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Offline SAS73

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Re: South American Arms Race
« Reply #84 on: July 02, 2009, 08:07:18 PM »
Well after a hard week and the farewell of my buddy and friend Steven "Tigershark" Szeluff I have more news to share.
The US Goverment has agreed to move their FOL in Manta Ecuador, to 5 military bases in Colombian Territory. The US troops will leave Ecuadorian territory by the end of September and the USAF AWAC Crew will perfomr their last flight in July. Around 270 US troops that are based in Ecuador will move to Colombian military bases. Now, there are a few steps before to sign up this military cooperation agreement.

Offline SAS73

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Re: South American Arms Race
« Reply #85 on: July 16, 2009, 12:07:54 PM »
Saab May Make Gripen Jet in Brazil to Help Win Order

(Bloomberg) -- Saab AB, the Swedish maker of the Gripen jet fighter, is ready to make Brazil the manufacturing center for the aircraft to increase its chances of winning a $1.8 billion order and safeguard the model’s future. Saab is prepared to shift as much as 50 percent of future Gripen production to the South American country, where the main competition to provide 36 warplanes is from Boeing Co.’s F/A-18, Bob Kemp, marketing chief for the $50 million plane, said in an interview. Final assembly work has already been offered to Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica SA, or Embraer, he said.
Saab is betting on the Brazilian order to rescue the flagship Gripen as the production backlog shrinks. Winning the contract, which may be awarded as early as next month, is crucial to establishing the model as the warplane of choice in markets not already dominated by Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp., which is grabbing market share with its F-35.
“Maybe in the future Brazil will become the leading exporter of the next-generation Gripen,” Kemp said yesterday by telephone from Linkoeping, Sweden, where Saab is based. “This fits perfectly with their strategic ambitions. We are looking at six or seven major defense companies that have the potential of offering equipment for our aircraft.”
Saab fell 0.9 percent to 57.25 kronor in Stockholm trading. The stock has declined 20 percent this year, giving the company a market value of 6.42 billion
kronor ($812 million).

Brazil’s defense ministry said that final bids for the contract were submitted last month from Boeing, Saab and France’s Dassault Aviation SA, which is pitching the Rafale. The air force will make a recommendation to Defense Minister Nelson Jobim in early August, with the final decision in the hands of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Saab may be able to fend off Boeing because it can transfer more technology to Brazil than the Chicago-based company, Kemp said, adding that the Gripen costs about 20 percent less than the more-sophisticated F/A-18 and is better matched to Brazil’s need for a low-maintenance fighter able to operate in small numbers from widely dispersed airfields. Spare parts and maintenance may also cost one-third less, he said.
While Brazil’s initial requirement is to replace a batch of aging Mirage jets made by Paris-based Dassault, the country may need as many as 120 planes, Kemp said, each with a life of as many as 40 years.

“In terms of value for money the Gripen is a superb aircraft, but Saab is at a terrible disadvantage in not having a strong home market,” said Richard Aboulafia, vice president at Teal Group, a Fairfax, Virginia-based consultancy.
While the model has so far won 250 orders, 204 of them are from Sweden, where some planes have been leased out as the government reins in defense spending.
The future of the 1,320 mile-per-hour plane will be determined by purchases in Brazil, India and Switzerland within the next 18 months, Aboulafia said. Saab may need to provide more inducements because it can’t match the offset work that Boeing can offer in fields such as civil aerospace, he said.
Brazil would be granted a full 50-50 partnership on development, production and marketing of the Gripen for export, the executive said, including the manufacture of high-value communications, display and avionics systems.
Saab has so far won only two export contracts for the Gripen, with South Africa buying 26 planes and Thailand taking six. Deliveries will run out in 2012 and output is down to 10 to 12 aircraft a year from about 15 previously, with suppliers including Volvo Aero, maker of the Gripen’s RM12 engine, already winding down production.

Saab’s plan to develop an enhanced “next generation” Gripen means it can offer Brazil collaboration from the design stage on, unlike Boeing and Dassault, Kemp said. The size and status of the Brazilian aerospace industry makes a partnership feasible, he added. Embraer is the world’s fourth-biggest planemaker after Boeing, Airbus SAS and Bombardier Inc.
“I think there’s no question in the minds of Brazilians that Boeing’s product is the best and competitively priced,” Mike Coggins, senior manager for business development at Boeing’s defense unit, said by telephone from St. Louis.
It makes no financial sense to co-produce locally the 36 planes Brazil is seeking, although a larger order in the future may provide the necessary scale, he said. As part of its offsetting technology transfer package, Boeing will allow Brazilian companies to help develop future upgrades he added.

