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Updated: 20-Jan-2003

SHAPE News Summary & Analysis

20 January 2003

  • Top U.S. general holds talks with Turkish military officials
  • More coverage of SHAPE change of command
  • Daily: Military specialization within NATO has a limit
  • Bundeswehr to begin guarding U.S. facilities in Germany
  • Skopje asks EU to take over peace mission
  • Serbia's ex-president heads for trial


Gen. Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joints Chiefs of Staff, and Turkish generals met Monday amid reports Washington was considering cutting back a demand to base tens of thousands of soldiers in southern Turkey for a possible attack on Iraq, reports AP. The dispatch quotes Gen. Myers saying that "Turkey has been a very cooperative partner. I would expect them to be in the future as well." He reportedly declined, however, to comment on any details of his talks, saying it was up to Turkish officials to "characterize the details of that cooperation." The dispatch also quotes the U.S. Embassy saying Gen. Jones is scheduled to visit Turkey on Friday.


Weekend media continued to center on the SHAPE change of command. Several highlighted that Gen. Jones took over from Gen. Ralston as the Alliance considers a U.S. request for indirect military assistance in case of war with Iraq.
"A new head for NATO at crucial time," wrote The Daily Telegraph, Jan. 18. Gen. Jones took over as head of NATO's forces in Europe at a crucial time as the Alliance prepares to expand and back the war in Iraq, noted the daily.
In a similar vein, the Stars and Stripes noted that Gen. Jones took over as the Alliance considers what role it might play in a new Iraq war.
The Financial Times, Jan. 18, made a similar observation and quoted Gen. Jones saying: "These are exciting times and difficult times for NATO." Gen. Jones insisted that the Alliance had to meet the "demands of a new, more complex, and equally dangerous security environment," added the newspaper. French daily Le Monde, Jan. 19-20 carried related information.

Under the title, "NATO's Francophile new military chief bridges Atlantic," the French news agency AFP highlighted that "Gen. Jones embodies exactly the trans-Atlantic spirit which the Alliance aspires to," and speculated that "his skills could be crucial at a key time when tensions between the U.S. and Europe have rarely been greater" since "the four-star general is perfectly at ease with the bilingual culture of the Alliance." The report appears to be based on remarks by NATO Secretary General Robertson on the occasion of the SHAPE change of command ceremony. "This is a man who genuinely has one foot in Europe and one foot in America. He spans the Atlantic literally. In many ways, Gen. Jones is a living symbol of what NATO is all about, a political and military organization yes, certainly, but even more a bridge across the Atlantic," the news agency quoted Lord Robertson saying.

Local daily La Province announces factually that Gen. Jones took over from Gen. Ralston Friday. The article is illustrated with a photograph of Gen. Jones, captioned: "James L. Jones, new SACEUR."


Arguing that military specialization within NATO has a limit, the Financial Times writes: Specialization is increasing with NATO's enlargement to the East, partly because the new members are mainly small and partly because some of them still have traditional specialties left from the old Warsaw Pact. During the Cold War, western Europe always assumed it would fight a defensive war on its own territory. Now that it faces the prospect of mounting expeditionary forces either as the EU or in the planned NATO response force, it lacks logistics. Many European allies therefore need to focus less on hardware such as fighters frigates and tanks, and more on sea and air transport-and even really humdrum water supply and laundry units. Stressing that among the larger European allies, Germany is responding, the article explains that while it makes the best tanks in Europe, Berlin knows these tanks are no longer very relevant to Europe's defense, and is reluctant to use them elsewhere such as Iraq. So it has decided that its comparative advantage lies in providing air transport: It finally made a firm commitment of buying one third of Europe's order for the new A400M transport aircraft and is leading a consortium of countries to lease interim transport until they are built. The newspaper stresses, however, that the way NATO operations are shifting toward coalitions of the willing, not necessarily involving all members, places a big question mark over specialization. "What happens to military transport if Germany does not want to take part in a future operation?," asks the newspaper, concluding: " For the law of comparative advantage to apply to defense as it does to commerce, integration is required. In the absence of that, countries such as Britain and France, not to speak of the U.S., will always want to try to maintain a full spectrum of defense, even if that makes as little sense as autarky does in trade."

ARD television, Jan. 18, reported that the Bundeswehr will begin to take over the protection of U.S. barracks and other facilities in Germany as of Jan. 24. The Defense Minister has said this promise to the United States will be fulfilled. No details were given but press reports claim 7,00 soldiers are to be deployed for up to two years to protect 95 U.S. facilities, noted the network.


According to Reuters, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has officially asked the EU to take over the peacekeeping mission in the country, in what would be the EU's debut in military crisis management operations. In a letter to EU foreign policy chief Solana, which the news agency claims it obtained Monday, President Trajkovski reportedly asked the EU to prepare for its fledgling rapid reaction force to take over the mission. "I would like to respond favorably to the offer of the EU and to invite you to take the necessary measures to enable the taking over by the EU of the military mission currently implemented by NATO," the letter, sent at the weekend, reportedly said.

Electronic media report that former Serbian President Milan Milutinovic has left Belgrade to surrender to the ICTY where he faces war crimes charges.


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