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SHAPE NEWS SUMMARY & ANALYSIS 05 NOVEMBER  2002

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

NATO

         NATO seen looking ahead to a mission makeover

         Minister:  Hungary falling short of meeting NATO obligations

         Greece reportedly balking at cost of new armaments for new NATO force

         Report:  Lord Robertson calls on Germany to equip Bundeswehr for new threats

ANTI-TERRORISM

         U.S. strike kills six suspected Al Qaeda terrorists

 

NATO

 

         According to NATO officials in Brussels and government officials in European capitals, writes the Washington Post, NATO appears set to embrace a radically new military posture and strategy that would profoundly alter the shape and mission of the world's most significant military alliance.  The newspaper reports that in a series of interviews, these officials said the planned changes-on the agenda of the Prague summit-could remake the Alliance more significantly than the other major item on the agenda, enlargement.   NATO heads of government could announce creation of a multi-national rapid deployment force of about 21,000 troops that would allow NATO to operate quickly and effectively against new enemies far from Europe, writes the newspaper.  It adds that NATO members may also announce commitments to acquire new aircraft and equipment that would make this an effective force and allow it to deploy on a week's notice. Nicholas Burns, the U.S. Ambassador to the Alliance, is quoted saying:  "We're deconstructing the old NATO to build a new one to meet the threat of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction." The article further says that in addition to the anticipated enlargement and formation of a rapid response force, officials involved in preparations for the summit said they foresee an announcement that groups of NATO members will jointly agree to lease U.S.-made tanker aircraft for in-flight refueling and long-range strategic air transports to carry troops to far-flung battlefields.  According to the newspaper, leaders at the summit may also agree to acquire a fleet of JSTAR aircraft, which carry advanced electronics to track targets on the ground, to provide intelligence for NATO military operations.  NATO diplomats are reportedly trying to reach final agreement on a plan for joint response to any nation's use of weapons of mass destruction.  Members may commit to fielding additional special forces and to acquiring improved communications equipment to allow secure exchanges among NATO member forces. And they will announce plans to reduce the number of NATO commands and headquarters, and reorient the remaining ones to new tasks. Noting that these initiatives have all been prompted by the Sept. 11 events, the newspaper quotes Benoit D'Aboville, France's ambassador to NATO, saying the dispute over whether the Alliance should operate out-of-area has "fallen away with the twin towers."  The newspaper adds, however, that NATO officials acknowledged that the agreements announced in Prague will be statements of intention. Actual implementation will have to be worked out over time and funded by member governments, and it will take several years to put new capabilities into action.  In a similar vein, the New York Times, Nov. 4, wrote that while the allies are expected to agree to the idea of a rapid response force in principle in Prague, the details and the necessary commitment to greater defense spending will be fought over later.

 

         AFP reports that speaking ahead of the Prague summit, Hungarian Defense Minister Juhasz said Monday that Hungary was falling short of meeting its obligations to the Alliance.  "Not even other NATO member states could defend Hungary because fundamental military capabilities are lacking inside the country," Juhasz reportedly told the mass-circulation newspaper Nepszabadsag in an interview published Monday.  According to the dispatch, he explained that at the current time, NATO would be unable to defend Hungary in case of an attack because the country lacks the necessary military infrastructure.  Hungary has a "large and clumsy army which lacks fast-moving rapid deployment battalions.  Neither its structure nor the level of preparedness, nor its armament are suitable," he reportedly said.  Support and supply capabilities are also inadequate, he stressed, adding:  "There are few here who know the standards of NATO communication . and it is important that Hungarian battalions can at least communicate with other countries' battalions."  He reportedly blamed the country's previous conservative government, in power until May, for "tricking" the organization about Hungary's fulfilling NATO obligations.  The dispatch recalls that Juhasz launched a comprehensive probe into Hungary's defense capability shortly after he took over the defense ministry in May.  At the same time, he pledged to raise defense spending by 16 percent in next year's budget to bring it up to 1.2 billion euros, mainly for structural reforms such as improving training and moving toward a professional army and also upgrading the military's technology. The dispatch adds that in an interview on Saturday, Prime Minister Medgyevssy confirmed the country's commitment to fulfilling its NATO obligations and said that next year's budget,  which is to be approved by Parliament soon, would allocate enough money for this.

 

         The price Greece is being asked to pay for the emerging defense strategies of NATO and the EU is considered "outrageous, beyond its defense requirements" and mainly, disproportionate to the capabilities of the Greek economy, wrote Athens' To Vima tis Kiriakis, Nov. 3.  The newspaper claimed it had been informed by sources that, in a confidential letter to Prime Minister Simitis, NATO Secretary General Robertson had submitted a "shopping list" and asked Greece to procure very expensive armaments in order to meet NATO requirements for a high-tech army that can address terrorist threats wherever they emerge.  "The Defense Ministry . warned that Lord Robertson's demands are disproportionate to the capabilities of our nation because of the existing requirements of our own National Defense Policy, our geopolitical environment and the already high level of our defense spending," wrote the newspaper.  It added that other countries have been asked to purchase different kinds of armaments, but almost all NATO member nations have invoked economic difficulties and have begun a dialogue with NATO aimed at reducing their contribution.  The article stressed that the final decision would be made at the highest level a few days before the Prague summit.

 

 

         Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that in a speech in Berlin Monday, NATO Secretary General Robertson said he expected that at the Prague summit, Germany would approve NATO's readjustment to the fight against terrorism and the related adaptation of its armed forces and, accordingly, a modernization of the Bundeswehr.  According to the newspaper, Lord Robertson told a Bundeswehr forum he felt there was an agreement that NATO operations were no longer limited by geographical boundaries.  He reportedly explained the threat created by terrorists who might use chemical, biological or nuclear weapons and stressed that  NATO would have to prepare for such cases.  The newspaper adds that in terms of how to finance such measures,  Lord Robertson gave optimistic statements.  "You could change the priorities, strengthen the multinational cooperation or specialize," he reportedly said, adding:  "Do not be afraid to do the right thing, even if it seems to be unpopular."  Another article in the same newspaper comments that the Europeans have every reason to welcome the U.S. proposal for a NATO rapid response force.  The newspaper considers that with this initiative, the Bush administration has clearly signaled that it has not yet completely written off NATO as a military alliance.  The proposal for a mobile response force has so far been the most visible consequence of a strategic reorientation, stresses the article, noting that the force would be the Alliance's response to asymmetric threats such as international terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other challenges which are not foreseeable at this point.  Under present planning, the article continues, the NATO response force is to achieve a limited operational readiness by Oct. 1, 2004.  Full operational readiness should be established from Oct. 1, 2006.  SHAPE headquarters would be responsible for the joint training program.  The NAC would decide on the operations.  "In the final analysis, the new NATO force is intended to convey a new understanding of defense," the daily concludes.

 

ANTI-TERRORISM

 

         The Washington Post quotes sources familiar with the action saying Monday that a missile fired by a U.S. Predator drone over Yemen Sunday killed six suspected Al Qaeda terrorists in a vehicle about 100 miles east of the nation's capital.   According to the article, a senior administration official said Yemeni defense officials had identified one of the men killed as Abu Ali Al Harithi, one of the suspected planners of the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole.  The newspaper notes the attack by the unmanned aircraft marks a new stage in Washington's war on terror.   

 

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