Defense and Military

February 27, 2008

Schwarzenegger wants Pentagon to return equipment

As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, Governor Schwarzenegger told Bush administration officials that he is tired of the Pentagon treating the California National Guard like a stepchild by using its equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan without returning or replacing it.

The Republican governor, in a visit to Washington for the annual meeting of the National Governors’ Association, said the California National Guard is missing about half of its equipment – from humvees to radios. That could leave California at risk in an earthquake, fire or other emergency, Schwarzenegger said. “It’s not fair to the states for the federal government to go into a war and then to take from us the equipment,” he said after meetings Monday with President Bush and Cabinet officials. “Every time our National Guard leaves, they take with them equipment but they don’t bring it back.”

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Schwarzenegger and other governors that the Pentagon plans to pay to replace some of the equipment that is damaged or destroyed, but the compensation could take several years because of budget constraints. Schwarzenegger said states also face budget shortfalls and can’t shoulder the burden indefinitely.

During the Southern California fires in October, some local officials complained about a lack of air support to contain the blazes, while state and federal officials criticized the U.S. military for failing to deploy some of its C-130 planes immediately after the fires broke out….

The state estimates that $1 billion worth of equipment is being used, from diesel generators to trucks to GPS devices. The California National Guard is also stretched thin because about 1,400 guardsmen are helping the federal government to secure the border with Mexico. “There’s only so long you can do that,” the governor said. “We now are missing 50 percent of the equipment – the equipment also (used) to train the National Guard.”

Filed under Defense and Military, Governor Schwarzenegger, U.S. Government by

December 14, 2007

Silicon Valley businessman gets two years for selling night vision equipment to the Chinese

A Silicon Valley businessman was sentenced Monday to two years in prison for helping broker the sale of a night vision camera to a research institute linked to the Chinese military, according to an AP report. Philip Cheng, 60, pleaded guilty in October of last year to violating a U.S. law forbidding the export of military-related items to China. Cheng was originally charged in 2004 with six felonies, including conspiracy, money laundering and brokering the illegal export of defense-related equipment. A 2006 trial ended in a mistrial when the jury couldn’t reach a verdict, and he later agreed to plead guilty to one count. The indictment alleges Cheng and a business partner didn’t get the required State Department approval before selling a military-grade “Panther I” infrared camera to the North China Research Institute for Electro-Optics for $65,000. They also were accused of entering a contract with the Chinese military to mass-produce night vision equipment in China. Cheng is scheduled to begin serving the prison sentence on Feb. 12, and he has also been ordered to pay a $50,000 fine.

Filed under China, Defense and Military, Legal and Criminal Issues by

September 28, 2007

California opposition growing to Blackwater military base

The recent shooting deaths of Iraqi civilians by Blackwater USA contractors has helped galvanize the opposition to their plans to build a private military base in California. In the most recent incident, Blackwater employees shot into a group of cars in a Baghdad square, killing at least 11 Iraqis and wounding 12. The Blackwater employees said they were ambushed but witnesses have described the shooting as unprovoked murder. “This is a nightmare,” a senior U.S. military official told the Washington Post. “We had guys who saw the aftermath, and it was very bad. This is going to hurt us badly. It may be worse than Abu Ghraib”. Iraq’s Interior Ministry concluded that Blackwater was at fault and ordered their license revoked causing still another embarrassment and huge headache for the Bush administration, which has relied heavily on private contractors for the occupation of Iraq.

Blackwater describes itself as “a professional military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping and stability operations firm and has won more than $750 million in U.S. contracts for work in Iraq. It is owned by billionaire named Erik Prince, one of the largest donors to the Republican Party who is said to have links to the religious right and other far right political causes.

North Carolina-based Blackwater now wants to set up a paramilitary training base in the rugged mountains east of San Diego. The base is planned for Potrero, California, a small border town 45 miles east of the City of San Diego. The 24-acre facility is to have rifle and pistol ranges, helicopters and a helipad, armored vehicles and a defensive-driving motor course; and will have as many as 700 people present at any given time. The company typically hires highly trained former military personal such as Navy Seals for its security and paramilitary operations.

