for the Collins class would make the largest single contribution to a higher level of submarine availability.

 

Under the current Collins maintenance cycle, each submarine operates in-service for eight years (including intermediate dockings) followed by a planned three year full cycle docking. The in-service period is punctuated by shorter intermediate duration dockings and maintenance periods alongside.

 

This means that two submarines are in full cycle docking at any one time, with, in general terms, one and sometimes two in shorter dockings and maintenance. This means Defence can currently plan on having two and sometimes three submarines available to the Fleet Commander for tasking at any one time.

 

The Coles Review proposed transition to a ‘single stream full cycle docking’ involving 10 years of in-service operation followed by a two year full cycle docking.

 

While the new in-service 10-year period will include longer intermediate docking periods to account for the reduction in full cycle docking duration, the result would be a consistently higher level of availability overall, extending the duration of operational periods.

 

Over the long term, the ‘single stream full cycle docking’ means that Defence can plan on having three and sometimes four submarines available to the Fleet Commander for tasking at any one time from 2016-17.

 

ASC has proposed an immediate transition beginning with HMAS Farncomb in mid-2014. ASC has assessed that the immediate transition proposal lowers the risks associated with the progressive transition suggested by the Coles Review, particularly risks related to funding requirements, the time required to re-allocate labour, workscope adjustments, and managing the overall program to deliver availability. The Government has agreed to ASC’s recommendation.

 

Under the immediate transition, HMAS Collins, which is currently undergoing pre-full cycle docking preparation in Adelaide, will remain in Adelaide until completing full cycle docking in mid-2018. During this period, all pre-full cycle docking preparation on HMAS Collins, including remediation of a class-wide main motor defect, will be completed. HMAS Collins will commence her two-year full cycle docking in 2016.

 

Defence will closely monitor ASC’s implementation of the new full cycle docking maintenance regime and provide regular reports to Government through the Minister for Defence and Minister for Finance.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 21:20
Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS John C. Stennis and USS Abraham Lincoln

Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS John C. Stennis and USS Abraham Lincoln

Jun. 13, 2013 - By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS   - Defense News

 

WASHINGTON — An amendment to reduce the statutory requirement that the US Navy keep 11 aircraft carriers in service was defeated June 13, first by voice vote and then by a recorded vote of 318-106.

 

Offered by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oreg., and co-sponsored by Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., the amendment would lower the requirement to ten aircraft carriers.

 

Blumenauer, during the floor debate, explained the amendment would not limit the Navy to 10 carriers, but would rather give the service the ability to decide how many flattops would be active, not Congress.

 

“The Navy is going to have 11 carriers when the one under construction goes into operation. Nothing in this amendment denies them that,” Blumenauer said, referring to the carrier Gerald R. Ford, expected to be delivered in 2016.

 

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) super structure

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) super structure

“The amendment says that subsequently, going out 20, 30 years, the decision about the minimum level will be left to the Navy, not the Congress,” Blumenauer added.

 

The requirement to meet a set level, Blumenauer, “is a symbol of Congress micromanaging, substituting their judgment for the command structure.

 

“It’s important for us to express our confidence in them,” Blumenauer concluded.

 

Mulvaney concurred. “All we’re doing is giving the Navy more control over how many carriers the Navy has,” he said. “The amendment has no impact on national defense.”

 

But opponents, including Reps. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., and Randy Forbes, R-Va., reacted as though the amendment would limit both the number of carriers in service and Congress’ ability to decide that number.

 

“One of the things that unites Democrats and Republicans is that the Constitution mandates Congress to build strong navies. It mandates us and we will not walk away from that mandate,” declared Forbes.

 

Forbes and Courtney noted that Congress and the Navy agree on an 11-ship carrier force.

 

“Every [Quadrennial Defense Review] since 2011 says we need 11 carriers,” said Forbes.

 

“Strategy should drive decisions in Congress,” said Courtney. “The Navy has spoken with a report which clearly articulated an 11-carrier force.”

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 21:20
CV 22 Osprey photo USAF

CV 22 Osprey photo USAF

Jun. 13, 2013 - By BARBARA OPALL-ROME – Defense News

 

Hopes to Repay With Future Military Aid

 

TEL AVIV — Israel’s Defense Ministry is asking the US government to guarantee billions of dollars in low-interest bridge loans for a Pentagon-proposed package of V-22 Ospreys, F-15 radars and precision-strike weaponry that it ultimately intends to fund with future military aid from the US.

 

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, when visiting here in April, announced that Washington “would make available to Israel a set of advanced new military capabilities” to augment Israel’s qualitative military edge.

 

At the time, Israeli defense and industry sources criticized the premature publicity generated by the Pentagon-proposed package, insisting negotiations on cost, quantities, payment terms and delivery schedules had not yet begun.

 

But in the past two months, MoD efforts to secure a US-backed loan for eventually US-funded systems on offer have intensified, with preliminary responses from relevant authorities in Washington expected later this summer, sources from both countries said.

 

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon aimed to advance the issue in meetings with lawmakers and Jewish leaders on Capitol Hill on Thursday. On Friday, Ya’alon is scheduled to fly to the Pentagon aboard an Osprey, where he will be greeted by Hagel ahead of their talks.

 

Under the novel, Israeli-proposed funding plan, US government guarantees would allow MoD to initiate near-term contracts for advanced, Pentagon-offered weaponry with cut-rate cash from commercial banks. Israel would pay only interest and servicing fees on the government-backed loan, with principle repaid from a new, 10-year military aid package that President Barack Obama — during a visit here in March — promised to conclude before the current bilateral aid agreement expires in 2018.

 

Israel is slated to receive $3.1 billion in annual Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grant aid through 2017, minus some $155 million in rescissions due to US government-mandated sequester. Those funds, sources from both countries say, have already been tapped to cover payments on existing contracts for Israel’s first squadron of F-35I joint strike fighters, heavy armored carriers, trainer aircraft engines, transport planes and a host of US weaponry.

 

“Basically, they’re talking about the US government assuming the risk of billions of dollars in loans to be repaid by the US government with FMF promised in the out years,” a US source said.

 

In a Wednesday interview, the US source characterized discussions as “very preliminary” and said he had not yet heard a definitive figure for the amount of government-backed loans sought by Israel.

 

A second US official added: “There are a lot of creative options on how to fund these advanced platforms.”

 

$5 Billion or More

 

Several current and former Israeli officials, all of whom asked not to be named, estimated MOD’s official request, once submitted, could well exceed $5 billion if the Pentagon agreed to include a second squadron of F-35Is in the prospective funding plan.

 

The pending request for bridge funding would likely include $1 billion for up to eight V-22 tilt-rotors; $500 million to retrofit active electronically scanned array radars into F-15I fighters and another $1 billion for a variety of air-to-ground weapons. A second squadron of F-35Is — if approved for inclusion in the package — would boost requested funding by nearly $3 billion, sources here said.

 

At this point, Israeli government and industry sources said MoD and the Israel Air Force are still mulling Hagel’s offer to include aerial refueling tankers as part of the security assistance package.

 

In a Wednesday interview, a Defense Department source said the White House’s Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office would have to score the Israeli-requested loan to determine the servicing fees that Israel would pay in addition to interest and FMF-funded principle.

 

Aside from the Pentagon, he said the State Department, Treasury, National Security Staff and congressional leaders would be involved in the review process and that the requested US-backed loan would have to be approved by Congress.

 

Danny Ayalon, a former deputy foreign minister and ambassador to Washington who was involved in earlier bilateral negotiations on loan guarantees and security assistance agreements, noted that Israel retains more than $3 billion in unused guarantees as a result of an October 2012 agreement with the US Treasury. That agreement gave Israel four more years to use the remainder of the $9 billion in Washington-backed loans granted in 2003 and set to expire later this year, provided they are used to promote economic growth.

 

“The remaining $3 billion-plus in US guarantees cannot be applied to investments in military hardware. But it’s my understanding that they could be converted to the kind of US-backed loans you’re talking about, if our good friends in Washington decide that’s what they want to do,” Ayalon told Defense News.

 

No Strings, But Expectations

 

In interviews here and in Washington, US officials were loath to link the pending response to Israel’s irregular financing request to Jerusalem’s readiness to resume long-stalled Palestinian peace talks. All underscored Washington’s unconditional commitment to Israel’s security.

 

Nevertheless, a senior US source noted that the unprecedented uptick in security support from the Obama White House was part of larger confidence-building efforts aimed at “encouraging the Israeli government to take those risky, yet necessary steps toward peace.”

