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NSPA Receives This Year’s First Shipment of Precision Guided Munitions (PGMs)


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The NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) has received the first of three shipments of Precision Guided Munitions (PGMs) for 2020, acquired through one of the NATO’s multinational High Visibility Projects.

The PGMs, produced in the United States, are arriving between three to twelve months ahead of schedule and will be delivered to the Nations in the upcoming weeks.

The NATO multinational Air-to-Ground PGM involves thirteen Allies (Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom) and one NATO partner. Launched in 2014 at the Wales Summit, this multinational project offers participants a framework to acquire air-to-ground PGMs in a cost-effective and flexible way. Working through this initiative, the participants have already succeeded in lowering their acquisition costs by 15-20%. Another added benefit is that participants are able to draw upon each other’s PGM stocks much more easily, for instance during air operations or in a possible crisis. This flexibility means that processing times can be reduced from months to weeks or days.

Recognising these benefits, the participants have increased their orders through the NATO project. The number of different munitions and components procured through the project has also expanded – from four to 15. In 2021, the project is expected to offer further benefits by opening the doors of a first multinational munition warehouse facility to participants and other Allies and partner nations in the future.

NATO has other similar projects for the acquisition of land and maritime munitions offering comparable benefits. This is part of NATO’s work to increase joint investments in critical capabilities required by the Alliance. As NATO’s primary enabler, NSPA’s mission is to provide effective and efficient multinational solutions to the Alliance, its 30 Nations and Partners. Essential for its success is the capability to consolidate customer requirements and create economies of scale for more cost-effective solutions.

 

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NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) Expands Its Support to C-130 Fleet

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Following many years of extensive support to the C-130 aircraft, the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) has expanded its services portfolio to include overhaul capabilities for the latest C-130J model.

The C-130 Hercules has been in service for more than half a century. The aircraft was designed to transport troops and equipment in the combat zone via airdrop or short runways and can fulfil a wide range of operational missions in both peace and war situations. The C-130J is the latest version of the C-130 Hercules and the only model still in production. It is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft, updated with new engines, a new flight deck and other systems.

During many years, NSPA has been providing an extensive range of services and capabilities to the C-130 fleet, including Depot Level Maintenance (overhaul, repair and upgrade) for the aircraft and its mechanical and electrical components. For the engines, the service portfolio includes depot level repair, overhaul and upgrade capabilities for a number of engine variants, which nowadays include as well the AE2100D3 engine fitted on the C-130J model.

Through consolidation of user requirements, NSPA provides user nations efficient support assuring quality of services and enables the nations to achieve economies of scale and logistics advantages.

All these support capabilities and services are available to NATO member Nations and partners. NSPA, on behalf of C 130 user nations, aims to continuously widen its capability scope to be able to further consolidate and support user nations with full fleet support range, as it does already for other major systems.
 

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L3Harris Receives Contract for Two Low-Frequency Active Towed Sonar (LFATS) Systems
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L3Harris Technologies has been awarded a multi-million-dollar contract to deliver two Low-Frequency Active Towed Sonar (LFATS) systems to a NATO member.

The LFATS system is used on ships to detect, track and engage all types of submarines. L3Harris specifically designed the system to perform at a lower operating frequency against modern diesel-electric submarine threats.

“This award represents our continued growth in the international naval market by providing our allies with a new, variable depth sonar capability to enhance the anti-submarine warfare capabilities of their surface combatants,” said Sean Stackley, President, Integrated Mission Systems, L3Harris. “Our sonar technology delivers excellent detection, localization and tracking in a compact, light-weight package.”

The United States Department of Defense recently awarded this 26-month delivery order under VSE Corporation’s Foreign Military Sales contract with the Naval Sea Systems Command International Fleet Support Program Office.
 

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ITALY ASSUMES LEAD FOR BALTIC AIR POLICING


RAMSTEIN, Germany - On September 1 an advance team of the Italian Air Force Eurofighter detachment took over NATO’s Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission from the Spanish Air Force at Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania.

