The Golden Platform

A FOCUS ON THE FORCES CHANGING OUR WORLD

Posts tagged Pakistan

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Pakistanis rally to voice anger over US drone strikes

Pakistan’s biggest Islamic party, Jamat-e-Islami organised a massive rally in the country’s north west to denounce what they called the US aggression in their country’s tribal areas and interference in their country’ internal affairs.

People in their thousands came to join the rally to voice anger over the US assassination drone strikes in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan, saying the attacks have been killing innocent people and are a clear violatation of their country’s sovereignty. 

Despite Pakistani government’s repeated protests, the US government continues its assassination drone strikes on Pakistan’s tribal regions and since 2008, its has carried out hundreds of its assassination drone attacks in Pakistan’s northwest, killing more than 3 thousand people. 

Washington claims its drone strikes target Al-Qaeda-linked pro Taliban militants. However, casualty figures show that civilians, including women and children, are the main victims of these attacks. 

Filed under News Pakistan USA Drones Murder Protest

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The killing of U.S. troops by their ostensible allies in the Afghan military now make up 20 percent of all the U.S. combat deaths this year. Somehow, though, we never hear that the Afghan soldier who turns his gun on a U.S. soldier has “snapped” – that maybe he has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), that maybe he was so enraged because he saw his baby daughter killed in a drone strike the night before and he lost control. No, we only hear that “the Taliban must have infiltrated” the Afghan army or police. PTSD is apparently only for trained soldiers on our side. Except that in a 2009 UN-backed survey, the Afghan government’s own Ministry of Health estimated that 66 percent – a full two-thirds – of the Afghan population, suffers from a variety of mental illnesses, most of them stress-related and including PTSD.

Phyllis Bennis

those 2/3 of Afghans – something like 20 million people – face PTSD or other mental disorders with only FORTY-TWO psychiatrists and psychologists in the entire country.

(via theamericanbear)

Oh, but you’re forgetting, naive people. American lives are a lot more important than any other life on Earth. Afghan, Pakistani, Yemeni, Iraqi lives? Pfft, whatever.

(via mehreenkasana)

(via mehreenkasana)

Filed under News Commentary War War crimes Afghanistan Iraq Pakistan Yemen Libya

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US Military Course Considering “US at War with Islam” Receives Objection

Source 

 The Pentagon stated on Wednesday that the top U.S. military officer has ordered a review of training material after a course for officers was found to consider that the United States is at war with Islam, Reuters reported.

According to the agency, “Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey sent a letter on Tuesday to leaders of the Army and other services, along with regional commanders and officials heading the National Guard, ordering a review of relevant training and education material across the military.”

Dempsy said that “this review will ensure our professional education programs exhibit the cultural sensitivity, respect for religion and intellectual balance that we should expect in our academic institutions.”

The review was prompted by a soldier who sent a complaint after having completed an elective course entitled “Perspectives on Islam and Islamite Radicalism” at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia.

The course included an assertion “that the United States is at war with Islam and we ought to just recognize that we are war with Islam,” Pentagon spokesman, Captain John Kirby was quoted as saying.

Kirby added before reporters that “that’s not at all what we believe to be the case. We’re at war against terrorism, specifically Al-Qaeda, who has a warped view of the Islamic faith.”

Reuters quoted him as saying that “US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also felt deep concern over the discovery, which follows a string of incidents that, more than 10 years after the Afghan war began, have exposed a persisting gap between people in the conservative Muslim nation and the Western soldiers fighting Islamist militants there.”

Filed under News US Military Pentagon Islam War War Crimes Imperialism Afghanistan Pakistan Iraq Iran Muslim

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Evidence in British court contradicts CIA drone claims

by Chris Woods

A major case in the British High Court has revealed fresh evidence of civilian deaths during a notorious CIA drone strike in Pakistan last year.

Sworn witness testimonies reveal in graphic detail how the village of Datta Khel burned for hours after the attack. Many of the dozens killed had to be buried in pieces.