 

The senior source referred to Obama’s March 20 press conference in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when the US president said, “I actually believe that Israel’s security will be enhanced with a resolution to this [Israel-Palestinian peace] issue.”

 

When asked if US strings would be attached to the multibillion-dollar funding package under review, the source replied: “It’s not a matter of quid pro quo. There won’t be strings, but there are expectations.”

 

Disavowing Israel's Deputy Defense Minister

 

Bilateral discussion on US-backed loans and up to $37 billion in addition FMF aid through 2028 comes at a time of intensified shuttle diplomacy by US Secretary of State John Kerry, aimed at bringing Israel and the Palestine Authority back to the negotiating table.

 

It also comes at a time of political posturing within Netanyahu’s right-of-center Likud Party and of early signs of the fierce ideological divides threatening the staying power of Israel’s barely three-month-old coalition government.

 

In the run-up to this week’s meetings in Washington, aides to Ya’alon and Netanyahu took pains to disavow untimely and embarrassing comments by Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, an adamant opponent of the two-state solution championed by the White House and an overwhelming majority of the international community.

 

In a interview with the online Times of Israel, Ya’alon’s deputy insisted the Netanyahu government — despite the prime minister’s stated, personal support for “two states for two peoples” — would block any peace deal that would result in an independent Palestinian state.

 

Aggravating the faux pas, Danon suggested that Netanyahu was duping Washington and the international community with his ostensible support for resumed peace talks, since “he knows that Israel will not arrive at an agreement with the Palestinians in the near future.”

 

An MoD aide told Defense News that Danon’s remarks were politically motivated to advance himself within the Likud Party, and that they do not represent Ya’alon or Netanyahu — both Likud Party members — or the government of Israel. Similarly, a statement attributed to officials in the prime minister’s office rebuffed Danon’s remarks, insisting, “The Netanyahu government is interested in renewing diplomatic negotiations without preconditions.”

 

A spokesman for Danon said the deputy defense minister’s remarks reflected his well-known opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state and would not jeopardize his ability to carry out his duties at the Israel MoD

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 20:45
Officers of EUTM Mali honored

 

 

15 juin 2013 eutmmali.eu

 

On Friday 14th June, seven officers of the mission EUTM Mali were appointed ​​Knights of the National Order of Mali by General Yamoussa CAMARA, Minister of Defense and Veterans Combatants of Mali (MINDAC). They are Colonel (FR) ROUÉ, Colonel (FR) PACZKA, Colonel (RO) BURCA, Lieutenant-Colonel (GB) MELVILLE, Lieutenant-Colonel (SP) Juan BOTE Paz, Lieutenant-Colonel (FR) MICLOT and Major (GB) EGAN. They were decorated at the site of the Ministry in Bamako. In addition, Colonel (FR) HELUIN, Lieutenant-Colonel (FR) IANNI, Lieutenant-Colonel (FR) AUBRY, Lieutenant-Colonel (FR) RIBIERRE and Major (GER) SERR not present as having completed their mission have also been made knights of the National Order of Mali.

 

« The results achieved at the end of the first session of training are very encouraging and offer a good prediction for the future development of the program because it has to be with the best preparation of our defense tools to cope with the security contingencies of the moment and also to build a republican army. The Training Mission of the European Union is included within the strategy of helping Mali to implement its structures, to improve its forces and their equipment in order to allow us to be fully able to contribute to our own security in all of its dimensions » declared Minister Yamoussa CAMARA in his speech.

 

Des officiers d’EUTM Mali mis à l’honneur

 

Vendredi 14 juin, sept officiers de la mission de la mission EUTM Mali ont été faits chevaliers de l’Ordre National du Mali par le général Yamoussa CAMARA, Ministre de la Défense et des Anciens Combattants du Mali (MINDAC). Le colonel (FR) ROUÉ, le colonel (FR) PACZKA, le colonel (RO) BURCA, le lieutenant-colonel (GB) MELVILLE, le lieutenant-colonel (ES) BOTE, le lieutenant-colonel (FR) MICLOT et le commandant (GB) EGAN ont été décorés dans l’enceinte du Ministère à Bamako. En outre, le colonel (FR) HELUIN, le lieutenant-colonel (FR) IANNI, le lieutenant-colonel (FR) AUBRY, le lieutenant-colonel (FR) RIBIERRE et le commandant (GER) SERR, non présents car ayant achevé leur mission,  ont également été faits chevaliers de l’Ordre National du Mali.

 

« Les résultats atteints au terme de cette première session de formation sont très encourageants et augurent bien de la suite dans le déroulement du programme. Car il s’agit pour nous de mieux préparer notre outil de défenses à faire face aux contingences sécuritaires du moment et aussi de construire une armée républicaine. La Mission de formation de l’Union européenne s’inscrit dans la logique d’aider le Mali à mieux structurer, mieux préparer ses forces, mieux les équiper à terme afin qu’elles puissent contribuer pleinement à la sécurité dans toutes ses dimensions», a déclaré le Ministre Yamoussa CAMARA dans son allocution.

 

 

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 17:55

8 juin 2013 AFP

Le Monge, deuxième plus grand navire de la Marine Française après le porte-avions Charles de Gaulle, est arrivé vendredi 7 juin à Rouen pour sa première participation à l'Armada

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 17:50
Statement by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the US statement on Syrian Chemical Weapons Use

Brussels, 14 June 2013 EUROPEAN UNION -  A 320/13

 

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission issued the following statement today:

 

"I saw with great concern the statement released on 13 June by the White House. This presents new indications by the US intelligence services that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against opposition forces in Syria. This assessment, combined with others that have been circulated, makes even more urgent our repeated calls for an agreement to immediately deploy a UN verification mission to investigate these allegations on the ground.

 

At the same time, these developments can only reinforce the importance of a political solution and should accelerate the efforts of the international community to find a definitive political solution to the conflict. It is urgent to advance the political process, starting with the convening of the planned peace conference on Syria. The EU will contribute to its success in every possible way.

 

The next Foreign Affairs Council will examine the overall situation and recent developments in Syria, of which the alleged chemical attacks are an important factor."

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 17:50
A Spitfire from the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is pictured with a 3 Squadron RAF Typhoon aircraft in formation over Lincolnshire (library image) [Picture: Sergeant Pete Mobbs RAF, Crown copyright]

A Spitfire from the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is pictured with a 3 Squadron RAF Typhoon aircraft in formation over Lincolnshire (library image) [Picture: Sergeant Pete Mobbs RAF, Crown copyright]

14 June 2013 Ministry of Defence

 

The Red Arrows will lead a display of military aircraft past and present in the skies over Nottingham on 29 June.

 

Performing in their 49th display season, the world famous RAF Aerobatic Team will kick off celebrations to mark the fifth Armed Forces Day national event.

As the main Armed Forces Day parade marches through Nottingham city centre, the Red Arrows will fly the formation shape ‘Lancaster’; named after the iconic aircraft flown by 617 Squadron during the daring Dambusters raid 70 years ago.

Red Arrows fly in the formation shape 'Lancaster'
Red Arrows fly in the formation shape 'Lancaster' (library image) [Picture: Crown copyright]

Current and historic craft from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force will fly over both the city centre, where the Armed Forces Day parade and drumhead service will take place, and over Victoria Embankment, where a whole day of entertainment and activities are being planned.

Throughout the afternoon visitors will get the chance to see a variety of aircraft in the skies, including the famous Lancaster, Spitfire, Hurricane and Dakota of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. From the Royal Navy Historic Flight there will be 2 Second World War aircraft, a Sea Fury and Swordfish. Representing today’s air power, RAF Typhoons and a Royal Navy Lynx helicopter, will contribute to a spectacular air show.

Rapid roping from a Royal Navy Lynx helicopter
Rapid roping from a Royal Navy Lynx helicopter (llibrary image) [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Stuart Hill, Crown copyright]

In addition, during the afternoon’s celebrations, members of the RAF Falcons parachute display team will parachute onto Victoria Embankment, mounting a colourful aerial display for which they are famous.

The Red Arrows ‘Red 1’ and team leader for the flypast, Squadron Leader Jim Turner, said:

Displaying in Nottingham on Armed Forces Day is both an honour and a pleasure for the team who are first and foremost Servicemen, all of whom have flown in operational combat tours overseas.

