US Defense Secretary Hagel resigns

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will resign on Monday, senior officials told reporters, as the White House faced mounting criticism over its handling of the war against the Islamic State group and the campaign in Afghanistan.

The former senator, who has been in the job for less than two years, was chosen to oversee a transition to a peacetime military with smaller defense budgets but the advance of IS jihadists across Syria and Iraq has created an urgent need for a Pentagon chief that can manage a complex war, and President Barack Obama concluded Hagel was not up to the task.

The 68-year-old former senator and Vietnam war veteran was to join President Barack Obama at the White House later in the day to jointly announce his departure.

“In October, Secretary Hagel began speaking with the president about departing the administration … Those conversations have been ongoing for several weeks,” said an adminstration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“A successor will be named in short order, but Secretary Hagel will remain as defense secretary until his replacement is confirmed by the United States Senate.”

The White House did not give any clue who might be Hagel’s eventual replacement at the Pentagon, but the New York Times — which broke the news of his departure — cited three candidates.

Former under-secretary of defense Michele Flournoy — who would be the first woman to run the Pentagon — is in the running along with Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island — a former army officer — and former deputy secretary of defense Ashton Carter, who served in the number-two role at the Pentagon, according to defense officials, who confirmed the report.

Hagel, as a Republican senator, voted in favor of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, but later became a critic of the drawn-out conflict that ensued and was taken on by Obama early last year to oversee the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.

Hagel’s combat experience as a non-commissioned officer who was wounded in Vietnam was seen as a strength as he took on the job, but his public appearances have often appeared clumsy or underwhelming as the US administration struggles to adapt to new conflicts and articulate its strategies.

“Over the past two years, Secretary Hagel helped manage an intense period of transition for the United States Armed Forces, including the drawdown in Afghanistan, the need to prepare our forces for future missions, and tough fiscal choices to keep our military strong and ready,” the official said.

“Over nearly two years, Secretary Hagel has been a steady hand, guiding our military through this transition, and helping us respond to challenges from ISIL to Ebola.”

Although administration officials suggested the defense secretary had been forced to resign, a senior national security staff member in Congress told AFP that was not the case.

“Hagel quit,” the staffer said. “Hagel found himself at odds with the administration.”

Hagel’s experience was similar to that of his predecessors, Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, who both complained after they left office of meddling by political appointees in the White House, the staffer said.

“It’s related to the same complaints you heard from Gates and Panetta — White House micromanaging every national security decision.”

Senator John McCain, an outspoken critic of Obama’s foreign policy, said he had spoken to Hagel by phone Monday.

“I know that he was very, very frustrated,” McCain said.

“Already the White House are leaking, ‘Well he wasn’t up to the job.’ Believe me, he was up to the job.”

McCain said the Obama administration had “no strategy” to fight the IS group and that Hagel had never been allowed into a White House inner circle making decisions.

Hagel had disagreed with the administration’s approach to the Syrian regime, writing a two-page memo arguing for a more assertive stance towards President Bashar al-Assad, his aides recently disclosed.

Apart from the air war against the IS group, the White House also has come under criticism for the war effort in Afghanistan, with some Republicans questioning the timeline that will have all US troops out of the country by the end of Obama’s term in two years.

Speculation about whether Hagel would remain as Pentagon chief gathered steam in October, with anonymous administration officials castigating his performance to a high-profile Washington Post columnist, David Ignatius.

Hagel was once considered a potential Republican presidential contender but in his current job, officials said he often said little at strategy sessions in the White House “situation room.”

Earlier this month, Hagel called off a long-planned trip to Vietnam and Myanmar at the last moment, fueling questions about his future role.

In a television interview aired last week on the “Charlie Rose” show on PBS, Hagel repeatedly sidestepped questions about whether he would be kept on as defense secretary.

“I don’t get up in the morning and worry about my job,” he said.

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France at the UN warns North Korea over nuclear threat

By on Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

France warned North Korea on Monday that it would likely face more UN sanctions if it follows through on threats to carry out a nuclear test.

North Korea has reacted angrily to a UN resolution condemning its human rights record and calling on the Security Council to refer Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Pyongyang has said it felt no need to refrain from carrying out a nuclear test and North Korea’s top military body warned Sunday of “catastrophic consequences” for supporters of the resolution.

At a UN Security Council debate on non-proliferation, French political counselor Philippe Bertoux recalled that North Korea’s recent threats were a cause of concern.

“I would like to underscore that Pyongyang would, in the event of new provocations, expose itself to additional sanctions from the Security Council,” said Bertoux.

The Security Council imposed sweeping sanctions on North Korea in 2013 after Pyongyang conducted a third nuclear test since 2006.

Those sanctions imposed restrictions on financial transactions and shipping, and targeted the North Korean elite with a tough ban on exports of luxury goods to the reclusive country.