During a ceremony at detachment level, the Colonel Antonio di Matteo, Italian Air Force, received the key to the Baltic Airspace from Lieutenant Colonel Jesús Gutiérrez Gallego, Spanish Air Force, and Wing Commander Stu Gwinnutt, Royal Air Force, marking the formal handover of NATO’s peacetime Air Policing mission in the Baltic States to the 54th rotation. While Italy will be leading the mission here, the German Eurofighter detachment will be augmenting as an enhanced Air Policing nation.

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This mission confirms our Alliance is united securing the skies and closely cooperating to ensure deterrence and defence

“Allied Air Command via the Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem, Germany, are constantly working with SHAPE to flexibly manage and assign Allied force contributions for the Air Policing mission,” said U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Andrew Hansen, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations. “We have a great continuity in this mission that confirms our Alliance is united securing the skies and closely cooperating to ensure deterrence and defence,” he added.
The Italian fighters will deploy to Lithuania on September 4 and establish their full operational capability by September 8. NATO and Germany have coordinated a temporary arrangement to cover the three Baltic States with an Air Policing capability.
Flying out of Estonia, the German Air Force will conduct the Baltic Air Policing mission for the entire region until 8 September, when the Italian Air Force will take up its leading role in Lithuania. NATO continues to provide seamless and effective Air Policing safeguarding our Allies Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

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Baltic Air Policing is one of the best examples of NATO unity, demonstrating the Alliance’s commitment to security
"This is also shown by the readiness of the Italian and German Air Forces to carry out the air policing mission in the Baltic region as planned, despite the coronavirus pandemic. For our part, we seek to provide our partners with the best conditions for carrying out the mission from the Air Force Base in Šiauliai,” Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis says.
Italy is the first Ally to contribute to the defensive Allied peacetime mission in the Baltic Region for a whole year. The Air Force has agreed to execute the 54th, 55th and 56th rotations of the mission besides performing Air Policing missions at home, over Albania, Slovenia and Montenegro.

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NSPA to provide deployable infrastructure for Spanish Air Force “Marfil Detachment” in Senegal


31 August 2020, Luxembourg - The NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) will provide deployable infrastructure to house the new C-295 aircraft of the Spanish Air Force "Marfil Detachment" in Senegal. The construction of a deployable hangar and a corporate building for the deployed personnel will start in September and will be delivered by the end of the year.
Since 2013, the Spanish Air Force keeps in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, a detachment known as 'Marfil' to support operations against the advance of jihadists from neighbouring Mali. Since then, the group has been operating a C-130 Hercules aircraft that will be decommissioned later this year. The C-130 will be replaced by two C-295 aircraft that will be based at the new Balise Diagne International airport in Senegal.

To house the new aircraft, the Spanish Air Force requested support to NSPA to acquire and deploy mobile infrastructure in the theatre. NSPA awarded the contract to Gaptek, a Spanish modular architecture company, who will start the construction of the buildings in September.

The hangar will have interior dimensions of 1.200 m2 with a sliding motorized door. An additional corporate building for the Spanish personnel is planned on two floors with dimensions of 240m2 each floor. All the infrastructure can be easily dismantled or reconfigured and emits 21% less CO2 than traditional steel and concrete constructions. In addition, Gaptek will also provide a training to the SAF specialists to the military with the capacity to dismantle or reconfigure buildings if necessary. The complete infrastructure is planned to be delivered by the end of 2020.

NSPA contributes with deployable infrastructure to Spanish Air Force



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NATO completes modification program for Italian PzH 2000M 155mm self-propelled howitzers


According to information released on October 1, 2020, NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) has successfully completed the Italian PzH 2000M 155mm self-propelled howitzer modification program, providing the Italian Artillery with a key upgrade for crew safety and the ability to operate under severe climate conditions.

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An Italian Army PzH 2000, 155mm self-propelled howitzer on tracked armored. (Picture source Wikimedia)

The new PzH 2000M variant expands the field capabilities, strengthening the systems in deployment scenarios, characterized by high temperatures, through the integration of Generator Cooling Systems and Charge Compartment Cooling Systems.

