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Updated: 05-Mar-2003
   

SHAPE News Summary and Analysis

5 March 2003

GENERAL JONES

  • More comments on plans for realignment of U.S. troop basing

NATO

  • NATO says escorting ships past Gibraltar
  • OSCE/NATO fund environmental project in Azerbaijan

ESDP

  • NATO, EU postpone signing of security pact

IRAQ

  • Top Turkish general backs deployment of U.S. troops in Turkey

GENERAL JONES

Media continue to focus on remarks by Gen. Jones in Stuttgart Monday, where he unveiled overhaul plans for U.S. bases in Europe.
Dismissing temptations to see a possible redeployment of the U.S. troop presence in Europe toward the East as a retaliation for trans-Atlantic tensions, France’s Le Figaro notes that as early as 2001, Defense Review was advocating the creation of “forward deterrence” to integrate the consequences of the disappearance of the Soviet Union. The daily also observes that last year, the U.S. Defense Secretary pronounced himself in favor of more mobile forces and for a substantial reduction of the cost of their stationing abroad. It concludes that this is probably why Gen. Jones was selected to hold the dual-hat job of SACEUR and chief of U.S. forces in Europe. “The Marine Corps is synonymous to the new mobility,” stresses the newspaper, adding: “Isolated measures had already been taken within NATO, but not within U.S. structures. As an example, last October, the Alliance disbanded a command structure in Heidelberg which was typical of the Cold War era. Clearly, Gen. Jones has been tasked to amplify these ideas as far as U.S. forces are concerned.” Explaining the rationalization effort, the newspaper continues: “The broad lines … are well known. They consist in replacing, at least partly, large barracks dating from a past era as well as … heavy infrastructure.” The newspaper considers, however, that eventually this risks posing three distinct problems. First for countries currently hosting U.S. troops and thus mainly Germany, which hosts the vast majority of the 239 U.S. installations in Europe. “Ramstein airbase, for example, generates a billion euro economic impact for the region and employs 6,000 civilians. Gen. Jones says this base has ‘a durable value’ and its future is not at stake but economic fallbacks will be felt elsewhere,” the article stresses. Second, the newspaper adds, governments of future host countries could be confronted to several problems. Public opinion, for instance, may not necessarily support the re-deployment. And thirdly, Russia, may not see a U.S. deployment near its borders very favorably. The article continues: “In the long term, everything will depend on the Iraqi issue. But already, Gen. Jones is trying to reassure the Kremlin…. Everybody is trying to minimize the issue. It is being stressed that nothing concrete is on the table. However, one or two years from now an imitator of Elvis Presley risks being found not at Friedberg, near Frankfurt, but in Taszar, in Hungary.”

Monitoring official reactions in Eastern Europe to Gen. Jones’ remarks, AFP writes that in one of the rare official reactions, Romanian Foreign Minister Geoana said deploying U.S. troops in Eastern Europe would help Romania play a role as a future member of NATO. “If Romania and Bulgaria are seen as important countries from a geopolitical standpoint that would coincide with our analysis about the role that Romania could play as a future member of NATO,” Geoana reportedly said. According to the dispatch, he added that such a change would be a sign of an evolution from the strategy of massive and permanent bases to one of more flexible deployments to “adapt the strategy of NATO to the challenges of the 21st century.” The dispatch also quotes the Hungarian newspaper Nepszabadsag saying there were “Atlantic officials from Brussels” saying the United States is having “extensive talks” with its Eastern European partners on a new network of bases. The dispatch adds that in Warsaw, a Polish Defense Ministry spokesman stressed that talks of moving U.S. military bases to Poland were “pure speculation.”

NATO

  • Reuters reports the Alliance said in a statement Wednesday that NATO warships had begun escorting allied civilian ships through the Straits of Gibraltar this week to help avert possible terrorist attacks. “The Alliance decided to expand its naval operations in response to recent assessments of terrorist threats to particular shipping lanes. This new mission is part of NATO’s continuing support for the campaign against terrorism, and is a significant extension of the existing Operation Active Endeavour, which was launched following the Sept. 11 (2001) attacks on the United States,” the dispatch quotes the statement saying.

  • Baku’s Hurriyyat, March 4, reported that the Azerbaijani National Academy of Sciences is to start this month implementing a project by the OSCE and NATO for inspecting the quality of the water in the Kur and Araz Rivers. A grant worth $500,000 has been allocated for this three-year projected. The research could help resolve environmental problems and could also be helpful for businesses based on the use of water, stressed the report.

ESDP

  • AFP reports a NATO official said Tuesday a security pact between the EU and NATO due to be signed on Thursday has been postponed, probably until next week. The event was rescheduled because Greek Foreign Minister Papandreou, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency, will not be available on Thursday, the official reportedly indicated. The dispatch recalls that the pact provides for an exchange of military documents and confidential information in order to formalize working relations between the two organizations.

IRAQ

  • According to AP, the head of Turkey’s military, Gen. Ozkok, said Wednesday that the army backed the deployment of U.S. troops in Turkey for an Iraq war stressing that it would be for the benefit of the country. According to the dispatch, Gen. Ozkok said the military respected Parliament’s rejection Saturday of a motion to allow in the U.S. troops, but stressed that allowing the United States to open a northern front against Iraq would lead to a shorter war, would minimize casualties, and U.S. support would help Turkey if there were economic fallout. The dispatch notes that Turkey’s top political leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, indicated Tuesday that the government is planning to reintroduce the troop deployment bill to Parliament and will press for its approval. A related Reuters story quotes Gen. Ozkok saying in televised remarks: “The Turkish armed forces’ view is the same as the government’s and is reflected in the motion our government sent to Parliament. The war will be short if a second front is opened from the north.” The dispatch notes that the government has not yet given any timetable for the second motion to Parliament but lawmakers from Erdogan’s ruling Justice and development party said it was unlikely to take pace before a by-election on Sunday.

 



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