Will Russia’s MiG abandon the Indian race?
© RIA Novosti
By Ilya Kramnik
February 15, 2011
The Indian tender for 126 MMRCAs (medium multi-role combat aircraft) to replace its ageing MiG-21s was announced long ago, but only now is the real intrigue unfolding. Competition between two main rivals – the United States’ F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Russia’s MiG-35 has been stiff.
The intrigue heightened after Russia announced its MiG-35 would not be on display at an air show in Bangalore. Many experts took the absence of a “real live” MiG as a sign that Russia was pulling out of the race.
Leading entries compared
The Russian and U.S. fighters each have their own strengths. The Super Hornet’s design maturity is indeed impressive. It has been in serial production for over 10 years and carries an active phased-array radar (APAR), which is also in serial production. The United States is also in a position to start manufacturing the aircraft for an Indian order at short notice.
The MiG-35’s advantages include India’s experience of MiG-29s and the fact that maintenance infrastructure for them is in place across the country, as well as Russia’s readiness to share production technology with India.
The MiG-35’s main shortcoming is its APAR: it is still in development and this is set to continue for a year or two. Also, despite its MiG-29 origins, the MiG-35 still needs refining before it can go into serial production.
Fundamentally, the only thing the MiG-35 shares with the previous MiG-29 family is its appearance. Its equipment and facilities have undergone a radical overhaul. The aircraft is now capable of using the very latest air-to-surface munitions, making it a multi-role fighter, unlike the MiG-29, which is considered an air-supremacy fighter.
The cockpit, in line with the current fashion, is equipped with multi-functional liquid-crystal display screens, while the HOTAS (hands on throttle-and-stick) system allows the pilot to manage all the weapons systems without taking their hands off the aircraft and engine controls.
Vectored-thrust engines make the plane much more maneuverable, increasing its chances of winning in close combat and avoiding long-range missile fire.
The fact that a two-seat version – the MiG-35D – is available, with the same kind of avionics as the single-seater, means that groups consisting of one- and two-seater aircraft can be formed, which are capable of carrying out highly complicated missions. In such formations the two-seaters become command planes, coordinating the moves of a flight or squadron.
Boeing meanwhile …
Unlike Russia, which decided not to put its MiG-35 on display in Bangalore, the United States has stepped up its activity and unveiled the latest version of the F/A-18, or the Silent Hornet, upscaled with stealth technology.
These warplanes are kitted out with conformal fuel tanks, enhanced performance engines, spherical missile laser warning (SM/LW), enclosed weapons pads and next generation cockpits complete with internal infrared search and tracking systems.
The aircraft on display at the show is the first to be developed as part of the International Super Hornet Roadmap program, which Boeing announced at the Farnborough air show last year. The fighter is being touted as a new generation in the Super Hornet family, which will feature improved combat survivability, situational awareness and performance for customers.
Boeing’s vice president Vivek Lall said that if India signs a contract with Boeing under the MMRCA tender it will be able to obtain this technology. “We are creating a platform which will be combat worthy for the next 30 or 40 years,” he said.
This announcement is unprecedented for an American company – until now only the United States’ closest allies have been granted full access to this kind of technology. All the others had to make do with what they were sold.
Tender results are expected to be announced this summer. They are particularly important for the MiG: should the MiG-35 fail to get an export order, Sukhoi aircraft will be left in a position of unassailable dominance on Russia’s combat aviation market.
Despite the unquestioned potential of Sukhoi platforms and their proven quality, such a monopoly is unlikely to be helpful.
Ilya Kramnik is RIA Novosti’s military commentator. The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
USA’s 2011 National Military Strategy: We’ve got the power!
By Sergei Balmasov
February 10, 2011
The USA has unveiled the 2011 National Military Strategy for the first time in seven years. The strategy, as usual, serves for the preservation of the U.S. predominance in the world. The appearance of the document is based on recent major changes on the planet. The authors of the strategy pointed out a number of challenges for the United States in particular and for the Western civilization in general.
U.S. strategists claimed that the shortage of resources in the world may trigger territorial disputes, which poses a direct threat to American interests. They are also concerned about the fact that the national debt of the United States “poses a significant national security risk.”
