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July 12, 2013

News Briefs July 12, 2013

Afghanistan: NATO helicopter makes ‘hard landing’

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN ó The NATO-led coalition says one of its helicopters made a ìhard landingî in northern Afghanistan but that there were no injuries.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed militants had fired on an American Chinook transport helicopter in Baghlan province overnight.

But coalition spokesman Capt. Luca Carniel said on Friday that there was no report of insurgent activity in the area at the time of the incident.

Afghan provincial police chief Assadullah Shirzad said the helicopter made an emergency landing but then flew back to its base on its own.

Carniel said the coalition is investigating the incident to determine the cause of the ìhard landingî ó a term that can mean anything from a crash to an emergency landing.

He said the ìaircraft has been recovered. AP

U.S. envoy says Obama still mulling Afghan options

A senior U.S. diplomat says President Barack Obama is still mulling a range of options for the size of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after 2014.

But James Dobbins, the president’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, tells a Senate committee that as the Afghans build up their country, they won’t stand alone.

Dobbins says in testimony July 11 the Obama administration is committed to a long-term strategic partnership with the Afghans that will allow them to maintain their own security and defeat remnants of al Qaeda or other terrorist groups that might threaten the U.S.

Dobbins says that is a limited mission that won’t require the same number of American forces that have been in Afghanistan for the last decade.

Currently there are about 66,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. AP

New Saudi missile site detected

A prominent defense analysis group says it has identified a previously undisclosed missile site in Saudi Arabia’s desert with signs suggesting Iran and Israel could be targeted in a possible launch from the location.

The July 11 report by the London-based IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review could escalate concerns about a growing arms race in the Middle East linked to Iran’s military expansions and nuclear program.

The report assesses satellite imagery that indicates launch pads oriented in the direction of Israel and Saudi Arabia’s longtime regional rival Iran.

Saudi Arabia opposes Israel, but the Western-backed Saudi rulers also share Israel’s worry over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

But Jane’s also notes the site likely has ìlimited operational capacity and potentially serves as a training and storage facility.

There was no immediate comment from Saudi authorities. AP

U.K. military spend to be overtaken by India

Defense analysis firm IHS Jane’s says that Britain’s military budget is set to be outstripped by its former colonial subject, India, within the next few years.

Jane’s said that projections being published Wednesday show that Britain – now No. 4 in terms of global military spending – is due to fall behind Russia this year before slipping into sixth place behind India in 2017.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense disputes some of Jane’s figures and describes its prediction as ìbaseless speculation.

But the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says that given U.K. budget forecasts and India’s projected economic growth it is reasonable to assume that the two nations’ military budgets will be neck-and-neck by 2016. AP




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