Export Candidates

Argentina, ECUADOR and Mexico represent possible export opportunities Saab’s Kemp said,with aircraft replacement orders anticipated within the next five years.
The Gripen upgrade plan may work against Saab because Sweden hasn’t ordered the plane and that will make the model “tough to sell,” according to Teal’s Aboulafia.
Saab’s pitch to Brazil comes as the company focuses its marketing on nonaligned countries that aren’t already major customers for U.S. warplanes as the company seeks to sell at least 200 more Gripens abroad, Kemp said.
Norway dealt Saab a blow in November with a contract for 48 Lockheed Martin F-35s and the Netherlands selected the U.S. plane as the best candidate to replace 85 older aircraft a month later. Denmark may make the same choice this year. All three countries are partners on the F-35 program.
Among countries with no participation in the F-35, India is key, Kemp said, with a requirement for at least 126 fighter aircraft and perhaps as many as 300. Saab has proposed a deal in which it would build the first 18 planes and Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. would manufacture the rest.
“Our relationship with India is good,” Kemp said. “We want to transfer technology and allow the Indians to get on with it. Basically we would become a subcontractor to HAL.”

Offline SAS73

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Re: South American Arms Race
« Reply #86 on: July 16, 2009, 12:08:59 PM »
Washington, Colombia near deal on base access
By Frank Bajak, Associated Press Writer – Wed Jul 15, 7:58 pm ET

BOGOTA – The United States and Colombia are nearing agreement on expanding the U.S. military's presence in this conflict-torn nation, likely basing several hundred Americans in a central valley in support of Air Force drug interdiction missions.

Both sides say they hope a fifth round of talks slated for later this month in Bogota will seal a 10-year lease deal.

Opponents worry a broadened U.S. military role in the world's No. 1 cocaine-producing nation could antagonize Colombia's leftist neighbors and draw Washington deeper into Colombia's complicated, long-running conflict involving leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitaries.

Most details of the negotiations are secret, but senior Colombian military and civilian officials familiar with negotiations told The Associated Press that the idea is to make Colombia a regional hub for Pentagon operations.

At a public hearing Wednesday called after criticism of secrecy surrounding the talks, three Colombian ministers defended the pending accord as vital in the fight against drug trafficking and "terrorism."

"We're not ceding even a piece of territory," said the acting defense minister, Gen. Freddy Padilla.

The accord would not authorize the U.S. military to use force in Colombia, and all its activities would have to be approved by the host government, he said. He added that the limit on 1,400 U.S. military personnel and contractors set by the U.S. Congress would not be exceeded.

Padilla said the deal would initially involve three air bases, principally Palanquero on the Magdalena river 100 kilometers (60 miles) northwest of Bogota. The other two bases are Apiay on Colombia's eastern plains and Alberto Pouwels on the Caribbean coast.

The senior Colombian officials, who agreed to describe the negotiations only if their identities were not revealed, said the draft accord also specifies more frequent "visits" by U.S. warships to two naval bases, at Malaga Bay on the Pacific and Cartagena on the Caribbean. Colombia could also get preferential treatment in arms and aircraft purchases.

The U.S. interdiction missions that the Palanquero air base would take on — identifying suspect vessels and planes so Coast Guard and Navy ships can intercept them and look for drugs — have been flown out of Manta, Ecuador, on the Pacific Ocean. About 220 Americans shared space at Manta's international airport but were allowed no more than eight planes at a time.

The E-3 AWACs and P-3 Orion surveillance planes based in Manta were credited with about 60 percent of drug interdiction in the eastern Pacific. But the U.S. mission there is shutting down this week because President Rafael Correa refused to renew its lease, calling their presence a violation of Ecuador's sovereignty.

Colombia's Palanquero base had been off-limits to U.S. military operations until April 2008 because of human rights issues: A Colombian military helicopter operating from there killed 17 civilians in a 1998 bombing of a northern town that was initially covered up.

A bill passed by the U.S. House and pending in the Senate would earmark $46 million for construction at Palanquero, which has a 3,500-meter (11,550-foot) runway and two huge hangars. The base is home to Colombia's main fighter wing.

The money would be released 15 days after a base agreement is signed.

The U.S. Embassy declined to comment about the talks. Asked recently about the talks, U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield stressed that Washington would not be acquiring bases but rather obtaining increased access to Colombian facilities.

A spokesman for the U.S. military's Southern Command, Robert Appin, said the Pentagon would have no immediate comment.

