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SHAPE NEWS SUMMARY & ANALYSIS 08 JULY 2002

 

BALKANS
  • Police detain man suspected of plotting COMSFOR’s assassination

NATO-ACCESSION

  • Report: "NATO offered bird’s eye view of Baltic"

NATO-COMMAND STRUCTURE

  • Portugal, Britain reportedly split over future of NATO command structure

ANTI-TERRORISM

  • USAREUR forms four quick-reaction teams

ISAF

  • Afghanistan asks ISAF for help in murder probe

OTHER NEWS

  • British army rifles still faulty after modification
  • British military chief to retire early, claims daily
  • Britain preparing to join America in a full-scale invasion of Iraq

 

 

BALKANS

 

  • AP reports officials said in Mostar Monday that police had detained a Bosnian on a charge of illegally possessing a weapon and allegedly plotting to kill COMSFOR, Gen. Sylvester. According to the dispatch, police said in a statement that they had arrested a 31-year-old man from the central Bosnian town of Zenica during a routine traffic stop Saturday. His name and ethnic background were not immediately known. On the back seat of his car, police had reportedly discovered an automatic rifle with a silencer and a sight as well as a small amount of 9mm ammunition. "We are focusing on this arrest because of the type of weapon found and the fact that at the same time, the NATO commander in Bosnia, Gen. Sylvester, was in town," the dispatch quotes the statement saying. It also cites an SFOR spokesman stressing that "obviously, the fact that Gen. Sylvester was in Mostar at the time of this arrest causes us concern. We will be following the police investigation closely." The dispatch further says that in a written statement, Gen. Sylvester stressed that Mostar police have the primary responsibility to conduct the investigation and "we will be relying on them to keep us fully informed of what they learn." The dispatch adds that NATO has assigned two criminal investigators to the case.

 

 

Reporting on SFOR’s arrest of war crimes suspect Deronjic, the BBC World Service observed that no one was injured in the operation, but correspondents said it was likely to increase tensions in eastern Bosnia. A number of events are due to take place in Srebrenica this week to mark the seventh anniversary of the massacre, noted the report.

 

The row between the United States and the UN over the powers of the new International Criminal Court (ICC) remains at the center of media interest. The Financial Times speculates that America’s stance may push Europe into taking responsibility for security.

The immediate consequence of the U.S. campaign is most likely to be America’s withdrawal from peacekeeping in the Balkans. Quitting the UN-mandated police force in Bosnia would come first. Pulling out of the UN-led operation in Kosovo might well follow, stresses the newspaper, adding, however: "On the positive side, such an outcome should galvanize the flagging efforts to establish Europe’s common defense policy. It would force Europeans to face the reality that peace in the Balkans is in their vital interest, if not America’s…. Whether Washignton likes it or not, U.S. unilateralism is driving the process of European integration."

 

 

NATO-ACCESSION

 

  • Looking at the Baltic republics’ NATO accession bid, The Daily Telegraph, July 6, remarked that while Latvia’s tiny air force has little chance of shooting down a hostile plane, thanks to its new radar, it may enjoy a grandstand look at intruders as they fly over, a view that NATO, too, could be enjoying soon. "A flick of a switch would plug the Baltics’ network into NATO’s," noted the newspaper, adding: "The screens at the new surveillance center next to Riga airport display a glowing panorama of the region’s airspace. One day that will extend NATO’s view of the skies over Russia and the Baltic Sea."

 

 

NATO-COMMAND STRUCTURE

 

  • Suggesting that Portugal and Britain are split over the future of NATO’s command structure, Lisbon’s Publico, July 7, explained that Portugal supports the current model of two strategic commands, one based in the United States and the other in Belgium, alongside the five regional commands—of which Oeiras headquarters is one—all with identical decision levels and under the wing of SACLANT. The newspaper stressed that both Norway and Germany share Portugal’s view, and "according to NATO sources, the latter has even expressed it in a communiqu." But, added the article, Britain opposes this view and defends the existence of a single strategic command, with its headquarters in Europe, and of a single regional command for the Atlantic, which would be Northwood in England. The article quoted unidentified military and diplomatic sources saying the Netherlands and Spain are supporting London’s position.

 

 

ANTI-TERRORISM

  • The Stars and Stripes, July 6, reported that USAREUR has created four quick-reaction teams to stand by for chemical, biological or even nuclear attack. The newspaper quoted officials saying that dubbed Consequence Management Assessment Teams (CMATs), the 16-member units would be among the U.S. military’s first responders in Europe to anything from a suspected anthrax-laced letter to ground zero of a nuclear "suitcase " bomb explosion. According to CMAT’s mission statement, added the article, their mission breaks down as follows: Assess: The teams are trained to give a calm assessment of what could very likely be a confused and chaotic situation. Advise: The team’ technical experts at the scene will establish an operations center with satellite links to experts in the United States. Facilitate: Working with local officials, the teams will handle requests for additional assistance "to help save lives, prevent human suffering and mitigate additional property damage."

ISAF

  • According to Reuters, Afghanistan appealed on Monday to ISAF to help investigate the slaying of Afghan Vice President Qadir. "The Islamic transitional government has asked (ISAF) to help in the investigation…. The intention is to have a completely neutral, fair, quick and professional investigation for prompt identification of the culprits," the dispatch quotes a government spokesman saying. Earlier, The Guardian noted that the assassination prompted several U.S. senators Sunday to call for a stronger role in Afghanistan of the international peacekeeping force.

 

OTHER NEWS

 

  • According to the Sunday Telegraph, July 7, senior British army officials want the government to scrap the service’s fault-prone main assault rifles because of fears that it will cost the lives of British soldiers in battle. The demands reportedly arose after it emerged that several SA80-A2 rifles, the latest version of the weapons that recently completed an upgrade, failed to fire during operations in Afghanistan.

 

  • Adm. Sir Michael Boyce is understood to be preparing to retire as the most senior military officer next year amid rumors that he has a poor relationship with ministers, wrote The Daily Telegraph, July 6. The newspaper quoted a Defense Ministry spokesman stressing, however, that no decision had been taken. The newspaper claimed that Adm. Boyce is expected to be replaced by Gen. Sir Michael Walker, the Chief of the General Staff and head of the Army.

 

  • The Sunday Telegraph, July 7, reported that Britain is preparing to join the United States in a full invasion of Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein from power early next year. In the past six months, British troops’ commitments in the Balkans and Sierra Leone have all been reduced in preparation for the attack, noted the newspaper, claiming that it had been told by a senior Defense Ministry official that Britain will contribute a division of 20,000 men composed of armored and infantry brigades to fight alongside the U.S. The force would reportedly also be supported by up to 50 combat jets, an aircraft carrier group composed of frigates, destroyers and a submarine from the Royal Navy.

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