Additionally, the upgrade improves crew safety by introducing a fire extinguishing system in the crew compartment, as well as a Live Firing Box consisting of a selection of tools that allow "in mission" cleaning and maintenance of the shooting mechanisms.

The PzH2000M upgrade was contracted to Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) through an international competitive solicitation supported by the Italian Ministry of Defence's land systems directorate, "Direzione degli Armamenti Terrestri".

Close and effective coordination among the involved stakeholders resulted in the successful completion of all project phases by summer 2020, in line with the set technical and quality requirements, timelines, and costs. The systems are now ready to operate in the artillery units.

The PZH 2000 is a 155mm self-propelled howitzer based on a tracked armored vehicle designed and manufactured by the German company KMW (Krauss-Maffei Wegmann). In March 1996, Wegmann and Co GmbH of Kassel were awarded a contract from the German Ministry of Defence for the supply of 185 new 155 mm/52 caliber PzH 2000 self-propelled artillery systems. The PzH 2000 entered in service with the Italian army from 2003 to 2004.

The PzH 2000 is armed with one 155mm L52 gun that was developed by German company Rheinmetall DeTec. It is equipped with a fully automatic shell loading system with an ammunition management system. The 60-round projectile magazine as well as the complete shell handling system is controlled by an automatic data management system.

 

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Is it just me, or do yall literally notice in this interview that the parties are very persistent and basically talk past each other?

I remember very well the time when the Patriots purchase was refused and the dutch and germans brought the systems to the Syrian border.

Or am I delusional or maybe demented?

The Turk brings good points, but talks too aggressively due to his temperament

and the American seems very - desperate ... he agrees with turkey, but can only do that up to a point without being considered "traitor?" ass-fire from the diaspora maybe? ...

difficult and inharmonious mood...

the European one... yeah.. what should I say? He is European...
 

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Most Nato countries set to miss military spending target

Alliance says 10 of its 30 members will hit 2% of GDP goal this year​

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Two-thirds of countries in the Nato military alliance are projected to fall short this year of a target to spend 2 per cent of gross domestic product on defence by 2024 at the latest.

Ten nations in the 30-member transatlantic grouping will hit the benchmarks compared with nine last year, but several European countries still lag far behind, according to a report published by the Brussels-based organisation on Wednesday.

The document highlights the continued slow progress towards the Nato spending targets agreed in 2014, even though many European countries have maintained or increased military investment plans despite the economic hit from the coronavirus pandemic. The persistent gap between European military budgets and much higher US spending has previously triggered stinging criticism from US president Donald Trump.

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Jens Stoltenberg, Nato secretary-general, stressed that 2020 would be the sixth consecutive year in which total defence spending by European allies and Canada would rise, this time by 4.3 per cent in real terms.

“We expect this trend to continue,” he told reporters ahead of a virtual meeting of Nato defence ministers on Thursday and Friday. “Allies are also investing more in major capabilities and continue to contribute to our missions and operations.”

The UK and France — Europe’s two biggest military powers — are forecast to hit the 2 per cent target, along with Greece, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Romania and Norway.

But several large EU countries are set to fall well short, including Germany on 1.57 per cent, Italy (1.43 per cent) and Spain (1.16 per cent). Founding EU members Belgium (1.10 per cent) and Luxembourg (0.64 per cent) bring up the rear.

Concerns also persist over gaps in Nato maritime assets and response forces, diplomats said.

News of the projected spending shortfall comes as Sweden, which is not a Nato member but co-operates closely with the alliance, has announced a 40 per cent rise in defence spending over the next four years in response to what it said was a growing threat of hostilities with Russia. The boost, which is the highest percentage increase since the start of the cold war, will help pay for a doubling of military conscription as well as a new submarine and upgraded air weapons systems.

The Nato defence ministers are expected to discuss the potential threats from a new generation of Russian weapons and activities that could disrupt transatlantic data communication cables. The undersea cables, which carry 97 per cent of the world’s internet data, were already under threat from adversaries such as Moscow, the head of the UK’s Royal Navy warned earlier this month.


 

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New space centres and modernised ground sites to support NATO space domain​


To buttress its nascent operational domain of space, NATO is refurbishing four satellite ground stations across its territory and will soon approve a new space situational awareness centre in Germany, according to allied officials.