Legal proceedings were begun in London recently against British Foreign Secretary William Hague, over possible British complicity in CIA drone strikes.

Britain’s GCHQ – its secret monitoring and surveillance agency – is reported to have provided ‘locational evidence’ to US authorities for use in drone strikes, a move which is reportedly illegal in the United Kingdom.

Sworn affidavits
The High Court case focuses in particular on a CIA drone strike in March 2011 which killed up to 53 people.

Sworn affidavits presented in court and seen by the Bureau offer extensive new details of a strike the CIA still apparently claims ‘killed no non-combatants’.

Ahmed Jan (pictured) is a tribal elder in North Waziristan. On March 17 2011 he was attending a gathering with other village elders, to discuss a mining dispute.

‘We were in the middle of our discussion when the missile hit and I was thrown about 24 feet from where I was sitting. I was knocked unconscious and when I awoke I saw many individuals who were dead or injured,’ he says in his affidavit.

Most of those who died in Datta Khel village that day were civilians. The Bureau has so far identified by name 24 of those killed, whilst Associated Press recently reported that it has the names of 42 civilians who died that day.

Pakistan’s president, prime minister and army chief all condemned the Datta Khel attack. A recent Bureau investigation with the Sunday Times quoted Brigadier Abdullah Dogar, who commanded Pakistani military forces in the area at the time.

We in the Pakistan military knew about the meeting, we’d got the request ten days earlier. It was held in broad daylight, people were sitting out in Nomada bus depot when the missile strikes came. Maybe there were one or two Taliban at that Jirga – they have their people attending – but does that justify a drone strike which kills 42 mostly innocent people?

Yet the US intelligence community has consistently denied that any civilians died.

Read more …

Filed under News CIA Drones Death Murder War War Crimes Britain British Government Pakistan

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Was this 16-year-old, killed by a US drone, really a terrorist?

by Pratap Chatterjee

Tariqhighlight - Pratap Chatterjee

Tariq Aziz (ringed) was killed three days after this meeting.

He walked quietly between his two friends as he entered the conference hall in one of the best hotels in an exclusive enclave of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. The carpeted room filled with chairs draped in white as if for a wedding, usually hosted business conferences. But this event was different. The smart suited-business men and laptops had been usurped by rough-hewn boys and traditionally-dressed older men from the tribal mountains a few arduous hours from the capital.

A row of elders greeted the attendees, lightly shaking hands as they gently touched their own chests in a traditional gesture. Deep-cut lines in their sun-hardened skin marked their years, full beards and elaborate head gear denoted their social standing. There was little chat as the three teenage boys filed to their seats. The men gathered had come to discuss death and destruction – the destruction of their homes and villages, the deaths of their children and friends.

Like many in the room, Tariq Aziz had travelled for eight hours by public bus to join the group. Despite his black kameez, flat-topped cap and the start of a neat beard, Aziz was clearly much younger than many of the other men gathered.

Seated just two rows directly in front was Jemima Khan, the British heiress, also dressed in a black traditional outfit edged with antique red and yellow embroidery, her thick, flowing hair left uncovered while in the hall. She tried hard not to attract attention, but her presence was so much at odds with those around her that it was difficult not to watch her reactions, not least because her former husband and now politician Imran Khan was also at the meeting.

Events a few hundred miles away, in the mountains of the north had brought this odd group together. Waziristan is an inaccessible, remote region on the border of Afghanistan. Few people other than the locals ever travel into the rugged interior. Frequent checkpoints keep journalists and foreigners out. The ubiquitous mobile phones have stopped working since the mobile network was switched off. There is no major industry and little farm-land. Most supplies are driven in by colourfully painted Bedford or Hino trucks, one of the few jobs available. People live as they have for centuries, following old traditions and tribal codes.

