Game Changer Weapon deployed in Afghanistan

Vishnu Kaimal

 It looks and acts like something best left in the hands of  "Rambo," or  “Terminator” but this latest dream weapon is real -- and the US Army hopes that it becomes the Taliban's worst nightmare.

The Pentagon has rolled out prototypes of its first-ever programmable "smart" grenade launcher, a shoulder-fired weapon that uses microchip enabled ammunition to target and kill the enemy, even when the enemy is hidden behind walls or other cover.

After years of development, the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System, about the size of a regular rifle, has now been deployed to US units on the battlefields of Afghanistan, where the Army expects it to be a "game-changer" in its counterinsurgency operations. The gun's stats are formidable: it fires 25mm air-bursting shells up to 2,300 feet (700 meters), well past the range of most rifles used by today's soldiers, and programs them to explode at a precise distance, allowing troops to neutralize insurgents hiding behind walls, rocks or trenches or inside buildings.

This is the first time smart technology is being put into the hands of the individual foot soldier. It gives them an edge, in the harsh Afghan landscape where Islamist extremists have vexed US troops using centuries-old techniques of guerrilla warfare.

The newest piece of military artillery can takes away the pro of cover from the enemy forever.
Ballistic studies show the XM25 is 300 percent more effective than current weapons at the squad level.
The revolutionary advance involves an array of sights, sensors and lasers that reads the distance to the target, assesses elements such as air pressure, temperature, and ballistics and then sends that data to the microchip embedded in the XM25 shell before it is launched.

Previous grenade launchers needed to arc their shells over cover and land near the target to be effective.
It takes out a lot of the variables that soldiers have to contemplate and even guess at, If, for example, an enemy combatant pops up from behind a wall to fire at US troops and then ducks behind it, an XM25 gunner can aim the laser range finder at the top of the wall, then program the shell to detonate one meter beyond it, showering lethal fragmentation where the insurgent is seeking cover.

Use of the XM25 can cut down civilian deaths and damage, the Army argues, because its pinpointed firepower poses far less risk than larger mortars or air strikes. The result, the Army says, is "very limited collateral damage."

The Pentagon plans to purchase at least 12,500 of the guns -- at a price tag of 25,000 to 30,000 dollars each -- beginning next year, enough for one in each Infantry squad and Special Forces Team.

The XM25 is  special in that it requires comparatively little training, because the high-powered technology does so much of the work. The smart gun is just another weapon in the US’s already burgeoning arsenal. With intelligent weapons like the XM25 in the hands of average soldiers, the day isn’t far when the flawless ultimate super soldier comes down to the battlefield.

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US: WikiLeaks put lives in danger

Vishnu Kaimal

US Diplomacy and its policy towards its neighbours has been questioned in light of the new WikiLeaks release. True to its words the whistle blowing website  released a trove of classified documents that don’t exactly paint a pretty picture of the US and its strategic and diplomatic methods.

Of the quarter million top secret U.S. documents released by WikiLeaks, as many as 3,038 classified cables are from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. Ahead of the release of these documents, the State Department had reached out to India warning it about the impending release.

The US government says by putting in public domain about 250,000 documents, nearly half of them classified and secret, Wikileaks is putting at risk lives of innocent individuals, endangering ongoing military and counterterrorism operations and jeopardizing ties between countries who are allies and stakeholders in confronting common challenges. However the efforts of the US to stifle the release and taint the credibility of these documents seems to stem more out of protecting its own interests rather than the interests of its allies or innocent civilians.

Wikileaks says the release “reveals the contradictions between the US’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors — and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes.” The cables, Wikileaks maintains, “show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in “client states”and measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.”

The documents reveal the US’s true power play tactics.  The documents are being published by several media outlets across the globe today, despite repeated insistence from the U.S. that it may put at risk many lives. While the only life that may be in danger in light of the release of these documents is that of Julian Assange, the controversial founder of WikiLeaks.

The United States has termed it as illegal and has said that these would affect its relationship with its friends and allies.
The details of these cables related to India were not immediately available mainly because of inaccessibility to the WikiLeaks website, which was experiencing heavy traffic.
But out of the total, 3,038 classified cables are from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

These cables are often candid and some time personal assessment of the day to day events, functioning and meetings of U.S. diplomats.

Many are unclassified, and none are marked “top secret,” the government’s most secure communications status.

But some 11,000 are classified “secret,” 9,000 are labelled “noforn,” shorthand for material considered too delicate to be shared with any foreign government, and 4,000 are designated both secret and “noforn.”
The cables published on Sunday reveal how the U.S. uses its embassies as part of a global espionage network, with diplomats tasked to obtain not just information from the people they meet, but personal details, such as frequent flyer numbers, credit card details and even DNA material.

Classified “human intelligence directives” issued in the name of Hillary Clinton or her predecessor, Condoleeza Rice, instruct officials to gather information on military installations, weapons markings, vehicle details of political leaders as well as iris scans, fingerprints and DNA.

The most controversial target was the leadership of the United Nations. That directive requested the specification of telecoms and IT systems used by top U.N. officials and their staff and details of “private VIP networks used for official communication, to include upgrades, security measures, passwords, personal encryption keys.”

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Wiki Leaks: The Afghan War Diaries

Vishnu Kaimal 

Wiki Leaks said its next release would be seven times bigger than the Iraq war logs, documents which came close to a whopping 400,000 secret documents; quite easily the biggest intelligence leak in U.S history.
The whistle blower website gained notoriety for publishing classified military documents pertaining to Afghanistan titled The Afghan War Diaries which has led to a fallout among the military, politicians and of course the public on whether the site had gone too far in the name of journalism. Some 90,000 leaked U.S.

military records posted by the website amount to a blow by blow account of six years of the Afghanistan war which include unreported incidents of Afghan civilian killings as well as covert operations against Taliban figures. The Guardian described the collections, “a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan.”
The White House condemned the document disclosure, saying it “put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk.”

The leaked records include detailed description of raids carried out by a secretive U.S. special operations unit called Task Force 373 against what U.S. officials considered high-value insurgent and terrorist targets. Some of the raids resulted in unintended killings of Afghan civilians, according to the documentation.

The details provided by the Wiki documents provides insight into the operational effectiveness of Task Force 373.

Among those listed as being killed by the secretive unit was Shah Agha, described the Guardian as an intelligence officer for an Improvised Explosive Device cell, who was killed with four other men in June 2009. Another was a Libyan fighter, Abu Laith al-Libi, described in the documents as a senior al-Qaida military commander. Al-Libi was said to be based across the border in Mir Ali, Pakistan, and was running al-Qaida training camps in North Waziristan, a region along the Afghan border where U.S. officials have said numerous senior al-Qaida leaders were believed to be hiding.

The operation against al-Libi, in June 2007, resulted in a death tally that one U.S. military document said include six enemy fighters and seven noncombatants-all children.

Veteran military and intelligence experts have called for tighter control over access to such information along with more intense supervision for those at the lower echelons of the intelligence operations.

Intelligence experts have made certain suggestions in the aftermath of the leaks. These suggestions include a drive by agency chiefs to limit access to electronic portals that supply information to troops, diplomats and so on.

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