Posts filed under ‘BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China)’
The head of the Brazilian Navy’s science and technology (S&T) unit thinks the United States should ease up its technology export controls for one of its key allies in Latin America.
“We would like it if the U.S. would be sensitive to Brazilian technology needs,” Admiral Wilson Guerra told a session of the Office of Naval Research’s S&T Partnership Conference this week.
Guerra, speaking Portuguese and translated by simultaneous interpreters, said “technology embargoes” had prevented Brazil from obtaining radar-evading stealth technology. “Brazil is a major partner with the U.S.,” Guerra said, adding that both countries’ navies “have been working together for a long time.”
As Secretary of Science, Technology and Innovation for the Brazilian Navy, Guerra outlined the naval portion of his country’s new strategic plan. It involves strengthening the military’s presence in the Amazon Region and its many rivers. Another part calls for paying as much attention to the waters 100 miles off Brazil’s 7,491 kilometer/6,654 mile coastline as to the Amazon, long seen as a major contributor to Brazil’s economy.
“The Brazilian people didn’t understand the significance of the sea” Guerra said, so the shift in priorities was dubbed the Blue Amazon (Amazonia Azul video in Portuguese) to signify the economic and strategic importance of the sea coast and its deeper waters which are believed to contain vast petroleum deposits.
Keeping those resources secure is one reason for Brazil’s “new strategic vision,” which links national defense with national development. 4GWAR first reported about Brazil’s new strategic defense plan two years ago when then-Defense Minister Nelson Jobim spoke at George Washington University in Washington, DC.
Guerra said it was not just a naval strategy but a strategy “for the entire Brazilian state.”
For the military, the plan calls for one aircraft carrier, 23 escort vessels, 28 district patrol boats, eight submarines and the construction of a nuclear submarine with French assistance. Three French/Spanish-designed Scorpene subs have been built so far.
Guerra said eventually Brazil will have two fleets. One based in Rio de Janiero, the other farther north in or near the Amazon.
Russia Considers New Naval Bases
As the United States military shifts attention to the Asia Pacific region and reaches agreements to base troops and ships in Australia, Singapore and possibly the Philippines, Russia is considering expanding its overseas naval bases.
Currently, Moscow has only one overseas military installation – a naval supply base at Tartus in civil war-wracked Syria. But the commander of the Russian navy recently said he is looking at opening bases in Cuba, Vietnam and on the Indian Ocean island chain of the Seychelles.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries the political and military jockeying – especially espionage – by Russia and Britain for influence in Central Asia was called “the Great Game.” But after World War II the United States replaced the British Empire and the Soviet Union succeeded the Russian Empire as players of the Great Game.
But now it appears the “Game” may be moving East and West and out to sea with Moscow suggesting it needs more naval bases around the world. “It is true, we are working on the deployment of Russian naval bases outside Russian territory,” Vice Admiral Viktor Chirkov told the RIA Novosti news agency July 27, according to several western news accounts.
But a day later, Russia’s defense ministry, denied that it was trolling for new bases. In a statement the ministry called the reports a media “fantasy” and said Chirkov – who does not have the authority to make such deals with other governments – was misquoted, AFP reported.
Yesterday (August 1), Pravda reported that the base expansions were being planned for “rest and replenishment of the crews after the campaign in the area and not military bases.” But Russian warships could do both, if necessary, Pravda added “given the good attitudes of the leaders of these countries toward Russia.”
At the Pentagon, Defense Department spokesman George Little said last week that Russia is within its rights “to enter into military agreements and relationships” with other countries, Bloomberg Businessweek reported, noting that Russia has been building up its Navy since 2008.
Pundits and politicians around the world were quick to speculate about what it all means. Some thought Vietnam – nervous about China’s bullying behavior in the South China Sea, where massive deposits of oil and gas are thought to exist beneath the sea bed – is looking for a big partner to counter Beijing. Others believed Cuba and Venezuela might be looking for a champion as a buffer against the U.S.
Cuban leader Raul Castro met with Moscow officials last month and Vietnam’s President Truong Tan Sang met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Russia recently. The talks were said to include exploring closer military ties but no announcement was made. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also met with Sang in June and visited the Cam Ranh Bay facility. Sang previously said the naval base’s facilities would be open to all friendly navies.
The Soviet Union took over the massive naval base at Cam Ranh Bay in 1979 after the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam in the mid 1970s. But after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Russian officials decided the rent Vietnam wanted to charge for continued use of its facility was too high and withdrew its personnel in 2002. That was the same year Russia closed its radar facility in Lourdes, Cuba, where the Soviet Union had operated an intelligence-gathering base since the 1960s.