However, one indication of the Pentagon's goals can be found in a U.S. Air Mobility Command document, "Global En Route Strategy," presented in early April at a symposium at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

Beyond counternarcotics, the document says, Palanquero could become a "cooperative security location" from which "mobility operations could be executed" — that is, a potential jumping-off point for operations by expeditionary forces.

"Nearly half the continent can be covered by a C-17 (military transport) without refueling" from Palanquero, the document says.

Rafael Pardo, a former Colombian defense minister who is running for president in the May 2010 election, has complained of secrecy surrounding the negotiations and worries about alienating other South American nations. The radar and communications intercept ability of U.S. aircraft can extend well beyond Colombia's borders.

"If it's to launch surveillance flights over other nations then it seems to me that would be needless hostility by Colombia against its neighbors," Pardo said.

At Wednesday's hearing, Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez said the agreement would specify that U.S. flights would not cross Colombia's borders without permission from affected countries. "This is a bilateral accord whose scope is exclusively in Colombian territory," he said.

It is not clear what other restrictions might be placed on U.S. military aircraft, warships or troops. Putting more Americans on the ground would raise the risk of casualties, although Colombia's leftist rebels — chiefly financed by cocaine trafficking — have no record of attacking Americans in the country.

About 600 U.S. military personnel and civilian contractors already work in Colombia, according to the most recent figures. Advisers are attached to Colombian army divisions, have their own offices at armed forces headquarters and have trained thousands of Colombian troops since 2000.

Under U.S. law, the number of Defense Department employees in Colombia cannot exceed 800 while the number of military contractors cannot top 600.

That number would not change under the draft accord, the senior Colombian officials said. Nor, they said, would U.S. troops lose their immunity from local criminal prosecution.

While drug interdiction is the chief U.S. goal, some worry that bringing in more Americans will lead to the U.S. taking sides in a conflict in which leftist rebels and far-right death squads, often backed by the military, have killed tens of thousands of people.

The U.S. could be pushing Colombia to negotiate a settlement with the rebels, said John Lindsay-Poland of the U.S.-based Fellowship of Reconciliation. Instead, "this is an indicator that the United States is going to be supporting a military approach.";_ylt=ApaLQxsX0zAwh287o8dtYs23IxIF;_ylu=X3oDMTJxaWVwMm5zBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMDkwNzE1L2x0X2NvbG9tYmlhX3VzX2Jhc2VzBHBvcwMzBHNlYwN5bl9wYWdpbmF0ZV9zdW1tYXJ5X2xpc3QEc2xrA2FwbmV3c2JyZWFrdQ--

Offline SAS73

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Re: South American Arms Race
« Reply #87 on: July 16, 2009, 12:10:35 PM »
Sources of the Colombian Ministry of Defense clarified that the North American personnel won't pass the quantity authorized by the last effective agreement (800 military and 600 civil contractors for the "Plan Colombia") and at this time the numbers of military personnel are low than that. In the 2009, according to the official registrations, there is a military plant of 84 and 243 contractors.

What does Colombia win about lending this bases? Besides assuring that it continues being in a key place inside the plans of military attendance from Washington in next years (in moments that the Plan Colombia comes closer to its end), the president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe will have an agreement that he goes beyond the antidrug mere activities.

This way, in the agreement it is contemplated that Colombia has access to the intelligence information in real time that the US planes gather during its operations on those bases. These aircraft have the top technology of which Colombian Air Force doesn't has, and like it has been demonstrated before, they can play a key role in operations against the irregular armed groups.

Also, all that the US military will build in next years on those bases it will pass Colombia once it the agreement finishes.

Offline SAS73

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Re: South American Arms Race
« Reply #88 on: July 24, 2009, 07:03:03 AM »
Well today Colombian Army received 6 H-60 Blackhawks from a total of fleet of 15 from Sikorsky

Offline SAS73

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Re: South American Arms Race
« Reply #89 on: July 24, 2009, 10:49:01 PM »
Venezuelen tanks and infantry rumble towards border with Colombia

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez announced Thursday he will send military personnel and equipment to the border with Colombia in reaction to Colombian plans to allow the U.S. to use basis in its territory for anti-narcotics operations.

The Venezuelan Head of State said he would double the amount of tanks as part of the "necessary increase of defense force" after the constant "imperialist threat" to "invade" Venezuela.

According to Chavez, Colombia allows the U.S. in "install" "four yankee military bases,"a cooperation that, according to Chavez, is part of a Washington plan to invade Venezuela and control its oil.
"We will take various tank battalions ... at least double ... the infantry, the artillery," Chavez told the Venezuelan public in an broadcast of his 'Alo Presidente' television program.

