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Who are the 'Terrorists'?

The changing
face of NATO
North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is comprised of the following member countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.

Major non-NATO ally.

Major non-NATO ally means a country that is designated in accordance with Sec. 517 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2321k) as a major non-NATO ally for purposes of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Arms Export Control Act

The following countries have been designated as major non-NATO allies: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Republic of Korea. Taiwan shall be treated as though it were designated a major non-NATO ally (as defined in section 644(q) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961

Federal Register: August 29, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 166)

NATO homepage

The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments. They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area. They are resolved to unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security. They therefore agree to this North Atlantic Treaty

The North Atlantic treaty

how does Operation Gladio square with this?

"I'd like to start off by noting that NATO is not a social club. It is not a fraternity. It is a military alliance. And therefore the potential members must be prepared to defend the alliance, and have the professional military forces to do it. NATO must continue to work by consensus -- whether we have 16 or 18 or 20 members. We must continue to work by consensus, and new members must respect this tradition which has allowed this consensus mode to function so effectively in the past. " Six Postulates for a Future NATO Defense Secretary William J. Perry to the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic, Seminar, Norfolk, Va., June 27, 1996.

NATO Expansion: An Ill-Conceived Plan Testimony of Vice Admiral John J. Shanahan, U.S. Navy (Ret.) Director, Center for Defense Information, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, November 5, 1997

"September 11 has created an entirely new context for NATO-Russia relations. It has highlighted that NATO and Russia share common concerns -- and that they need to address these concerns together. Hence our determination to go beyond consultation and to work constructively together on all the issues where we have what President Putin described to me as "the logic of common interest". " NATO in the 21st Century Speech by NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson. Charles University, Prague, 21 March 2002

"In a final look back at the ground we had covered, there was consensus that the Alliance was facing a crisis whose severity should not be underestimated. Above all, some thought, there needed to be clarity and consensus on the fundamental changes in the international situation which affected our security. It was suggested that among the reasons why the situation had become so inflamed were: a new and self-confident US Administration which, in its early days, had treated its allies as optional; the unique shock of 9/11 to America whose effects had been felt differently by the allies, and now deep divisions over Iraq. The first priority should be to seek ways of healing the wounds inflicted by the dispute over Iraq. While US/French relations had their own dynamic and no great change was likely, a major effort should be made by both sides to bring US/German relations back to normal. In Europe a serious attempt had to be made to convince public opinion of the value of NATO. " Ditchley Foundation
21-23 February 2003

Collective Defence: an Unequal Relationship

NATO's basic role is still supposed to be collective defence of its members, as set out in Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty, whereby NATO members agree "that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations , will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area."1

This constitutes a mechanism whereby the US will come to the defence of its European allies and vice versa. But given the differences in economic, political and military clout, this is an unequal relationship. As US Ambassador to NATO R. Nicholas Burns noted: "Europeans continue to rely on the US for the nuclear and conventional defence of the continent."2 In contrast, the US evidently does not rely on its allies for defence and is willing either to operate with them in 'coalitions of the willing' or unilaterally, without them.

On the only occasion when NATO actually invoked Article V, immediately following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US, many interpreted this as the allies attempting to restrain the Bush administration rather than coming to its defence.

Essentially, what US administrations - Democratic and Republican - traditionally want from their NATO allies is political and military support for US policy.

excerpt from NATO's Istanbul Challenge: Transformation or Irrelevance? Nicola Butler

Nato in Iraq?

2004: Bush Looks to Seal NATO Deal on Iraq Aid

June 27, 2004 - With European Union support in hand, President Bush looked to seal an agreement for NATO to help stabilize Iraq as its fledgling government takes over this week. He shrugged off lingering European resentment of the war, saying "We'll just let the chips fall where they may."

NATO announced an initial agreement to help train Iraq's armed forces hours after Bush won support Saturday from the 25-nation European Union. Nineteen of NATO's 26 members overlap in the EU, reported Sunday's China Daily.

As the path for NATO involvement appeared to open up, the EU took a gentle swipe at Bush over abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of American soldiers. The final communique declared, "We stress the need for full respect of the Geneva Conventions," an unstated but obvious reference to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the U.S. treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and elsewhere. The conventions refer to international accords setting out guidelines for the humane treatment of prisoners.

With Bush standing beside him, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern told a news conference in Ireland, "These things, unfortunately, happened. We wish they didn't, but they do. And what's important then is how they're dealt with, how things improve for the future."

Later aloft Air Force One on his way to the NATO summit in Ankara, Bush said U.S. armed forces are committed to complying with the conventions and that the acts of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were wrong. Bush issued the statement on a United Nations international day in support of victims of torture.

Bush is widely unpopular in Turkey, and his arrival Saturday in Ankara was preceded by a series of protests and bomb blasts, including one Thursday that injured three people outside the Ankara hotel where he will stay. Another blast that day on an Istanbul bus killed four people and injured 14. On Saturday, Turkish police fired tear gas as more than 150 left-wing demonstrators hurled rocks and used sticks to try and break down a police barricade during a protest ahead of Bush's arrival.

Throwing a cloud over Bush's visit, militants loyal to terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said they have kidnapped three Turkish workers in Iraq and threatened to behead them in 72 hours. The kidnappers demanded the Turks hold demonstrations protesting the visit by the "criminal" Bush and that Turkish companies stop working in Iraq.

In Ireland a few miles from where Bush spoke, thousands demonstrated against Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq.

Bush asserted that the bitter differences with European leaders over the Iraq war are over, declaring "a common interest and a common goal to help the Iraqi people."

Bush bristled at ongoing European criticism of his decision to invade Iraq, saying "we'll just let the chips fall where they may." Asked about his apparent lack of support in Europe, Bush said, "I must confess that the first polls I worry about are those that are going to take place in early November this year." The presidential election is Nov. 2.

The United States and the European Union agreed in a joint statement to back Iraq's request for NATO military help and support the training of Iraqi security forces, and to reduce Iraq's international debt, estimated to be $120 billion. NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said later that diplomats reached an initial agreement to respond positively to the Iraqi request. Nineteen of NATO's 26 members are in the EU.

Opposition led by France and Germany has prevented a NATO military role on the ground in Iraq. France and Germany have both gone along with the request to help training. Officials said the NATO summit would also announce agreement on plans to extend the alliance's peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan which is currently limited to the capital, Kabul, and the northern city of Kunduz. The plans to be adopted in Istanbul will extend the operation to five more northern cities through the deployment of small units to support civilian reconstruction.

Bush asked the EU to offer membership to Turkey, a key U.S. ally in the war against terror.

Iran's nuclear program was among the topics of concern at the summit in Ireland.

Participants said they were disturbed by Iran's intentions and insisted that the country be in full compliance with its international obligations not to create nuclear weapons.

In other declarations and statements issued at the close of the brief summit, the United States and EU agreed to:

_Better combat terrorism by sharing data on lost and stolen passports, work more closely on hunting down terrorist' financing networks and increasing cooperation between law enforcement agencies on both sides of the Atlantic.

_Expand cooperation to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.

_Back continued peace talks to end 20 years of civil conflict in southern Sudan, and advance efforts being made by the United Nations to bring peace to all Sudan and address humanitarian and human rights crises in Darfur in western Sudan.

On the economic side, the United States and the EU signed an agreement Saturday to make the EU's planned satellite navigation system compatible with the existing U.S. Global Positioning System. - english.people.com.cn

NATO blocked at customs check?

NATO equipment transport blocked at customs

Alecs Iancu - Bucharest - 24th Nov 2005 - A NATO transport of military equipment heading to bases in Iraq and Kosovo has been blocked in Nadlac border check point, in Arad County for several days because authorities have not yet given approval for the transport to cross the country.

A total of 29 trucks loaded with military equipment were at the Nadlac check point yesterday. Three of the trucks in the convoy are Romanian and are heading to the KFOR base in Kosovo. The rest are Turkish and are heading to Baghdad.

According to representatives of the transport company in Bucharest, the equipment was loaded in Hamburg and had crossed Austria and Hungary before reaching Romania. From here, the trucks will go to Kosovo through Bulgaria and Macedonia.

The owner of the company, Dan Fratila, said his firm has had a contract with German and American partners for special transports and explained that the convoy needs the approval of the Defense Ministry to leave the country. Romanian drivers have been blocked in the check point for two days, while the Turks have been there for seven days.

The drivers said they do not know exactly what they are carrying, as the equipment is locked in special containers. They also said they had no problems in any of the countries they went through before getting to Romania.

An official inside the Defense Ministry initially refused to comment on the situation, but later yesterday, a ministry spokesman said the transport received approval to leave the country. - daily-news

2005: NATO to take over in Afghanistan....

NATO to take over all of Afghanistan security by 2006, says General

Thursday 4th August, 2005 - A top NATO commander says international peacekeeping troops under NATO command in Afghanistan will be ready to assume responsibility for security across all of Afghanistan by the end of next year.

The statement comes as Italy has taken over command of the 8,000-strong International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan for the next six months from Turkey. The commander-in-chief of NATO forces in Northern Europe, General Gerhard Back, says the international peacekeeping force (ISAF) deployed in Afghanistan remains committed to providing support to the Afghan government and the election process in the country.

He was speaking to reporters in Kabul Thursday after the handover of the ISAF command from Turkey to Italy.

The international peacekeeping force plans to increase its size to take over security operations from the U.S. led anti-terror coalition battling militants in the south and southeast of Afghanistan. The United States has long sought such a move, hoping it will free up many of its nearly 18,000 frontline troops to go after al-Qaida and Taleban militants in Afghanistan. General Back says NATO's plans to expand security operations will mark an import step in terms of commitment and policy toward Afghanistan.

"We are also squaring up to NATO from the [U.S-led] coalition a much greater share of the responsibility of providing security support to the [Afghan] government," he said. "The aim is to take on this responsibility in the rest of the country, probably next year, first in the south and then in the east."

The NATO-led international security force already maintains security in Kabul and across parts of northern and western provinces in Afghanistan.

As elections scheduled for September draw near, there has been increased violence in the country by remnants of the Taleban and al-Qaida militants, particularly in the south and east.

General Back says that there is still much to be done to overcome forces posing a threat to stability in Afghanistan.

"While remnants of the militants continue to seek instability and chaos through fear and intimidation, the main threats to security are now the illegally armed groups, criminality and the all-prevailing narcotics trade," he added.

In another development, the United States and Afghanistan have agreed in principle to gradually transfer most Afghans in U.S custody to the Afghan government. U.S.-led forces have captured scores of suspected Afghan terrorists in operations in the past three years.

A joint statement issued in Kabul Thursday said the government of Afghanistan will accept responsibility for the returning Afghan citizens and will work to ensure that they do not pose a continuing threat to Afghanistan and or foreign troops deployed there. - BNN

2005: NATO opium Protection racket Afghanistan....

Nato-controlled Afghan regions record huge increase in opium production

September 23, 2005 By: Justin Huggler The Independent

Massive increases in drug production have been recorded in regions of Afghanistan where Nato is operating, just as the country counts votes from its first parliamentary elections.

A report from the UN office on drugs and crime recorded an overall decline in the area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan from about 131,000 hectares in 2004 to 104,000 hectares in 2005.

But the document says that the figures mask massive regional differences, with opium production increasing 106 per cent in the north of the country, 98 per cent in the west and 30 per cent in the south. The report is an embarrassment to Washington and London as they claim stability and progress in Afghanistan.

"The strongest increases were in the north and west where Nato is operating," said Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the UN office on drugs and crime. "This needs to be brought to the attention of Nato."