All of that is aggravated with a whole list of unsolved problems, which have become even more serious during the recent years. First and foremost, “the world’s preeminent power” has not been able to defeat terrorism and extremism. The war in Afghanistan continues, and the fire of Afghan unrest is spreading into neighboring Pakistan. The strategists of the U.S. national security wrote that terrorists had nested on the Arabian Peninsula, in the countries of north-western Africa and in Somalia.
Nevertheless, the authors of the document said: “We will be prepared to find, capture, or kill violent extremists wherever they reside when they threaten interests and citizens of America and our allies.” Therefore, it is not ruled out that the world will soon witness the USA launching another military adventure in the above-mentioned territories.
Secondly, the USA is concerned about the rising powers, India and China, as well as other regional powerful countries. The Americans are especially worried about China and its defense preparations in the Taiwan Strait.
In this connection, the Pentagon is not going to reduce its attention to South Asia and the Far East. However, the USA does not exclude increasing its military presence in potentially dangerous directions. “With partner nation support, we will preserve forward presence and access to the commons, bases, ports, and airfields commensurate with safeguarding our economic and security interests worldwide,” the strategy runs. Here, it goes about such old allies as Japan and South Korea.
Thirdly, the nuclear proliferation issue remains unsolved as well. North Korea has proved the possession of nuclear weapons to the whole world. Iran is just about to do the same. “The prospect of multiple nuclear armed regimes in the Middle East with nascent security and command and control mechanisms amplifies the threat of conflict, and significantly increases the probability of miscalculation or the loss of control of a nuclear weapon to non-state actors,” the document says.
To solve the problem, Washington intends to support regional allies, like Iraq, to develop the missile defense system, which Russia vehemently objects to, and to take defense measures against those violating the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The USA must be prepared to eliminate sources of weapons of mass destruction, the document runs.
Fourthly, by 2025, Washington predicts serious destabilization in a number of developing states because of the ongoing demographic explosion. The population of those countries will grow by 1.2 billion people, which will lead to serious food and water problems. “Conversely, in Europe and parts of Asia, populations are projected to decline and age with long term impacts to the global share of their economic output. Population growth and urbanization in the Middle East, Africa, and South Central Asia will contribute to increased water scarcity and may present governance challenges,” the report says.
In other words, the American supremacy is facing many challenges on different continents. One shall pay attention to the following telling phrase: “In this multi-nodal world, the military’s contribution to American leadership must be about more than power – it must be about our approach to exercising power.”
Thus, the U.S. National Military Strategy must be flexible to take account of all serious changes in the world. That is why the USA must be prepared to dealing with modern-day challenges without allies’ help.
“Let us not forget, the Nation remains at war abroad to defend against and defeat threats to our homeland. Our foremost priority is the security of the American people, our territory, and our way of life.” “We will pursue deliberate acquisition process improvements and selective force modernization with the cost effective introduction of new equipment and technology,” the report says.
U.S. strategists point out the necessity to maintain high prestige of the U.S. Armed Forces. According to the document, the state must continue to pay increased attention to improving the well-being of its defenders. “Just as our Service members commit to the Nation when they volunteer to serve, we incur an equally binding pledge to return them to society as better citizens. We must safeguard Service members’ pay and benefits, provide family support, and care for our wounded warriors,” the report runs.
Needless to say that the Americans could not leave Russia out of their attention. On the one hand, the document declares the intention to develop military partnership, continue the reduction of arms and build security in Central Asia in cooperation with Russia. As for the Asian security, the Americans, most likely, are planning to get Russia involved in the Afghan war.
The new strategy also mentions more important things about Russia. For instance, the USA is going to continue its cooperation with Canada regarding the issues of regional security, such as the development of the Arctic region. It is an open secret that Russia claims its right on the Arctic shelf, which infuriates Canada in the first place.
Here is another, rather expressive statement: “NATO members act as a stabilizing force on its perimeter, which ranges from the Middle East and the Levant, Northern Africa, the Balkans, and the Caucasus.” One shall assume that the Americans will continue to interfere in Russia’s internal affairs.
The authors of the new National Military Strategy are certain that the USA will preserve its economic and defense power in the foreseeable future. The USA still places its stake on brutal military force, which, as the authors of the report say, will contribute to America’s security and prosperity in the 21st century.