Chavez said he will talk to Russia, one of the country's main weapons suppliers, to seek support in his self proclaimed fight against U.S. imperialism.

Earlier, Chavez says he hopes there will be no war, but will take part in one if he has to. "God liberate us from war ... but this does not depend on us ... We are ready to die, but Venezuela never ever will be a U.S. colony or a colony of anyone again."

The U.S. and Colombia are working on an agreement to allow the U.S. to use Colombian air bases for it's 'war on drugs' in the Caribbean and Atlantic. The U.S. were conducting operations from an airbase in Ecuador, but were told this contract will end in November.

Venezuela seeks to boost defenses

MOSCOW, July 24 (RIA Novosti) - President Hugo Chavez says Venezuela will at least double the number of tanks in its military and continue strengthening its defense capability, the state-run ABN news agency reported.

"We are going to buy more tanks to have an armored force at least twice the size of what we have today," Chavez said on national television on Thursday.

"We need to strengthen our forces on land, at sea, and in the air and we are going to continue doing that," he added.

The leftist president's announcement comes shortly after neighboring Colombia offered to accommodate more U.S. troops at its air and naval bases, which Chavez said was a serious threat to Venezuela's national security.

The Venezuelan army currently has more than 80 outdated French-made AMX-30 main battle tanks and several dozen AMX-13C light tanks.

Chavez, who has spent billions of dollars on weapons from Russia in recent years, confirmed that Caracas and Moscow were in talks to purchase Russian T-90 main battle tanks among other military equipment.

Between 2005 and 2007 Russia signed 12 contracts worth more than $4.4 billion to supply arms to Venezuela, including fighter jets, helicopters and Kalashnikov assault rifles.

Offline SAS73

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Re: South American Arms Race
« Reply #90 on: July 24, 2009, 10:50:28 PM »
Hugo Chavez: Colombia is 'Israel of Latin America'

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has said he will double the number of tanks in his army as he accused neighbouring Colombia of becoming the 'Israel of Latin America' after agreeing to host US military operations.

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has said he will double the number of tanks in his army as he accused neighbouring Colombia of becoming the 'Israel of Latin America' after agreeing to host US military operations. Photo: REUTERS

"We are going to get various tank battalions, at least double, infantry and artillery," said Mr Chavez as he criticised Colombia's decision to grant US aircraft and naval vessels full access and operational rights in four bases.
"It is necessary to increase our defensive power," he added.

Mr Chavez, whose army has 80 main battle tanks, said he had already notified Russia of his desire to acquire more. Russia has provided oil-rich Venezuela with 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 50 helicopters and 24 state-of-the-art Sukhoi fighter aircraft. Mr Chavez claimed that the US, which he describes as the "evil empire", has plans to invade Venezuela and could now use Colombia as a launch pad.

"We are ready to die, but we will never again become a Yankee colony or colony of anyone," the Leftist leader said, dressed in combat fatigues like those of his mentor Fidel Castro of Cuba.

For the last decade the US regional base has been in Manta in Ecuador. However Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, told the Americans they had to leave last week after the base's ten-year lease came to an end. Colombia, which receives more than £300 million a year in US aid, was really the only option for the new US military hub. Washington has few friends in South America and none but Colombia, which is finding itself increasingly isolated, prepared to risk the ire of neighbours by accepting the US presence.

Offline SAS73

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Re: South American Arms Race
« Reply #91 on: August 11, 2009, 07:45:58 PM »

Venezuela to buy Russian arms, tanks: Chavez

Published: 6 Aug 2009 08:20

CARACAS - President Hugo Chavez said on Aug. 5 that Venezuela would purchase dozens of Russian tanks, a move signaling growing military ties between the two countries that have frequently clashed with Washington.

"It will be a major arms agreement to increase our defense capability," the Venezuelan leader told reporters, noting that he hoped to ink other agreements on agriculture, oil and mining during his visit to Moscow in mid-September.