Two western military operations are present in Afghanistan. The US-led coalition, which entered the country after the September 11 attacks of 2001, is on a mission to eradicate the remnants of the Taliban in Operation Enduring Freedom. Since December 2003, Nato's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has been increasing its presence by establishing so-called Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) in the north and west. The UN document shows a 334 per cent increase in production in the region of Balkh, despite the presence of a PRT at Mazar-e- Sharif. The picture is similar in the west with a 348 per cent rise in Farah where ISAF is also present. Meanwhile officials are alarmed at the 162 per cent rise in Kandahar.

Speaking in Brussels after meetings with EU and Nato officials, Mr Costa said: "It looks like the country is dedicating some of its best agricultural land to the cultivation of opium. Is it a coincidence or is it because they feel that they are less threatened by ISAF?"

A Nato spokesman said: "We are aware of the problem and reducing the cultivation of poppy will be an effort of the international community." - independent

2005: NATO role changing to Global corporate protectionists...

The NATO commander's remarks, which signal a fundamental new direction for an alliance that for decades was designed to meet a conventional Soviet military threat, came as two former top NATO generals issued a highly critical new report on the military state of the alliance.

NATO Means Business To Protect Pipelines

By Martin Walker Prague, Czech Republic (UPI) Oct 13, 2005

NATO's top military commander is seeking an important new security role for private industry and business leaders as part of a new security strategy that will focus on the economic vulnerabilities of the 26-country alliance.

Two immediate and priority projects for NATO officials to develop with private industry are to secure the pipelines bringing Russian oil and gas to Europe against terrorist attacks and to secure ports and merchant shipping, the alliance Supreme Commander, Gen. James Jones of the U.S. Marine Corps said Wednesday.

A further area of NATO interest to secure energy supplies could be the Gulf of Guinea off the West African coast, Jones noted, where piracy, theft, political unrest and tensions between Islam and Christianity combined to present "a serious security problem." Oil companies were already spending more than a billion dollars a year on security in the region, he noted, pointing to the need for NATO and business to confer on the common security concern.

"We need a new alliance and a new awareness of the role of industry and business," Jones told the Program on Atlantic Security Studies in Prague at a conference held alongside former Czech President Vaclav Havel's annual Forum 2000 meetings.

"In the future, we will need heads of industry sitting down with NATO to talk about the security of the industrial base," Jones said, adding he intended to push for these changes at the next summit of the alliance in 2006.

Without specifying which new members may join, Jones told the conference "the future is that the alliance will continue to grow, beyond the current 26 members," and that they would face the complex new threats of the post-Sept. 11 world.

"Terrorism, narco-trafficking, illegal immigration are all closely connected, and you could say that all our NATO members are already under attack," he went on, adding NATO was being reconfigured from the Cold War's purely military machine to the new demands of peacekeeping, preventive and humanitarian operations.

NATO was now able to react much faster, Jones went on, pointing out humanitarian assistance for the U.S. victims of Hurricane Katrina was agreed upon and on the way to the region within 24 hours.

NATO assistance for the victims of the Pakistani earthquake was already deployed in the region, he added. Similar rethinking of NATO's traditional role was also required for the post-conflict phase of military operations, he said in what sounded like a discreet comment on the situation in Iraq.

"We have got to have in our planning kit a way that immediately after the conflict to turn the society around and make it better," he said. "You have to have a complete package in the 21st century to deal with the aftermath of crisis."

The NATO commander's remarks, which signal a fundamental new direction for an alliance that for decades was designed to meet a conventional Soviet military threat, came as two former top NATO generals issued a highly critical new report on the military state of the alliance.

The report, issued by former Supreme Commander Gen. Joe Ralston from the United States and German Gen. Klaus Naumann, said Europe's elected leaders had "lacked the political will" to increase defense budgets sufficiently to fund modernization and inter-operability of equipment among the alliance's 26 members. This would have to be fixed fast, the two retired generals concluded in a 97-page report that they have been researching for the past year.

"Failure meaningfully to improve NATO's collective defense capabilities in the coming years would have profoundly negative effects on the ability of European countries to protect their interests, on the viability of NATO as an alliance, and on the ability of Europe to participate in a meaningful way with the United States," the report says.

The report came as the new German government under center-right Chancellor-elect Angela Merkel began grappling with the economic problems of the sluggish German economy with its federal budget now facing its fourth year in a row of breaching the euro-zone official limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product. While U.S. officials and other NATO partners urged Germany to boost its defense spending beyond a very low 1.1 percent of GDP, Merkel has little room for maneuver.

Jones's remarks in Prague should be seen in the context of low defense spending in Europe, little progress on plans for common procurement of big budget military hardware, and the lingering political differences between NATO allies over the Iraq war. Bringing the corporate sector into NATO's councils, if only in a consulting or advisory capacity, could put extra pressure on cash-strapped European governments to increase defense spending in the name of industrial security. - spacewar.com

2005: NATO corporate privateers...

NATO, European Command Working in Africa

Blackanthem.com, WASHINGTON, D.C., October 29, 2005

The United States and Europe are paying increasing attention to the problems of Africa, NATO's supreme allied commander for operations, said. Marine Gen. James L. Jones, who also is commander of U. S. European Command, said NATO and American efforts on the continent should be aimed at helping the Africans realize their economic potential. The developed countries must do this so African nations "don't become the Afghanistans and Iraqs of the future," he said during an Oct. 20 Pentagon news conference.

Since 1994, NATO has engaged in the Mediterranean Dialogue with North African nations. The dialogue covers problems such as terrorism, immigration and drug trafficking. In addition, NATO is supporting the African Union effort in Darfur, Sudan. U. N. officials estimate that between 180,000 and 300,000 people in Darfur have been killed and almost 2 million are refugees. U. N. officials said more than 200,000 refugees have fled to Chad.

Almost 8,000 African Union troops are in the region, and NATO is providing logistical support, airlift and some expertise.

A number of NATO countries maintain relationships with countries formerly their colonies and with whom they now have constructive encounters. "The most recent phenomenon is that the United States now is paying more attention to problems surrounding Africa," Jones said. "And we believe that proactive investment is always cheaper than reactive investment. "

Jones said the happenings in Liberia illustrate the problem. He said that when Liberia falls into civil war, the United States - working with African allies -- sends troops in to evacuate foreigners and separate the fighters. "(Then we) leave and then come back two or three years later and wonder why we're back," he said. "A better answer is to leave a small, focused, tailored force as presence - military and civilian alike - to help a country like Liberia get through this difficult period. "

The teams could help the Liberians institute law and order, institute economic reforms, train its armed forces to support democratic values and be there for them as they help themselves into the future, the general said. "That model is what we're trying to export to sub-Saharan Africa to the northern rim and to anyone else who wants to have a relationship with the United States," he said.

Africa is the poorest continent and is a fertile ground for terrorism. "We already have evidence of fighters going from Africa across the Balkans and through a well-known route and spending some time in Iraq and Afghanistan and then migrating back to Africa," Jones said.

The danger, of course, is that these fighters gain experience in the Middle East and import jihad back to their countries. "You have teachers who can come back to their villages and marshal the easily led people who have no hope, no aspirations," he said.

European Command has sponsored small grass-roots efforts throughout sub-Saharan Africa. These exercises are tailored to the area and people and include not just the military in the form of special operations forces, but also the State Department, U. S. Agency for International Development, the Department of Agriculture and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

"The American presence is valued as long as we do it the right way," Jones said. "(There has to be a) commitment on the part of the United States to help African help themselves in a way that preserves their dignity and is not neo-colonialist, and a way that allows (African nations) to join the family of productive economic nations whose best days are ahead of them. "

By Jim Garamone American Forces Press Service

humanitarian disaster relief or Corporate PR stunt?

Nato builds shelters for quake disaster victims

14/11/2005 - Nato forces were setting up winter shelters high in the mountains of Pakistan's earthquake zone today, as doctors rushed to immunise children against measles and other diseases before snows cut off remote areas. Working with Pakistan's army, Nato teams planned to operate at altitudes above 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) for as long as weather allowed, Nato said in a news release.

The wood and metal shelters are designed to provide better protection from the harsh Himalayan winter than the tents now being distributed.

"We are sending these teams up the mountains to reach those most vulnerable to the bitter winter weather rapidly descending there," the commander of the Nato relief team, Air Commodore Andrew Walton, was quoted as saying.

More than 86,000 people died in the 7.6 magnitude temblor that struck October 8. Hundreds of thousands remain without shelter as overnight temperatures begin to drop toward freezing. Weather was clear and sunny today in Muzaffarabad, near the quake's epicentre, but snow has already begun falling on mountain villages higher up.

Four Nato helicopters are flying alongside those from the US, Britain and international aid agencies as part of an air bridge carrying food, shelter and medical aid to quake survivors in remote areas.

Further worrying emergency workers, at least 21 people died in a pair of bus crashes in the quake zone yesterday. Police said the accidents were still under investigation, but said such frequently overcrowded and poorly maintained vehicles have been speeding and carrying more passengers than usual to take advantage of increased demand.

Many roads in the Muzaffarabad area were blocked by landslides sparked by the quake or simply disappeared over the sides of cliffs, making land travel in the area extremely dangerous.

Meanwhile, UN and Pakistani teams over the weekend launched a crash campaign to vaccinate about 1.2 million children under age 15 in remote parts of the quake area against measles, diphtheria, polio and other illnesses.

However, Edward Hoekstra, a senior health adviser for UNICEF who was overseeing the program, said another 4 million dollars was needed to complete the program over the next 2-3 weeks.

Without that "we will not be able to complete the whole activity, which means large numbers of vulnerable children will remain unprotected," Hoekstra said during a visit today to villages on the outskirts of Muzaffarabad.

"Assistance is not now at a level that we expect," Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said in an interview with CNN broadcast Monday.

Also yesterday, the US State Department's top official for public diplomacy, Karen Hughes, was leading a delegation on a tour of the quake area in a bid to boost private and corporate giving for reconstruction. - IOL

Nato fail to respond to potential Baltic air threat?

NATO to strengthen airspace patrol in Baltic countries

The commander of Lithuania's armed forces said on Tuesday NATO was to take measures to enhance its efficiency of airspace patrol in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, said press reports reaching here from Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General James Jones, is drafting a report to figure out the current military infrastructure in the Baltic countries and put forward proposals to improve efficiency of the alliance's airspace patrol in the region, Valdas Tutkus said.

Since the three countries joined NATO in March last year, the patrol of their airspace has been carried out alternately between NATO member states.

Tutkus said the NATO report would be partly based on conclusions and proposals made by Lithuania's military authorities in the wake of an incident involving a Russian Su-27 jet fighter. A Russian Su-27 jet fighter crashed on Sept. 15 in Lithuania during a flight across the NATO member country to the Russian Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, and the pilot ejected safely. The plane, which was thought to be carrying an aircraft identification system when it went down after an unauthorized entry into Lithuania's airspace, crashed some 20 minutes after takeoff. A German fighter, which was then responsible for the patrol of the country's airspace, took off only after the crash.

Lithuanian media expressed doubts about NATO's ability to protect the country's airspace in an efficient way, suspecting that the incident could have been made deliberately by Russia to test Lithuania's airspace surveillance and the efficiency of NATO's airspace patrol.

On Nov. 9, the three Baltic countries decided at a meeting of defense ministers to set up a command center in order to raise the efficiency of their air defense systems and of NATO's airspace patrol. Tutkus said NATO's leadership has given a positive response to the proposal. - english.people.com.cn

Nato threat to Russian sphere of influence?

NATO to deploy peacemakers in Caucasus to oust Russia and encircle Iran

No one has evinced any interest in the suggestion from the alliance yet

11/11/2005 - NATO is trying to intensify its activities in Russia's Caucasus. NATO officials have recently released two important statements. They particularly expressed their readiness to deploy NATO peacemakers in the conflict area of Nagorno Karabakh and render assistance in the cessation of long-standing hostility between Armenia and Turkey.

