SHAPE NEWS SUMMARY & ANALYSIS 15 MARCH 2002
NOTE: Normal publication of the SHAPE News Morning Update will resume on Monday, March 18.
- ARRC is set to become the Alliances first High Readiness Force (Land) (HRF (L)) HQ , wrote Janes Defence Weekly, March 13, adding that ARRC HQ had completed an 18-day command post exercise that represented the final evaluation stage toward certification as an HRF(L) HQ. The article stressed that NATO is evaluating six corps headquarters to command rapid reaction forces across the full spectrum of missions from peace support operations to high intensify warfighting. The other candidates for HRF(L) status are: the I German/Netherlands Corps, the Eurocorps, the Spanish Corps, 3 Turkish Corps, and the Italian Rapid Reaction Corps, noted the article. It added that the evaluations were being conducted by a team from SHAPE, under the direction of AVM Rob Wright, Assistant Chief of Staff, Policy and Requirements Division. "We have come up with almost 400 criteria ranging across many areas from communications to combat support, very tough criteria that were agreed by NATOs military Committee," the article quoted AVM Wright saying.
- Noting that the Strong Resolve 2002 exercises had ended, Moscows ORT-1 television, carried Adm. Vladimir Valuyev, Commander of the Russian Baltic Fleet, saying he was worried by "the form" of the NATO exercise. "If you put together the tactical elements and the elements used at these exercises, you would have a massive development of an operation against the Kalingrad region," Adm. Valyev asserted.
- According to Reuters, talks between Russia and NATO for a new joint forum have run into difficulties, with Moscow pushing for a robust relationship that could challenge the very nature of the Alliance. "There is now a feeling that the Russians are going too far, and there is some annoyance," the dispatch quotes one NATO official saying and insisting: "We are not going to change the basic operating procedures of the Alliance just because of this new forum." One senior diplomat reportedly said Moscow wants the new forum to set decisions taken "at 20" in stonemaking it impossible for the NATO allies to review them in the NAC. Russia was also seeking to enshrine principles of the UN Security Council within the new body, effectively making it less of a NATO forum. The dispatch recalls that the same thinking formed the basis of a Russian proposal rejected by NATO last month. In a related development, Moscows Interfax quotes Defense Minister Ivanov saying Friday that Moscow expects NATO to make more profound and constructive proposals on cooperation in the format of 20. The NATO proposals cover only the form and procedure, rather than essential change, he reportedly told a news conference at Shannon airport on his way back from Washington to Moscow. "If we are to replace relations between the 19 NATO countries and Russia with the format of 20, consensus decisions must be made. We must make joint decisions and make joint commitments and honor them," Ivanov added. He thought that above all, this should apply to "fending off new threats and to peacekeeping."
- Prime Minister Blair faced the prospect of a confrontation with France at the EU summit in Barcelona after it emerged that he wanted to give America a veto over any EU military action , writes The Daily Telegraph. According to the newspaper, a leaked Ministry of Defense briefing confirms that the British government would block any attempt by Brussels to use the European Rapid Reaction Force without American approval. The document, prepared last week for Gen. Sir Michael Walter, Chief of General Staff, rejects the claim made by critics of the European defense force that it will undermine NATO, saying: "It is sensible planning for those circumstances where the U.S. may not wish to participate, but where there is a clear need for action by EU states." But in an apparent hardening of the British governments line, it adds: "We would reject any attempt to go for an EU-led operation in circumstances where the U.S. did want to take part." The newspaper predicts that this will be seen in some EU capitals as tantamount to giving America a veto on any operations by the European Rapid Reaction Force.
- Reuters reports Greece said Thursday it would hold talks with Spain, the current holder of the EU presidency, on March 22 to find a solution on how the EU can cooperate with NATO in future military missions. "There will be a meeting to discuss this problem and in the framework of the (EU) to find a common acceptable solution," the dispatch quotes Prime Minister Simitis saying in Barcelona on the sidelines of an EU summit. According to the dispatch, Simitis said it was wrong to see the problem as a row between Greece and Turkey. "It is not a problem between Greece and Turkey (but) how those who belong to the EU will cooperate with those who do not belong to the EU," he said. "The EU has said it wants a defense identity, so it wants to have autonomy to decide on its policies and the question is how we will have this autonomy and cooperate in the framework of NATO," he added. A related AP dispatch quotes Prime Minister Simitis saying that plans for the EU to take over NATOs peacekeeping role in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia need not be delayed by his countrys veto over a cooperation agreement between the two organizations. He said temporary arrangements could be worked out to allow an EU force to move into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia this year. "There could be ad hoc agreements if it is not possible to have a general solution," he reportedly indicated.
- A Wall Street Journal editorial observes that after years of being sheltered in well-guarded compounds, U.S. forces in Bosnia have suddenly turned activists and are aiding Americas broader effort, rooting out religious terrorists and keeping a close watch on Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Stressing that "nation-building, it turns out, complements Americas counter terrorism effort," the newspaper quotes Gen. Blum, commander of the U.S. forces at Eagle Base in Tuzla saying: "What you have in Bosnia is a little laboratory model of the asymmetrical challenges." The article further says that in light of Sept. 11, Gen. Blum makes the most convincing military case for staying on. "If we leave, this place will implode," Gen. Blum is quoted saying and adding that without his troops there, "Bosnia would be an even more dangerous place for Europe and for us, because it would be a haven for terrorists." The editorial concludes: "The U.S. privately tells its allies the next high representative should be the last; then Europe can put Bosnia on a path toward the EU. In principle this is not a bad plan, as long as the deadline concentrates minds. Its public distaste for Bosnia asideafter all, this was Bill Clintons warthe administration seems to understand American political military leadership is needed in Bosnia. As the U.S. presses for the NATO force to be reduced to 12,000 troops this year from 18,000, it wants to make sure the Europeans draw down with them, keeping the American share at 15% and ensuring the U.S. stays in charge of the force. Its too early to declare victory. But the good news is that Bosnia has now become central to the Bush Doctrines commitment to make sure weak states dont gall into terrorist hands again."
Media highlight that EU foreign policy chief Solana pulled off a significant diplomatic success Thursday after persuading Serbia and Montenegro to stay together in a new union rather than opt for independence.
The Financial Times stresses that the agreement strengthens the EUs role in preventive diplomacy as it takes on greater responsibility for shoring up stability in security in the Balkans. A Reuters analysis remarks that the accord reflected the international communitys determination to prevent further fragmentation in southeastern Europe and was fresh evidence of a new transatlantic division of labor.
- According to The Times, Britain has been asked to join the second phase of the war on terror by offering intelligence training and equipment to Georgia, where Al Qaeda terrorists are believed to be hiding in the Pankisi Gorge. The newspaper reports that after talks in Washington, Valeri Khaburdzania, Georgias State Security Minister, arrived in Britain for meetings this week with officials from MI6 and MI5. While Whitehall sources refused to discuss details of what the Georgians wants and what Britain is prepared to provide, Khaburdzania said in an interview before his visit that he wanted London to provide sophisticated surveillance equipment and to share information on terrorist suspects, adds the article.
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