Last week, the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said on its 38 North website that new satellite imagery suggested Pyongyang may be firing up a facility for processing weapons-grade plutonium.

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Frontrunners emerge for top Pentagon job

A pair of frontrunners have emerged to take charge at the Pentagon after President Barack Obama announced the departure of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

If former under-secretary Michele Flournoy gets the nod, she would be the first woman to hold the role, and neither she nor former deputy secretary Ashton Carter have served in uniform.

Now working as policy academics, Flournoy and Carter have been mentioned for years as possible Pentagon leaders.

Both have served under Democratic presidents going back to the 1990s, and both received support from both sides of Congress after Obama announced Hagel’s resignation.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee which would vet the nominees, said in a tweet that both Flournoy and Ashton are “solid choices.”

Policy wonk
Flournoy, 53, has been a face in and around the Department of Defense for decades, a civilian woman make headway in an agency filled with men and military veterans.

“She has really had a fine career and is an excellent candidate for this job,” said Kathy Crandall Robinson, a senior director at nonprofit Women’s Action for New Directions in Washington.

Robinson said women have led in foreign policy for years, but breaking the gender divide in defense has been difficult.

“There have been a number of women coming up, but in the actual Defense Department it’s breaking new ground so that would be really exciting,” she said on Flournoy’s potential nomination.

First serving in defense in Democrat Bill Clinton’s administration, Flournoy has made a name for herself in bipartisan defense circles as a policy wonk and strategist in Washington’s think tank world.

She worked at the government’s National Defense University, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies before co-founding the Center for a New American Security in 2007.

CNAS is seen as the DC think tank closest to President Barack Obama’s administration, and Flournoy and her colleagues have used it as a launching pad for top administration positions.

Staff at CNAS fashioned themselves as experts on the currents of strategy from the nation’s two recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2009, Flournoy left the think tank and made waves when she took a top tier defense department post as undersecretary of defense for policy, the highest-ranking woman in the Pentagon’s history.

In her position she was central in fashioning the country’s plan for a surge of forces in Afghanistan to try to bring a form of conclusion to a war that has stumbled on for more than a decade.

The counterinsurgency-focused plan had mixed results and increased casualty rates among US forces.

Since leaving the defense department in 2012, Flournoy has worked at the Boston Consulting Group.

Flournoy signaled her interest in reentering the political world this year when she returned to CNAS as its chief executive in May.

Nuclear policy
Also rumored to being considered for the Pentagon’s top spot is former defense hand and physicist Ashton Carter.

The 60-year-old has served twice in Obama’s administration, first as technology and acquisition undersecretary from 2009 to 2011 and then as the Pentagon number two, deputy secretary of defense.

A Yale graduate with a degree in physics, Carter served in the Clinton administration and assumed a role crafting the country’s nuclear weapons policy after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Carter is an academic policy expert with deep knowledge of the Defense Department’s workings, particularly in science and technology and in budget issues during recent military cutbacks.

He is known for expediting procurement for the military in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Carter directed the Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University in the early 90s, taught physics at Oxford and has various fellowships and board positions based on his defense and science credentials.

Carter lives in Washington and holds a non-resident position at Harvard.

Also reportedly under consideration for secretary of defense is current Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work. Work is a military veteran who is a policy and budget expert.

Previously Work was undersecretary of the navy and in 2008 he worked on Obama’s defense transition team.

US Senator from Rhode Island and military veteran Jack Reed has distanced himself from the competition for the post after early reports that he was under consideration.

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Pindad Siap Jadi Pemasok Amunisi Leopard

20 November 2014

Amunisi 120mm untuk MBT Leopard 2 (photo : defense update)

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID,BANDUNG–PT Pindad Persero siap menjadi pemasok amunisi tank tempur utama atau Main Battle Tank (MBT) Leopard buatan Jerman dengan kaliber besar 120 milimeter.

“Kita sudah membeli tank Leopard dari Jerman. Makanya, kita siap menjadi pemasok amunisi tank Leopard. Strategi bisnis kita ubah, siapa saja di Asia yang punya (Leopard), butuh berapa? Kita telah mengirimkan 7 tenaga ahlinya ke Jerman dalam rangka bagian transfer of technology (ToT),” kata Kepala Divisi Munisi PT Pindad I Wayan Sutama di kantornya, Turen, Malang, Jawa Timur, Rabu (19/11).

Guna mempersiapkan pembuatan amunisi berkaliber besar seperti tank Leopard, Pindad telah menyiapkan lahan seluas tiga hektare di Gunung Layar, Malang. Namun dirinya belum bisa memastikan apakah Pindad akan membuatnya secara keseluruhan atau hanya perakitan.