RAF Falcons parachute display team in action
Members of the RAF Falcons parachute display team in action (library image) [Picture: Dave Bishop, Crown copyright]

Councillor Dave Trimble, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture at Nottingham City Council added:

Nottingham is incredibly proud to host the 2013 national Armed Forces Day celebrations. Visitors will be wowed by special appearances from some very famous aircraft.

The air show is part of a spectacular programme of events and activities we’ve got planned, we hope to see people of all ages enjoying this unmissable event.

Royal Navy Historic Flight Swordfish aircraft
Royal Navy Historic Flight Swordfish aircraft in flight (library image) [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Abbie Herron, Crown copyright]

For further information on Armed Forces Day Nottingham, and the Armed Forces Day national campaign, please visit www.armedforcesday.org.uk or the Armed Forces Day page of My Nottingham website.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 17:30
Syria Rebels source globservateur.blogs.ouest-france.fr

Syria Rebels source globservateur.blogs.ouest-france.fr

14 juin 2013 Guysen News International,

 

La présence de centaines de combattants européens dans les rangs des insurgés provoque de grandes inquiétudes à Paris. Dans l’équation déjà passablement compliquée de la crise syrienne, un acteur essentiel et très préoccupant est venu encore complexifier la donne : les services spécialisés estiment à environ 270 le nombre de Français qui se battent aux côtés des insurgés. Au total, entre 1 500 et 2 000 Européens ont rejoint les rangs de l’opposition armée au régime de Bachar el-Assad. Problème aggravant : ce sont surtout les groupes islamistes radicaux qui recrutent et, par conséquent, bénéficient de ce renfort.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 17:30
Plus de 70 officiers de l'armée syrienne ont fait défection en Turquie

15 juin 2013 Romandie.com (AFP)

 

ANKARA - Plus de 70 officiers, dont 6 généraux et 22 colonels, ont déserté les rangs de l'armée fidèle au président syrien Bachar al-Assad au cours des dernières trente-six heures pour rejoindre la Turquie voisine, a-t-on appris samedi de source officielle turque.

 

Cette vague de défection, d'une ampleur inédite depuis plusieurs mois, intervient après la décision jeudi des Etats-Unis de livrer une aide militaire, dont la forme n'a pas encore été précisée, aux rebelles syriens.

 

Les pays occidentaux, soutiens de l'opposition au président syrien Bachar al-Assad, se sont jusque-là refusés à franchir le pas de la livraison d'armes aux combattants rebelles par crainte de les voir tomber entre les mains de ses éléments islamistes les plus radicaux.

 

Mais la récente avancée militaire des forces de Damas, appuyées par le mouvement chiite libanais du Hezbollah, les a contraints à réétudier dans l'urgence cette possibilité.

 

Des représentants des pays qui soutiennent l'opposition syrienne ont rencontré vendredi et samedi à Istanbul son chef militaire le plus important, le général Selim Idriss, pour évoquer de possibles livraisons d'armes à la rébellion.

 

Des dizaines d'officiers supérieurs syriens ont fait défection en Turquie depuis le début de la rébellion en Syrie au printemps 2011. Beaucoup ont rejoint les rangs de la rébellion au sein de l'Armée syrienne libre (ASL).

 

La Turquie accueille quelque 400.000 réfugiés syriens ayant fui les combats dans leur pays, qui ont fait plus de 93.000 morts selon l'ONU.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 16:55
Missions et opérations de la Légion

14 juin 2013 Ainsi va le monde ! (source Képi Blanc).

 

Des  légionnaires sont actuellement déployés dans le monde que ce soit en opérations (Serval, FINUL) ou en missions de protection et de prévention.

 

Ainsi, au Mali sont engagés deux escadrons du 1er REC, une section renseignement et intervention offensive (SRIO) du 2ème REG, 3 compagnies du 2ème REI (2) et du 1er REG (1). Ce dernier régiment est aussi présent au Liban (au travers d’un élément de déminage) au sein de la Force intérimaire des nations unies. Il a également fourni une section aux Emirats arabes unis dans le cadre d’une mission de prévention (avec une compagnie du 2ème REI). Il est engagé également en Guyane où deux compagnies participent, avec une section du 2ème REG, aux opérations Titan et Harpie. Une compagnie du régiment de Laudun-l’Ardoise (Gard) appuie la force Licorne en Côte-d’Ivoire (où se trouve un escadron du 1er REC) enfin, une section de déconstruction assure une présence à Mururoa (Polynésie). En outre, un détachement d’instruction fourni par le 2ème REP poursuit une  mission d’instruction au Sénégal

Missions et opérations de la Légion

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 16:50
Le service militaire bientôt étendu aux femmes en Norvège

15.06.2013 par P. CHAPLEAU Lignes de Défense

 

Au nom de l'égalité des sexes et pour diversifier les compétences au sein de son armée, la Norvège va bientôt étendre le service militaire obligatoire aux femmes en temps de paix, conformément à une décision du Parlement norvégien prise vendredi.

 

Tous les partis, à l'exception du petit parti démocrate-chrétien (KrF), se sont rangés en commission parlementaire derrière une proposition du gouvernement de centre-gauche pour instaurer une conscription militaire "sexuellement neutre". Dans la pratique, cela signifie que le service militaire obligatoire sera étendu aux femmes, vraisemblablement dès 2015 comme le projette actuellement le ministère de la Défense.

 

Les Norvégiennes peuvent déjà, depuis 1976, faire leur service sur une base volontaire et elles représentent aujourd'hui environ 10% des conscrits. Avant même l'adoption du service "sexuellement neutre", le ministère s'était fixé pour objectif d'avoir 20% de femmes dans les rangs de l'armée d'ici à 2020.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 16:35
Philip Hammond receives a briefing on the redeployment of equipment

Philip Hammond receives a briefing on the redeployment of equipment

15 June 2013    Ministry of Defence

 

The headquarters of British forces deployed in Afghanistan is set to move from Lashkar Gah to Camp Bastion this summer.

 

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond made the announcement whilst on a visit to Afghanistan, where he has met with the Afghan Prime Minister and Defence Minister, and members of the UK Armed Forces deployed in the country.

Task Force Helmand has been based in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, since 2006, and the relocation is in line with the drawdown and redeployment of UK forces as the Afghan forces prepare to take the operational lead.

Camp Bastion is located next to the Afghan National Army Camp Shorabak. The move will allow the British and Afghan headquarters to work closely together during the final stages of transition which will see Afghan forces leading 100 per cent of all security operations across all of the Afghan population by the end of the summer.

Read more about the government’s policy to Establish Security in Afghanistan

 Philip Hammond visits troops in Afghanistan
Philip Hammond visits troops in Afghanistan [All pictures: Cpl Si Longworth, Crown copyright]

Mr Hammond said:

British forces have a proud history of service in Afghanistan and much of the hard work and effort has been planned from the Task Force Helmand Headquarters at Lashkar Gah.

The success of Afghan forces in the areas in which we operate has been driving our ability to hand over security responsibility, which has seen a significant reduction in British bases from 137 three years ago to 13 now.

The Brigade Headquarters at Lashkar Gah will soon relocate to Camp Bastion as we continue to draw down our forces and redeploy our equipment and vehicles. This move will also allow our military commanders to liaise better with their opposite numbers in the Afghan National Army.

Brigadier Rupert Jones, Commander Task Force Helmand, said:

The position of the Headquarters in Lashkar Gah has been vital to the achievements of successive Task Forces based here. It has allowed me and my predecessors to work closely with key Afghan officials, such as the Provincial Governor, and to train and advise our Afghan security partners, including the Afghan National Police.

Now, as the Afghan security forces take the lead and we lift off from training and advising at lower levels, it is appropriate that we relocate the Task Force Headquarters to Camp Bastion, next to the Headquarters of the Afghan National Army at Camp Shorabak. This will allow even closer co-operation at the brigade level, where our focus now lies.

Philip Hammond meets Afghan Brigadier General Sherin Shah
Philip Hammond meets The Commander of the Afghan Army's 3/215 Brigade, Brigadier General Sherin Shah.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond was briefed on the Headquarters move during a visit to troops serving in Helmand province, which came after meetings with President Karzai and other Afghan ministers in Kabul.

In Helmand, the Defence Secretary received an update on the progress of the redeployment of British vehicles, equipment and material from Afghanistan while at Camp Bastion, including the work to prepare the Merlin helicopters for redeployment to the UK.

The Merlin helicopters are the first major equipment to be redeployed from theatre and recently finished operations.