NATO officer in charge of communication with South Caucasus, Romualds Razhuks, stated that NATO could deploy its peacemaking contingent in Nagorno Karabakh. The officer specified that such a measure could be possible upon the agreement of all parts involved in the conflict. Razhuks stressed out that NATO would conduct close cooperation with the OCSE, since this organization plays the leading role in the conflict zone.

None of the sides of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict has supported the suggestion from the top NATO official yet. State officials from Armenia, Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan withheld comments on the matter.

NATO also remembers that Armenia has been in conflict relations with one of its member-countries, Turkey. Armenia wants Turkey to acknowledge that the Turks conducted genocide against Armenians and slaughtered over 1.5 million people in 1915, although Turkey strongly refuses to do it. "We realize that Armenia has serious problems with Turkey. Turkey is a member of NATO, but we believe that NATO should be used as a forum to solve current problems," NATO SecGen's Special Representative for the South Caucasus and Central Asia, Robert Simmons said.

Pravda.Ru asked the chairman of the Caucasus Department of the CIS Institute, Mikhail Alexandrov, to comment on NATO's intention to interfere in political affairs on the post-Soviet space.

"If the feuding parties of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict agree upon the deployment of NATO peacemakers in the area, the alliance will definitely consider the issue. It was a rather diplomatic suggestion on the part of the alliance, which will continue offering its services in the future too. NATO has two major objectives in the Caucasus: to oust Russia and encircle Iran. The alliance would also like to affect Central Asia and threaten China afterwards.

"For the time being, however, the offer to deploy NATO peacemakers in Nagorno Karabakh is not good for any parts of the conflict. If Azerbaijan could agree upon it, it would ruin its relations with Russia and Iran. The latter has repeatedly protested against NATO's presence in the region. This is something that Azerbaijan cannot afford.

"Armenia and Karabakh do not want to lose Russia's support. There are certain pro-Western sentiments, but the West will eventually make Armenia acknowledge that Nagorno Karabakh is an Azeri constituent. Armenia is much less important for the West as opposed to Azerbaijan: this republic is rich with oil and has access to the Caspian Sea too.

"NATO officials have been dwelling upon the subject of Turkey's relations with Armenia for years already. However, things still remain as they are: Armenia and Turkey do not have diplomatic relations with each other. The question of acknowledging the 1915 genocide carried out by Turkey is the bone of contention in the relations between Turkey and Armenia. This is not only a matter of a formal official statement: it may follow with financial and even territorial claims. Turkish diplomacy is rather experienced to take up such an initiative at this point. Turkey does not acknowledge the fact of genocide even if it becomes an obstacle for its EU membership. Armenia, in its turn, is not going to give up its requirement," Mikhail Alexandrov said.

Ivan Shmelev - pravda

Not according to this

2006: NATO to be Global 'anti-terror' army

Russia, NATO to discuss compatibility of anti-terror military units

BRUSSELS, November 10 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and NATO are set to discuss the compatibility of military units in counter-terrorism efforts in 2006, the Russian senior military representative to NATO said Thursday.

"We will open this cooperation sphere for the first time next year," Vice Admiral Valentin Kuznetsov said.

He said Chief of the Russian General Staff Yury Baluyevsky and NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe General James Jones would discuss these prospects at a bilateral meeting in Mons, Belgium November 14.

Russia will join NATO's Active Endeavor counter-terrorism operation in the Mediterranean in early 2006, Kuznetsov said. He noted that Russia and NATO would also hold a joint air defense exercise in Moscow next year. - en.rian.ru

Aznar slams NATO, calls for terror focus

By GARETH HARDING UPI Chief European Correspondent BRUSSELS, Nov. 17 (UPI) --

NATO's relevance in the modern world depends on severe rebranding, a new FAES pamphlet insists. The new NATO should become an "Alliance for Freedom," with a focus on defeating Islamic terrorism, urges the study by former Spanish premier Jose Maria Aznar and members of the conservative think tank. Aznar's controversial statement was joined by a recommendation to reach beyond traditional NATO borders and invite Israel, Australia, and Japan to join the security body.

"NATO is at a crossroads," writes Aznar in the foreword to the pamphlet. "It may choose the path of continuity, risking becoming marginal to the security needs of its members, or, alternatively, it could walk the path of strategic change."

The changes proposed by Aznar and the report's authors amount to nothing less than a complete overhaul of the 26-member alliance, which was founded in 1949 to contain the threat posed by the Soviet Union.

"Nazism gave way to communism as an existential threat to Western democracies," writes Aznar. "After living in a decade of a false peace, we, today, are facing a new existential threat, Islamist terrorism, and NATO must give an answer to that."

At present, the report contends, the alliance is ill-equipped to deal with the threat posed by Islamic Jihadists. It accuses the organization of stumbling from crisis to crisis in search of a post cold-war raison d'etre, of having no shared mission and of failing to protect its citizens from both internal and external terrorist attacks.

"It is very difficult to explain how the biggest and best military apparatus of all time could become a decisive tool for ensuring the security of others, as in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, but fail to play a role in Europe when it comes to guaranteeing the security of its citizens against Islamic terrorist attacks," the report states.

The solutions proposed by FAES are as radical as the criticism it heaps on the alliance. It calls for NATO to be renamed the "Alliance for Freedom" and for its members to agree a new mission statement that would put defeating Islamic extremism at the heart of its policies. It urges a new homeland security dimension to NATO's activities, bringing interior ministers into the body's decision-making process. And it says the alliance should take a more muscular approach to stop weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists and rogue regimes.

Aznar, whose party lost power after a series of deadly terrorist attacks on commuter trains in Madrid last year, believes terrorism will only be defeated if the alliance uses a combination of military hardware and political persuasion. As well as nation building, NATO should promote democracy building, says the center-right politician who lead Spain for eight years. Among the report's proposals are to set up a "partnership for freedom" -- aimed mainly at the countries of the greater Middle East -- that would mirror the alliance's partnership for freedom project with former Soviet states.

The report acknowledges that the eastern enlargement of the bloc to take in former communist countries has been a success story. However, it calls for an expansion of the military club that would make most Brussels officials choke on their sprouts. It says Japan, Australia and Israel should be offered NATO membership and that Colombia and India should join the partnership for freedom. The paper, which was presented in Washington Wednesday and will be launched in Brussels at the end of the month, concludes by saying that if NATO fails to reform it will not only become irrelevant, but that the security of its citizens will be compromised.

"Failing to take action or taking measures too late in this era of mass terrorism is tantamount to condemning large numbers of compatriots to death."

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a NATO official told United Press International that 10,000 alliance troops were already fighting terrorists in the mountains of Afghanistan and warships from the military club were busy keeping the Mediterranean safe from terrorist threats.

However, the official added: "NATO cannot do everything. The bulk of the counter-terrorist work lies with nation states and the role of the military in defending against terrorism is limited."

Pouring cold water on another of the report's suggestions, the official added there was no consensus to use NATO to conduct counter-terrorism operations in alliance member states and that any extension of the bloc to take in non-European countries would require a change to the alliance's original charter. - upi.com

Note: oil rises in price after terror attacks

NATO history includes operation Gladio, which had the aim of creating synthetic terror to justify a hard line against political enemies. It also has a direct link to train & equp programs in South America, Asia and The Middle East

NATO will be expanded in Afghanistan...and Iraq


November 15, 2005 - NATO aircraft have been flying over Syria's borders in order to send a strong warning to Syrian President Bashar Al-Asad, according to the Kuwaiti A-Siyasah.

The over-flights are taking place above the borders with Turkey and Iraq, and include photographing the areas. The Syrian coastal region is also included in the flights.

"European diplomatic sources" said the flights are a warning to the Syrian regime indicating what can happen if President Al-Asad does not comply with international demands.

The United Nations recently approved Resolution 1636, which demands that Syria cooperate with the international commission investigating the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri. The resolution's warning of "further action" if Syria does not comply is interpreted by many to mean possible military action.

Senior Syrian officials were implicated in the commission's report.

The sources also said Al-Asad is inciting Shi'ite factions in Lebanon, such as Hizbullah and Amal, against the Lebanese government. Syria withdrew its forces from Lebanon earlier this year, ending a 29-year presence in the neighboring country.

The sources said France and the United States are considering sending arms and provisions to the Lebanese army in case of a violent resistance against the government. - themedialine.org

METO - Middle Eastern NATO?

When Stalin first got his atom bomb in 1949 even France was eager to join NATO. Today Europe is bored with NATO and hates America, but only because it is not afraid of Russia right now. Just as France and Germany were happy to accept a US nuclear umbrella in 1949, so Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and all the rest will be ready for a credible defense pact against Iranian nuclear attack.

Anyone who still doubts that Iran is going for nukes is simply deluded. The Iranians have dispersed their facilities, so they are difficult to take out by force. Iranian missiles will soon reach a thousand miles or more, and other Muslim countries are also at risk. The only known solution is containment by a ring of nations fearful of attack. That is what worked in Europe against the Soviets, and in Asia against Mao's hyperaggressive China.

No country but the US can guarantee a credible nuclear umbrella, because no one believes that Paris, Berlin, or Moscow will retaliate if another country is attacked. The United States is therefore essential for any nuclear defense pact. With luck, we will also have a working anti-missile defense in half a dozen years.

The result of the Iranian nukes could therefore be a Middle East Treaty Organization, a NATO for the region. METO would be needed as long as the Iranians were a threat, perhaps for decades, as nuclear capabilities continue to spread around the world. A recent report suggests that the new head of the Tehran regime, Ahmadi-Nezhad, is a true fanatic who believes in the glories of suicidal martyrdom. Whether he is willing to risk thousands or even millions of his own people to "wipe Israel off the map" is anybody's guess. But we would be fools to ignore his words. Fanatics often mean what they say.

The situation is therefore very similar to the early years of NATO, when a militant Stalin was rattling his missiles in Moscow, just as Mao Zedong did a few years later. Even the words are similar.

For Iran to attack Israel with weapons of mass destruction would be suicide. Such an attack is therefore not likely, though not impossible, given the new chief's martyrdom complex. Nuclear blackmail against Iran's neighbors is much more likely. The goal of METO would therefore be to establish a common defense alliance among Arab and North African countries. Implicitly, such an alliance must have understandings with Israel as well; while Israel doesn't pose an offensive threat to anyone, its 200 nuclear weapons must be coordinated with any METO force. - american thinker

Georgia completes first NATO-standard military base

November 20, 2005 - Georgia on Saturday inaugurated its first military base that meets NATO standards.

"This is a historic event for Georgia, as this is the first military base for our armed forces which fully meets NATO standards," President Mikhail Saakashvili said when inaugurating the base.

Located some 320 km northwest of the capital Tbilisi, the military base contains training facilities and accommodation for troops.

Saakashvili, who was elected president in 2004, has promised to work toward NATO membership for the Caucasian state. After years of negotiations, Tbilisi struck a deal on May 30 with Moscow on the pullout of Russian bases in Georgia's Black Sea port of Batumi and the southern city of Akhalkalaki by 2008. - Chinas people Daily

Iraq Receives T-72s & BMPs - Another Armored Brigade Planned

Posted 21-Nov-2005 - DID [defense industry daily] can now close out the story of the 77 refurbished Hungarian T-72s that will equip Iraq's 9th Army Division (Mechanized). MNF-I's Nov. 12, 2005 issue of The Advisor magazine notes that the division took delivery of the tanks over three days at their HQ in Taji, north of Baghdad. The delivery culminated on Veterans Day, and also included 36 tracked BMP infantry fighting vehicles, 4 armored recovery vehicles and several containers of parts and weaponry.