Linked to LeT
Police in India have arrested a suspect in the 2008 terror attack on Mumbai that left more than 160 dead and paralyzed India’s financial capital for nearly three days.
On Monday (June 25) Deli police took into custody Abu Hamza – believed to be one of the masterminds of the attack on two hotels, a Jewish community center and a railroad station.
Indian media reports said he was also known as Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari and Abu Jindal. He is reportedly the one who guided the attack by cell phone and tutored the heavily-armed attackers in Hindi before they struck.
All but one of the 10 attackers, believed to be Pakistanis, were killed by Indian police and commandos.
The tenth attacker, Ajmal Amir Qasab, was tried and sentenced to death. The attackers and Abu Hamza are all said to be members of a violent Pakistani militant group – Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which stands for Army of the Pure.
Updates with Dempsey visit to Brazil, adds background (in italics)
Colombia Rebels Killed
Government troops in Colombia killed 36 rebels Monday (March 26) in an airstrike on a training camp in the state of Metas south of Bogota, the capital.
It was the second such raid against Colmbia’s main guerilla force in less than a week. On March 21, the Colombian military killed 33 rebels in another air raid on Arauca state near the border with Venezuela, the British newspaper The Guardian reported. That raid followed an early March rebel attack that killed 11 Colombian soldiers.
The attacks come just as the rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by the Spanish acronym FARC, said it would release the last of its prisoners – some of them held for as long as 14 years – early next month.
FARC has been waging an insurgency against Bogota since the 1960s resulting in the deaths of thousands of soldiers, rebels and citizens. In recent years FARC has been battered by an increasingly professional and effective Colombian military with U.S. financial aid and military assistance, the Associated Press reported.
Recently FARC said it was halting kidnappings for ransom, a long-time source of income along with the illegal cocaine trade.
Veteran U.S. Officers to Assist Colombia
The United States is preparing to send Army brigade commanders with experience in Iraq and Afghanistan to Colombia to assist a joint task force aimed at defeating FARC guerillas.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Chiefs of Staff, on a tour of Colombia and Brazil, says the U.S. officers will visit commanders of Joint Task Force Vulcano for two weeks to help with leader development and share their experience fighting insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. The task force is one of several created by the Colombian government to disrupt rebel organizations engaging in drug smuggling, arms trafficking, illegal mining and bomb manufacturing. The learning experience won’t be a one way street, Demsey says, adding that he fully expects U.S. leaders to learn from the Colombian counterparts.
On a two-day visit to Colombia to meet with high ranking political and defense officials, Dempsey said Colombia had a good strategy for combating FARC. That strategy calls for cutting FARC’s forces – now numbering 8,000-to-9,000 – by 2014.
During his meetings, Dempsey said the Colombians indicated ways to accelerate their efforts on the ground including: border security, protecting critical infrastructure, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, intelligence fusion, airlift and unmanned aircraft.
The Colombians also would like the U.S. to provide additional aircraft to transport cargo and troops, Dempsey told reporters traveling with him, the Associated Press reported.
Getting Closer to Brazil
Dempsey wound up his first trip to South America as chairman of the Joint Chiefs with a visit to Brazil, where he met with Brazilian military leaders and toured the country’s jungle warfare training center near Manaus in the Amazonia region. The world class training center has seen only a few U.S. troops among its students. In fact, it has graduated more officers and non-commissioned officers from France (86) than from the U.S. (25) in its 48-year history.
Dempsey said Brazil, the largest country and largest economy in South America, has a key role to play in the region. The Pentagon, as part of its new strategic guidance, is seeking to enlist the assistance of Brazil, Colombia and other countries in the region to block the spread of terrorist groups and transnational crime – particularly narcotics trafficking.
To protect its the offshore oil deposits and the water and agricultural resources of the Amazon region, Brazil is expanding its military acquisitions under a 2010 defense strategy. It is building five submarines – one them nuclear-powered – in an agreement with French shipbuilder DCNS. France also has a deal to sell Brazil 50 EC725 Cougar military transport helicopters. And Sao Paulo is said to be close to deciding from whom it will buy 36 next generation mult-role combat jet fighters.
Brazil is, itself, a military manufacturer and exporter. Recently it sold the Embraer’s Super Tucan turbo-prop plane, which can serve as a trainer or light attack counter insurgency weapon, to three African nations: Angola, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. In the past, when it was ruled by a military junta, Brazil was a leading manufacturer and exporter of armored vehicles, rocket launchers and small arms.
In addition to international drug cartels that move drug shipments by plane, boat and homemade submarines, U.S. security planners are also concerned about the activities of Iran, China and Russia in Latin America and the presence of businesses linked to international terrorist groups – particularly in the largely lawless Triple Frontier region where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay share borders.