Mr Hammond said:

I was encouraged to see the redeployment of British equipment and vehicles is progressing well, and is actually ahead of schedule.

The Merlin helicopters and crews have served ably in Afghanistan but, as our role has changed significantly in recent months, returning the Merlin fleet now is a key element of our orderly drawdown from Afghanistan.

In Kabul, the Defence Secretary met with President Hamid Karzai and Defence Minister General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, with whom he discussed the ongoing transition of security responsibility to Afghan forces.

Mr Hammond also visited the site of the future Afghan National Army Officer Academy, where British military advisors will continue to train and advise officers from the Afghan National Army following the conclusion of the combat mission at the end of 2014 as part of the UK’s enduring commitment to Afghanistan.

Mr Hammond said:

The handover of security to full Afghan control across the country is imminent and Britain’s role is changing into one of assistance, advice and training.

In light of this change in responsibilities, I discussed the future security challenges facing Afghanistan with President Karzai and Defence Minister Mohammadi in Kabul.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 16:35
Sri Lanka – China relations elevated to a “Strategic cooperation partnership”

 

 

Beijing, 05 June, (Asiantribune.com):

 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to elevate Sri Lanka and China relations to a “strategic cooperation partnership” at the summit talks between the two Presidents during President Rajapaksa’s State Visit to China from 27th – 30th May 2013.

 

During the warm and friendly discussion between the two leaders, President Rajapaksa reiterated Sri Lanka’s support for the One-China Policy and President Xi Jinping stated that China was strongly opposed to foreign countries interfering in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs.

 

Also during the discussion both leaders endorsed the early establishment of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries to further enhance mutually beneficial trade. Towards this end an MoU was signed for the immediate constitution of joint committees to initiate this process. With the advent of an FTA, it is expected that market access would be provided in China for Sri Lankan apparels, tea, rubber, gems & jewelry, light industry products etc.

 

Many Agreements in the fields of political, trade, economic & investment, fisheries, defence-related science & technology and youth were signed during the visit.

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping assured China’s continued support for future developmental projects in Sri Lanka. China pledged a grant assistance of RMB 200 million to be utilized for the building of an international convention centre in Kandy and an arts theatre in Anuradhapura.

 

Upgrading of the Colombo National Hospital and the Colombo North General Hospital at Ragama; the extension of the Southern Expressway from Matara to Kataragama and the extension of the Beliatta Kataragama railway track would also receive Chinese assistance. The construction of new water supply schemes for Attanagalla, Minuwangoda and Kurunegala will also commence shortly. The construction of the Colombo – Jaffna Expressway (through Kurunegala) was endorsed during the discussion with an estimated private investment of US$ 1500 million. A US$ 400 million road rehabilitation programme will also be undertaken to complete the remaining national road network including roads in the Jaffna Peninsula and connecting roads to the A9 highway. China also agreed to support Sri Lanka tourism authority to promote the country amongst Chinese tourists to increase arrivals from China to 100,000 by 2015.

 

Endorsing President Rajapaksa’s rural development and economic programme (Divinaguma) initiative, President Xi Jinping offered agriculture equipment and small machineries to Sri Lanka as a means for further capacity building.

 

In further strengthening bilateral cooperation in the field of education a new university township development for Moratuwa University and the development of the National School of Business Management at Homagama were finalized. Other areas discussed for collaboration were the fisheries sector and youth cooperation.

 

Prior to the official talks between the two Presidents, the Chinese President Xi Jinping held a welcome ceremony for President Rajapaksa at the Square outside the East Gate of the Great Hall of the People. Present at the ceremony were Mme. Peng Liyuan, wife of President Xi Jinping, Yan Junqi, Vice Chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Yang Jiechi, State Councilor, and Chen Xiaoguang, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. President Xi Jinping and Mme. Peng Liyuan also hosted a dinner banquet for President Rajapaksa, Mme. Rajapaksa and the delegation.

 

During the visit, President Rajapaksa also had a bilateral meeting with Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao. Vice President Li requested President Rajapaksa to encourage young parliamentarians of Sri Lanka to visit China on Familiarization Programmes on a regular basis with a view to ensuring the continuity of the warm and friendly relations between the two countries. Following the meeting the Chinese Vice President hosted President Rajapaksa, Mme Rajapaksa and the delegation to a luncheon banquet. During the talks with Prime Minister Li Keqiang, both sides spoke highly of the traditional friendship between the two countries and the Chinese Prime Minister reiterated China’s support for future developmental projects in Sri Lanka including the Hambantota Industrial Zone.

 

President Rajapaksa also addressed the distinguished gathering of prominent leaders from foreign governments, the services sector, the business world and academia at the opening ceremony of the Global Services Forum, “Beijing Summit”, organized by UNCTAD together with the Ministry of Commerce of China and the Beijing Municipal Government. The Forum, organized on the occasion of the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), was held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing and was presided over by Prime Minister Li Keqiang of China. The Forum was a unique platform for promoting trade in services and fostering sustainable development.

 

During the visit President Rajapaksa also addressed the 2013 International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) Special Conference on “Promote Green Development & Build a Beautiful Asia Together” organized by the International Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the Shaanxi Provincial Committee of the CPC in Xian. The ICAPP is a forum of political parties from Asian and Oceanic countries and attracted representatives from about 50 political parties from Asian countries and many observers from Latin American and African political parties. While visiting Xian, President Rajapaksa, Mme. Rajapaksa and the delegation were hosted to a dinner banquet by the Governor of Shaanxi Province.

 

President Rajapaksa paid a visit to the Lingguang Temple in Beijing on the first day of his visit and paid homage to the precious tooth relic housed at the Temple and exchanged views on religious and cultural cooperation between the temple and Sri Lanka with the Chief Priest of the Temple. The Chief Priest of Lingguang Temple blessed President Rajapaksa and Mme Rajapaksa and for the peace and prosperity of Sri Lanka.

 

The President of EXIM Bank and the Chairman of China Development Bank paid courtesy calls on President Rajapaksa during the visit and pledged their support and cooperation of the two institutions towards the developmental process in Sri Lanka.

 

On the sidelines of the visit, a Sri Lanka – China Business Forum was held with the participation of top Sri Lankan and Chinese business entrepreneurs. External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris addressed the gathering and provided an overview of the investment and economic opportunities in Sri Lanka. Minister Peiris also addressed a press conference in Beijing with the participation of about 60 foreign and local journalists.

 

President Rajapaksa, accompanied by the Vice Mayor of Beijing also visited the Sri Lanka Pavillion, organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka at the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Development, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and the Export Development Board of Sri Lanka.

 

At a brief ceremony held at the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Beijing, President Rajapaksa received statues of the Chinese Buddhist monk Fa-Xian and the Chinese navigator Admiral Zheng – He donated by the President of the International Tour Management Association of China, Zhao Xian Zhang for the proposed Sri Lanka – China cultural museum in Galle.

 

First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa held warm and friendly talks with the First Lady of China Peng Liyuan and the President of the All China Women’s Federation Shen Yueyue who is also a Vice Chairperson of the National People’s Congress of China.

 

The two countries issued a Joint Communiqué at the end of the visit.

 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa was accompanied by First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa; Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris; Minister of Traditional Industries & Small Enterprise Development Douglas Devananda; Minister of Construction, Engineering Service, Housing & Common Amenities Wimal Weerawansa; Namal Rajapaksa M.P.; Monitoring M.P. of the Ministry of External Affairs Sajin de Vaas Gunawardena, A.H.M. Azwer M.P.; Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga; Chief of Staff to the President Gamini Senarath; Secretary to the Ministry of Finance & Planning P.B. Jayasundera; Secretary to the Ministry of Highways R.W.R. Premasiri; Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to China Ranjith Uyangoda and senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs of Sri Lanka.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 16:30
L'aviation syrienne bombarde des poches rebelles de Damas

15 juin 2013 14h53 Romandie.com (AFP)

 

BEYROUTH - L'aviation et l'artillerie du régime syrien bombardaient samedi des poches rebelles à Damas et dans ses environs, où les insurgés maintiennent leurs positions malgré les raids quotidiens, a rapporté l'Observatoire syrien des droits de l'Homme (OSDH).

 

Des raids aériens ont été menés sur des secteurs de Jobar (...) et de Barzé, des quartiers dans l'est de la capitale syrienne, théâtre de combats quasi-quotidiens entre soldats et rebelles, selon l'OSDH, qui s'appuie sur un large réseau de militants et de sources médicales civiles et militaires.