From 2005 to 2007, Moscow and Caracas signed 12 arms deals worth $4.4 billion. Venezuela has acquired 24 Sukhoi fighter planes, 50 combat helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles. In 2008, it secured a $1 billion loan for the purchase of new weaponry.
Under the new deal, Venezuela would buy a modern battalion of "30 to 40" Russian-made BMP-3, T-72 and MPR tanks, Chavez said following a telephone conversation with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
"Our army will continue to grow," vowed Chavez, who is leading a leftist surge in Latin America and repeatedly lambasts the United States for perceived "imperialist" policies in the region.
Chavez denounced Colombia's plans to open seven bases on its soil to the U.S. military to boost Washington's counternarcotics operations in the region, calling them "a threat."
"I do not want to spend a penny on arms, and that is what I did in the early years of the government. ... But the [U.S.] empire wanted to disarm us, and if not for Russia, we would be virtually unarmed," he said.
Bogota's plans have been met with fierce opposition in South America, prompting Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, a close U.S. ally, to undertake a regional tour this week to tamp down the criticism.
Chavez expressed "frustration" with President Barack Obama over the deal, saying his government has been "assaulted" by the new U.S. administration.
"The policy of aggression against Latin America is the same. ... It's as if no change had occurred from [former president George W.] Bush to Obama. It's all the same," he said.
The firebrand leftist ordered a halt to the import of 10,000 cars from Colombia, in a further sign of growing frictions between the neighboring countries.
Last week, Chavez recalled his ambassador from Bogotá and announced a "freeze" in relations between the two countries, after Colombia claimed that anti-tank rocket launchers sold to Venezuela in the 1980s ended up in the hands of the FARC, a Colombian leftist guerrilla group.
Venezuela and Russia signed an agreement in Caracas in late July boosting their military ties, including through arms purchases, joint maneuvers and military technology.
Russia was given an opportunity to increase military ties with Venezuela after former Bush's administration reduced arms sales to the South American oil exporter in 2006 because of what it said was insufficient cooperation from Caracas in the U.S. war on terrorism.
In March, Chavez also offered Venezuelan air bases for use by Russian long-range bombers.
In November last year, the navies of Venezuela and Russia pointedly held joint exercises in the Caribbean - traditionally considered a U.S. domaineat Photos!!!!!!!!!

Offline SAS73

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Re: South American Arms Race
« Reply #92 on: August 28, 2009, 04:14:06 PM »
US-Colombia deal could fuel arms purchases

Aug 27, 2009 7:59 PM EST
BARILOCHE, Argentina - Venezuela's Hugo Chavez has raised the stakes for Friday's meeting of South American presidents by threatening to break relations with Colombia over plans to give U.S. troops a 10-year lease on its bases.

Chavez says the U.S. has loosed "winds of war" on the continent - a position few diplomats share following tours by U.S. and Colombian officials seeking to calm fears of neighboring nations.

Even so, the bases deal has created uncertainty about regional stability and provided yet another justification for nations to spend big on their militaries.

Venezuela has poured about $4 billion into Russian weapons to counter the threat Chavez sees from the billions in U.S. military aid to Colombia. Ecuador is buying 24 Brazilian warplanes and six Israeli drones to keep a closer watch on its borders. Bolivia has opened a $100 million line of credit with Russia to buy weapons.

These purchases were in the works even before details of the bases deal were revealed last month by The Associated Press - and defense spending around the region is up sharply, mostly in the name of routine modernization.

The 12 South American nations spent about $51 billion last year on their militaries - up 30 percent from 2007, according to the Center for a New Majority, a Buenos Aires research group.

That's low compared to the rest of the world - U.S. spending alone is well into the hundreds of billions - but a steep burden for democracies in a relatively peaceful area that is struggling with growing poverty and economic crisis.

"None of this is good. The last thing the region needs is an arms race," said Markus Schultze-Kraft, a Bogota-based analyst with the International Crisis Group, a conflict-resolution organization.

He said the leaders should avoid telling one another: "You are arming yourself, that is why we must continue arming ourselves."

The Latin American Security and Defense Network, a Buenos Aires research group, says that Ecuador tops South American nations in relative defense spending, with 10.7 percent of its national budget.

That's even more than the 9.3 percent spent by Colombia, which has been battling a leftist rebel movement for decades. Venezuela spent 5.2 percent of its much larger, oil-fueled budget on defense last year.

Colombia won't budge on the bases deal, Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez says. "The negotiations have closed and only await the official signature." He said Colombia may even question other countries about their own deals and arms buildups.

President Alvaro Uribe is expected to make some reassurances to his fellow presidents at the Argentine winter resort of Bariloche. U.S. and Colombian officials have said the troops are there to fight drug traffickers and leftist rebels, and that the troops won't cross boundaries without permission.

But Latin American leaders and U.S. lawmakers who were not consulted about the pending deal want more explanations.

"Unfortunately this could lead to an escalation of an arms race in the region, and particularly with Venezuela, Ecuador and other countries compensating for what they perceive as an alteration of the balance of power," said Miguel Tinker Salas, a professor at Pomona College in Claremont, California.