Dempsey said he was concerned that transit routes used to smuggle drugs today could be used by terrorists to smuggle weapons of mass destruction in the future, the AP’s Robert Burns reported.
To see a 10-minute French television report on the Brazilian jungle warfare training center click here. (In French except where it’s in Brazilian Portuguese)
More than 10,000 troops from the United States and six Asian nations spent a week in Thailand hitting the beach in an amphibious exercise, learning jungle survival skills, building schools and practicing humanitarian evacuations.
It was all part of Cobra Gold 12, the largest joint exercise in the Asia Pacific region, which has been hosted by Thailand and the U.S. Since 1980.
Troops from Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, Malayasia, Singapore, Japan and the United States took part in various parts of the exercise. Another 10 countries also joined in a computer simulated command post exercise at Camp Suranaree in Korat, Thailand.
The object of Cobra Gold is for participating nations to learn from each others’ unique experience and better prepare for a unified approach to future contingencies. Cobra Gold 12 ran from Feb. 7 to Feb. 17.
U.S. Marines joined South Korean and Royal Thai Marines in the amphibious assault demonstrationat Hat Yao. There also was a combined live fire exercise involving close air support, artillery fire and infantry maneuvers. Other participants like Singapore joined the U.S. and Thailand in building school buildings for several Thai communities. The bulk of the particiapting forces came from the U.S. : about 7,000 Marine and sailors. About 3,000 Thai troops, more than 300 from South Korea, 79 from Malaysia and 59 from Singapore also participated.
Although Cobra Gold 2012 has been planned for more than a year, it took on added significance this year with the U.S. Strategy shift that will focus on the Asia Pacific region. Also the U.S. Marine Corps, which sent the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force to Cobra Gold, is promoting its expeditionary and amphibious skills to Pentagon budget planners after 10 years of war in the deserts, mountains and cities of Iraq and Afghanistan.
In addition to current bases in South Korea and Japan, the U.S. plans to base Marines in northern Australia and new shallow draft Littoral Combat Ships in Singapore. The U.S. is also in discussions with the Philippines about a return of U.S. forces (but not U.S. bases) to the island nation for the first time since 1992, when massive U.S. naval and air bases were closed.
While China was not mentioned in the official press statements issued by government agencies during Cobra Gold, a number of countries from the region — including some that sent military units or observers to the exercise have gotten into tiffs with the People’s Republic over who has sovereignty over the South China Sea and the oil and mineral wealth believed to lie beneath its waters.
Cameroon Captain Released
Piracy is on the rise in the waters off the West Coast of Africa. What started out as low-level armed robberies has morphed into hijackings, cargo theft and kidnappings in the Gulf of Guinea.
The latest incident saw the kidnapping of a Cameroonian sea captain by armed pirates off the coast of Nigeria. The captain, Moukoko Lottin, was released Aug. 29 after an undisclosed sum of money was exchanged for his freedom, according to an Associated Press report in the Washington Post.
The captain said he was not harmed when the seven pirates boarded his ship Aug. 27.
There has been a dramatic increase in pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea. The countries of Benin and Nigeria have reported more than 20 incidents. That number could increase as more and more oil is shipped from the region.
China Worried About Investments
With the Libyan uprising against strongman Muammar Qaddafi nearing an apparent end, diplomats are meeting in Turkey to discuss the North African nation’s future.
But some rebels are warning members of the international community – like China – who remained bystanders during the Libyan upheaval that there may be financial consequences.
An official at the rebel-run Libyan oil company, AGOCO, warned this week that Russian and Chinese firms could lose out on oil contracts because they failed to back the uprising against Qaddafi, according to reports by Reuters, the Voice of America and others.
China’s Ministry of Commerce urged the new Libyan government to protect its investments, noting the oil trade benefited both countries.
Moscow and Beijing – sensitive to outside criticism of Russian and Chinese civil rights abuses and corruption – generally oppose international intervention in the internal affairs of sovreign countries. Neither country voted for a U.N. resolution to use military force to protect Libyan civilians from attack by Qaddafi loyalists. In fact, oil-dependent China condemned NATO airstrikes authorized by the U.N. and called for ceasefire talks between Qaddafi and the rebels.
China is the world’s second largest consumer nation of petroleum (after the United States) and obtained 3 percent of its crude oil imports from Libya before the civil war.
China has yet to recognize the rebels’ Transitional National Council as the legitimate government, but Beijing reached out to the rebels in recent weeks.