Residents of San Diego and Potrero have been organizing and began fighting this facility earlier this year on a number of issues- including environmental, local land control, noise, traffic, the risk of fire danger and basic opposition to the nature of Blackwater USA which many consider to be a mercenary group. It is strongly suspected that Blackwater has selected the San Diego border area in order to secure Federal Government contracts for border security.

Opponents to the expansion of Blackwater USA will stage a major rally and encampment at the gates of the proposed “Blackwater West” site in Potrero on October 6th and 7th. “The public is waking up to the atrocities attributed to Blackwater and to the private mercenary soldier industry now staring us in the face,” said Raymond Lutz, coordinator of Citizens’ Oversight Projects (COPS) and StopBlackwater.net. “The intimidating nature of these mercenary boot camps has kept locals from speaking out but, the tides have changed, when Blackwater USA tried to put in a jungle training camp in the Philippines they has to pull out after fierce public outcry. We can do the same here in San Diego County, we are resisting the further expansion of corporate mercenary armies and unregulated training of U.S. Armed Forces in residential areas.”

Filed under California Politics, Defense and Military, Iraq, U.S. Government by

September 27, 2007

Speculation on the impact of a dirty bomb on Los Angeles Ports

The Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events at the University of Southern California recently speculated on the impact of a radiological dispersal device- i.e. a “dirty bomb” on the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, CA. Their conclusion: such an attack would likely result in few deaths, but there would be severe economic and psychological consequences resulting in losses of hundreds of billions of dollars, and the incident would create a critical missing link in the worldwide supply chain as the port is closed. More of this cheerful report can be found at this link: http://www.scdigest.com/assets/newsViews/07-09-18-3.php?cid=1229

Filed under California Ports, Defense and Military by

August 9, 2007

Flying-car developer wins DoD Contract

Moller International Inc. has been selected as a primary vendor for the Department of Defense development services, the Davis company has announced. The 12-18 month contract will not have an impact on the flying-car developer’s bottom line, Moller said. The contract will take advantage of Moller’s experience with ducted fans, manned and unmanned vertical take off and landing systems designs and high power-to-weight rotary engines.

Filed under Aerospace and Aviation, Defense and Military by

March 28, 2007

Fluential gets $1.2M defense contract for Arabic translation software

“The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded a $1.2 million contract to Fluential Inc. for a two-way speech translation technology, the company said. Sunnyvale-based Fluential said the contract calls for technology for English-Arabic to be used by service members in Iraq. Fluential said it received the contract under DARPA’s Spoken Language Communication and Translation System for Tactical Use, which is focused on finding technologies that enable spontaneous two-way tactical speech communications between English and “target-language speakers.”

Filed under Defense and Military, Iraq by

March 18, 2007

Northrupt Grumman gets $287 million to build more Global Hawks

“Northrop Grumman received a $287 million contract from the U.S. Air Force for the next production run of its Global Hawk unmanned aerial system… Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, such as the Global Hawk have played an increasing role in U.S. military operations in southwest Asia, providing continuous monitoring of activities on the ground for signs of insurgents on the move. The Global Hawk’s specs include the ability to operate at night and in bad weather. It also has the ability to operate undetected at very high altitudes… Northrop said in its news release that the fuselages would be assembled in Mississippi and shipped to its plant in Palmdale for final assembly.”

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March 7, 2007

Last aircraft manufacturing plant in California may close

No one seems to know for sure, but there is great concern that California might be losing its last aircraft manufacturer. The C-17 is a huge cargo plane designed to transport large equipment, supplies and troops directly to small airfields anywhere in the world. About 5,500 people are directly employed building the C-17 in Boeing’s Long Beach assembly line at an average pay of $65,000 per year, and a roughly equal number are employed by suppliers throughout the area. Because of a lack of orders for new C-17s, Boeing is planning significant work-force reductions starting early next year.

Boeing notified C-17 suppliers Friday that it will stop ordering new parts as it prepares to possibly end production of the plane. The company says it needs more orders to keep the assembly line going but the Defense Department did not request any new C-17s under its proposed fiscal 2008 budget. Boeing has threatened to end production before- possibly as a way to pressure the Military into ordering more planes. Analysts say orders for about 12 planes a year are needed to justify production of the plane.