Chavez - who has repeatedly denied supporting Colombia's FARC rebels - claims U.S. troops could use the bases to launch operations to unseat Latin American leaders like himself, and says Venezuela will buy Russian tanks to defend itself.

"You can establish 70,000 Yankee bases surrounding Venezuela, but you aren't going to beat the Bolivarian Revolution!" Chavez declared this week.

Moderate leftists also are suspicious of foreign militaries in Latin America. Memories are fresh of the U.S.-backed dictatorships that killed and tortured their own citizens. Chile's president, Michele Bachelet, is among the survivors.

The unresolved coup in Honduras - by a military with close U.S. ties and training - worries them as well.

Uribe's promises haven't eased these concerns, particularly since he sent his military more than a mile (kilometer) into Ecuadorean territory last year to kill a top rebel commander - and told Chavez and Correa that he'd do it again.

Correa said Colombia's argument that its deal with the U.S. is an internal matter doesn't stand, especially given his claimed right to stage pre-emptive strikes outside Colombia.

"What if later we put nuclear warheads in Ecuador, and declare them to be a matter of national sovereignty?" he told Peru's Radioprogramas while traveling to the summit. "It's absurd - these are things that endanger the whole region."

Various countries have proposed solutions. Correa would put the bases under UNASUR supervision. Brazil and others want to see Colombia's reassurances guaranteed in writing. Bolivia's Evo Morales would like a continent-wide vote on the Colombia-US deal.

But the deal is done, and Uribe isn't coming to the meeting to negotiate, his foreign minister Jaime Bermudez said.

Several diplomats lamented that President Barack Obama won't be there to make the U.S. case, saying the deal seems out of place with Obama's promise at the Summit of the Americas to usher in a new era of cooperation and good faith.

Brazil, meanwhile, recently bought French submarines and helicopters and is poised to spend $2 billion for fighter jets to protect its offshore oil and Amazon resources, which many Brazilians fear could be targeted by unnamed foreign powers.

Silva will work at the summit to "reduce tensions that tend to be magnified by the rhetoric and polarization," his spokesman Marcelo Baumbauch said, and he has asked Obama to meet with the South American presidents, perhaps during September's U.N. General Assembly, "to overcome this unhelpful Cold War mentality."

Several analysts complained the bases deal was developed in secret, feeding fears and leading other countries to justify other weapons deals.

"If the United States doesn't want to sell to us, there's China or Russia," Morales said while celebrating the Russian credit line this month. He complained of waiting in vain for U.S. approval to buy six light-attack planes and said any president who invites foreign troops onto his territory is a "traitor" to Latin America.

About 1,500 protesters shared that theme Thursday in downtown Bariloche, far from the heavily guarded Llao Llao hotel, where the presidents will be able to meet in luxurious isolation. The iconic setting is an ideal place for settling differences. Or, there could be more talk of war.


Associated Press Writers Christopher Toothaker in Caracas, Venezuela; Marco Sibaja in Brasilia, Brazil; Carlos Valdez in La Paz, Bolivia; Gonzalo Solano in Quito, Ecuador; Eva Vergara in Santiago, Chile; and Vivian Sequera in Bogota, Colombia contributed to this report.

By MICHAEL WARREN Associated Press Writer

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Re: South American Arms Race
« Reply #93 on: August 28, 2009, 04:47:19 PM »
That Chavez is a REAL piece of work!!!
Wars are won by carrying the 'heavy iron' downtown!

Offline SAS73

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Re: South American Arms Race
« Reply #94 on: August 28, 2009, 04:51:25 PM »
Venezuelan, Colombian militaries built differently


Colombia's military recently had one of its defining moments in a raid that killed a senior leader of the FARC, a resilient guerrilla group that had never before lost a member of its top leadership in combat.

At about the same time, U.S. officials and military analysts say, Venezuela fumbled an effort to rush troops and tanks to the border with Colombia in response to Colombia's deadly March 1 attack on a FARC camp in Ecuador.

The Colombian raid triggered a mostly diplomatic and short-lived crisis. But it also showed the contrasting security philosophies of Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chávez and Colombia's conservative President Alvaro Uribe.

Colombia, with U.S. help, has assembled a nimble infantry-based and intelligence-reliant counterinsurgency force capable of striking at guerrilla units and leaders deep in the jungle, military analysts say.

The Venezuelans have done just the opposite: They have spurned all contacts with the U.S. military and instead opted mostly for big-ticket purchases of Russian fighters, attack helicopters and submarines while also forming, training and arming reserve and militia units loyal to Chávez.