T-72: Arrival

Hungary had approached Iraq earlier this year about donating the T-72 tanks; another country offered to donate 500 BMPs through NATO, but Iraq accepted only 100 of them. The remaining 64 BMPs are expected in the coming months.

Further growth is also planned for Iraq's lone armored division, whose story thus far has been little short of inspirational.

The 9th Division's 1st Brigade currently has a battalion of early-1960s era T-55 tanks, plus two mechanized battalions built around Soviet MT-LB and BMP armored personnel carriers. The division also has one support battalion at present. Admiring reports have cited their work and professionalism, describing the division as 'built from a junkyard' out of salvaged vehicles and parts thanks to the mechanical expertise of the Iraqis.

The T-72s and BMPs will equip the 9th division's 2nd Brigade with two tank battalions and one mechanized battalion, said Iraq's Gen. Bashar, who also noted that the division expects to form a third brigade within the next year.

Under Saddam, only the most elite troops had T-72s - so their arrival means a lot for Iraqi morale. Lt. Col. Saleem, commander of the 1st tank Battalion, 2nd Brigade noted simply:

"We have no trouble using these types of tanks and maintaining them... The soldiers are very happy because now we have enough weapons to kill the terrorists in our country."

The 45-ton T-72 medium tanks can move as fast as 60 km/h and fire up to eight 125mm rounds a minute with their auto-loaders and a three-man crew. Installed laser range-finders give some fire on the move capability, allowing the tank to shoot accurately while moving at speeds up to 20 km/h. The pictures DID saw did not show reactive armor on the tanks, which are important for full protection against some RPGs.

Although the vehicles were donated, the cost of refurbishing and shipping them here was covered by Iraq's Ministry of Defense, which paid about $4.5 million. NATO handled much of the logistics of the effort. As part of its assistance to Iraq, the Alliance - through the NATO Training and Equipment Coordination Group - established at NATO Headquarters on October 2004 - is coordinating training and equipment provided by NATO countries to Iraq on a bilateral basis.

To date, NATO has delivered some 26,000 light weapons, 200 RPGs, 10,000 helmets and more than 9.3 million rounds of ammunition to Iraq.

The T-72 tanks will be operational prior to the Iraq's December 2005 legislative assembly elections. - defenseindustrydaily

UZBEKISTAN: NATO ban will not impact on Afghan operations

KABUL, 25 November (IRIN) - A decision by Uzbekistan to no longer allow European North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members to use its territory or airspace, would not have an impact on the work of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) - currently led by NATO - in neighbouring Afghanistan, an ISAF official said on Thursday.

"It is not envisaged that this will affect ISAF's mission which indeed is set to expand to provide security assistance to the Afghan government throughout the south in 2006 and eventually the whole of the country," Maj Andrew Elmes, ISAF spokesman in Kabul, said.

Uzbekistan told the European members of NATO that it would no longer allow them to use its airspace or territory as a rear base for their peacekeeping operations in neighbouring Afghanistan, NATO officials said on Wednesday. The ban will take effect from 1 January and it is being viewed as a response to an EU decision to impose visa bans on 12 top Uzbek officials and an arms embargo on Uzbekistan, following the mass killings in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan in May. Uzbek security forces were involved in the quelling of a rebellion in the city in which hundreds of people were reportedly killed. The Uzbek authorities, however, put the number at 187 and said they were mostly "foreign-paid terrorists".

"Countries contributing to ISAF use a number of bases in the country and the region, including Dushanbe [in Tajikistan], Dubai [in UAE] and airports within Afghanistan and it is trusted that this will allow the continuation of their support to their troops and bases, be it in Kabul or the ISAF provincial reconstruction teams around the north and west.

The decision is most likely to affect Germany which uses a Uzbek base to provide backup for the troops in Afghanistan.

Germany is seeking alternative sites for an airbase it currently operates in Uzbekistan as a staging post for its forces flying to and from Afghanistan, an official said in Berlin on Thursday.

German government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said talks were also going on with NATO about alternative sites.

Tashkent ordered US troops to leave the air base built at its southwestern Khanabad Airport after Washington condemned the May crackdown.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Thursday that Moscow had no plans to take over the Khanabad base vacated by US troops this week.

"We have no plans on this account," the Interfax news agency quoted Ivanov as saying on a visit to the Russian city of Perm in the Urals.

Russia has "an airbase at Kant, which is developing and we don't need new bases," he said, referring to a Russian installation in the Central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan, which neighbours Uzbekistan. Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Uzbek leader Islam Karimov signed an alliance treaty providing for mutual assistance in case of aggression.

- alertnet.org

Russia slams US, NATO influence in Central Asia

MOSCOW (AFP) Nov 29, 2005 - A senior Russian official hit out Tuesday at the US and NATO presence in the former Soviet Central Asian states, accusing Washington of inflaming tensions in the volatile region on Russia's border and undermining local efforts to boost security there.

Igor Ivanov, the head of Russia's Security Council, painted a critical picture of US influence from Baghdad to Kabul and highlighted the case of the Central Asian states. "Stability is lacking in Afghanistan and Iraq. The situation in the South Caucasus is also difficult," he was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying at a meeting of a regional security bloc led by Russia, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation. "The pressure that NATO and US political and military structures exert on Central Asia is heightening tension in the area of responsibility" of the Collective Security Treaty group, Ivanov added.

Moscow has long considered the Central Asian states to be Russia's sphere of influence and has viewed with alarm Washington's rising profile in the region, especially since the 2001 overthrow of Afghanistan's Taliban leadership. Russia this month scored a symbolic victory over Washington however when it signed a mutual defence pact with Uzbekistan, a move that followed Uzbekistan's ejection of a US air base amid deteriorating relations between Tashkent and the United States.

Uzbekistan followed that up with an announcement last Wednesday that its territory and airspace would henceforth be closed for use by military forces from nearly all countries of the US-led North American Treaty Organization (NATO), Germany being an exception. Ivanov on Tuesday reiterated that Russia had no plans to establish new Russian military bases in Central Asia, beyond those it has in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

"Currently the establishing of additional bases is not planned," he said. - via spacewar.com

2005: Global surveillance - The TIPS consortium

NATO Allies have long recognized that an airborne ground surveillance capability is essential to the effectiveness and safety of modern military forces. Allies also realized that, owing to the complexity and expense of such new systems, the best solution for the Alliance would be a system commonly owned and operated among Allied nations, much along the lines of NATO's airborne AWACS system.

In 2002, a transatlantic team of companies offered a solution that met the military requirements of the Alliance, built on proven, fielded systems while taking advantage of the industrial capabilities of the best European and North American talents in the area of radar and network enabling capabilities. This group of companies, known for their title as TIPS (Transatlantic Industrial Proposed Solution) offered a cost effective, best value system of systems that offers significant growth for the future.

The TIPS AGS System consists of a mixed fleet of Airbus A321 and NATO Global Hawk high altitude, long endurance Unmanned Arial Vehicles (UAV) as well as mobile, transportable and fixed Ground Stations. The Transatlantic Cooperative AGS Radar (TCAR), a European/ US jointly developed radar, is the key to the high class performance of TIPS. It provides real time data of ground movements and infrastructure and can be used for NATO missions as well as for European Union Petersberg Tasks. It will be also available to NATO and EU missions such as border surveillance, antiterrorist campaigns and crisis management.

Building on lessons learned from recent activities worldwide, the NATO AGS system will provide NATO with informational superiority, a key ingredient for 21st Century conflict resolution. The data produced by the AGS system will be available to all participating nations, giving political and military leaders with the same situational assessment - necessary for strategic and operational decisions and the tailoring of the response to provide efficient employment of forces

Precision use of forces, possible through guaranteed information superiority in their engagement reduces own risks significantly and saves lives of NATO and EU soldiers.

Police raid France's Thales in corruption probe

PARIS (AFP) Dec 21, 2005 - French police have raided the headquarters of French defence electronics group Thales as part of a probe into corruption allegations by a former executive of the group. The raid, mid-Tuesday, was carried out by around 10 police officers with investigating judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke, sources close to the inquiry said.

Michel Josserand, former head of Thales' engineering and consulting unit, accused Thales of corrupt practices during an investigation into the attribution of contracts for a tramway system under construction in the French town of Nice.

Magistrates in Paris opened an investigation in July as a result of Josserand's claims. But in a newspaper interview later in September, he gave a detailed description of the alleged system, accusing the company of organising a centralised slush fund to bribe and corrupt officials to win contracts. At the time the company issued a formal denial of the allegations, stressing that Josserand had been sacked for his involvement in "irregularities".

A company spokesman said on Tuesday Thales was offering its full cooperation, but declined to give details of the raid. "Thales intends to totally cooperation with the judicial authorities in this matter, the spokesman said.

At the time of the allegations the company filed a complaint against Le Monde, which carried the allegations, and Josserand for defamation. In comments published by the respected French daily, Josserand alleged that Thales had constructed a secret internal system to pay commissions that totalled as much as two percent of the company's annual sales.

Last year, Thales posted sales of 10.5 billion euros (12.7 billion dollars). Josserand said the system was known only to a few people in the Thales holding company, Thales International, and the executives at the top of the group. - spacewar.com

NATO Signs Initial $26M Contract for AGS 'Eye in the Sky'

Posted 03-May-2005 - NATO said it would sign a EUR 20 million ($26 million) contract on Thursday with a transatlantic consortium led by the Melbourne, FL operations of Northrop Grumman and by Europe's EADS. The consortium beat out a competing group led by Raytheon for the design phase of an "eye in the sky" called the Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) System. AGS would be a European version of Northrop Grumman's E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (J-STARS), but based on an Airbus A321 airframe. In addition to Northrop-Grumman and EADS, the winning Trans-Atlantic Industrial Proposed Solution (TIPS) team included General Dynamics Canada, French defense firm Thales, Spain's Indra and Italy's Galileo Avionica.

The initial award proves that the nearly two dozen member nations could agree on funding for the program. NATO is due to decide by early 2006 whether the alliance will go ahead with the full EUR 4 billion ($5.2 billion) program.

The full AGS would include a mixed fleet of both manned and unmanned aircraft, as well as supporting ground stations. The manned portion would initially call for 5 Airbus A321 aircraft, while the unmanned portion would consist of 7 Northrop-Grumman Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles.

Northrop-Grumman officials note that its $250 million E-8C J-STARS, based on the Boeing 707 airframe but with ground-searching radar integrated into its belly, also began as a 5-6 plane order in 1985. The company recently delivered its 17th and final E-8 J-STARS aircraft, which has performed well in both Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Northrop Grumman, which employs about 2,000 people around Melbourne and Daytona Beach, said it plans to shift 25 workers to the program this year and could add 100 engineering positions on the contract next year. The jobs would pay an average of $75,000 a year. - defense industry daily.com

EADS Military Barrakuda UCAV rolls out

Unofficial photos have emerged of EADS Military Air Systems' Barrakuda unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator (pictured below).

EADS declines to comment on the classified project and details are sketchy. However, the picture shows a UCAV similar to artists' impressions released by EADS last year The unmanned aircraft is believed to be around the same size as Boeing's X-45, which has a span of 10.3m (33ft 10in) and length of 8m, which would make it Europe's largest unmanned air vehicle.

The picture shows both the German and Spanish flags on the UCAV's tail, indicating a joint venture between the two countries' militaries on the project.