More than fifteen years ago, in 1996, Jemima Khan had travelled to the area, with her then husband Imran, and her father, Sir James Goldsmith, the billionaire financier. The tribesmen had regaled the visitors with stories of their fierceness. ‘One of the tribal elders came up to my father and said welcome to Waziristan. I just want to let you know that the last Englishman that came to these parts was 100 years ago, and our great grandfathers shot him,’ she recalled with a laugh. The men were warriors, violence was common, and Kalashnikov rifles carried openly, as they still are today.

But it was not the tribal fighting that concerned the men who had gathered in the Islamabad hotel. Life in Waziristan was being threatened by a far more fiercesome weapon than the automatic rifle. Unmanned planes, remotely-controlled from the Nevada desert thousands of miles away, have become an almost everyday sight in the skies above the arid lands of the north. It was the frequent attacks by these planes, or drones, operated by America, supposedly an ally, that were the focus of the gathering.

The drones had started flying, infrequently at first, over the northern mountains almost eight years ago. Initially they had hovered in the skies streaming video back to the operators – agents working for the US Central Intelligence Agency. They were gathering information about al Qaeda members allegedly hiding in the cut-off lands.

But now these unmanned planes have become an almost constant, and deadly presence.  Their deep, low dirge a terrifying symphony accompanying the villagers’ daily lives. They fly in packs, sometimes as many as a half dozen, circling the villages for hours, hovering over roads, before firing Hellfire missiles. As many as 3,000 people have been killed, though little more than a few lines ever gets reported in the Western press. This is a war fought largely out of sight of the global media, away from the connected world.

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Filed under News Feature Drones Killing Teenager Pakistan Afghanistan

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How Dare Russia

By: David Swanson

“Self-purification through suffering is easier, I tell you: easier — than that destiny which you are paving for many of them by wholesale acquittals in court.  You are merely planting cynicism in their souls.” –Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The United States Congress is outraged.  Russia, it seems, may have wrongly imprisoned, tortured, and murdered a whistleblower.  In the land of the free, our good representatives are outraged, I tell you.  And not just I.  NPR will tell you.  This calls for action.  There’s a bill in the Senate and a bill in theHouse.  The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act.

Who wouldn’t support the rule of law and accountability?

Well, let me think.

Oh, I know. The United States Congress.

Bush and Cheney are selling books confessing to the crime of war and all that comes with it, including lawless imprisonment and torture.  They have openly confessed in their books and on television, repeatedly, to a form of torture that the current Attorney General of the United States admits is torture.  Bush’s torture program tortured numerous people to death.  And what has Congress wrought?

No impeachments.

No enforcement of subpoenas.

No defunding of operations.

No criminalizing of secrecy.

No protection of whistleblowers.

No mandating of diplomacy, reparations, foreign aid, or commitments to international standards.

In other words, we have no Congress with the right to talk about the Rule of Law or Accountability without being mocked.

But keep hope alive.

Change is on the way.

Look!

Up in the sky!

It’s Captain Peace Prize!

Obama launches wars without bothering to lie to Congress or the United Nations, has formalized the powers of lawless imprisonment, rendition, and murder, and places the protection of Bush and Cheney above almost anything else — certainly above the rule of law or accountability.

Obama has badgered Spain, Italy, Germany, and the U.K. to leave the Bush gang in peace, publicly instructed the U.S. Department of Justice not to prosecute, and expanded claims of “State Secrets” beyond anything previously imagined in order to shut down legal accountability.  Italy has convicted CIA agents in absentia, and Obama has not shipped them over to do their time.  Poland is prosecuting its bit players in U.S. crimes.  Former top British official Jack Straw is being hauled into court for his tangential role.  But Obama has chosen a path to success in Washington, or thinks he has, and that path is immunity for anyone with power.

The trouble is that Obama now wants to apply that same standard to Russia, and Congress won’t stand for it.  Obama is opposed to the Hold Russia Accountable Act because he prefers to kiss up to the government of Russia.  It’s a policy that has worked beautifully for him at home.  Why not apply it abroad?

