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Military

Updated: 02-Jun-2004
 

SHAPE News Summary & Analysis

31 May 2004

NATO

  • Gen. Jones interviewed by Italian daily, visits Allied Action 2004
  • First Greek military chemical specialists arrive in Prague for training

AFGHANISTAN

  • NATO takes over running of Kabul airport from Germany
  • NATO assembly chief warns against failure of Afghan mission

BALKANS

  • NATO chief ties partnership with Bosnia to progress over war crimes

NATO

  • “Gen. Jones is not only the SACEUR and the commander of U.S. forces in Europe, he was also one of the planners of the U.S. military intervention in Iraq,” wrote Italian daily Il Messaggero, May 29. Stressing, therefore, that during an interview with Gen. Jones “it was impossible not to query him on the evolution of the crisis in the Middle East country,” the article, titled “The mission in Iraq will last longer than predicted,” quoted Gen. Jones saying: “Military plans to arrive to Baghdad went very well. After that, however, the situation became extremely difficult and there is presently no easy or quick solution…. The same occurred in the Balkans. Who would have said, 12 years ago, that we would still be there now. I believe that the situation we are witnessing in Iraq today will go on for some time. But time is on our side.” The article reported that Gen. Jones flew to the base of Sant Agostino in Civitavecchia, in the company of Adm. Johnson, (Commander Joint Forces Command Naples), and was received by Italian Chief of the Defense Staff Adm. Di Paola. The three high-ranking officers came there to inspect exercise Allied Action 2004, said the article, adding that the exercise, which will end June 8, is testing the “ultra rapid deployment” of a joint task force headquarters. Noting that according to NATO’s doctrine, the NATO Response Force is the military tool to face international crises of “the near future,” the article continued: “NATO as a whole—said Gen. Jones—will be used as a rapid reaction force…. The forces will be reduced but technology will make them more capable.” Gen. Jones was further quoted saying that “the U.S. military presence in Europe will be smaller but more efficient.” Today’s forces are no longer measured by numbers, he reportedly stressed, adding: “A 21st century infantry battalion is capable to do what a 20th century regiment--a force three times bigger--could do” According to the newspaper, Adm. De Paola said the 5,000 Italian military personnel earmarked for the NATO Rapid Response Force “will not be a waste of resources and time. On the contrary, the force, which will be put at the disposal of NATO for six months, will later become an integral part of the European force.” In a related dispatch, Italy’s ANSA news agency stressed that NATO’s transformation is providing the Alliance with a “more agile and expeditionary force.” The dispatch added that describing the Alliance of the 21st century, Gen. Jones stated that NATO as a whole will be utilized as a rapid reaction force, with forces reduced in numbers but improved through technology. The dispatch acknowledged that Allied Action 2004 is indeed about testing the joint coordination and cooperation at all levels of command, as well as the effectiveness of operational control structures. Another ANSA dispatch highlighted Gen. Jones’ purported statement that the United States has no intention to disengage from Europe and its NATO commitment. The U.S. presence will be “reduced but more capable,” Gen. Jones was quoted saying and adding that resident forces may be reduced but there will be more rotational forces. This is part of the process of transformation, which is making NATO “strategically more effective.” A second U.S. objective is “more effective alliances in the Middle East and Africa,” Gen. Jones reportedly added.
  • Prague’s CTK, May 30, reported that the first 24 Greek military chemical specialists who will attend a one-week chemical protection course in the Czech Republic had arrived in the country. Another group of 24 Greek soldiers would arrive in the Czech Republic on July 7. The training is connected with the protection of the Summer Olympics, the dispatch said, adding that talks between Greece and NATO on a possible sending of Czech military chemical specialists to Athens are under way but NATO has not yet asked the Czech Republic for this help in the protection of the Olympic Games yet. The Czech government, nevertheless, intends to ask Parliament to issue its consent with such a mission beforehand so that it is immediately sent to Athens if the need arises, stressed the dispatch.

AFGHANISTAN

  • AFP reports NATO formally took command of Kabul’s military airport Tuesday when Germany ended more than two years in charge by handing over control to Icelandic troops. The dispatch adds that a lifeline for ISAF, the military component of Kabul international airport will now be managed by soldiers from some 24 nations under the command of Icelandic personnel. It quotes Iceland’s Foreign Minister Asgrimsson saying the mission was the biggest responsibility Iceland had undertaken since it became a member of NATO.
  • According to AFP, the head of NATO’s parliamentary assembly warned Friday that the Alliance’s mission in Afghanistan could fail unless member states boosted their forces in the country. “This is a critical period and it’s a question of will of the NATO countries to transfer their forces and equipment to Afghanistan or else we could well face failure,” Assembly President Dough Bereuter reportedly said at the opening of a five-day session of the Assembly in Bratislava. “A failure for NATO is unimaginable but this is something that faces us unless the 26 countries think very seriously, very quickly about their mission in Afghanistan,” he added.

BALKANS

  • NATO Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer said in Sarajevo Friday that Bosnia’s chances of being invited to join PFP at the Istanbul summit next month depended on full cooperation with the ICTY, reports AFP. “I would like to stress very strongly that the five weeks which we have until the Istanbul summit should be used very well on this subject because the order of play for NATO is war crimes suspects first and Partnership for Peace later, not the other way around,” Mr. de Hoop Scheffer reportedly said. Speaking after meeting with members of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, he stressed that “without something fundamental happening in the coming five weeks … the chances of PFP for Bosnia at Istanbul summit are extremely slim, very close to zero.”

 



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