Genocidal Colombo unleashes new war on unarmed Tamils
February 9, 2011 07:49 GMT
Sri Lanka is now waging a new genocidal war on unarmed and demographically weakened Tamils after converting their country imperceptibly into an open concentration camp. The new war is focussed on the Jaffna Peninsula. Many Tamils believe that by stressing on the negation of their independence, India and USA continue to encourage Colombo, smokescreen the current war by projecting it ‘reconciliation’ cum post-war ‘development’ and thus actually play a party to the war and genocide. All these decades India and USA competitively negotiating the national question by upholding the integrity of a fundamentally flawed state has brought in only untold misery. At least now, why shouldn’t they try in unison, a genuine reconciliation by the option of secession? Further delays will convert the island a bleeding spot of the region for ages, cautions a Jaffna university academic.
Meanwhile, on the Nazi-style registration of Tamil civilians in the peninsula by the occupying Sinhala military, and on recent militarization and terrorisation in the peninsula, the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) came out with the following comments:
Colombo is keen that no evidences should leak from Jaffna on the war crimes it committed in the Vanni war.
Colombo believes that evidences and support for the war crimes investigation and international action goes from Jaffna. The family registration, family photographs etc are part of the terror campaign aimed at continuously silencing the people.
The military rule of the Tamil country is confirmed in many ways.
Local media is made to announce that the SL Navy establishments occupying the islands off the Jaffna Peninsula are now being closed down. But actually they are being hurriedly replaced by SL Army and by intelligence units of the military.
A motorbike squad of the military intelligence is engaged in terrorising people even in the main streets of the peninsula.
This motorbike squad killed hundreds of civilians in the past in their houses and streets.
The whereabouts of the hundreds abducted by the squad is yet to be known.
The re-activation of the savage squad, operated from the Palaali ‘High Security Zone’ by the military intelligence, is an indication that another war is being waged now.
In the name of ‘night security’ street going public is put to untold harassment, including bodily searches.
The people who have come from Vanni are specially targeted.
More than ever, Sinhala colonisation is taking place in Jaffna and Vanni. Sinhalese are brought in for trade and fisheries. Tamils in their traditional land are now made to work under them.
Frustrating the people to the maximum is the aim of the psychological part of the war.
The whole peninsula is fast sinking into a situation it faced during the heights of the series of the wars in the past.
[Blogmaster note: I posted the news of Col. Imam’s death in my Newsmarks column — and sent it out via RSS almost as fast as it hit the Pakistan newswire. Not too many folks clicked on the link, which attests that Col. Imam was largely an unknown figure among my readers. Gordon Duff offers a fitting tribute.]
Mysterious Death Of American Ally, Reagan Friend, In Pakistan
© Gordon Duff
Source: Veterans Today
January 24, 2011
* “Colonel Imam” Kidnapped By Taliban Group Believed “Mossad” Backed
Colonel Imam (Photo: G. Duff) may have been the single driving force that pushed Russia out of Afghanistan. A modern day “Lawrence of Arabia,” Imam or Sultan Amir Tarar, a Pakistani Brigadier General, trained with American Rangers and Special Forces at Ft. Bragg, was as instrumental as Lech Walesa in bringing down the Soviet Union.
The group that kidnapped Imam 10 months ago along with Khalid Khawaja, who was murdered and a British journalist, has been misrepresented as former Pakistani intelligence who have joined a rebel Taliban faction from Punjab. This is disinformation. The group, the “Asian Tigers” is a terrorist group funded and organized by the substantial Israeli/Indian operational forces in Afghanistan, the Mossad/RAW. These groups organize terrorism inside Pakistan, working to destabilize that nation, support the heroin trade in Afghanistan and simulate “Al Qaeda” terrorists when needed.
They are an international terrorist organization, one proven to exist, one proven tied to Israel, one responsible for the killing of, not only Pakistani citizens by the hundred but American and NATO military and U.N. aid workers as well.
Without this organization, the “Asian Tigers” and similar groups, casualties in the Af/Pak theatre would diminish significantly.
However, no reports of this ever reach the western media, this information, intelligence contained in reports withheld by Wikileaks, censored, not only by Julian Assange and the New York Times but the CIA as well. These groups, though they attack Americans also, are protected just as the opium crops are, at the direction of the highest authorities in the American command.