 

Les forces du régime ont de nouveau bombardé le quartier de Hajar Assouad, dans le sud de la capitale, et elles ont perquisitionné des maisons dans celui de Roukneddine.

 

Parallèlement, des combats ont eu lieu samedi à l'aube à la périphérie du camp palestinien de Yarmouk, dans la banlieue sud de Damas, également cible de bombardements menés par le régime.

 

Près de la capitale, Mouadamiyat al-Cham (ouest) et Sbeiné (sud) ainsi que la région de Wadi Barada (nord-ouest) ont été la cible de bombardements au mortier qui ont fait des blessés et des dégâts matériels, selon l'OSDH.

 

A la périphérie de Mleiha, à l'est de Damas, des combats violents ont fait des victimes des deux côtés, toujours selon l'OSDH.

 

Dans le reste du pays, l'armée a bombardé au mortier et au char des quartiers de Homs (centre) et les villes de Rastane et Ghanto dans la province éponyme.

 

A Alep (nord), les forces loyalistes ont attaqué les quartiers d'al-Achrafiyé et de Bani Zaïd, théâtres de combats et de bombardements.

 

A Minbej, dans la province d'Alep, un accord sur une action commune (..) pour renverser le régime a été conclu entre un groupe kurde et des rebelles, apparemment pour éviter les problèmes survenus entre Arabes et Kurdes dans d'autres zones, a expliqué à l'AFP le directeur de l'OSDH, Rami Abdel Rahmane.

 

Les relations ont souvent été tendues entre les rebelles et les organisations kurdes, qui essaient d'empêcher les insurgés d'entrer dans leurs régions. Cependant, des combattants kurdes se sont récemment alliés avec les rebelles dans certaines régions.

 

En outre, à Deir Ezzor (est), le Conseil militaire rebelle a chargé deux bataillons de suivre les affaires de sécurité pour empêcher les combats entre communautés, après un incident survenu cette semaine dans le village à majorité sunnite de Hatlah, selon l'OSDH.

 

Mardi, les rebelles avaient pris le contrôle du village, tuant 60 de ses habitants, pour la plupart des combattants, armés par le gouvernement, après une attaque menée lundi par ces villageaois contre un poste de l'opposition.

 

Au Liban, le chef du Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah a affirmé que son puissant mouvement chiite allait continuer de combattre auprès du régime, dans le conflit qui a fait selon l'ONU plus de 93.000 morts.

 

L'appui de centaines de combattants du Hezbollah a permis début juin à l'armée syrienne de s'emparer de Qousseir (centre-ouest), bastion insurgé pendant plus d'un an.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 16:30
Chemical Weapons Charge: Berlin Rules out Arms for Rebels

June 14, 2013 spiegel.de

 

The United States has shifted its course on Syria following chemical weapons revelations, but international support is limited. Germany refuses to arm the insurgents, and Russia is openly critical of President Obama.

 

Washington has said it may soon move to supply weapons to Syrian rebels, a move that has been met with reserve by the international community. Western diplomats also told the news agency Reuters that the US government is considering a no-fly zone in Syria.

 

But despite reports that the regime of dictator Bashar Assad may have used chemical weapons, Germany says it has no plans to deliver arms to the rebels, a government spokesman said on Friday.

 

Steffen Seibert, spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel of the conservative Christian Democrats, said Germany would stick with its position of not providing weapons to a country engaged in a civil war for "legal reasons". The opposition had made the same demand. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the German Foreign Ministry said it had no information of its own about the use of deadly poison gas by the regime in Damascus.

 

Although Germany doesn't intend to provide weapons aid, the country has been providing "non lethal support" since the beginning of June in the form of bullet-proof vests and first-aid kit deliveries to the Free Syrian Army.

 

On Thursday, the United States officially declared it has proof that Assad's forces used chemical weapons, based on blood, urine and hair samples from two rebel fighters. A White House spokesman said that the use of these weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, crosses the "red line" President Obama established early on in the conflict for determining the necessity of Western intervention in Syria's civil war.

 

Speaking in the Bundestag, Germany's federal parliament, on Friday, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council. "We take the indication of the deployment of chemical weapons very seriously," he said. "We are urging a consultation at the Security Council of the United Nations with the aim of coming to a common position." He also confirmed Germany would not deliver weapons to Syria, a line that Berlin has stuck to for some time now despite the expiration at the end of May of a European Union arms embargo against the country. German law prohibits weapons from the country's companies to be supplied to crisis zones.

 

Syria Describes Allegations as 'Caravan of Lies'

 

A representative of the Foreign Ministry in Damascus denied the allegations coming from Washington, saying the US statement on Thursday was a "caravan of lies" and that rebels had deployed the chemical weapons themselves.

 

Moscow also sharply criticized the claims. "I will say frankly that what was presented to us by the Americans does not look convincing," said Yuri Ushakov, foreign policy adviser to President Vladimir Putin. He warned that a US move to arm Syrian rebels would jeopardize joint efforts to convene a peace conference. Earlier, Alexei Pushkov, head of the Russian lower house of parliament's international affairs committee, wrote on Twitter: "Information about the usage of chemical weapons by Assad is fabricated in the same way as the lie about (Saddam) Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (in Iraq)."

 

In Britain, however, where preparations are underway for next week's G8 summit, the government is pleased that Obama now shares the government's position. Prime Minister David Cameron told the Guardian newspaper that Britain shares the "candid assessment" by the US. "I think it, rightly, puts back center stage the question, the very difficult question to answer but nonetheless one we have got to address: What are we going to do about the fact that in our world today there is a dictatorial and brutal leader who is using chemical weapons under our noses against his own people," he said.

 

'Urgent Discussions with International Partners'

 

The British position has been clear for months. Cameron was the first leader of a major country to speak publicly in favor of supplying arms to the Syrian rebels. On Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague met with US Secretary of State John Kerry in an effort to convince the US to take action. However, a decision on the weapons deliveries envisioned by Washington still hasn't been made in London. "We are in urgent discussions with our international partners," a spokesman for Cameron told reporters on Friday.

 

The delay may be the product of considerable resistance in the House of Commons, where there is opposition to arming the rebels. The House would have to approve any such move, and Cameron's opposition in the Labor Party are opposed. Even within his own liberal-conservative coalition, there are plenty who would prefer that Britain not get involved. "We in the UK do not have to follow the US," John Baron, a member of the foreign affairs committee told the BBC. "Good friends sometimes say to each other, look, you're making a mistake." He warned it could be an error of historic proportions and compared it to the disastrous outcome of arming the mujahedeen in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 16:20
Stryker photo US Army

Stryker photo US Army

Jun 14, 2013 ASDNews Source : Raytheon Corporation

 

    US Army could use existing vehicular radios to fill need for tactical wireless Internet

 

Raytheon Company's (NYSE: RTN) jam-resistant, battlefield radio recently transmitted data securely over the air to more than 30 Stryker combat vehicles, proving that it could meet the U.S. Army's need for a tactical wireless Internet via a vehicle-mounted mobile radio system.

 

The EXF1915, an upgraded version of Enhanced Position Location Reporting System (EPLRS) radios, completed several months of continual, sustained secure data transmissions for the combat vehicles of the 4th Brigade 2nd Infantry Division Stryker Brigade Combat Team, or 4/2 SBCT. Soldiers were able to send and receive e-mail and chat messages and access the brigade's intranet-like Web portal, marking the first time 4/2 SBCT was able to tap into a secure wireless network.

 

EPLRS joined combat operations in Afghanistan following tests at Fort Irwin, Calif.

 

"The EPLRS Enhanced Services extended secure voice, data, and e-mail services to the Stryker vehicles of platoon through brigade-level leaders during combat operations forward of tactical bases," said Col. Michael Getchell, commander of 4/2 SBCT. "Prior to the installation of the EPLRS ES network, this level of upper TI (Tactical Internet) communications were limited to fixed tactical operations centers using the pre-existing infrastructure on FOBs (Forward Operating Bases) and COPs (Combat Outposts) in the Panjwa'I District of Kandahar, Afghanistan."

 

Over 28,000 EPLRS radios have been purchased to provide "on the move" networking capabilities. These radios, already deployed in significant numbers aboard U.S. Army vehicles, can be upgraded at a fraction of the cost of a new radio system to support the lower-tier network requirements.

