Archive for July 23, 2010
Taking the Beach
About 600 marines and sailors from Southern Command and the 4th Fleet recently participated with troops from nine other nations in a large-scale amphibious exercise on the coast of Peru. Marines from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay — along with soldiers from the Canadian Army took part in Southern Exchange/Partnership of the Americas 2010 from July 1-25.
The U.S. Marines, mostly from Reserve units, included elements of the 24th Marine Regiment, the 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, 4th Medical Battalion, 4th Dental Battalion and the Marine Medium Lift Helicopter Squadron 764.
Supporting amphibious operations during the exercise was the USS New Orleans (LPD 18).
Here’s some information on the Belgian-designed F2000 assault rifle.
INDONESIA: Forgive and Forget?
The U.S. military is ending a decade-old ban on dealings with a special forces unit of the Indonesian military that has been linked to killing civilians and other human rights abuses. The move, which sparked sharp protests from international human rights groups, appears to be an attempt to counter growing Chinese influence in the region.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, on a visit to the island nation – the world’s largest Muslim majority country – announced July 23 that the U.S. would resume ties with Kopassus, an elite special forces unit accused of kidnappings and assassinations of activists and demonstrators during the oppressive Suharto regime, which fell in 1998.
While the U.S. has resumed ties with most of the Indonesian military in 2005, and the two nations signed a defense framework agreement in June, Kopassus has been blacklisted, by Congress and the U.S. State Department. Gates and other Pentagon officials said the unit had made numerous reforms but the reconciliation doesn’t signal an end to U.S. commitment to human rights and accountability. Kopassus is seen an influential arm of the military. Many top Indonesian officers have come from the unit.
But human rights groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International decried the policy change. Analysts said the move is seen as a hedge against China’s influence in the region, according to the Washington Post and Bloomberg. Indonesian officials hinted that Kopassus “might explore building ties with the Chinese military if the ban remained,” the New York Times reported.
PAKISTAN: Army Chief’s Term Extended
Pakistan’s government has extended the term of the Army’s top general for another three years to continue the fight against terrorism and militant fundamentalists, according to to news reports from Islamabad, the nation’s capital.
Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was due to retire in November, but in a move supported by the U.S. and NATO commanders, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced his retention as head of the country’s military establishment.
Kayani, 58, who has headed the Army since 2007, has led campaigns against the Taliban and has been responsible — behind the scenes — for permitting CIA drones to attack al Qaeda terrorists and Taliban militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas. He’s also helped ensure transit on the supply route that runs across Pakistan to U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, the New York Times says.
Despite all that, the Pakistani PM says the government was not under any pressure to keep Kayani on for three more years, the newspaper Dawn reported.