January 2013

Networking & telecommunications and Politics and Security30 Jan 2013 at 13:45 by Jean-Marc Liotier

[This post motivated by a strange lack of FISAA awareness around me]

You will certainly be relieved to learn that US government agencies do not spy clandestinely on the data you entrust to Google, Facebook & co.

So stop wondering about dark conspiracies : there are none.

The bad news is that they do it legally instead. Yes – US government agencies can legally access any data stored by non-American citizens at USA-based hosting companies. No warrant required – they can basically help themselves with your data anytime they please and that is entirely legal.

Brazen, isn’t it ? It is called FISAA – for more details, take a look at this European Parliament report. And by the way, I believe that some strong reaction from the European Union has been long overdue.

The silver lining is that European hosts are making good business with everyone who won’t host their data in the USA anymore !

Africa and Military11 Jan 2013 at 17:47 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Koaci.com (usually not a bad source in Côte d’Ivoire) reports having learned from Malian military sources that two French helicopters formerly based in Burkina Faso have struck Islamist positions in Konna and Douentza during the night of Thursday to Friday, letting the Malian forces take back some of the lost ground.

An Eurocopter Tigre illustrates the article, but there is no reason to believe that Tigres are currently deployed around Mali.

I have attempted to find out the type of the two helicopters mentioned by Koaci.com, but I found no current information. That said, Algérie1.com mentioned last September that two Gazelles, arrived in a military base near Ouagadougou last September, to be assembled on site after shipping disassembled for more discretion. In October, Le Parisien confirmed the presence of two French Gazelles in Burkina. So odds are that those are the two that struck last night.

If they were Gazelle, which variant ? In Libya, even with NVG, Gazelles with a 20mm gun have soon been sidelined in reserve aboard Tonnerre and Mistral : most of the Gazelle missions have been performed by the HOT variant with the Viviane infrared sights – 425 HOT missiles have been shot in Libya. I would guess that given a similar environment, the same mode of operation has been adopted in Mali – so let’s say that at least one of the two is a Gazelle Viviane.

Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Mali… The old Gazelles still follow an impressive tempo ! ALAT does not seem in a hurry to retire them.

In Mali anyway, rugged and mature platforms such as the Gazelle are much better suited to the light expeditionary logistical support available locally – the precious Tiger might be able to sleep rough, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Update 20130111 18:48 – @AbouDjaffar guesses the mystery helos are Tigre. I stand by my Gazelle bet… We’ll know sooner or later !

Update 20130112 12:13 – Opex360 confirms that strikes have occured yesterday at 16:00, performed by 4ème Régiment d’Hélicoptères des Forces spéciales (RHFS) with Gazelles (HOT and 20mm)… So I guessed right !