Mar 08

Military Decides You Shouldn’t See Key Data on Afghan Insurgency (Wired, March 6, 2013):

One of the major metrics for the decade-long Afghanistan war is seriously flawed. Rather than fix the problem, the U.S.-NATO military command in Kabul has decided that you simply shouldn’t see the data.

Late last month, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) conceded that it misreported the 2012 statistics on Taliban attacks. Its explanation was that a data-entry error had discounted attacks reported by Afghan forces — so much so that a statistically insignificant change in the level of so-called “enemy initiated attacks” became a 7 percent decline from 2011 levels.

ISAF’s response, the Associated Press recounts, is to end public reporting on enemy-initiated attacks. It’ll still record attack levels, according to spokesman Jamie Graybeal, but it won’t publish any of the data it collects — all because it’s losing confidence in the veracity of its information. As Afghan forces take increasing control of the war, ISAF will cede control of overseeing the attack data collection. “We have determined that our databases will become increasingly inaccurate in reflecting the entirety of enemy initiated attacks,” Graybeal told the Associated Press’ Bob Burns, who broke the story.

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Dec 16

And yes, those lasers will be really bad for your eyesight.



James Bond-style: The SMU 100 temporarily impairs the vision of anyone looking towards its source with a four metre wall of light

UK tests “non-blinding” police lasers (Boing Boing, ‎Dec 12, 2011‎):

The makers of a “non-blinding” laser claims an unnamed UK police force is set to trial the weapon as a means of “controlling riots.” According to the manufacturer — who developed the weapon for use against pirates in Somalia — the laser can “temporarily” blind its victims at 500m. It is meant to provide “an intimidating visual deterrent” because “If you can’t look at something you can’t attack it.”

My friend Sulka, who brought this to my attention, has some informed speculation about what “non-blinding” might mean. He notes that the UK is a signatory on the Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons (I didn’t know this existed, and I’m both glad and sad that it does), whose definition of blindness “is where your eyesight goes worse than 20/200, meaning you can’t see the *largest* letter in a Snellen chart when looking at it with *both* eyes.”

So that means that this weapon wouldn’t run afoul of international law if it (merely) reduced your vision to the point where you were impaired but not legally blind, permanently.

Meanwhile, Twitter wags are already predicting a resurgence of mirrorshades among protesters, which means that everything the cyberpunks predicted in the mid-80s is finally coming true. I always thought that Anon was basically an analog to the Panther Moderns.

Lock, Stock and Laser? UK police go high-tech (RT, Dec. 12, 2011):

The laser was originally designed to protect sensitive cargo from pirates on the high seas.  Likewise, NATO-led troops have already deployed similar weapons to counter insurgents in Afghanistan.

Rioters beware: Police set to deploy £25,000 James Bond-style laser that temporarily blinds (Daily Mail, Dec 12, 2011)

Police to test laser that ‘blinds rioters’ (Telegraph, ‎Dec 11, 2011‎):

A shoulder-mounted laser that emits a blinding wall of light capable of repelling rioters is to be trialled by police under preparations to prevent a repeat of this summer’s looting and arson.

The technology, developed by a former Royal Marine commando, temporarily impairs the vision of anyone who looks towards the source.

It has impressed a division of the Home Office which is testing a new range of devices because of the growing number of violent situations facing the police.

The developer, British-based Photonic Security Systems, hopes to offer the device to shipping companies to deter pirates. Similar devices have been used by ISAF troops in Afghanistan to protect convoys from insurgents.

The laser, resembling a rifle and known as an SMU 100, can dazzle and incapacitate targets up to 500m away with a wall of light up to three metres squared. It costs £25,000 and has an infrared scope to spot looters in poor visibility.

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Feb 19

The U.S. is so broke, that it can’t even afford sending a football team to Afghanistan:
Glenn Beck: United States Debt Obligations Exceed World GDP
Federal obligations exceed world GDP

The U.S. economy is about to experience a total collapse, because now the financial crisis is hitting the real economy.
The retailers will collapse, which will be much, much worse that the subprime mortgage crisis. The bond bubble will burst. The dollar will be destroyed. The U.S. will default on its debt. The Greatest Depression is coming.



The ‘surge’, with the extra US forces in Afghanistan expected to rise to 30,000, was required to ‘stabilise a deteriorating situation’ said Barack Obama

A grim picture of spiralling violence and a disintegrating society has emerged in Afghanistan in a confidential Nato report, just as Barack Obama vowed to send 17,000 extra American troops to the country in an attempt to stem a tide of insurgency.

Direct attacks on the increasingly precarious Afghan government more than doubled last year, while there was a 50 per cent increase in kidnappings and assassinations. Fatalities among Western forces, including British, went up by 35 per cent while the civilian death toll climbed by 46 per cent, more than the UN had estimated. Violent attacks were up by a third and roadside bombings, the most lethal source of Western casualties, by a quarter. There was also a 67 per cent rise in attacks on aircraft from the ground, a source of concern to Nato which depends hugely on air power in the conflict.

The document, prepared by the Pentagon on behalf of the US-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) in Afghanistan and seen by The Independent, also reveal how swathes of the country have slipped out of the control of President Hamid Karzai’s government. According to a poll taken towards the end of last year, a third of the population stated that the Taliban had more influence in their locality.

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Jan 01

Pakistan closed the main highway used to transport supplies to US and Nato troops in Afghanistan after it launched a fresh offensive against Taliban insurgents in the northwest of the country.


The US and Nato are considering other possible supply routes to Afghanistan Photo: AP

The move means that Nato troops will depend on airlifts and less reliable Central Asian routes for essential supplies for the foreseeable future. Commanders said the situation was being keep under review. “We continue to monitor the impact of that,” an ISAF spokesman, Royal Navy Captain Mark Windsor . It is not our only means of (getting) supplies.”

Over 75 per cent of fuel, food and other essential commodities for the Western forces are trucked from the Pakistan port of Karachi to Afghanistan. “Because of these (anti-insurgent) operations supplies have been suspended on this route to and from Afghanistan” said Fazal Mehmood, a civilian administrator in the Khyber region.

Pakistan’s army launched an offensive against Taliban insurgents in the region after they ignored a deadline to surrender and was unable to say how long the route would remain closed.

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Jul 01

June was the deadliest month for foreign troops in Afghanistan since the 2001 fall of the Taliban and the second in a row in which casualties exceeded those in Iraq, official figures showed Tuesday.

Forty-nine soldiers from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the separate US-led coalition died in combat, attacks or accidents in June, according to an AFP tally based on military statements.

June accounted for more than 40 percent of the 122 deaths of foreign soldiers in Afghanistan during 2008, according to the independent website icasualties.org.

Most were killed by roadside bombs hitting their convoys or patrols.

ISAF spokesman General Carlos Branco said the figures should be seen in the context of rising numbers of international forces fighting a resurgent Taliban militia.

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