The result is that Venezuela's military is impressive on paper but also in many ways a paper tiger, according to defense experts, shaped more to preserve Chávez's grip on power than to fight an effective war.

Colombia, said John Cope, with the Institute for National Strategic Studies of the National Defense University, has become ''an extremely good, professional force,'' while the Venezuelan army is ``trying to figure out the ins and outs of an approach to a military organization that puts a high emphasis on civic action and humanitarian issues . . . which means they're probably not spending an awful lot of time training.''

The contrast of the two militaries is more than an academic exercise. Few analysts believe Chávez, a fiery critic of U.S. policies, would ever provoke a war against Uribe, a stalwart Washington ally. But U.S. officials say that with the border environment still combustible given the presence of the FARC, even a minor provocation could escalate into a military conflict.


In sheer manpower, Colombia has an edge. Jane's Sentinel Security Assessment places the Colombian armed forces, not including the sizable police force, at 263,000, more than double Venezuela's 115,000.

Colombia's forces are modeled on the U.S. military, with seven army divisions, three naval units and eight air commands coordinated by five geographically based joint commands. According to Jane's, the idea is to ensure closer cooperation between the different branches of the military.

In a process that began before Uribe took office in 2002, the Colombian military has shifted its focus on counterinsurgency and counter-drug-trafficking, putting together helicopter-based and other highly mobile battalions and special forces units.

Many of the units have been trained by the 500 or so U.S. advisors in the country with part of the estimated $600 million in military aid that Washington provides annually to Colombia. The United States has supplied more than 100 aircraft, including 24 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and more than 60 Huey II helicopters.

Colombian and U.S. officers also maintain a Joint Intelligence Center in the southern base of Tres Esquinas, which gathers information from communications intercepts and images from U.S. spy planes, listening stations and satellites, according to Jane's.

True to its counterinsurgency strategy and its partly mountainous, partly jungled terrain, Colombia has no combat tanks.


In contrast, Chávez has severed all military ties with the United States, which in turn has stopped selling him weapons and replacement parts.

Chávez has promoted the concept of asymmetrical warfare -- essentially preparing reserves and militias for a guerrilla war against a stronger invader, presumably U.S. troops.

But his regular armed forces are regarded as logistically challenged, and U.S. officials believe the army struggled to move several tank units toward the Colombian border after Chávez gave the order on March 2. Venezuela has nearly 200 tanks.

There are also doubts about the military's equipment maintenance. A foreign military officer who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of his job said the gun-sights on some of the tanks had been rendered inoperable by attempts to service them without help from foreign technicians.

''It's all image,'' said Cope, who added that Chávez seems more interested in reorganizing the military so it is less of a threat to him. Chávez survived a brief military coup against him in 2002.

The growing militia units can quickly mobilize to defend his government should the regular military turn against him, Cope added, and Chávez has pulled together the better-trained units from all branches under one ``operational strategic command.''

''This responds more directly to him, personally, '' Cope said. ``And this is probably the group that does have some training.''


Military analysts believe Venezuela has a big edge over Colombia in the air, given recent purchases like 10 Russian-made Mi-35 'flying tank' attack helicopters that can carry eight soldiers and have both anti-tank and air-to-air capacity.

Right after ordering troops and tanks to the Colombian border, Chávez also threatened Uribe with ''sending over the Sukhois'' -- advanced Russian fighter-bombers that make the Colombians' aged French Mirages and Israeli Kfirs look puny.

Colombia recently acquired 15 155 mm cannons from Spain to offset a perceived Venezuelan artillery advantage. And in February, it spent $200 million to purchase 24 newer Kfir C10 fighters, which are yet to be delivered.

Colombia's Cessna A-37B Drangonflies and Brazilian Super Tucano turboprops, which bombed the camp in Ecuador with lethal accuracy, would be blasted out of the sky by the two-dozen Sukhoi Su-30s purchased by Chávez, though Venezuela's pilots are still reported to be training to fly them.


The greatest doubts concern Venezuela's readiness for war and the willingness of the civilian population to endure hostilities. Unlike Colombia, which has been embroiled in conflict with a domestic guerrilla movement for decades, Venezuela hasn't fought a war for over a century.

''These days, public opinion has considerable weight,'' he Gen. Raúl Salazar, who was Chávez's first defense minister and later his ambassador to Madrid. ``You can't go to war without the consent of the population.''

Miami Herald staff writer Carol Rosenberg contributed to this report from Miami and special correspondent Phil Gunson contributed from Caracas.