“Kami sedang menggeliatkan, membantu pemerintah, untuk mengurangi impor di bidang amunisi. Ini harapan saya jangan sampai devisa kita terkoyak ke luar. Kami sudah berhasil mendesain meriam Howitzer 105 mm,” ujar Wayan.

Menurut Wayan, teknologi laras smoothbore yang diaplikasikan pada Leopard merupakan teknologi baru yang harus melalui alih teknologi agar pengembangan peluru untuk tank 62 ton itu bisa sesuai harapan.

“Tak hanya dalam negeri, jika pasokan peluru untuk Leopard telah terpenuhi, Pindad juga mengincar pasar Asia yang menggunakan Leopard. Pangsa pasar munisi tank Leopard di Asia masih terbatas, hanya ada Singapura dan Indonesia serta Australia,” kata Wayan.

Pindad telah memiliki fasilitas pembuatan munisi kaliber besar dan munisi kaliber besar roket di Malang. Industri plat merah ini menargetkan pada tahun 2019 sudah bisa memproduksi kaliber 76 mm, 90 mm dan 105 mm yang memang banyak digunakan oleh pasar internasional dengan keuntungan yang menjanjikan.

“Tapi Pindad harus memenuhi kebutuhan TNI lebih dulu, baru lebihnya bisa diekspor,” kata Wayan.

Wayan menerangkan, ke depan, Indonesia jangan sampai bergantung impor. Saat ini perusahaan sedang meningkatkan kualitas dan kuantitas produk alutsista dan menargetkan akan menjadi produsen alutsista terkemuka di Asia pada 2023.

“Kita sudah melaksanakan peningkatan kemampuan produksi dan kemampuan desain serta kapasitas produksi sudah direncanakan tiga tahun. Jadi per 2015, 2019, dan 2023 itu visi Pindad tahun 2023 kita akan menjadi industri alutsista terkemuka di Asia. Karena, kan, setiap tahun desain-desain atau memang kebutuhan dari TNI itu di-review kembali. Hal itu senada dengan UU No 16/2012. Makanya, kami memiliki target, tahun 2023 Indonesia mampu memuncaki industri pertahanan di kawasan Asia,” katanya.

Pindad terus memproduksi munisi kaliber kecil yang biasa digunakan untuk pistol, senjata laras panjang, hingga senapan serbu. Untuk memperbanyak jumlah produksi munisi kecil ini, Pindad telah mendatangkan mesin baru dengan teknologi termutakhir.

“Yang munisi kaliber kecil sifatnya umum. Kita sudah memiliki penambahan kapasitas untuk memberi mesin-mesin produksi yang modern. Apabila semua terpasang di 2015, saya bisa melipatgandakan kapasitas produksi kaliber kecil, 140 juta butir per tahun,” ujar Wayan.


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Krakatau Steel Pasok 98 Persen Baja Militer

22 November 2014

Panser Anoa buatan Pindad saat Peringatan HUT TNI Ke-69 di Dermaga Ujung Armada RI Kawasan Timur (Armatim), Surabaya, Selasa (7/10). Sebanyak 526 alat utama sistem persenjataan (alutsista) dikerahkan pada TNI kali ini antara lain 192 unit alustsista dari TNI AD, 195 alutsista dari TNI AL, dan 139 pesawat dari TNI AU. (photo : Viva)

Jakarta, CNN Indonesia — PT Krakatau Steel memperbarui kerjasama suplai baja khusus militer dengan PT Pindad. Perjanjian itu ditandatangani di sela kegiatan Indo Defence 2014 di Kemayoran, Jakarta, Rabu (5/11). Sebanyak 98 persen bahan baku pembuatan peralatan militer berasal dari perusahaan baja itu.

Presiden Direktur Krakatau Irvan K. Hakim mengatakan penandatanganan itu adalah pembaruan kerjasama yang sudah berlangsung selama beberapa tahun terakhir. 

“Ini dilakukan dalam rangka menyambut kebutuhan besar untuk alutsista TNI dan kepentingan pertahanan nasional dari Kementerian Pertahanan,” kata Irvan. 

Irvan mengatakan 98 persen bahan baku baja untuk pembuatan kapal cepat rudal TNI, panser buatan Pindad, dan kapal logistik Kementerian Pertahanan, dipasok oleh Krakatau Steel. 

Jadi kami merupakan bagian yang tidak terpisahkan dari Komite Industri Pertahanan. Dalam hal ini, kami bertindak sebagai supplier bahan baku untuk industri ini,” kata Irvan kepada CNN Indonesia.

Irvan menjamin kualitas produksi baja untuk Pindad selalu di bawah pengawasan ketat baik Kementerian Pertahanan dan harus memenuhi standar kualitas NATO. Baja khusus Pindad adalah jenis armor steel yang tidak bisa diperjualbelikan secara bebas.  

