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SHAPE NEWS SUMMARY & ANALYSIS 02 DECEMBER 2002

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

GEN. RALSTON-BULGARIA

         Gen. Ralston's visit to Bulgaria viewed

NATO

         NATO could support Turkey if Iraq war spilled over

         U.S. official postpones NATO visit due to technical problems

BALKANS

         NATO names extended Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia mission

ESDP

         EU's "big three" struggle to agree on defense

GERMANY-DEFENSE

         German government to reduce A400M order to 60, plans more cutbacks

ISAF

         Belgian soldiers to take part in ISAF in February

 

GEN. RALSTON-BULGARIA

 

Gen. Ralston's visit to Bulgaria Nov. 29 was noted by international and local media.  Media generally focused on his purported statement that a military attack on Iraq was a "last resort" should peaceful measures to disarm Baghdad fail. 

"We all hope that the weapons of mass destruction that exist in Iraq will be removed by peaceful means," AFP, Nov. 29,  quoted Gen. Ralston saying after talks with Bulgarian officials. According to Gen. Ralston, said Sofia's BTA, Nov. 29,  there will be a political decision for a military action in Iraq only if peaceful means fail.  The dispatch further quoted Gen. Ralston saying that everybody's hope is that "any weapons of mass destruction can be eliminated through peaceful means" and "there is a better chance of Saddam Hussein eliminating those weapons if he understands that all of the nations are united in making sure that those weapons of mass destruction are destroyed." 

 

Local media highlighted that Gen. Ralston congratulated Bulgarian officials on the invitation to NATO membership. 

In a related dispatch, BTA, Nov. 29, reported that speaking to reporters, Gen. Ralston noted the team work between Allied Command Europe and the Bulgarian government in the past few years and voiced hope that the team spirit would persist in future.  According to Gen. Ralston, the dispatch continued, Bulgaria faces a number of political and military tasks after the invitation to join NATO.  He mentioned the need for legislative and organizational changes.  He said Bulgaria has a good schedule for downsizing its armed forces, which have been reduced by some 40,000 in the last five years.  He praised the progress the Bulgarian armed forces have made in the past few years and the good performance of the Bulgarian troops that are part of SFOR and said their preparation should be a model for the Bulgarian infantry.  He also stressed that the modernization of the defense equipment requires long-term planning.  The dispatch quoted Bulgarian Army Chief Gen. Kolev saying that during talks with Gen. Ralston, military officials received advise about how to avoid certain mistakes and how to better use the resources in the military reform. 

 

Sofia's Khristo Botev radio, Nov. 29, reported that at a ceremony at the Presidency, President Purvanov awarded Gen. Ralston with the Stara Planina Order First Class with swords. 

 

NATO

 

         AFP quotes an Alliance official saying in Brussels Friday that NATO could give military support to Turkey if a war in Iraq risked spilling over in the region.  NATO nations could support fellow member Turkey under Article 5, declaring any attack on a member state as an assault on all others, the official, reportedly said on condition of anonymity, adding:  "If Turkey perceives that there may be some side effects that put a risk on Turkey, Turkey would then turn to NATO."  In such a case, he reportedly added, "according to the Washington Treaty, every NATO nation would then decide what it is prepared to do in complying with Article 5."   The dispatch stresses that the official reiterated that NATO has no plans for direct military involvement in military action against Iraq.

 

         According to AP, NATO said in statement Monday that technical problems had forced U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of State Grossman to postpone a visit to NATO.  The dispatch recalls that the trip was to have been part of U.S. efforts to sound out allies for support in the event of war against Iraq.  It adds that U.S. officials said they were unable to give more detailed reasons for the delay, but indicated the trip may begin later in the week.

 

BALKANS

 

         According to AFP, NATO confirmed Friday that it will extend a peacekeeping mission in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia next month, saying the name of the scaled-down force will be Operation Allied Harmony.  The dispatch adds, however, that in a statement NATO also called for a follow-on international mission. 

 

ESDP

 

         The Financial Times observes that sharp differences on the future of ESDP have come into the open after France and Germany together and Britain on its own presented proposals to the Convention on the future of Europe.  According to the newspaper, the two sets of plans dispel any myth of a united ESDP policy.  They expose fundamental tensions over what kind of links ESDP would have with NATO.  The British paper to the Convention's working group on defense reportedly anchors any future ESDP firmly in the Alliance, insisting NATO should continue to provide "the role as the collective defense organization."  It says close links between the EU and NATO "are indispensable to avoid unnecessary duplication." But Germany and France take a different view, although Berlin reportedly insisted that the paper would include a reference to maintaining transatlantic links with NATO.  According to the newspaper, the documents sets out a European view of defense, going so far as to suggest ESDP should eventually have a collective defense doctrine, equivalent to NATO's Article 5.  It calls for the EU to have an integrated command capability and to create multinational forces with integrated leadership capabilities "regardless of their NATO actions."  Above all, it stresses that decisions for some military actions by a core of countries working on the basis of enhanced cooperation might be taken by qualified majority voting.  The newspaper remarks that where France, Germany and Britain agree is the need for more and better capabilities. 

 

GERMANY-DEFENSE

 

         The Federal government will order 60 instead of 70 A400M aircraft.  A report by French Defense Minister Alliot-Marie to the National Assembly in Paris, which indicated this, was indirectly confirmed in Berlin on Friday. As a result of the reduction of the German order, the total of the multinational procurement project will go down to 180 planes, reported Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Nov. 30.  The newspaper added that the reduction of the order is part of the Defense Ministry's efforts to adjust the procurement in the next few years to the financial volume that the Federal Government's medium-term financial plan envisages for the Bundeswehr.  This results in the need to save about 6 billion euros by 2006.  According to the newspaper, Defense Minister Struck intends to brief the Defense Committee and the public on Wednesday about decisions.  The measures that are reportedly still under discussion include not only the drastic reduction of the number of new weapons systems ordered, such as the "Meteor" air-to-air intermediate range missile and the "Iris-T" air-to-air short-range missiles, which are to equip the new Eurofighters, but also a reduction in the number of Eurofighters ordered.  The disbanding of entire units, for instance of one of the three speedboat fleets of the Navy as well as of an Air Force Tornado squadron cannot be ruled out either.  Furthermore, cutbacks of procurement projects that are already underway will probably also be checked.  According to the newspaper, these include the new Tiger combat helicopter as well as the new NH 90 transport helicopter, the 124 frigates, the K130 corvette, the increase of the combat value of the CH53 transport helicopter, the new helicopter for the Navy, and the extension of the life span of the Tornado fleet, parts of which have been flying for 20 years.

 

ISAF

 

         Belgian media, Nov. 30,  reported that on Friday, the Cabinet approved the deployment of more than 150 Belgian soldiers within the scope of ISAF for a six-month period which would begin in mid-February 2003.  

 

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