 

When connected to the Army's middle- and upper-tier networks, the EXF1915, also known as the RT-1915, provides high-speed IP network services for an entire brigade of Stryker and other combat vehicles. These capabilities provide more choices and greater purchasing flexibility as the service seeks a lower-tier networking radio system.

 

"EPLRS has served the Army well over the years, and now it can be converted to the new EXF1915 to help the service quickly and inexpensively network a fleet of combat vehicles," said Scott Whatmough, vice president of Integrated Communication Systems for Raytheon's Space and Airborne Systems business. "We've continually improved our radio technology and matured it to the point where we can offer a lower cost alternative for the thousands of already-equipped Army vehicles."

 

Building upon the EXF1915 serving the lower tier, the MR-150, using the higher-bandwidth Next Generation Mobile Ad Hoc Network Waveform (NMW), could provide the Army with additional flexibility for its mid-tier networking requirements. The NMW network has undergone stringent testing at two Network Integration Evaluation exercises, has been deployed in theater, and has proven to be the highest-performing mid-tier technology.

 

The combination of the EXF-1915 and the MR-150 fills the data networking void with a low-cost, ready today, proven solution.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 16:20
Treillis camouflés: le Sénat et la Chambre US veulent un unique type

15.06.2013 par P. CHAPLEAU Lignes de Défense
 

Voilà qui pourrait bien mettre un terme aux projets de l'US Army de se doter d'un nouveau camouflage.

 

Cette semaine, les sénateurs puis les élus de la Chambre ont voté des propositions qui suggèrent que les forces armées américaines pourraient bien d'ici à octobre 2018 être dotées du même treillis, avec  le même camouflage. Finis le multicam des uns, les pixels des autres, le "blueberries" des marins: un seul dessin pour tous, avec des variantes dans les tons (désert, urbain etc).

 

Un peu de cohérence et des économies, voilà résumés les motifs des élus. Face à eux, deux écoles: les militaires qui admettent ces motifs et ceux qui, comme le Sergent Major Micheal Barrett, le sous-officier le plus haut gradé du corps des Marines, estiment que "l'uniforme donne des avantages spécifiques d'ordre tactique et psychologique". Barret s'est même fendu d'un communiqué pour défendre la spécificité du treillis des Marines: "Il fait partie de l'identité du Corps".

 

C'est pas gagné...

 

A lire ici une présentation des 29 types de camouflage utilisés dans les forces US.

A lire ici un article en 4 parties (en anglais) sur les camouflages US, les variantes (patterns et couleurs), les tests etc.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 16:20
Facebook révèle des détails sur les demandes du gouvernement US

15.06.2013 Romandie.com (ats )

 

Facebook a révélé vendredi qu'il avait reçu entre 9000 et 10'000 requêtes des autorités américaines concernant des données d'utilisateurs au cours du second semestre. Les requêtes étaient fondées sur des problèmes allant de la disparition d'un enfant à des délits mineurs ou à des menaces terroristes.

 

Le nombre des comptes visés est situé entre 18'000 et 19'000, a précisé le réseau social sans révéler le nombre de fois où il avait répondu à la requête. Facebook protège "agressivement" les données de ses utilisateurs", a assuré le conseiller généra général de la firme, Ted Ullyot, cité dans le communiqué.

 

"Souvent, nous avons rejeté directement de telles requêtes, ou demandé au gouvernement de réduire substantiellement l'importance, ou bien nous avons donné au gouvernement beaucoup moins de données qu'il l'espérait. Et nous n'avons jamais outrepassé le cadre de la loi", a ajouté M. Ullyot.

 

Facebook fait face à une opinion publique de plus en plus hostile après les révélations selon lesquelles il figurait parmi les neuf géants d'internet qui avaient fourni des données personnelles au programme américain PRISM de l'Agence nationale de sécurité (NSA).

 

Les compagnies, parmi lesquelles figurent Apple, Google, Microsoft et Yahoo, ont démenti les affirmations selon lesquelles la NSA pouvait avoir accès directement à leur serveurs. Selon les autorités américaines, ce programme était destiné à aider à empêcher des attaques terroristes.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 16:20
U.S. Navy Ships Get a New UAV

June 15, 2013: Strategy Page

 

Production has begun for the American RQ-21A Integrator UAV. The U.S. Navy and Marines as well as the Dutch Navy have ordered the 55 kg (121 pound) UAV, which has a 4.9 meter (16 foot) wingspan and can fly as high as 4,500 meters (15,000 feet) at a cruise speed of 100 kilometers an hour. RQ-21A can stay in the air up to 24 hours and carry a payload of 23 kg (50 pounds). It uses the same takeoff and landing equipment as the Scan Eagle.  RQ-21A also uses many of the Scan Eagle sensors in addition to new ones that were too heavy for Scan Eagle. The additional weight of the RQ-21A makes it more stable in bad weather or windy conditions.

 

The marines have ordered 32 systems (with five UAVs each), while the navy is getting four and the Dutch five systems (which include ground controllers and maintenance gear). The first RQ-21As are expected to enter service next year.

 

Scan Eagle weighs 19 kg (40 pounds), has a 3.2 meter (ten foot) wingspan, and uses day and night video cameras and on ships uses a catapult for launch and is landed via a wing hook that catches a rope hanging from a 16 meter (fifty foot) pole. This was recently replaced with the more compact CLRE (Compact Launch and Recovery System). On land Scan Eagle can land on any flat, solid surface.

 

The Scan Eagle can stay in the air for up to 15 hours per flight and fly as high as 5 kilometers (16,000 feet). Scan Eagle cruising speed is 110 kilometers an hour and can operate at least a hundred kilometers from the ground controller. Scan Eagle carries an optical system that is stabilized to keep the cameras focused on an object while the UAV moves. Scan Eagle has been flying for over a decade now and has been in military service since 2005.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 15:45
Libye: au moins 3 soldats tués dans des affrontements à Benghazi

15/06/2013 par Nicolas Laffont – 45eNord.ca

 

De violents affrontements opposaient samedi les Forces spéciales et un groupe de manifestants armés qui s’attaquaient à des installations de l’armée et de la police, selon un journaliste de l’AFP et des témoins sur place, tandis que le chef de l’armée libyenne par intérim a mis en garde contre un «bain de sang».

 

Au moins trois membres des forces spéciales libyennes ont été tués dans les affrontements, selon ce qu’affirme les forces spéciales.

 

Des échanges de coups de feu nourris ainsi que des explosions étaient entendus depuis 04h00 locales (vendredi 22h00, Montréal) près du QG des Forces spéciales, non loin du centre-ville, selon un journaliste de l’AFP et des témoins.

 

Sur leur page Facebook, les forces spéciales ont indiqué que des affrontements à l’arme légère et avec tirs de roquettes les opposaient à un groupe «hors-la-loi», faisant état de deux blessés de leur côté.

 

Elles ont prévenu qu’elles allaient «prendre pour cible quiconque qui tire sur leurs forces», une semaine après des affrontements qui avaient fait plus d’une trentaine de morts et une centaine de blessés et les avaient contraintes à quitter leur QG, sous la pression de la rue et des autorités.

 

Le chef d’état-major par intérim, Salem al-Konidi, a mis en garde, dans une déclaration à la chaîne de télévision Al-Aseema, contre un «bain de sang» et une «catastrophe» à Benghazi.

 

«Si les forces spéciales sont attaquées, il y aura un bain de sang (…) Il pourrait y avoir une catastrophe à Benghazi», a prévenu M. Konidi, affirmant ne pas connaître les assaillants ni leurs motivations.

 

«S’ils ont des demandes, ils peuvent attendre jusqu’à demain (samedi). Nous pourrons discuter avec eux», a-t-il dit.

 

Le chef de l’armée a appelé «les dignitaires et les sages de Benghazi à se mobiliser pour éviter des bains de sang».

 

En début de soirée, des dizaines de manifestants ont délogé une brigade d’ex-rebelles, la «Première brigade d’infanterie», de son QG à Benghazi, et ont incendié deux véhicules appartenant à cette brigade. Le chef d’état-major a affirmé avoir ordonné à cette brigade de quitter son QG pour préserver des vies.

 

Selon un témoin sur place, les manifestants dont certains sont armés ont tiré en l’air et lancé une roquette RPG sur le mur extérieur de la caserne, sans faire de victimes.