Of course, the United States has no moral standing to speak against imprisonment, torture, or murder.  The United States imprisons more of its people than any other country, keeps hundreds of thousands of them in supermaxes or long-term isolation, tolerates prison rape and violence, openly treats torture as a policy option, facilitates torture in what may be the two countries torturing the greatest number of people today: Iraq and Afghanistan, and kills with capital punishment, special forces, and drones.

The United States has no moral standing to speak against the punishment of whistleblowers, Obama having prosecuted seven of them under the Espionage Act of 1917, fittingly enough for the offense of having made U.S. war-making look bad by revealing facts about it.

But the answer cannot be to support Russian crimes just because there are U.S. crimes.  Congress, revolting as it is to say, is right: the Russian government should be held to a decent rule of law.  And it should be held to it through the language that speaks louder than words: action.  U.S. immunity for torturers is one of the greatest factors in the current spread of acceptability for torture around the world.

Congress should impeach Bush and Obama, enforce its subpoenas, ship convicted CIA criminals to Italy, strengthen the War Powers Act, criminalize war profiteering, ban private mercenaries, ban unconstitutional detentions, ban secret budgets and laws and agencies, ban rendition, and ratify and enforce the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.  Congress should also cease encircling Russia with missiles, and end its wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.

Or, short of moving in a useful direction, sad to say, the best thing the United States Congress could do for the rule of law in Russia at the moment would be to shut the hell up.

Filed under Commentary Torture US Government Russia CIA US Military hypocrisy Italy Afghanistan Pakistan

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The cost and consequences of exposing the drone wars

SOURCE

As secret and unaccountable US and British drone strikes continue in remote corners of the globe, closer to home (but firmly behind closed doors), the drone industry continues to research and develop a drone-filled future.

Over the past couple of weeks, protesters in the UK and the US have gathered to turn the spotlight on the increasingly secret use and development of armed drones. In Bristol, at the beginning of April, the great and good of the drone industry came together at the Annual International UAV Conference to be met with a good-natured, noisy protest.  Meanwhile, across the Atlantic at the Creech Air Force base, members of the faith-based group Nevada Desert Experience delivered an ‘Indictment for the Violation of Human Rights’ to the commander of the base.  At each demonstration protesters were arrested and jailed.

But it’s not just protesting against the drone wars, that can bring serious trouble.  Pakistani human rights lawyer Shahzad Akbar, who represent victims of US drone strikes in Pakistan is being denied a travel visa  to enter the US to speak at a conference organised by Code Pink and others. Speaking from Pakistan by telephone, Akbar told the Guardian:

“Denying a visa to people like me is denying Americans their right to know what the US government and its intelligence community are doing to children, women and other civilians in this part of the world. The CIA, which operated the drones in Pakistan, does not want anyone challenging their killing spree. But the American people should have a right to know.”

However it is Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye who is suffering the most for exposing the drone wars.

In 2010 Shaye revealed that an airstrike that took place in al Majala, Yemen in December 2009 killing 14 women and 21 children was launched by US drones, not the Yemeni air force, thus embarrassing both the Yemeni and US authorities.   Later, Shaye  also interviewed AQAP leaders including Anwar Al-Awlaki challenging them about their methods.

In August 2010, Shaye was kidnapped from his house by Yemeni security forces and disappeared for a month.  He turned up in detention after being beaten and was sentenced to five years imprisonment for associating with terrorists.  Amnesty International and other human rights groups have campaigned for his release, and it looked as though in February 2012 he was about to be freed.  However a few days before Ali Abdullah Saleh, was forced to about to step down as President,  Obama called him to “express concern” at the news that Shaye was about to be pardoned.  Shaye release was immediately halted and he remains in prison. For more on this case see detailed report by Jeremy Scahill  and this excellent film byAl Jazzera.

Exposing the rise of the drone wars is increasingly becoming the task of our times. But it can be a risky business.

Filed under News Commentary US Military Drones Pakistan Yemen Afghanistan CIA

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Drones to be shot down: Imran

SOURCE

KARACHI: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan has said he would never support any unconstitutional step and that even if an angel came in uniform he would not support him.