The UCAV is expected to take flight later this year. [source 2006]

EADS reconnoitres UAV combat technology

Studies will lay groundwork for fully capable UCAV system to be introduced by 2025

EADS Military Aircraft has launched studies of an unmanned reconnaissance air vehicle (URAV) demonstrator to support its "modular approach" to acquiring technology for an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) that it believes could be built around 2020-25.

The URAV will by 2010 "create a platform for UAV technology, but also a platform for mission capabilities", says senior vice-president programmes Peter Gutsmiedl. The project will enable the European company to demonstrate integration of different sensor types, and the multi-mission approach with a single platform is also expected to reduce life-cycle expenses, Gutsmiedl says.

The URAV/UCAV platform would be optimised to cruise at 40,000ft (12,200m) and perform a high-low-high mission profile with "medium to high agility", and have an endurance of 2-6h.

EADS's Spanish arm is separately participating in the French-led Neuron UCAV project.

EADS Military Aircraft is meanwhile upgrading its radar signature measurement facilities to aid its development of second-generation stealth technology for low-observable UAVs. Head of signature technology Jürgen Kruse says the stealth characteristics of future vehicles must be improved by a "factor of 10", which will require "new techniques, simulation processes and measuring facilities".

Such designs will also feature tuneable optical and infrared signatures. "You have to adapt your optical brightness to the sky," Kruse says.

The refurbished former Rheinmetall Defence Electronic indoor test facility at Lemwerder, north of Bremen, will be able to accommodate test articles up to 12m in length (up from the current 5m limit) and weighing 2.25t (4,960lb).

"We think we will complete the build-up of the measurement range around November this year," says Kruse.

Military Aircraft is the largest of the five units that make up EADS Defence and Security Systems and accounts for 30% of the division's revenues, more than half of which is derived from military air systems integration.

Just under one-third of the unit's revenue comes from its services operation, while the remainder is accrued from aerostructures work, including on Airbus civil programmes. - flightglobal.com

France signs delayed deal for Neuron UCAV demonstrator

Green light for six-nation project as Dassault receives $486m development contract

Dassault has at last signed a deal to co-ordinate a six-nation programme to design, build and fly an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) technology demonstrator, with France's DGA procurement agency last week awarding the company a contract worth €405 million ($486 million).

The company will head the Neuron project's industrial phase as prime contractor, with the DGA to manage its government-to-government aspect under co-operation agreements with European partners Greece, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

France's government and national industry have provided the largest slice of programme funds, at €185 million, while Sweden's late 2005 commitment of SKr750 million ($97 million) ranks it second in backing the project.

The DGA declines to provide a detailed funding split for the programme's remaining four partners, although their contributions are believed to descend in scale through Italy, Spain, Greece and Switzerland. The majority of industrial workshare on the Neuron project will be divided between Alenia Aeronautica, Dassault, EADS Casa, Hellenic Aerospace Industry, Ruag Aerospace, Saab and Thales.

The final hurdle to signing the 9 February development and demonstration phase contract was removed late last year, when Stockholm granted its approval for Saab's participation after completing a study into potential alternatives (Flight International, 3-9 January). Gaining Swedish government backing stalled the Neuron contract signature for several months, a factor that has resulted in the project's first flight date having now been pushed back from 2010 until 2011.

France initially highlighted a 2008 flight debut when it announced plans for the UCAV demonstration programme during the 2003 Paris air show.

The DGA says the programme's one 6,000kg (13,200lb) Neuron air vehicle will undergo flight tests in France, Italy and Sweden from 2011, with the first release of weapons scheduled to take place during 2012. The demonstrator is expected to carry two 250kg bombs during this phase of the multinational project. flightglobal.com

Rendition: NATO Allies Welcome Rice's Explanation

By ROBERT WIELAARD, Associated Press Writer [12 8 2005]

European foreign ministers said Thursday that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had "cleared the air" by assuring NATO allies that the U.S. does not allow torture of terrorist suspects and respects principles of the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war. Shifting away from a confrontation with Washington, some NATO allies welcomed Rice's explanation of U.S. views on secret prisons and treatment of terrorist suspects at a private dinner Wednesday with her NATO and European Union counterparts.

"It is my impression that Secretary Rice ... cleared the air. You will not see this discussion continuing" at the NATO headquarters, NATO Secretary General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer told a news conference. Rice "addressed the principles that guide United States policy with regards to respect for international law," Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht said.

At a news conference, Rice said she can give no guarantee that terrorism detainees won't be abused again despite what she called the United States' clear rules against torture. "Will there be abuses of policy? That's entirely possible," Rice told reporters. "Just because you're a democracy it doesn't mean that you're perfect." She offered assurances, however, that any abuses would be investigated and violators punished. "That is the only promise we can make," Rice said.

De Gucht told Belgian RTBf radio network that Rice assured the U.S. allies "that at no time did the United States agree to inhumane acts or torture, that they have always respected the sovereignty of the states concerned and even if terrorists are not covered by the Geneva Conventions, they have still applied the principles governing those Geneva Conventions." "I have the impression all ministers generally welcomed that," de Gucht said.

At every stop on her European tour this week, Rice has faced questions about U.S. practices in the pursuit of terrorists, including whether the CIA has run secret prisons on European soil or mistreated prisoners during clandestine flights in and out of Europe. Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and other countries have been critical of Washington after news reports about the prisons and CIA flights. In Ukraine on Wednesday before the dinner in Brussels, Rice gave the Bush administration's most comprehensive accounting yet of U.S. rules on treatment of prisoners in the war on terrorism.

Rice said cruel and degrading interrogation methods are off-limits for all U.S. personnel at home and abroad. But she gave no examples of banned practices, did not define the meaning of cruelty or degradation, and did not say if the rules would apply to private contractors or foreign interrogators. Using precise legal language, Rice referred to the 1994 U.N. treaty that defines and bans torture and also prohibits certain treatment that doesn't meet the legal definition of torture. But human rights organizations and critics in Europe have called the Bush administration interpretation a loophole for treatment almost indistinguishable from torture.

NATO spokesman James Appathurai said Rice led off a long discussion on the issue of CIA-run prisons and treatment of prisoners in the war on terrorism at the dinner. Expressions of support "seems to have been the flavor of the meeting," he said.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Rice assured the allies the Bush administration does not interpret international humanitarian law differently from allied governments in Canada and Europe. He told reporters on arrival at a NATO foreign ministers meeting Thursday "we must not be torn apart over the interpretation of international law."

The Dutch foreign minister also said Rice spoke convincingly about the U.S. commitment to human rights at the dinner. Rice's remarks follow debate in the United States over the government policies for holding and questioning detainees, including Bush administration statements that a ban on cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment did not apply to Americans working overseas. In practice, that could mean CIA employees could use methods in overseas prisons that would not be allowed in the United States. - news.yahoo.com

Nato agrees to expand Afghan role

Nato foreign ministers meeting in Brussels have endorsed a plan to expand the alliance's role in Afghanistan. It will involve deploying 6,000 more troops in the south of the country, a third of them expected to be British. Thursday's agreement is set to make Nato's Afghanistan mission its biggest ever operation outside Europe.

The south and east have been the scene of intense violence which has this year left more than 1,400 dead, making it the deadliest year since 2001. BBC defence correspondent Rob Watson says that some member states have been worried about potential casualties among their troops, which has made reaching Thursday's agreement difficult.

"We have today agreed to move Nato's support for peace and security in Afghanistan to a new level," Nato foreign ministers said in a statement. The agreement provides for a new British-led Nato headquarters in Kabul.

More troops

Our correspondent says that to ease the concerns of some member states, it is being stressed that the troops' mission will be to promote peace and stability, and not to hunt down members of al-Qaeda and the Taleban. That will remain the job of the US-led operation Enduring Freedom. Britain, Canada and the Netherlands will lead the expansion of the alliance's forces to the south of Afghanistan but more troop contributions will be needed before the plan is implemented.

"We are committed to stay the course," Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told ministers. "On the basis of this operational plan which ministers endorsed today, next year, Nato then will be operating in three-quarters of the territory of Afghanistan, will have several thousand more forces, more troops under Nato command, and as you know, Nato will move into the south of the country. "But we are not working in a void there. Other international actors should stay equally committed."

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described the new agreement as a "long-term plan of security co-operation" for Afghanistan to "help reform and strengthen its defence institutions". She said: "We will do this of course in partnership with the Afghan government."

However the BBC's Andrew North in Kabul says it is still not clear how the command structure between Nato and the US-led forces will work. BBC

Germany Asks NATO Help During World Cup

Staff and agencies
07 January, 2006

Thu Jan 5, 2006 BERLIN - Germany plans to ask NATO to provide air surveillance during this year‘s World Cup as part of a broad security plan.

The NATO surveillance would be part of a broad set of anti-terrorism measures planned for the World Cup, scheduled for June 9-July 9.

NATO deployed AWACS planes to bolster security during Pope Benedict XVI ‘s visit to Cologne in August, and during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

- localnewsleade

E.U.'s Patchwork Of Policies Leaves It Vulnerable to 9/11-Style Attack

By Craig Whitlock Washington Post Wednesday, January 18, 2006

BRUSSELS -- The capital of the European Union was in the midst of a historic celebration on May 1, 2004, when security officials learned of a sudden emergency: An airliner that had departed Norway with 186 passengers aboard had possibly been hijacked and was headed this way.

On the same day that the union expanded its borders to admit 10 new member countries, an Air Europa Boeing 737 en route to Spain did not respond to an urgent series of radio calls from air traffic controllers as it flew over Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands before entering Belgian airspace.

With fears mounting that the plane might launch a kamikaze attack on E.U. or NATO headquarters in Brussels, three countries scrambled fighter jets but had trouble intercepting the aircraft as it rapidly crossed one national border after another.

Then a flight attendant looked out the window of the airliner and saw two French Mirage 2000s flying alongside, prompting the Air Europa pilots to get on the radio and report that everything was fine. The incident ended peacefully but exposed Europe's vulnerability to a Sept. 11-style hijacking and the difficulties in coordinating a multinational response to a fast-breaking terrorist threat.

The European Union exists in large part to harmonize policy among its members. But when it comes to dealing with a hijacked airliner, those countries cling to a patchwork of contradictory rules and regulations.

In Sweden, it is forbidden to shoot down a civilian plane under any circumstances. Germany recently passed a law that gives the defense minister the authority to open fire on a hijacked plane, but the measure is being challenged in court.

Four East European countries lack their own air forces and rely on neighbors to patrol their skies, making the chain of command still more complicated. Some other countries won't divulge their policies, citing national security.

On a continent where many countries are so small that planes can pass through their airspace in minutes, aviation and security officials say the conflicting approaches make it almost impossible to prepare an adequate defense against hijackers bent on crashing a plane into a target.

"It's a very, very complex issue to come to a conclusion on because there are so many partners involved," said Bo Redeborn, director of security affairs for Eurocontrol, the agency that oversees European air traffic. "We're not there yet, that's clear. Some states are much more ready than others. We are best prepared to fight the last war. We're seldom prepared to address threats we haven't seen before."

Europe has some of the busiest air traffic corridors in the world. With passenger flights on the increase and a heightened sensitivity toward security since Sept. 11, 2001, there's also been a big jump in the number of hijacking false alarms. Reports of traffic controllers losing radio contact with pilots for a prolonged period have roughly doubled since 2002, according to Eurocontrol.

There are no hard statistics on how many such cases in Europe have escalated to the point where military intervention resulted, because countries don't pool the information. But Eurocontrol said fighter jets have been scrambled 19 times in the past two years to intercept airliners that lost touch with its air traffic control center in Maastricht, the Netherlands. The center monitors air traffic in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of Germany, tracking about 25 percent of the flights that pass through Europe each day.