Offline SAS73

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Re: South American Arms Race
« Reply #95 on: September 16, 2009, 12:24:51 AM »
Throughout the last decade it has become clear that Venezuela under Hugo Chávez is Colombia’s greatest national security threat. The FARC, the remaining paramilitary groups, and drug lords are all second on the list. And this past week, that threat became even more dangerous.
In a trip to Russia, President Chávez closed a deal with the government of that country for the purchase of weaponry and war material worth over US$2 billion. In that typical tone of his, full of ugly plebeianism, the Venezuelan president boasted that he had bought some “little rockets … that do not miss” their targets. Chavez’s new Russian rockets have a range of 300 kilometers, meaning that Colombian cities such as Valledupar, Bucaramanga, Barrancabermeja, Riohacha and Santa Marta could be prone to an attack with those rockets if they are fired from the Venezuelan border.

If that is not worrying enough, think that this is not the first time that Hugo Chavez has gone shopping in Moscow. Between 2005 and 2007, President Chavez spent about 4.4 billion dollars in Russian guns, making him Latin America’s largest weapons buyer. Venezuela today counts with 24 Sukhoi-30 fighter jets, which can be counted amongst the best military aircraft out there. If sent from their bases in Venezuela, those airplanes could be flying over Bogota or any other large Colombian city in about thirty minutes, as Mr. Chávez has reminded us a few times.
The autocrat from Caracas has also received from Russia 53 helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles. This time, Mr. Chávez made sure to include over 90 war tanks in his purchase order. In 2006 alone, Venezuela’s defense spending increased 35 percent, and in 2007 Mr. Chávez’s government spent almost as much money buying new guns than the governments of Iran and Pakistan combined. In the meantime, President Chávez has been having fun by inviting Russian nuclear ships to joint military exercises in Venezuelan waters.

Of course, President Chávez maintains that all those weapons he is acquiring are for defense purposes only. Venezuela, he says, is improving its ability to react to an attack, presumably, from American troops based in Colombian territory. I seriously doubt that the United States wishes to invade Venezuela, let alone do so from the seven military bases it is leasing from Colombia. The Obama administration has not quite figured out how to solve the situation in Afghanistan and the country is tired of military adventures overseas. In the next, say, three to six years I think most people would agree that an attack on Venezuela is very unlikely to occur. The real problem, even if one wanted to believe in President Chávez’s good intentions, is that much of the weaponry Venezuela has bought can serve both defensive and offensive purposes in war.

Furthermore, the precedent of the Venezuelan leader’s fiery rhetoric about a conflict with Colombia, and the fact that he has sent tanks to the border in the past, must make the Colombian government and its military very uncomfortable.

Yet, Colombia does not have the weaponry that can match the technology that Venezuela has acquired. The balance of power between the two states has been shifting in favor of the Venezuelans for a while now, and budget constraints prevent the Colombian government from doing much about it. Although the Colombian Armed Forces are considerably larger and better trained, our Air Force would be a weak opponent against the Venezuelan Sukhoi and F-16 jets –even if we use those Kafirs we bought from Israel. Also, it is no secret that Colombia’s military is much better equipped for fighting an internal war than an external one. And the crux of the issue is that even if the Colombian government slowly continues to weaken FARC, the possibility of a war with Venezuela cannot be ruled out. I do not want to sound unnecessarily alarmist or pessimistic, but I dare any sane person to trust Hugo Chavez with a bunch of guns and be fine with it.

Colombia must prepare for any eventuality. As Margaret Thatcher wrote once, we need to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. In an ideal world, the Colombian government should get from the United States a firm, clear compromise that it will come in Colombia’s defense in case of conflict with Venezuela, similarly to what happens with South Korea and Taiwan. But Colombia is neither South Korea, nor Taiwan.

In a hypothetical war against her bellicose, pseudo-communist neighbor, Colombia will have to stand her ground on her own. And that means that the Colombian government must continue upgrading the hardware of its military, and slowly start shifting the focus of its strategy from one of homeland security to one of national defense against other states.

Accordingly, it would be appropriate to establish as a convention that annual defense spending never should be lower than 4% of GDP.

While this Cold War with Venezuela lasts, Colombia must remain alert. Remember that President Chávez will stay in office at least until 2013, and that now he has the possibility of endless consecutive reelections. There can be no attempts to appease a dictator in the making, or to give in to any of his bully tactics. Power must be checked with power. And the defense of the people, being, the most important duty of the Colombian state is something that must take priority over all other considerations.
President Uribe taught Colombians how important it is to defend the homeland from those who want to harm it from within. The time has come for Colombia to strengthen itself against those who wish to attack her from without.


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