It isn’t just Julian Assange and his New York Times partners that get their directions from Tel Aviv.
In briefings I received in Pakistan and Washington, estimates of these forces and their activities varied but one thing was for certain, they exist, they are a threat and they are being lied about. Whether India or Israel or both, Americans are dying at the hands of friends profiting from war, drugs and corruption in, not only American politics but the Pentagon establishment as well.
Colonel Imam, an American hero without equal, died at the hands of such an organization.
I met the Colonel at the home of General Mirsa Aslam Beg, former Chief of Staff of Pakistan’s Army. With me were, among others, author Jeff Gates and VT [Veterans Today] editor, Raja Mujtaba. The Colonel was attired in a white turban and military field jacket. The patches, U.S. Ranger and Special Forces. The surprising part, his accent. It was, not only American but clear “old South.” This was a Georgia boy!
Despite the accusations thrown at the Colonel and General Beg, accusations also thrown at VT editor Lt. General Hamid Gul and others, of working with terrorists or supplying the Taliban, there was always one thing in common, the quest for peace and stability in the region. Where others are called “war criminals” by those profiting from continual conflict, the attacks against Colonel Imam always fell on deaf ears.
Few non-Americans have ever had the respect and friendship he enjoyed, not only in Congress, but among the special operations community who knew him to be fearless and loyal. I saw that immediately.
Colonel Imam was a gentle and honorable person, decent and kind. He died in captivity, said from “cardiac” problems. He died at the hands of terrorists, real enemies of the United States, real enemies of the people of Pakistan, real enemies of the people of Afghanistan, real enemies of all humanity.
He will be missed.
Gordon Duff is a U.S. Marine Vietnam veteran and Senior Editor at Veterans Today. His career has included extensive experience in international banking along with such diverse areas as consulting on counter insurgency, defense technologies or acting as diplomatic officer of U.N. humanitarian groups. He is a widely published expert on military and defense issues.
The following commentary is reprinted with permission from International Relations & Security Network (ISN), Center for Security Studies, Zurich.
Critical Minerals: Growing Demands, Rising Tensions
© Christine Pathemore
January 3 2011
Looking back at the major headlines of 2010, one story stands out as truly unexpected: The sudden concern with a little-known class of minerals – rare earth elements – that had previously served a key but quiet role in the global economy. These minerals serve as a foundation for modern technologies – from television screens to missile guidance systems – making this newfound interest warranted.
It seems an historical abberation that concern over mineral supplies critical to weapons systems and energy production did not deeply permeate industrial policies, trade and geopolitical planning in the past two decades.
Throughout history, battles have been fought over control of natural resources. During World War II, the U.S., its European allies, Germany and Japan all relied on imported supplies of many raw materials critical to their war efforts, including steel and petroleum and the minerals used to process those materials. Both sides also developed extensive operations to cut off their opponents’ supply lines.
After World War II and during the Cold War, the Soviet Union’s expanding sphere of influence included many of the world’s most important minerals suppliers. Economists and defense planners in all industrial countries sounded alarms that import dependence on minerals from Southern Africa and Eastern Europe created intolerable strategic vulnerabilities. This concern extended to common imports such as steel and petroleum, but also to lesser-known minerals, such as cobalt and minerals of tailored use in strategic weapons, such as uranium required for stockpiling nuclear weapons. As the Cold War drew to a close, however, worries about minerals supplies waned.
The modern challenges of minerals
Today, the resurgence in concern over minerals is no longer characterized by great power competition, but by globalized markets and booming economic growth in the world’s most populous developing countries. Demand for many minerals is growing at a scale that few would have predicted a decade ago.
Though India, Brazil and other countries are rapidly becoming modern industrial powers and driving a surge in demand for minerals, China is at the heart of these concerns. China has a distinct strategy for its economic development that makes certain minerals central to its growth, including rare earth elements such as neodymium and europium. In addition to its ongoing space exploration and extensive military expansion, economic growth plans include “advanced manufacturing, new energy, new material and new-energy automobiles” – all areas of technological development that depend heavily on rare earth elements. Moreover, China’s economic, diplomatic, and military tactics to create a robust international supply system that meets its rapidly growing mineral demands is seen as a potential strategic concern by many analysts.