During the Cold War, West European nations relied on NATO to defend against a Soviet air attack. While NATO has since expanded to take in many of the former Communist states of Eastern Europe, it lacks the authority to shoot down hijacked civilian airliners, now a far more likely threat than attack by a foreign military. That decision is explicitly left to individual countries.

"This is an awfully difficult subject," Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO's secretary general, said in a September meeting with a small group of reporters in Berlin. "The notion of national sovereignty is very strong. To go after civilian airlines with passengers on them, we'll defer on that."

NATO still monitors the skies for intruders, civilian or military, and will scramble jets on the orders of local officials. It has also supplied AWACS surveillance aircraft to guard against terrorist attacks at more than 20 high-profile international events since the Sept. 11 attacks, such as the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and the funeral of Pope John Paul II at the Vatican last year.

"We are very well served by our ability to identify threats. We've got the communications, we've got the radars," said a senior NATO official in Brussels who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Our ability in Europe to see and understand what is going on is probably as good as anywhere in the world. Our ability to put an aircraft in the sky very quickly is also very good. The difficult bit comes when you have identified a renegade aircraft."

The European Union has had little success on this issue. Gijs de Vries, the bloc's counterterrorism coordinator, said security officials are working to improve Europe-wide readiness for a hijacking, but he declined to discuss details. "I can't get into any of that," he said in an interview last year.

Giles Merritt, director of New Defense Agenda, a Brussels research organization that specializes in security issues, said European leaders have placed a higher priority on intelligence-gathering and prevention. Many officials don't see shooting down an airliner as an option under any circumstances, he said.

"Let's assume some jihadist group did get their hands on a civilian plane and they were headed to the Eiffel Tower," Merritt said. "And that there was enough time for a French leader to make a decision on how to respond. No politician wants to be the guy to pull the trigger on 200 innocent people, just on the suspicion that it will crash into something. His career would be over."

European counterterrorism officials said they don't take the threat of a hijacked airplane lightly, however. French investigators believe that an Algerian radical group schemed to fly an airplane into the Eiffel Tower in the mid-1990s; the iconic structure is still considered a major target for a terrorist attack.

British and U.S. officials said last fall that they had uncovered an al Qaeda plot to hijack an airplane in Eastern Europe and crash it into Heathrow Airport in 2003. Details of that case remain sketchy.

After a man commandeered a small plane in Frankfurt in 2003 and threatened to crash it into the European Central Bank in the city's downtown, Germany approved a law that gives its military the green light to shoot down a hijacked airliner. Last year, a suicidal pilot crashed a small plane in front of the Reichstag, the German Parliament building in Berlin. No bystanders were hurt, and investigators ruled out terrorism as the motive.

The German air force said it scrambled jets 20 times last year to chase after planes that had lost radio contact for prolonged periods; none of the incidents turned out to be a hijacking. But many lawmakers have expressed misgivings about the new law, citing a clause in the German constitution that forbids the state to take the life of any German citizen. The Federal Constitutional Court, Germany's highest judicial body, is scheduled to rule on the measure later this year.

Burkhard Hirsch, a former vice president of the German Parliament who is a plaintiff in the case, cited the inherent risk of making a mistake when dealing with a hijacked airliner. He referred to the case of a passenger on a flight to Munich who reported having a bomb and threatened to blow up the plane. Two fighter jets were promptly dispatched, but held their fire. When the plane landed, it turned out the passenger didn't have any explosives, only a mobile phone.

"If I get on an airplane, I don't like the idea that the minister of defense has the right to shoot me down," Hirsch said. "There's a difference between government and God. God knows what our fate is. The military and flight controllers do not. Nobody on earth has the right to play God." - washington post

Russia to help NATO navies policing Mediterranean

By Sandra Jontz, Stars and Stripes - European edition, Sunday, January 22, 2006

Next month, Russian sailors will begin intense training with NATO navies to become the first of several non-alliance countries to join an anti-terrorism operation patrolling the Mediterranean Sea, officials said.

The seven non-NATO nations of Russia, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Israel and Jordon, have voiced desires to join Operation Active Endeavor, launched in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States. The operation targets terrorists, human traffickers, and drug and weapons smugglers, said Italian naval Cmdr. Massimo Daicampi, a spokesman for the Allied Maritime Component Command Naples.

"Russia will begin actively training in February ... to learn NATO procedures and how to interact and collaborate with NATO ships to control terrorist threats in the Mediterranean," Daicampi said Friday in a phone interview.

A crew from the guided missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke, currently on deployment from its home port of Norfolk, Va., recently made the 100th "compliant" boarding of a vessel east of the Greek island of Crete, according to Daicampi, and a U.S. Navy news release.

Active Endeavor sailors board vessels after giving a verbal warning and then getting permission from the crew to board, Daicampi said. Vessel crews who fail to comply with alliance ship orders for boarding and inspections can be reported to officials at their countries of origin or anticipated ports of arrival, he said. The 100th compliant boarding is a milestone because it shows that merchants transiting the Mediterranean acknowledge the importance of cooperating, Daicampi said.

In the more than four years since the nations started patrolling the sea, more than 75,000 vessels have been hailed and questioned.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, NATO enacted Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which committed its forces to the fight against terrorism. Active Endeavor started with patrols and escorts of vessels transiting the Straits of Gibraltar and the Suez Canal. In October 2004, it expanded to patrols of the entire Mediterranean, particularly in waters near the Middle East. - estripes.com

NATO to open new intelligence center at U.S. military base in England

By John C.K. Daly Jan 27, 2006

Later this year NATO will open a new intelligence center at a U.S. military base in England.

The new NATO facility, according to Pravda, is designed to facilitate intelligence exchange between NATO member states and is to 'become the next milestone in the transformation of the Alliance following the new threats posed by the 21st century.'

Construction of the new center, to be based at the U.S. Air Force base in Molesworth, England, is scheduled for completion within the next year.

Molesworth is the home of the U.S. European Command, U.S. Joint Intelligence Analysis Center, which is expected to work in close cooperation with the new NATO intelligence facility. The Joint Intelligence Analysis Center currently work with data to produce intelligence for an area of responsibility consisting of more than 77 countries across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The center supports U.S., Allied and NATO commanders` mission planning and operations.

Russia is carefully tracking NATO`s 'mission creep' into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics. At a Russia-NATO Council meeting in Brussels last month Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Defense Minister Ivanov expressed their concerns about an agreement allowing the U.S. to build four military bases in Romania, with Lavrov expressing skepticism that the 'changes will comply with the adapted agreement on conventional armed forces in Europe.'

The former Soviet states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are already NATO members and Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Georgia are eager to join the alliance. Moldova is requesting NATO assistance to pressure Russia to withdraw its peacekeeping forces in its troubled province of Transdnestr and replace them with NATO forces. - via monsters and critics


(AGI) - Rome, 30 Jan "To admit Israel in NATO". This was Defence Minister, Antonio Martino's idea, as stated in Radio 24-Il Sole 24 ore 'Vivavoce' program. Martino explains that he speaks on his own behalf, and that he'll discuss this possibility with External Affairs Minister Gianfranco Fini.

If Fini agrees, the proposal could be brought to NATO's Defence Minister Heads due to conveine in Taormina on the 9th and 10th of February. Martino says that, "It is necessary to guarantee the security of the state of Israel because the situation is serious and worrisome.

In this way, an eventual aggression towards Israel would be considered an attack against all of NATO". (AGI) . 301744 GEN 06

Future of Nato at risk, says Reid

UK Defence Secretary John Reid has warned Nato members that they must change for the alliance to survive. Mr Reid told the Associated Press greater flexibility and better co-ordination with the EU were needed. He was speaking ahead of a security conference in Germany, which US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are attending. He is expected to tell the meeting that Nato's future is in greater peril now than during the Cold War.

"Nato today faces greater threats to its long term future than it ever did at the height of the Cold War," he is expected to tell the conference in Munich on Saturday. Mr Reid will say Nato is not guaranteed to "survive and prosper as the cornerstone of the collective security we need" but must change in order to meet new challenges.


On Friday, in an interview with the Associated Press (AP), he said: "Nato has been probably the most effective defence organization in world history, but no institution has the divine right to exist". He said it was time to replace the big, immobile armies that characterised the Cold War with more flexible, rapid-response forces that could travel to trouble spots with little notice.

Nato's Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is also expected to offer guidelines at the conference on how the alliance should modernise. Mr Reid said the EU and Nato needed to work in closer partnership, and suggested both had already worked well together during the peacekeeping mission in Sudan. He also said the United States needed to understand that some of Nato's members did not have enough resources to take on the increasingly complicated task of the alliance. But he added other member states must not always leave the bulk of operations to the larger countries. "What we're saying to Nato is the first thing we've got to do is put our money where our mouth is as individual member states," he said.

New threats

In his speech Mr Reid will also explain that the alliance's future defence policy must look beyond terrorism to broader threats. He will warn of "uncertainty in how the terrorist and proliferation threats of today will develop and interact with new and emerging risks that go beyond the traditional defence concerns. Like climate change, migration and resource pressures."

The Munich conference, which started in the 1960s, brings top policy makers and experts together to exchange ideas in a relaxed environment. This year the main theme is the renewal of trans-Atlantic relations, while other topics will include the West's relations with Russia, the reform of Nato and Asian security concerns. - bbc.co.uk

NATO planning strikes on Iranian nuclear sites

Date: 16/1/2006 Source: NewsInsight

Limited military strikes on select secret Iranian nuclear sites are being planned by NATO, the Pentagon and some US allies, after concrete intelligence about Iran's WMD programme was revealed by the IAEA.

Western diplomats said that Iran's secret facilities at Isfan and the more sophisticated uranium enrichment plant at Natanz could be initially targeted, although the fully underground Natanz facility is air strike proof.

Natanz is causing greater concern since no Russian expert has visited it nor has Iran sought foreign participation on it.

The US and NATO are evaluating CIA and other intelligences that Iran has almost produced five to six crude atomic devices which can delivered by air, and there is overall agreement between America and a key Nato state, Germany, that the Iranian threat must be countered before it becomes blackmail.

Britain and Germany have mobilised all their resources to stymie Iranian adventurism, while president George W.Bush has authorised select diplomats to persuade important countries to join any showdown with Iran.

The idea is that military strikes could impress Iran to seriously consider deweaponisation, the preparedness for this will be reached by early April, and diplomats said it would have full UN sanction.


Solidarity key to security, says NATO Secretary General

In a major speech at the Munich Security Conference, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said political, military and financial solidarity was the key to dealing with today's security challenges.

"Today's challenges are very different. They require us to act - sometimes in faraway regions; where we know our soldiers' lives will be at risk; where the costs can be high; and where the engagements can seem long," he told the conference.

"Unfinished" transformation

The Secretary General outlined the areas in which changes needed to be made if NATO was to maximize its potential "as a place where Europe and North America come together to project stability."

This includes ensuring that the NATO Response Force achieves full operational capability, improving access to strategic lift and introducing better funding mechanisms, he said.

Mr. De Hoop Scheffer also stressed that NATO needs to work more effectively with current partners, and reach out to new ones, including the European Union. Moving this "unfinished transformation" forward will be the focus of the upcoming NATO Summit in Riga, this November, he told the conference.

"In this new world, solidarity is the key: political, military and financial solidarity… I think we can do better - in the way we operate, in the way we pay for what we do, and in the way we work with the wider world. And I believe that the SummitRiga will prove it," the Secretary General said.

Mr. De Hoop Scheffer also said that there are more issues, such as energy security, that Allies should consider bringing to the NATO table.

The Secretary General was speaking in the context of the panel discussion on "NATO's future role in international peace keeping" at the 42 nd Munich Conference on Security Policy, 4 February.