 

La «Première brigade d’infanterie» est formée d’ex-rebelles ayant combattu le régime de Mouammar Kadhafi en 2011. Elle affirme agir aux ordres du ministère de la Défense.

 

Les assaillant ont attaqué par la suite un commissariat de police, des bureaux de la Garde-frontières et des installations ainsi qu’un autre bâtiment administratif de la «Première brigade d’infanterie», selon des témoins.

 

Le week-end dernier, «Bouclier de Libye», une brigade proche des islamistes, qui affirme dépendre aussi du ministère de la Défense, a été attaquée par des manifestants anti-milices et obligée d’évacuer son QG.

 

Les protestataires affirmaient vouloir déloger les «milices» armées de leur ville, appelant les forces régulières à prendre le relais. Mais ces activistes affirment ne pas prendre part à aux affrontements de vendredi soir et de samedi matin.

 

Ils accusent «Bouclier de Libye» et des groupes d’islamistes d’avoir mobilisé leurs membres pour venger leur «défaite» du week-end dernier, en s’attaquant aux forces régulières.

 

Les autorités, qui peinent à former une armée et une police professionnelles, ont régulièrement recours à ces ex-rebelles pour sécuriser les frontières ou s’interposer dans des conflits tribaux.

 

Le nouveau pouvoir en Libye n’a pas réussi à désarmer et à dissoudre les groupes d’ex-rebelles qui font la loi dans le pays et tente de légitimer certains d’entre eux malgré l’opposition d’une grande partie de la population.

 

Benghazi, la deuxième ville de Libye d’où était partie en 2011 la contestation qui a conduit à la chute du régime de Kadhafi, a été le théâtre ces derniers mois de plusieurs attaques contre des intérêts occidentaux et d’assassinats de responsables de la sécurité.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 12:55
Pourquoi il est absurde d’attendre de l’armée qu’elle devienne une entreprise rentable

13.06.2013 Atlantico

 

Le budget de la Défense sera maintenu au niveau actuel de 31,4 milliards d'euros pour les trois prochaines années. Jean-Yves Le Drian a annoncé des ventes de biens immobiliers ainsi que des cessions de participations de l'Etat dans des entreprises pour compenser ce gel du budget.

 

Atlantico : L’armée française peut-elle devenir rentable comme le sont les entreprises ? Sa finalité est-elle d’avoir un budget à l’équilibre ?

 

Jean-Vincent Brisset : Cette question peut paraître surprenante. Elle l'est effectivement dans un grand pays démocratique. Mais il faut savoir qu'il existe de nombreux pays où les forces armées ont un lien direct avec le secteur marchand. Ce fut longtemps le cas en Chine, par exemple, où le secteur de l’industrie militaire et celui de l'armée étaient complètement imbriqués. Les choses allaient même beaucoup plus loin puisque dans tous les régiments, les militaires et leurs familles, outre les activités purement liées à l'entraînement, faisaient fonctionner des petites entreprises, des fermes (quelquefois de très grandes tailles), des commerces et des établissements de loisir et de restauration.

 

Ce mélange des genres, qui entraîne autant de corruption que de distorsion de concurrence, a théoriquement disparu. Dans beaucoup de pays, dont la France, les armées ne "gagnent" pas d'argent, mais elles peuvent effectuer des prestations payantes en utilisant leur matériel, qu'il s'agisse de locations d'emplacements ou de matériels, pour des tournages de films par exemple, de transports au profit d'autres ministères (qui se font parfois tirer l'oreille pour payer leur dû) ou autres. Sans qu'il y ait de transferts financiers, elles peuvent aussi faire économiser à l'état, à des collectivités locales des sommes relativement importantes en prêtant des hommes et des véhicules (Vigipirate, nettoyage de plages, opérations de voirie...) qui agissent à la place d'autres agents de l'Etat qui ne sont pas disponibles ou trop chers. Cela peut même intéresser des particuliers ou des associations, par le biais de prêts de terrain ou de matériels, par exemple pour une rave party. Il arrive aussi que la Défense mette à la disposition d'entreprises ou d'autres ministères ses moyens de recherche et d'expérimentation. Il ne faut surtout pas exagérer l'importance de ce phénomène. Les sommes mises en jeu lors des prêts et location facturés sont faibles et souvent, ces prestations sont fournies à titre gracieux, sans qu'aucune contrepartie ne soit accordée au budget de la Défense

 

Peut-on considérer le budget de la Défense comme n’importe quel autre budget ministériel ou bien fait-elle figure d’exception de par sa fonction primordiale de protection du territoire nationale?

 

Le budget de la défense est à la fois très semblable aux budgets des autres ministères et très différent. Il est semblable parce que son élaboration relève de la loi commune, et que les décisions sont entièrement prises par le pouvoir politique. Son exécution est un peu différente, pour des raisons de modalités de fonctionnement dont il n'est pas difficile de comprendre qu'elles obéissent à des impératifs bien particuliers. Parmi les spécificités, on note aussi l'importance de postes qui sont beaucoup moins importants dans les autres ministères : on pense tout de suite aux carburants, mais il y a aussi le prix des munitions et autres "consommables" et, surtout, celui des achats de matériels qui représentent, dans les grandes nations, un bon tiers du budget. Autre différence, le surcoût des opérations, extérieures dans le cas de la France, qui ne peuvent souvent pas être prévues et qui doivent faire l'objet de lois de finances rectificatives pour être prises en compte.

Autre particularité, la Défense, et le budget qui y est consacré, n'est pas une fin en soi. Elle est bien davantage une police d'assurance, et, comme le disait le slogan publicitaire "l'assurance n'est chère qu'avant l'accident". La chute de l'U.R.S.S. avait fait croire aux plus angélistes qu'il allait être possible de supprimer les armées et aux nations de bénéficier des "dividendes de la paix". Il a rapidement fallu se rendre à la réalité. Le monde demeure dangereux et conflictuel. Même en refusant toute intervention militaire qui ne serait pas totalement légitimée par la communauté internationale, les forces armées demeurent nécessaires.

 

Les pays qui ont choisi de ne pas se doter de moyens crédibles doivent aussi accepter de perdre une part de leur souveraineté et/ou de laisser commettre des exactions en se refusant d'être capables de "devoir d'ingérence". La notion de "défense du territoire national" avait aussi disparu de beaucoup d'esprits en même temps que se terminait la Guerre Froide. Les attentats du 11 septembre 2001 ont remis au goût du jour cette menace, mais sous une forme complètement différente. Les leçons de ces événements n'ont d'ailleurs pas encore été tirées complètement. Là où la défense se faisait le long de la frontière séparant les nations attaquées des nations attaquantes, elle doit désormais se faire très loin du sanctuaire national, là où se préparent les attaques et se réfugient les adversaires. A la capacité de défendre pied à pied un territoire se substitue - ou plutôt, devrait se substituer- celle de se projeter rapidement et frapper avec précision. De nouvelles notions sont apparues à cette occasion. Le refus des dommages collatéraux, longtemps admis comme un mal nécessaire, influe profondément sur les modes d'action.

On parle aussi de capacité à "entrer en premier". Cela voudrait théoriquement dire qu'un pays est capable de lancer seul une opération loin de son territoire national, que ce soit pour répondre à une attaque ou pour aider un ami menacé. Actuellement, dans le monde occidental, seuls les Etats-Unis ont gardé la capacité d'entrer en premier et de soutenir un effort sans aide extérieure.

 

La politique qui consiste à céder une partie du patrimoine immobilier et des participations étatiques dans des entreprises stratégiques pour équilibrer le budget de la Défense est-elle pérenne ?

 

Les armées ne produisant pas, par elle même, de richesses, la solution qui consiste à vendre une partie de son patrimoine pour maintenir son train de vie n'est qu'un palliatif. On peut tout au plus espérer que des jours meilleurs viendront et que cette solution aura permis de passer un cap. C'est ce qu'espèrent, sans y croire le plus souvent, ceux qui viennent apporter leurs bijoux de famille au Mont de Piété. Dans le cas présent, ces ventes doivent s'accompagner de réductions d'effectifs et d'ambitions. Quand il n'y aura plus rien à vendre, il faudra continuer de tailler dans les effectifs et les matériels, en adaptant nos ambitions stratégiques à ce qu'il restera de l'outil militaire.

Pourquoi il est absurde d’attendre de l’armée qu’elle devienne une entreprise rentable

Le Général de brigade aérienne Jean-Vincent Brisset est directeur de recherche à l’IRIS. Diplômé de l'Ecole supérieure de Guerre aérienne, il a écrit plusieurs ouvrages sur la Chine, et participe à la rubrique défense dans L’Année stratégique.