Diplomats from 30 countries including the U.S., European, Western Arab and African nations are meeting in Istanbul, Turkey to discuss Libya’s future — especially the unfreezing of funds to help pay government salaries and rebuilding infrastructure. Another meeting of the Libyan Contact Group is planned for next week in Paris.
Nelson Jobim Clashed with President
Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim has resigned – reportedly after clashing with new President Dilma Rouseff over her handling of the military. Jobim is the third cabinet member to leave in the first seven months of Rouseff’s presidency, according to the Chistian Science Monitor’s Latin America blog.
Last Fall (Oct. 21), 4GWAR reported on Jobim’s speech at George Washington University outlining Brazil’s new strategic defense plan to safeguard its natural resources in the Amazon region and along its coastline, and create jobs through technology transfer from other countries.
Technology transfer was a key element of Brazil’s plan to acquire more than 30 jet fighters to upgrade the Air Force. Brazil was close to buying the Rafale made by France’s Dassault for an estimated $6 billion. The deal was more expensive than ones offered for America’s Boeing F-18 Super Hornet or Sweden’s Grippen fighter, made by Saab AB. But the French deal included the rights to the high tech avionics and sensors as well as the finished aircraft. That would enable Brazil to manufacture and upgrade its own aircraft rather than relying on foreign companies.
But Rouseff reportedly thought the price tag was too big and decided to restart the bidding process, says Aljazeera.
Jobin will be replaced at the Defense Ministry by former Foreign Minister Celso Amorim.
The Chinese government is trying to do more than just talk about the weather: firing liquid nitrogen-filled rockets into the sky to mitigate the country’s worst drought in 50 years.
SkyNews reports provincial authorities are using the ground-fired rockets and artillery shells for “weather modification,” hoping to encourage precipitation over the parched Yangtze River basin. More than 500 rockets and 3,300 artillery shells were fired over the weekend, causing only light rain to fall over parts of central China, People’s Daily Online reported.
But the massive drought has stalled shipping on the Yangtze — China’s biggest river — dried up lakes, threatened drinking water supplies and electricity production. It also bodes ill for China’s grain crops, which could prompt Beijing to make large-scale overseas purchases of food — driving up prices worldwide.
Water shortages in China have steadily worsened over the last 10 years, according to the Financial Times, and its water per capita supply is just a quarter of the world average. The drought has threatened drinking water supplies for more than 1 million people. More than 400 million depend on the Yangtze basin for food, water or livelihood.
To see video footage of the truck-launched rockets, click here.
Has Arctic Circle Land Rush Started?
Just days after the nations of the High North met in Greenland to discuss common problems and approve an Arctic search-and-rescue treaty, comes word that one of them plans to lay claim to the land under the North Pole.
The report comes just days after leaders of the eight countries that make up the Arctic Council – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the United States – met in Nuuk, Greenland to approve the search-and-rescue treaty and begin addressing such issues as oil and natural gas drilling.
But reports of a leaked Danish government document, first reported by Danish news media, say Denmark plans to make a claim for part of the land beneath the North Pole and elsewhere in the Arctic before a 2014 United Nations deadline.
The report on Denmark’s plans also comes shortly after leaked U.S. diplomatic cables reveal the Arctic states are rushing to stake claims to the region, which is believed to be rich in minerals. As much as 25 percent of the world’s untapped petroleum fields are believed to lie beneath the Arctic’s ice ans frigid waters. The cables, released by Wikileaks, indicated most of the Arctic nations – including Denmark – are anxious to stake a claim before the ice melts.
Scientists say climate change and global warming could melt much of the polar ice, making the waters around the North Pole navigable – and more accessible for oil and gas exploration and drilling.
In a token gesture, Russia asserted its land claims in 2007 when it placed a small metal Russian flag in the sea bottom beneath the pole. Canada, which asserts is has sovereigity over any Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans – should the ice melt prediction come true – has conducted military exercises (some with U.S. and Danish participation) to assert its sovereignty in the region. Norway has also hosted multi-national wargames in the Arctic — the most recent had a defense-of-North Sea-oil fields as part of its scenario.
The U.S. Norway and Denmark – through its rule over Greenland – are the only other countries that border the Arctic Ocean. Here is a Russian publication’s take on the controversy, including an explanation of why Denmark thinks it has a claim on the North Pole.
Most of the Arctic nations conduct military exercises and scientific missions in the region’s seas and skies. In the photo above, the Seawolf-class attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) returns to port at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton after participating in Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2011 in the Arctic Circle.
The Connecticut and the Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Hampshire (SSN 778) worked with the Navy’s Arctic Submarine Laboratory and the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory to test new equipment and train for under-ice operations in an Arctic environment.