During his stay in Munich, he also met with a number of officials, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Rumsfeld, NATO Ministers To Discuss Afghanistan and Rapid Reaction Force

By Al Pessin Washington - 08 February 2006

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will be in Italy Thursday and Friday for an informal meeting of NATO defense ministers that is expected to focus on final preparations for expanding the alliance's role in Afghanistan and for the creation of the NATO rapid response force. VOA Pentagon Correspondent Al Pessin will be traveling with the secretary and filed this report on what is expected at the meeting.

A senior defense department official who spoke on condition of anonymity says the expansion of NATO operations in Afghanistan to cover the southern part of the country will present more challenges to alliance troops. NATO activity in Afghanistan has been in the north and west, where the situation is relatively quiet, and troops have focused on stability and nation-building operations. But the south has had increased insurgent activity in recent months, and the official who spoke Tuesday said the NATO troops will have to deal with that.

The deployment will add 6,000 troops to the 9,000 NATO already has in Afghanistan. It was delayed by internal political debate in the Netherlands, which will provide a substantial part of the new force, but that dispute has now been resolved.

The senior U.S. official says the NATO mission in Afghanistan must succeed in order to prove that the organization's reforms are succeeding. The official says reform will also be an important topic of discussion at the meeting in Italy, including the need for the 26 NATO members to make their forces available to the alliance without too many restrictions attached. The official says progress has been made in that regard, but more needs to be done, and more members need to be convinced that NATO's mission of providing security for Europe requires more operations outside of the continent.

In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations committee Tuesday, the NATO commander, U.S. Marine General James Jones, called for the same thing. "My feeling is, we're moving in the right direction. We need to accelerate it but, generally, this is a new concept. And I think we have two kinds of transformation in the alliance, one physical and the other cultural. What do you do with the forces you have? What is NATO willing to do with it? Are we really willing to be a pro-active alliance, which I think is really the destiny of our future operations," he said.

General Jones said NATO has made important progress in developing creative command structures and rules for participation in missions. The new procedures are designed to enable the organization to take on new missions like the one in Afghanistan, and operate effectively, while still enabling members to have some say over their own roles.

The other senior defense official, who spoke anonymously, said that is true for the new NATO rapid response force. The official says the force will have a major exercise in West Africa in June, and is supposed to be declared operational in October. But the official says NATO members have committed only about 80 per cent of the troops needed for the force, and Secretary Rumsfeld will be pressing for more commitments at this week's meeting.

The official says the Italy meeting will also include a session with the Russian defense minister, and another one with defense ministers from the seven members of NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue group. In the Russia meeting, the official says the main issues will be the sharing of radar information, strategy for fighting the drug trade in Central Asia and Afghanistan and concern over Russia's recent withholding of natural gas supplies from Ukraine in a political dispute. The official says Russia and three of the Dialogue countries will participate for the first time later this year in a NATO counter-terrorism naval operation in the Mediterranean. The three regional countries will be Morocco, Algeria and Israel, representing what the official called a "not insignificant" moment of cooperation between Israel and the two Arab countries. - VOA

Mofaz to meet with NATO defense ministers in Sicily

By Aluf Benn. Haaretz Correspondent 9th Feb 2006 -

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz is to head to Sicily on Thursday to take part in a meeting with defense ministers belonging to NATO. Mofaz's participation in the meeting is an effort to further solidify Israel's relations with the the mutual defense organization of United States and Europe. Mofaz will meet with his counterparts from Turkey, Britain and Italy. He is also to deliever an address on the danger of extremist groups in countries that support peace following Hamas' victory in the Paletsinian elections. - Haaretz

Israel NATO membership "not on the table"-Scheffer

TAORMINA, Italy, Feb 9 (Reuters) - NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer dismissed on Thursday a call for Israel to be given NATO membership as a "security umbrella" to protect it from any threats from Iran.

"It is a virtual question. The issue of Israeli membership is not on the table," de Hoop Scheffer told reporters at a meeting of NATO defence ministers in the Sicilian resort of Taormina.

Italian Defence Minister Antonio Martino was quoted this week as calling for Israel to be given NATO membership.

Martino, who spoke at the same briefing as de Hoop Scheffer, noted that any move towards membership -- a process which can take years -- could only come after an Israeli request.

But he reaffirmed his view that Israel faced a particular threat from Iran, whose president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called into question the Holocaust and urged Israel's destruction.

"The state of Israel is the only state whose existence is called into doubt by others," he said.

Israel has in recent years sought to boost its ties to NATO, without asking for membership. Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz is due on Friday to discuss defence cooperation with the NATO ministers and their counterparts from six Arab states. - alertnet.org

U.S. presses NATO for greater Darfur presence

By Paul Ames Associated Press BRUSSELS, Belgium - NATO is considering increased help to African peacekeepers in Darfur in response to mounting U.S. pressure for an intensified international effort to halt the ethnic violence ravaging the Sudanese region, but officials say there are no plans for a major deployment of allied troops.

Diplomats at allied headquarters Monday confirmed that discussions are underway for NATO to boost training, transport and planning assistance to the African Union peacekeeping force of 7,000 which has failed to halt the violence blamed for a humanitarian disaster which has killed an estimated 180,000 people.

President Bush called NATO's Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on Friday to discuss the issue. Bush said more needed to be done for Darfur in terms of logistical help and training, but "not for the deployment of troops," de Hoop Scheffer told reporters Tuesday on the sidelines of a ceremony in Rome.

On Friday, Bush told an audience in Tampa the peacekeeping mission should be doubled in size and given more help from the Western alliance. "It's going to require a - I think - a NATO stewardship, planning, facilitating, organizing, probably double the number of peacekeepers that are there now, in order to start bringing some sense of security," Bush said.

On the same day, two U.S. senators introduced a resolution in Washington calling on NATO to send troops and impose a no-fly zone over Darfur. "Adding NATO's experience and expertise to the African effort would quickly improve security, save lives and allows thousands of refugees to return to their homes. NATO should deploy troops," said Sen. Joseph R. Biden, D-Del., who introduced the resolution along with Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.

However, NATO officials say political sensitivities will probably mean that the alliance's role will - for the time being at least - prevent the dispatch of large number of European or North American troops. They point out that any NATO deployment would need a United Nations request, with backing from Russia, China and the African Union - which has stressed a preference for an African solution to the conflict.

"NATO has not received any formal request from the UN or from the AU for anything beyond what it is currently doing," said NATO spokesman James Appathurai. "NATO is continuing to do what it has been doing for many months, and that is airlifting in and out African Union battalions ... as well as providing training."

NATO is looking at how it could do more as the United Nations prepares to take over direct responsibility for the peacekeeping force from the poorly equipped and funded African Union force. The Security Council this month approved a U.N. takeover of the mission and the U.N.'s top official in Sudan, Jan Pronk, has said that could see the force expanded to up to 20,000.

However, NATO military officials say there is little enthusiasm among European allies for a full scale NATO mission and the United Nations is expected to continue to use African troops to provide the bulk of the peacekeeping force - albeit with increased back up from NATO.

Although a high-powered western force could be more effective militarily, many fear the political fallout - particularly if the mainly Muslim Sudanese government opposes a NATO deployment.

"If we do it through NATO we'll give further encouragement to all those who are condemning the white man and are fueling the clash of civilizations, they will use it against us," said Dominique Moisi, deputy director of the French Institute of International Relations, in Paris. "They will use it against us."

However Moisi acknowledged the weakness of the AU and the UN's difficulties in mustering a suitably robust force could force them to turn to NATO as a last resort.

France in particular is concerned about the possible impact of using NATO in Africa.

Without mentioning Sudan specifically, French Defense Minister Michelle Alliot-Marie cautioned recently against NATO taking on missions best left to other organizations. "Let us make sure we do not spread ourselves too much in areas where the competence of other organizations is more obvious," she told a security conference in Munich, Germany.

Bush sent Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick to Europe this month to sound out the allies on NATO's role. At the same meeting in Munich, Zoellick spoke about the need for more logistics, intelligence, and planning assistance to the African Union mission, including the deployment of a small number of experts on the ground.

The United States and several other nations have said genocide has occurred in Darfur. The Arab-dominated government in Khartoum has been accused of backing the Janjaweed militia against civilians in an area where black African rebels revolted in 2003. An estimated 2 million have been forced from their homes. - AP via the Army Times

Peace activists stopped from protesting near Nato vessels

Members of Graffitti group were yesterday stopped from protesting against the presence of warships when the police removed banners and asked them to leave Pinto Wharf where five Nato vessels are berthed. About six members of the group showed up at the wharf to demonstrate their disapproval of the fact that Malta was admitting what they termed "machinery of death".

André Cassar from Graffiti said the police took their banners, one of which read Warships Kill, and the other, which they planned to hang from the bastions, read Peace Not War. Mr Cassar said the police asked the group to move away from a ledge on one side of the road to the other for security reasons, and were then asked to leave the area, which they did.

Their banners were not returned and they were not given a reason why they were taken away, he said.

Police sources confirmed what happened and said the event was "peaceful".

According to Graffiti, the presence of foreign warships in Malta's harbours was "immoral".

"How can a country ever work for peace when it is welcoming machinery of war? We strongly believe that our country should take a clear position in favour of peace," it said, adding that the presence of the five ships was in breach of the island's neutrality.

Standing Nato Maritime Group 1, consisting of one destroyer and four frigates from five member states, arrived yesterday for a five-day visit.

The vessels forming the group include flagship HMCS Athabaskan (Canada), FGS Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Germany), USS Simpson (US), NRP Vasco Da Gama (Portugal) and ORP General Kazimiriez Pulaski (Poland). The Pulaski is the first Polish military vessel to join a Nato standing maritime group outside an exercise.

The vessels were open to the public yesterday.

Standing Nato Maritime Group 1 is a multi-national naval squadron that gives Nato the ability to respond quickly and with flexibility to a crisis. The force is one of four maritime standing elements that would be attached to the newly formed joint Nato Response Force in times of crisis. It is prepared to deal with a wide variety of missions, including non-combatant evacuations, disaster relief, counter terrorism and crisis response.

Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 arrived in the Mediterranean last week after having completed training exercises in the Baltic and North Sea with the Danish and Norwegian navies.

The group's purpose in the Mediterranean is to provide added support to Operation Active Endeavour, one of Nato's responses to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

As part of the operation, the force conducts regular surveillance and monitoring of shipping in the Mediterranean. It has hailed more than 76,500 vessels since the beginning of the operation in 2001, and has conducted almost 100 boarding operations. Additionally, it escorted over 500 merchant ships through the Straits of Gibraltar between March 2003 and May 2004.

Nato's efforts in Operation Active Endeavour have been joined by Partnership For Peace nations such as Russia and the Mediterranean Dialogue states of Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania and Tunisia. - timesofmalta.com

Operation Active Endeavour

The operation's mission is to conduct naval operations in the Mediterranean to actively demonstrate NATO's resolve and solidarity. Operation Active Endeavour is one of the measures resulting from NATO's decision to implement Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, expanding the options available in the campaign against terrorism.

For the first time in NATO's history, Alliance assets have been deployed in support of Article 5 operations. NATO has contributed Airborne Warning and Control Systems aircraft (AWACS) to the United States and has also deployed elements of its Standing Naval Forces to the Eastern Mediterranean. AWACS provide air surveillance and early warning capability by transmitting data to command and control centres on land, sea or in the air. The naval assets of Standing Naval Force Mediterranean (STANAVFORMED), which were participating in Exercise Destined Glory 2001 off the southern coast of Spain, were re-assigned in order to provide an immediate NATO military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean. - afsouth.nato.int/

NATO spy planes fly in Israel

NATO spy planes conducted an exercise in Israel, apparently as a signal to Iran.