Untuk memproduksi baja yang antipeluru itu, Krakatau membangun fasilitas produksi tersendiri. “Standar kualitas bukan sesuatu yang bisa ditawar-tawar,” katanya. 

Penandatanganan kerjasama dilakukan oleh Irvan dan Pelaksana Tugas Direktur Utama Pindad Tri Hardjono.


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Gandeng Pabrikan Swedia, Pindad Bakal Kuasai Teknologi Rudal

08 November 2014

Rudal RBS 70 adalah sebuah sistem pertahanan udara portabel jarak pendek berpemandu laser yang dirancang untuk bisa beroperasi di segala cuaca (photo : Defense Studies), Jakarta – PT Pindad melakukan kerjasama dengan produsen senjata internasional, yakni pabrikan peluru kendali (rudal) asal Swedia, SAAB Dynamic AB. PT Pindad adalah pembuat kendaraan dan alat tempur yang digunakan oleh TNI maupun Polri.

Kerjasama PT Pindad dan SAAB Dynamic ini dilihat langsung oleh Menteri Pertahanan, Ryamizard Ryacudu di area Indo Defence 2014, Kemayoran, Jakarta pada 06 November kemarin.

Perjanjian kerjasama tersebut meliputi pengembangan dan peremajaan sistem pertahanan udara berbasis darat RBS 70 Mk2 TNI Angkatan Darat. Selain itu, turut dibicarakan kerjasama jangka panjang terkait pemberian transfer of technology (ToT) sistem dan rudal RBS 70 Mk2 sesuai Undang Undang Nomor 16 Tahun 2012 tentang Industri Pertahanan.

“Pasti kami mengikuti UU Nomor 16 Tahun 2012, kami akan mengikuti arah kebijakan industri pertahanan Indonesia. Saya yakin SAAB akan melihat ini mulai dari fase-fase teknologi mulai pemeliharaan hingga pembangunan roket nasional. SAAB akan membantu teknologi Indonesia,” Ucap  Michael Hoglund, Deputy Head of Marketing & Sales-Missile Systems SAAB Dynamics dalam Media Gathering di Jakarta, Kamis (06/11/2014).

Di tempat yang sama, PT Pindad sangat berterima kasih kepada SAAB Dynamic karena membantu kemandirian industri pertahanan Indonesia. Program ToT ini diharapkan dapat membantu kemajuan teknologi sistem pertahanan udara nasional.

“Sementara ini teknologi roket belum kita kuasai apalagi teknologi optiknya, kontrolnya, stabilitasnya. Roket indonesia baru sampai roket meluncur saja nanti ke sana akan kita kuasai. Nanti bisa meliputi misil RBS 70 Mk2, New Batteries of RBS 70 Mk2, serta integrasi misil dengan sub sistem kendaraan tempur. Untuk detailnya nanti akan dirumuskan dalam perjanjian selanjutnya,” ungkapnya.

Dalam kolaborasi ini, PT Pindad menjadi kontraktor utama dan SAAB Dynamic AB menjadi sub-kontraktor. PT Pindad yakin pangsa pasar RBS 70 Mk2 masih ada, untuk itu mereka akan giat mempelajari teknologi ini.

“Masih (pangsa pasar), nanti kalau kita sudah kuasai teknologi itu pangsanya sudah ada tidak hanya di Indonesia kan, masih banyak di negara lain Asia bisa juga,” harap Pria berkaca mata ini.

Rudal RBS 70 adalah sebuah sistem pertahanan udara portabel jarak pendek atau MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defence System) buatan Swedia yang dirancang untuk bisa beroperasi di segala cuaca. Untuk jarak jangkau, RBS 70 Mk2 bisa mencapai 8 kilometer dan melesat hingga ketinggian 4.000 meter. Kecepatan RBS 70 Mk2 yakni 2 Mach dengan sistem pemandu laser.

Selain TNI, tentara negara lain seperti dari Argentina, Brazil, Jerman, Singapura, Thailand, dan masih banyak negara lain menggunakan RBS 70 untuk menjaga pertahanan udara mereka. 


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Indonesia Targets Shipbuilding Collaboration with France, Germany

17 November 2014

Indonesia to increase naval shipbuilding collaboration with France and Germany (photo : DCNS)

Indonesia has outlined its intention to increase naval shipbuilding collaboration with France and Germany as part of the southeast Asian country’s continuing drive to become a modern maritime power.

Indonesia’s state news agency Antara reported on 16 November that President Joko Widodo met separately with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Markel at the G20 Leaders Summit in Australia to discuss maritime industrial co-operation.

Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto said Indonesia and France had agreed to establish a working group to explore areas of shipbuilding collaboration. With regards to Germany, he added that industrial links would continue in the land systems sector but that “in the wider defence industry both sides will co-operate on what can be done within the maritime [sector]”.


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