The renewed wave of interest in minerals has been several years in the making. An early incident, a disruption in supplies of rhenium, a mineral used to produce specialty alloys for the aerospace industry, caused prices to spike from $1,000 to $6,000 per kilogram. In 2007, China threatened to withhold exports of certain rare earth minerals used as catalysts in petroleum refining for long enough that American refiners warned of gasoline shortages; the U.S. State Department had to step in to help settle the tensions.
Most recently, rare earths have grabbed headlines and the U.S. Congress and Obama administration’s attention, in large part due to China’s regularly-changing export quotas for these minerals and its recent cessation of exports to Japan. Following a scuffle in the East China Sea in September, Chinese exporters halted shipments of rare earths to Japan for weeks, eventually resuming in late November. Although China’s leaders denied that they had imposed an official, government-sanctioned embargo, the move made clear China’s ability to leverage its current corner on the rare earths export market.
While this does not appear to have directly affected American companies, it served as a warning about the possible effects of over-reliance on China by the U.S. and other developed countries. For the U.S., more than 90 percent of its rare earth minerals imports could be at risk of supply disruptions of this kind. Beyond the direct economic costs of China changing rare earths export policies, its control of the vast majority of current world supplies allows it significant political power in relation to countries that have important military and civilian needs for these minerals.
What to do?
The U.S. must overcome several key challenges in order to better manage these minerals issues – which may in the future extend beyond rare earths, given the country’s complete reliance on imports for at least 19 different minerals.
First, the government and private sector should increase information sharing regarding mineral supply chains. The Japanese government, for example, has more open information sharing between the government and private sector, helping to mitigate potential problems. Second, governments of all industrialized countries should work to catalogue their dependencies on the most contentious minerals, such as rare earth elements and indium, for defense equipment needs and clean energy manufacturing goals. The U.S. government is in the early stages of taking on this task, but unfortunately it will take years to get even a general sense of the country’s true vulnerabilities. Finally, the government must improve its understanding of the kinds of economic and geopolitical risks that mineral import dependence could create when things go wrong. This will entail educating high-level policymakers and especially diplomats of the connections between the global minerals trade, defense industrial needs and international relations.
In the long term, experts project that supplies of rare earths (and most minerals on which the global economy relies today) will be sufficient to meet demand for decades – centuries in some cases. Unfortunately, this does not preclude the negative effects of short-term supply shortages, market share consolidation by only a few suppliers, and exporting countries flexing their geopolitical muscles by leveraging their control of important minerals. The growing recognition that assured access to minerals and raw materials is important for ensuring a reliable defense industrial base, developing a clean energy economy and managing geopolitical tensions is therefore a positive development.
Understanding these issues and mitigating potential problems will become vitally important in the future, as demand grows and tensions surrounding supply chains rise. The stakes are high. In the past three years, these issues have led to trade disputes, detracted attention from important diplomatic gains in the Asia-Pacific and renewed clashes over territory from the Arctic to the South China Sea. We should expect to see minerals make even more headlines in 2011 and beyond.
Christine Pathemore is a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a non-profit, bipartisan national security think tank in Washington, D.C. She directs CNAS’s program that analyzes national security challenges related to natural resources.
The following commentary is reprinted with permission from Russia’s Strategic Culture Foundation.
Who Can Help Tackle the Afghan Conundrum
© Nikolai Kozyrev
Source: Strategic Culture Foundation
December 27, 2010
Considering that the hope to crush the resistance of radical groups in Afghanistan is not materializing while the scheduled withdrawal of the Western coalition from the country is drawing closer, Russia is left with no other option but to take a bigger role in tackling the Afghan and the wider regional problems. A potential strategy in the context is to build a coalition based on the already existing blocs, namely the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Groundwork for the alliance was laid in July, 2010 when Russia, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan launched the so-called Kabul process. The initiative kept gathering momentum at the subsequent four-lateral conventions in Dushanbe and Sochi last August. The declaration signed by the four countries in Sochi offers a viable plan of joint efforts aimed at countering terrorism, drug trafficking, and organized crime as well as at boosting the regional economic cooperation and forging direct ties between the corresponding business circles. The involvement of resourceful alliances – the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization – could seriously energize the process.