"We've had NATO AWACS deployed to do some demonstrations in Israel, and we do have an active dialogue with the Israeli defense force in terms of interoperability, and particularly as it regards the security of the Mediterranean basin at sea," Gen. James Jones, the U.S. general who is the supreme allied commander in Europe, said Tuesday in Senate testimony.

Jones was answering a question from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) about what NATO was doing regarding a potential Iranian nuclear threat to Israel. - jta.org

Live X exercises

Zulia secessionists' espionage support from within the US Caracas embassy...

The Wayne Madsen Report: Time for NATO to go the way of the Warsaw Pact, CENTO, and SEATO. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which the Bush administration hopes to turn into a worldwide military bloc that would include Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea, is a Cold War relic that should be discarded upon the trash heap of history, joining other outmoded "defense pacts."

NATO is increasingly being used by the neo-cons to intimidate populist governments in Latin America and human rights activists in Africa.

In a show of force off Africa's oil-rich west coast, some 7,000 US, NATO, and Cape Verdean troops will conduct a military exercise, code named "Live X," in June on the Cape Verde islands of Sao Vicente, Sal, and Santo Antao, NATO's first in Africa.

Across the Atlantic in the Caribbean, in cooperation with NATO, the Bush administration is conducting a series of military exercises as a warning to Venezuela and other leftist governments in Latin America.

In a replay of US naval maneuvers held during the time the Bush administration tried to unseat Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in an April 2002 abortive coup, the US Navy is deploying a task force led by the USS George Washington to waters off the Venezuelan coast in "Operation Partnership of the Americas."

US, Dutch, and British forces are in Jamaica training English Caribbean security forces as part of "Operations Tradewinds."

The Bush administration is now using its neo-con allies in the Dutch government to accuse Chavez of having designs on the Netherlands Antilles. Echoing the Bush neo-cons, Dutch Defense Minister Henk Kamp called Chavez a "fanatic populist" who wants to invade Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao (the so-called "ABC islands").

Venezuelan political and military leaders have called the Dutch charges ridiculous and point out that the US Southern Command has been issuing policy documents clearly stating that populist movements spreading from Venezuela, Uruguay, and Bolivia to Peru, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Mexico are threats to national security.

The survival of multinational corporate vampires is now equated to US national security by the neo-con owned and operated Pentagon. The Pentagon maintains "Forward Operating Location" military airbases in Aruba and Curacao.

If anything, it is Washington and its Dutch allies who pose a threat to Netherlands Antilles autonomy. The neo-con Dutch government has, through Round Table Conferences (RTCs) with the Antilles and Aruba, attempted to convince the islands to cede judicial autonomy to the central Dutch government. Using the non-ABC islands of Saba, St. Eustatius, and Saint Maarten as wedges, Washington and The Hague, have caused problems for the ongoing efforts of the Netherlands Antilles to devolve autonomy to the individual islands and largely scrap the federal system.

However, while the Bush administration and its Dutch lackeys charge Chavez with having territorial designs on the ABC islands, the military-industrial oligarchy in Washington and Houston may be fomenting a separatist movement in western Venezuela's oil-rich Zulia state.

Chavez has accused Zulia's right-wing governor, Manuel Rosales, of working with the United States and American oil interests to promote independence for the state.

A recently-formed right-wing and pro-business group called "Own Road" is pushing for an independence referendum for the state. There is evidence that the group has received support from intelligence elements operating from within the US embassy in Caracas. In addition, US-backed mercenaries and Florida-based missionaries have attacked the villages of pro-Chavez indigenous tribes in Zulia.

The Bush administration would have Venezuela's oil-rich Zulia state declare independence as a US client state. Other Latin American nations with populist governments can expect similar Bush/neocon-supported secessionist movements.

Already, there are US-supported secessionist stirrings in the hydrocarbon-rich Chaco region of Bolivia aimed against President Evo Morales, a Chavez ally. The parallels between Own Road ("Rumbo Propio") and southwestern Iran's Ahwaz independence movement (which is backed British and US intelligence) are striking. Both Zulia and Ahwaz are oil-rich regions ... US intelligence now backs independence movements in both regions designed to pry oil-rich resources away from anti-Bush central governments. Conversely, in regions where independence movements threaten US oil interests, the Bush administration provides the central governments with military hardware and special counter-insurgency training. This is the case with oil-rich Aceh in northwestern Sumatra in Indonesia, the Angolan enclave of Cabinda, and the Delta region of Nigeria.

[excerpted from GNN's Africa Policy Outlook 2006]

While last year was marked by the "Live 8" concerts, this year [2006] will feature the "LIVE X" military maneuvers in West Africa. This "live exercise" will see 6,500 troops of the NATO Response Force sweep in on the 10 islands that constitute Cape Verde for 14 self-sustaining days of make-believe missions. LIVE X is a large-scale military exercise to be run out of the Netherlands with forces coming from bases in Germany, Spain and France. Sadly, the nearly three million people internally displaced in Darfur and threatened by continuing violence cannot expect to see a "live exercise" of a Response Force to provide them protection and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

The LIVE X and other training exercises, such as operation "Africa Endeavor 06" scheduled for Pretoria in July, along with military sales programs and military officers training, are indicative of the higher priorities of U.S. policy in Africa. Testifying before Congress in 2005, General James L. Jones, Supreme Allied Commander of the U.S. European command, said, "the breeding grounds of terrorism and illicit activity on the continent of Africa require our attention." He said that a more pro-active U.S. approach would offer a "powerful inoculation" against future terrorist activity. Jones stated that U.S. military programs in Africa, "support the long-term strategic objectives of the ‘Global War on Terrorism’ by building understanding and consensus on the terrorist threat; laying foundations for future ‘coalitions of the willing;’ and extending our country’s security perimeter."2

General Jones described dozens of current U.S. initiatives on the continent designed to develop effective security structures in Africa and boost African governments’ counter-terrorism efforts-from NATO action on the Mediterranean in North Africa, to the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Initiative, which is the long-term interagency plan to combat terrorism on the continent. These initiatives are the framework through which the U.S. envisions engaging future threats on the African continent.

With 1,500 U.S. troops of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa based in Djibouti since 2002, an increase in training exercises across the continent and an explosion in Africa-focused anti-terrorism training programs, what is now unfolding is the most significant U.S. military engagement in Africa since 25,000 troops went to Somalia in 1992. More importantly, this ongoing expansion of U.S. military assets and interests in Africa reflects a growing bias toward African militaries as the key institutions through which to promote security in the region, a security defined differently than that presently preoccupying most African governments and their people.

NATO Talks Transformation, Again

Gareth Harding Apr 26, 2006 BRUSSELS, (UPI) National Ledger --

This week's meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Bulgaria was meant to be about transforming the military alliance from a Cold War defensive club into a global security organization. Instead, the talks are likely to be dominated by the West's stand-off with Iran and an increasingly hazardous Afghan mission that could make or break the bloc.

Ahead of the get-together Thursday and Friday, senior NATO officials have been busy playing up the ongoing shake-up inside the 26-member alliance. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told reporters that the Sofia meeting was an "important building block for Riga," where alliance leaders are due to hold a summit aimed at revamping the world's most powerful military body in November. Gen. James Jones, NATO's chief military commander, believes 2006 will be "pivotal year in the development and transformation of the alliance."

It is undeniable that NATO has changed beyond recognition since the fall of the Berlin Wall. An organization that was set up in 1949 to protect Western European states against a Soviet invasion now has troops deployed on four continents, sees terrorism, failed states and weapons of mass destruction as its principle threats and by the fall will have a 25,000-strong rapid reaction force capable of being deployed anywhere in the world at five days' notice. It has strengthened ties with Russia, Ukraine and North African states and has frigates patrolling the Mediterranean to prevent terrorist attacks on cargo ships. It has also grown exponentially, from 12 states when it was founded to 26 today -- and with half a dozen more East European countries clamoring to get in.

"This is a whole different NATO than your mum probably thinks about when she thinks about NATO," a senior alliance diplomat told United Press International. Granted. But most of the changes that have taken place, or are underway, result from decisions taken in Washington in 1999 and Prague in 2002. The Riga summit that has already been so hyped by senior officials is more likely to be a celebration of how far NATO has come rather than a sober assessment of how far it still has to go if it is to remain relevant in the 21st century.

"Riga will not be decisive for future NATO enlargement," de Hoop Scheffer told journalists Tuesday. Candidate countries queuing up to join the alliance -- Albania, Macedonia and Croatia -- will not be given the nod in November, but will have to wait until another summit of NATO leaders in spring 2008 for the green light to join. Likewise, alliance hopefuls Ukraine and Georgia can only expect a "signal" from foreign ministers about how their membership bids are shaping up, according to the Dutch diplomat.

Foreign ministers meeting in Sofia are likely to confirm that NATO is ready to deepen dialogue with like-minded non-European countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea, but officials have ruled out the possibility of such allies ever joining the North Atlantic club. "The core of NATO is not changing, we are not talking about membership for these countries," said de Hoop Scheffer.

Ministers are expected to urge the alliance to become more involved in training officers in non-European states. NATO trainers are already active in Iraq and Sudan and senior officials are keen to extend this program to other countries in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. But despite pleas from some quarters for the alliance to focus on new tasks such as securing energy supplies, policing the Black Sea, taking in Israel as a member or stepping up counter-terrorism operations, foreign ministers are likely to be more preoccupied with making a success of current operations than taking on extra duties.

Afghanistan, as De Hoop Scheffer says, is the alliance's "number one priority." When ministers took the decision to extend NATO's presence to the more volatile south and east of the country in December, there was little debate among the general public and no doubt among alliance chiefs that the mission would succeed. Five months on and there is a growing sense of unease about the operation in military circles, with senior officers in Britain questioning whether the alliance has enough troops to triumph where past occupiers of the country have failed. With the Taliban increasingly adopting the brutal tactics of Iraqi insurgents -- suicide bombings, kidnappings and improvised explosive devices -- there is also a widespread fear in countries like Britain, Canada and the Netherlands that NATO troops have got sucked into a war that is likely to be long, costly and bloody.

"It is a dangerous mission but NATO cannot afford to fail," said de Hoop Scheffer Tuesday, admitting that there would be both difficulties on the ground and with public opinion. "Realism demands that there will be more incidents and casualties ... but NATO will stand firm and has to stand firm," he added.

Foreign ministers will also discuss how NATO can play a greater role in the Sudan conflict, as U.S. President George W. Bush has demanded. However, advocates of a more muscular role for the alliance are likely to be disappointed -- de Hoop Scheffer underlined that there was no question of a NATO force on the ground in the war-ravaged province of Darfur. The most the club is likely to commit itself to is more help for African Union troops with transport, communications and training.

Most NATO leaders have ruled out any military solution to the Iranian crisis, let alone a role for the alliance in forcing Tehran to abandon its nuclear weapons program. But this will not stop foreign ministers from both the European Union and NATO talking about the tense situation over a 'working dinner' Thursday. As an informal meeting where no formal decisions can be taken or communiqués issued, there is little likelihood Sofia will be remembered as the moment Western states persuaded the clerical regime to change course.

The loaded agenda of the Sofia meeting highlights how far NATO has changed since leaders last met four years ago. But it also exposes the gulf between the alliance's lofty goals and the more humdrum reality of a bloc whose members spend less than ever on defense, have difficulty rustling together 25,000 deployable troops out of over three million men and women in uniform, cannot transport their soldiers long distances without relying on hired Ukrainian cargo planes and are divided over whether the Brussels-based organization should become a global super-cop or remain a largely defensive pact.


Captain Wardrobes

Down with Murder inc.