According to the Long Beach Press Telegram the threat of losing the program is becoming an annual tradition. “We go through these budget machinations every year,” said Mayor Bob Foster. Robert Swayze, economic director for Long Beach said “It would be a real hit to the Long Beach economy and the regional economy”. Others were concerned about losing an entire industry- possibly forever, “This is the last production line where you are assembling an aircraft here,” said Jack Kyser, chief economist of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. “There are no more commercial aircraft made here, and this is the last military aircraft. “In terms of a flying machine, this is it. And once it’s gone, it’s gone. You start to lose your skilled workforce, you lose your supplier network.”

Filed under Aerospace and Aviation, California Economy, Defense and Military by

California medic convicted of desertion for refusing Iraq duty

“A U.S. Army medic who refused to return to Iraq because he believes war is morally wrong was convicted of desertion Tuesday and sentenced to an eight-month prison term – far short of the maximum seven-year sentence. Specialist Agustin Aguayo, 35, of California and his attorneys turned to each other and smiled after Judge Col. R. Peter Masterton read out the sentence. Aguayo, a U.S. citizen born in Guadalajara, Mexico, had been jailed for 161 days awaiting trial and his attorney, David Court, said he did not expect him to serve more than about six more weeks. ‘We’re grateful that the military judge gave a light sentence,’ Court said, adding that he believed Aguayo convinced the judge he was sincere and that ‘the judge is concerned with justice’. “

Filed under Defense and Military, Iraq by

March 1, 2007

USC will help Homeland Security monitor social networks

“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is paying Rutgers $3 million to oversee development of computing methods that could monitor suspicious social networks and opinions found in news stories, Web blogs and other Web information to identify indicators of potential terrorist activity. The software and algorithms could rapidly detect social networks among groups by identifying who is talking to whom on public blogs and message boards, researchers said. Computers could ideally pick out entities trying to conceal themselves under different aliases. The Rutgers Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science will lead the team made up of researchers from the University of Southern California, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Pittsburgh. The group includes researchers from AT&T Laboratories, Bell Labs’/Lucent Technologies, Princeton University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Texas Southern University. The DHS will fund the project with $10.2 million grant over three years.”

Filed under Defense and Military, Information Technology by

February 27, 2007

Schwarzenegger calls for Iraq pullout timeline

“Aligning himself with congressional Democrats in the debate on the Iraq war, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reiterated Sunday that the U.S. needs to set clear timelines for bringing troops home, lest Iraq devolve into a quagmire with no end in sight. Republican Schwarzenegger, speaking on CBS’ ‘Face the Nation,’ said Americans won’t support a war that becomes an open-ended commitment — a point, he said, that needs to be made to the Iraqis. ‘We should let the Iraqis know that we are here until this time. And then we’re going to draw back,’ Schwarzenegger said. ‘We’re going to draw our troops out of Iraq. I think a timeline is absolutely important because I think that the people in America don’t want to see another Korean War, another Vietnam War, where it’s an open-ended thing’. “

Filed under Defense and Military, Governor Schwarzenegger, Iraq by

February 15, 2007

Navy rejects state’s request to protect whales from sonar

“The Navy has rejected additional safeguards to protect whales from high-power sonar during war games in Southern California waters, saying that state officials who asked for extra precautions have no authority to tell the U.S. Navy what to do.”

Filed under Defense and Military, Environment and Climate by

February 13, 2007

Health Net Wins $50 Million Contract with Military for Counseling Services

“Health Net Inc. said Monday that it has won a five-year contract worth about $50 million per year to provide counseling to members of the U.S. military and their families.”

Filed under Defense and Military, Health and Medical by

January 12, 2007

Northrop gets $200M deal for B-2 support The U.S. …

Northrop gets $200M deal for B-2 support
The U.S. Air Force has given Northrop Grumman Corp. a one-year, $200 million contract to implement a more efficient maintenance process for the nation’s B-2 stealth bomber fleet.
Northrop is the prime contractor for the B-2, which was brought into the USAF in 1993. Los Angeles’ Northrop (NYSE: NOC) is the nation’s third-largest defense contractor and largest shipbuilder.
Los Angeles Business Journal

Filed under Aerospace and Aviation, Defense and Military by

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