In an interview to Geo News programme ‘Lekin’, Khan said during his premiership if drone strikes were carried out, the unmanned aircrafts would be shot down.

Imran said drone attacks were being carried out with the consent Pakistani government.

Filed under News Pakistan Drones UAV War Crimes War Imperialism

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Pakistan Gives U.S. a List of Demands, Including an End to C.I.A. Drone Strikes

NYT

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — In a rare show of unity, the government and opposition joined on Thursday to present the United States with a list of stringent demands, including an immediate end to C.I.A. drone strikes, that were cast in uncompromising words but could pave the way for a reopening of NATO supply lines through the country.

After two and a half weeks of contentious negotiations, the main parties agreed on a four-page parliamentary resolution that, in addition to the drone demand, called on the Obama administration to apologize for American airstrikes in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. It declared that “no overt or covert operations inside Pakistan shall be permitted” — a broad reference that could be interpreted to include all C.I.A. operations.

But on the issue of NATO supply lines, the resolution specified only that arms and ammunition cannot be transported through Pakistan, opening the door to the resumed delivery of critical Afghan war supplies like food and fuel for the first time since the November airstrikes. And in practice, arms and ammunition were rarely, if ever, transported in convoys through Pakistan.

“Today’s resolution will enrich your respect and dignity; I assure you that we will get these enforced in letter and spirit,” Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani told Parliament, although he stopped short of declaring when the supply route would reopen.

“We are a responsible nation,” he said. “We know our obligations as well as the importance of the United States.”

A spokeswoman for the State Department, Victoria Nuland, praised the “seriousness” of the Parliament’s debate and added: “We seek a relationship with Pakistan that is enduring, strategic and more clearly defined. We look forward to discussing these policy recommendations.”

Read more …

Filed under News US Military US Government Obama War crimes drones Pakistan War CIA Afghanistan NATO

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Mali: U.S. Africa Command’s New War?

SOURCE

President Obama’s statement on defense strategy announced a stronger U.S. presence in Asia-Pacific, while keeping Africa under the radar. Yet, recent developments unequivocally suggest that the Black Continent has become the new U.S. playground of imperial military conquest. Mali is the country currently caught in the eye of the storm. In this article, written in February 2012 when the latest so-called “Tuareg rebellion” erupted in northern Mali, Rick Rozoff connects the dots between these events and Mali’s pivotal role in the U.S. strategy for Africa, conjecturing that, after Libya, the stage is possibly being set for another foreign intervention.

The press wires are reporting on intensified fighting in Mali between the nation’s military and ethnic Tuareg rebels of the Azawad National Liberation Movement in the north of the nation.

As the only news agencies with global sweep and the funds and infrastructure to maintain bureaus and correspondents throughout the world are those based in leading member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, BBC News and Deutsche Presse-Agentur – the coverage of ongoing developments in Mali, like those in most every other country, reflects a Western bias and a Western agenda.

Typical headlines on the topic, then, include the following:

Arms and men out of Libya fortify Mali rebellion” -Reuters

President: Tuareg fighters from Libya stoke violence in Mali” - CNN

Colonel Gaddafi armed Tuaregs pound Mali” - The Scotsman

France denounces killings in Mali rebel offensive” -Agence France-Presse

Mali, France Condemn Alleged Tuareg Rebel Atrocities” - Voice of America

To reach Mali from Libya is at least a 500-mile journey through Algeria and/or Niger. As the rebels of course don’t have an air force, don’t have military transport aircraft, the above headlines and the propaganda they synopsize imply that Tuareg fighters marched the entire distance from Libya to their homeland in convoys containing heavy weapons through at least one other nation without being detected or deterred by local authorities. And that, moreover, to launch an offensive three months following the murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi after his convoy was struck by French bombs and a U.S. Hellfire missile last October. But the implication that Algeria and Niger, especially the first, are complicit in the transit of Tuareg fighters and arms from Libya to Mali is ominous in terms of expanding Western accusations – and actions – in the region.