Iran and India should certainly be invited to the coalition. Russia’s position on Iran is that Tehran’s immersion in regional affairs should in the long run help defuse the crisis around the Iranian nuclear program. Entraining India may be an uphill task given the atmosphere of persistent suspicion which dominates its relations with Pakistan. On the other hand, the Indian-Pakistani collaboration in regional security should promote the overall understanding between the two countries.
From Moscow’s perspective, a key benefit of the Afghan engagement of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is that they can help Russia build the much-needed security buffer along its southern frontier. No doubt, the post-Soviet Central Asian members of the two alliances have profound reasons to share the goal.
Since 2001, Russia’s aid to Afghanistan in the form of the waiving of the huge Afghan indebtedness along with the contributions to the strengthening of its national army and security forces and to various infrastructural reconstruction efforts did not go unnoticed in the country. Awareness is growing among Afghans that Russia has long turned the page on its Soviet-era campaign in Afghanistan and has nothing to do with the hostilities underway in the country. At the moment, Russia should stage a comeback in Afghanistan, but certainly not as a military power. Rather, Russian businessmen and engineers should lend Afghans a hand in bringing back to life the old Soviet-built economic infrastructures and in creating new ones.
Caution should be exercised in the process of attracting the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to the Afghan affairs, especially those of the military character. The security cooperation should be strictly limited to guarding borders and coordinating anti-drug and anti-terrorist activities, while direct involvement of the two alliances in any offensives on the Afghan territory should be avoided. Having suffered a de facto defeat in Afghanistan, the U.S. would be glad to see Russia and its allies take over and shoulder the burden of the Afghan problems, but the scenario is clearly unacceptable to Moscow.
Due to the whole range of political, military and economic regards, Russia should do whatever it takes not to get dragged into Afghanistan’s domestic conflict. In this light, the recent anti-narcotics raid launched in Afghanistan jointly by Russian and U.S. drug-enforcement seems to be an ill-conceived initiative. Afghanistan’s problems are not solvable on military tracks and Moscow’s optimal strategy is to refrain from any use of force in the country. Instead, Russia should take part in training Afghanistan’s own security forces, support its anti-drug efforts, and provide advisory input to the country’s legislative reform.
Afghanistan’s participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s summits and the Afghanistan contact group sessions shows that – locked in the stagnant armed conflict, facing the lack of positive socioeconomic dynamics in the country, and anticipating the disastrous consequences of the coming U.S. withdrawal – H. Karzai’s regime is increasingly interested in engaging with various regional blocs. The settlement in Afghanistan would take a maximally inclusive dialog across the Afghan ethnic patchwork. The risk that the Talibs would prevail shortly upon the Western coalition’s pullout will likely prove overstated if the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization make a commitment to keep Afghanistan afloat militarily and pour sufficient material resources into the country.
Keeping out of any military operations in Afghanistan, the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization or, rather, their broader coalition with Afghanistan and Pakistan would be able to establish the foundations of a new Afghan statehood so that Afghanistan would stop being a headache to its neighbors. In any case, the importance of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to Afghanistan will grow. The Collective Security Treaty Organization has a potential to at least localize the threat to regional security currently emanating from the country, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a mainly economic institution should be able to contribute to the solution of Afghanistan’s socioeconomic problems. The combined efforts will help tackle the Afghan conundrum.
The following article is reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington D.C. 20036.
Afghan Insurgent Faction Says Backs Gas Pipeline
December 19, 2010
An Afghan insurgent faction has reportedly voiced its backing for construction of a multibillion-dollar pipeline through Afghanistan to take Turkmen gas to India and Pakistan.
Hezb-i Islami, an insurgent force led by former prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, was said to have announced its full backing for the so-called TAPI pipeline project on December 18 and volunteered to help protect it.
Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India this month signed a preliminary agreement to push ahead with the pipeline.
Hezb-i Islami does not control most of the proposed route, which runs through the Taliban heartland in southern Helmand and Kandahar provinces.
The government says it would bury the pipeline up to two meters underground there to ensure its safety.
compiled from Reuters reports