Il est l'auteur de Manuel de l'outil militaire, aux éditions Armand Colin (avril 2012)

Voir la bio en entier

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 12:55
Loaded with GBU-12 bombs and a Damocles targeting pod, a Rafale departs St. Dizier airbase in the early hours of Sunday, January 13, en route to targets in Mali. (Photo: French Air Force)

Loaded with GBU-12 bombs and a Damocles targeting pod, a Rafale departs St. Dizier airbase in the early hours of Sunday, January 13, en route to targets in Mali. (Photo: French Air Force)

June 12, 2013 by Chris Pocock - ainonline.com

 

For the Dassault Rafale combat jet, the French intervention in Mali provided another chance to demonstrate its multirole capability. Starting with a 3,400-mile interdiction mission (AI) launched from France on the night of January 13, up to six aircraft subsequently flew daily from their deployed base at N’Djamena, Chad, also performing reconnaissance and close-air-support (CAS) missions. Six of them are still there.

 

On that first mission, four Rafales took off from St. Dizier airbase with less than 48 hours notice and destroyed 21 pre-planned rebel targets in the middle of the country. They were each carrying three 2,500-liter fuel tanks, plus either six 500 GBU-12 laser-guided bombs plus a Thales Damocles designator pod, or six Sagem AASM Hammer GPS-guided smart weapons. They landed at N’Djamena after nine hours 45 minutes, having been air-refueled six times.

 

Subsequent missions also relied heavily on air-to-air refueling, as the aircraft remained on station to support French and Mali ground troops as they advanced into rebel-held territory. “Mali is a large country, with lots of sand and one big river. We were flying 800 miles from N’Djamena just to get there, on day and night roundtrips lasting up to nine hours,” said Lt. Col. Francois Tricot, commanding officer of EC02.030, one of two French Air Force Rafale squadrons that were involved. He paid tribute to the crews of U.S. Air Force KC-135s who supplemented the five French C-135FR tankers that refueled the Rafales: “To rendezvous at 02:00 over a dark continent when you are miles from anywhere, is very reassuring, and proves that our NATO interoperability training works!” Nevertheless, he admitted that there were some unplanned diversions into Niamey, Chad, when aircraft lingered over Mali to provide possible close-air-support, and then no tanker was available.

 

Reconnaissance missions were somewhat shorter at around five hours 30 minutes. They were flown from 25,000 to30,000 feet using the large Thales Reco NG pod. “Nobody can see or hear us from that altitude,” Lt. Col. Tricot noted. The Reco NG pod contains long-range infrared band 2 and visible spectrum sensors that can image from high altitude, as well as an infrared band 3 sensor that is designed for high-speed, low-altitude missions. To save time interpreting the imagery, some preselected frames were datalinked to a ground station in Niamey as the aircraft flew back to N’Djamena. The Rafales also offered “nontraditional” ISR coverage while equipped for AI or CAS missions. “We could see and report people hiding in trenches, and vehicles under cover, using our night-vision goggles and the cockpit display from the targeting pod,” Tricot explained. Most of the CAS missions were flown at night “because that’s when the ground troops preferred to advance,” he added.

 

“We provided top cover for the paratroop drop at night when Timbuktu was retaken on 26/27 January, with two aircraft on station at any one time,” Lt. Col. Tricot said. “Everyone was surprised at how quickly we launched that operation, and the subsequent one to retake Gao. It was planned and executed in 48 hours,” he continued.

 

The GPS-guided version of the AASM proved particularly useful when mission planners called for multiple targets to be hit in quick succession, to preserve surprise. “A Rafale can multi-fire the AASM quickly, and we launched 12 from two aircraft within a minute on one mission. They hit targets dispersed over a wide area–munitions storage areas, training camps, and a headquarters,” said Tricot. On that mission in early February, another two Rafales were standing by armed with GBU-12s, so that if any target was not destroyed, it could be re-attacked using the laser-guided weapon.

 

The new, laser-guided version of the AASM was not yet available to the Rafale squadrons. Although the IR-guided AASM was available, it was not used over Mali. The Rafale can also now carry the longer-range 500 GBU-22 and larger 2,000 GBU-24 laser-guided bombs, but pilots had not yet been qualified on these weapons when the Mali intervention was launched. The dual-mode (GPS plus laser guidance) 500 GBU-49 is also now available on the Rafale.

 

Lt. Col. Tricot noted that the availability rate of the Rafales was over 90 percent, despite the tough deployed conditions. Pilots flew every second day. Missions against known targets took about two hours to plan, using the Sagem SLPRM system. “But debriefing could take up to five hours,” he noted. Tricot said that “hot” intelligence from the Rafale missions was sent directly to deployed ground units, as well as to the combined air operations center (CAOC) through normal reporting channels. Having the CAOC co-located at N’Djamena was “a great advantage,” he added.

 

Summing up, the squadron commander said that the missions over Mali “were nothing new for us–we already performed over Libya and Afghanistan.” But, he noted, the efficiency that comes from having multirole aircraft, crews, and technicians cannot currently be matched by most other warplanes. “I like to see a dirty Rafale–it’s a war machine!” he added.

 

OPERATION SERVAL CONTINUES IN MALI

 

On January 11 this year, France–in its ongoing military campaign called Operation Serval–quickly responded to Mali’s call for help in preventing the advance of Islamic militants from their northern strongholds toward the populated south of the country and its capital, Bamako. Some 4,000 French soldiers and airmen successfully turned the tide, pushing the rebels back to their mountain strongholds in the north, and then attacking them there with the help of the reviving Mali army. French soldiers are still there, helping retrain the country’s armed forces as part of a European Union mission.

 

The first airstrikes were performed by French Air Force (FAF) Mirage 2000Ds that were on deployment in Chad. They hit rebel targets at Diabalie and Konna. Six of these aircraft subsequently flew AI and CAS missions from the Mali capital, Bamako, using laser-guided GBU-12 and dual-mode (laser/GPS-guided) GBU-49 bombs. The FAF’s soon-to-be-retired Mirage F1Cs were also in action, a pair of them providing armed photo-reconnaissance missions from N’Djamena.

 

Gazelle, Puma and Tiger HAP helicopters were airlifted to the theater to provide armed reconnaissance and combat search-and-rescue capability. AMX10 armored fighting vehicles followed. The FAF transport fleet comprised two C-130s, three C160s and six CN235s, supplemented by airlifters from other nations (see below). Five French C-135FR tankers and an E-3F AWACS were also deployed. French government A340 and A310 airliners ferried troops to the region, and Falcon jets evacuated the wounded.

 

Full-motion video (FMV) coverage of Mali was provided by two EADS Harfang (IAI Heron) MALE UAVs operating from an undisclosed location, and a French Navy ATL2 more usually employed on maritime patrol duties. Satellite imagery was used extensively, notable from the French-sponsored Helios and Pleiades systems.

 

The entire air operation was run from a command center in Lyon staffed by 30 French officers plus a few more from Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the UK, supplemented by a Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) in N’Djamena.

 

NATO ALLIES ASSIST IN OPERATION SERVAL

Participation d'un C17 canadien lors de manoeuvres logistiques sur la BA125 d' Istres

Participation d'un C17 canadien lors de manoeuvres logistiques sur la BA125 d' Istres

Although Operation Serval–the ongoing military campaign aimed at ousting Islamic militant in the north of Mali–was a French initiative, NATO allies provided some much-needed additional airlift and ISR capability. And the action would not have been possible without the cooperation of five countries in Francophone Africa, that provided basing rights: Chad, Djibouti, Niger, Ivory Coast and Senegal.

 

In addition to KC-135 support from the U.S., tankers were also provided by Germany (A310), Italy (KC-767) and Spain (KC-130). The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) sent a Sentinel radar reconnaissance jet that flew from Abidjan, and U.S. Air Force Reaper UAVs also provided some full-motion video coverage.

 

The RAF and U.S. Air Force also provided C-17s for the airlift of heavy equipment from France to Africa. Two German Air Force C160 Transalls supplemented the French airlift fleet of similar aircraft, as did C-130 Hercules from Belgium, Denmark and Spain. But France also had to charter expensive Il-76, An-124 and An-225 airlifters from commercial companies to meet the airlift requirements. By early March, more than 8,000 tons had been dispatched, on 540 flights.

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