Armed rebellions are handled differently in Western-dominated world news reporting depending on how the rebels and the governments they oppose are viewed by leading NATO members.

In recent years the latter have provided military and logistical support to armed rebel formations – in most instances engaged in cross-order attacks and with separatist and irredentist agendas – in Kosovo, Macedonia, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Libya and now Syria, and on the intelligence and “diplomatic” fronts in Russia, China, Pakistan, Sudan, Iran, Indonesia, Congo, Myanmar, Laos and Bolivia.

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Filed under News Commentary Africa Africom Mali Kosovo Macedonia Liberia Ivory Coast Libya Syria Russia China Pakistan Sudan Iran Indonesia Congo Myanmar Laos Bolivia NATO Turkey Morocco Colombia Philippines central africa republic Chad Uganda Congo

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Tragedies don’t end wars, even in Siachen

By Myra MacDonald

One of the most frequently cited misconceptions about the Siachen war – where 135 Pakistani soldiers and civilian staff were buried by an avalanche this weekend – is that it is somehow contained to a relatively small area, as though it were a mountain version of a 19th century battlefield.  The Indian and Pakistani troops, we are told in an oft-used and incorrect phrase, are“deployed on the Siachen Glacier at elevations as high as 22,000 feet.” From there, it becomes a relatively easy step to say, as many are saying after the tragedy, that India and Pakistan should end their futile conflict on the world’s highest battlefield. The argument has gathered momentum with a successful private-turned-state visit by President Asif Ali Zardari to India, generating expectations that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will in turn visit Pakistan this year.

Continue down this track and you overlap with another frequently made argument - that a meaningful and important agreement must be ready to be signed in order to give substance to Singh’s trip. Enter a deal on Siachen, where India and Pakistan have competed over an uninhabitable wasteland of snow and ice high in the Karakoram mountains since 1984. Such an agreement, so the argument goes, would act as a major confidence building measure, building the momentum to reach a settlement of the festering Kashmir dispute and lasting peace between India and Pakistan.

But if tragedies could end wars, India and Pakistan would have made peace in 1947. And if Siachen were indeed an isolated and contained battlefield, contained on the Siachen glacier – which at 22,000 feet would have it floating improbably at the height of the mountains peaks above it – it too would have been settled long ago.  Far from being confined to the Siachen glacier – in fact Pakistan has no troops deployed on the glacier itself – the soldiers are spread across a wide area after fighting for control of the heights above before eventually agreeing a ceasefire in late 2003.

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Filed under Editorial India Pakistan Tragedy War

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Air Force ramps up drone war New documents reveal plans to more than quadruple Reaper missions by 2016

Jefferson Morley

“As the wars wind down,” is a phrase often heard in Washington these days, whether from Time’s Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson or ProPublica’s T. Christian Miller, or Veterans for Common Sense. The suggestion, not unfounded, is that as the United States withdraws from Iraq and plans to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014, the U.S. soldiers will be leaving foreign battlefields.

But don’t expect the worldwide drone war now being waged in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen to wind down. To the contrary, an Air Force announcement posted online this week indicates the Pentagon anticipates more than quadrupling the size of the global drone war over the next four years. If that happens the number of suspected terroristskilled, the “deep resentment” provoked in the targeted countries, and theterrible civilian casualties are likely to grow as well.

The tip-off is found on FedBizOps.gov, the government’s site for contractors where the Air Force announced Tuesday it is seeking “industry input on how best to support Air Combat Command’s remotely piloted aircraft missions.” “Support will consist of aircraft, ground control station, and Predator Primary Satellite Link maintenance, weapons loading for both aircraft, [and] munitions build-up for MQ-9 aircraft,” the announcement says, referring to the Reaper drone which has a 66-foot wingspan and can carry a 500-pound laser guided bomb.

Read more …

Filed under News War Drones UAV US Military Air Force Afghanistan Pentagon CIA United States Pakistan

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