Kester, Belgium, is the location of one of four NATO satellite ground stations being refurbished. (Brooks Tigner)

Kester, Belgium, is the location of one of four NATO satellite ground stations being refurbished. (Brooks Tigner)


NATO has a total of seven ground station sites, but the four earmarked sites alone – in Belgium, Greece, Italy, and Turkey – “will double our current transmission capacity once they are in place”, said Kevin Scheid, general manager of the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCIA). He and other NCIA officials spoke to reporters during a 15 October press trip to visit the newest of the sites in Kester, 20 km west of Brussels.

Completely razed in 2014 and rebuilt with two 60 m diameter and two 11 m diameter radome-covered satellite transmission dishes, Kester received its site acceptance from contractor Selex ES, part of Leonardo, in November 2019. With its fibre-optic link to a nearby transmission tower, the site has direct line-of-sight communications for satellite data traffic to NATO headquarters in Brussels. It and other NATO ground station sites receive their data from four nations – France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States - under a EUR1.5 billion (USD1.75 billion) contract.

Similar to the other sites, Kester itself carries out no analysis or intelligence work, as it only forwards pre-encrypted data streams back and forth between users. Nevertheless, its turnaround response time for users is fast. Inside its air-locked operational centre, where satellite positioning is tracked for transmission purposes, it can reconfigure one of its modems for streaming encrypted data between two endpoints in roughly half an hour.

 

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Cooperation on Artificial Intelligence will boost security and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic, NATO Deputy Secretary General says​


"There are considerable benefits of setting up a trans-Atlantic digital community cooperating on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and emerging and disruptive technologies, where NATO can play a key role as a facilitator for innovation and exchange", said NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană. On Wednesday (28 October 2020) he took part in a high-level virtual discussion on transatlantic cooperation in the era of AI, organised by the Atlantic Council's Future Europe Initiative and GeoTech Center.

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Mr. Geoană engaged in this conversation alongside the Chair and Vice Chair of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI), Dr. Eric Schmidt and Secretary Robert O. Work, and the Head of Cabinet of European Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, Ambassador Kim Jørgensen. They discussed what modern technologies mean for European and American defence and security stakeholders, why the United States and the European Union should cooperate on AI, and how best to promote shared values in the field.


"NATO is a natural platform for transatlantic cooperation of AI," the Deputy Secretary General underlined. “NATO offers its consultative mechanisms and unique networks for collaboration on defence and security questions. Bringing together Allies and partners, public and private sector, innovators and industry. We have great communities in areas like military capability development, science and technology, standardisation - and of course our Command Structure and military exercises. We also have new cross-cutting policy teams on Innovation Policy, who cover AI, and on Data Policy,” he pointed out.

 

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NATO deploys ultra-high readiness force in major test​


NATO launched its main annual exercise for the Alliance’s quick reaction force on Wednesday (28 October 2020) with around 2,500 troops deploying to Lithuania. Exercise “Brilliant Jump” will test NATO’s logistics and its ability to respond and move NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force quickly in the event of a crisis.

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This long-planned annual exercise involves moving elements of our very high readiness 'Spearhead Force' to Lithuania in late October and early November”, said NATO Deputy spokesman Piers Cazalet. “This is a routine exercise to test how well our forces work together and unrelated to developments in Belarus”.
Planning for the exercise began in mid-2019 and the manoeuver has been notified to the OSCE. The 2,500 soldiers and 600 vehicles are deployed to Lithuania within days using trains, flights, ships and convoys. The Alliance’s Multinational Corps North-East is overseeing the drill which runs until 6 November. Participating units will then stay in the region to participate in Lithuania’s Iron Wolf exercise before returning to their home countries.
NATO member states take turns heading NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force which includes some 5,000 to 8,000 soldiers that can be deployed in days. The core of this year’s high reaction force is Poland’s 21st Podhale Riflemen Brigade, supported by Spanish and Czech units. The multinational force was ordered into existence in 2014 to respond to the changes in the security environment, including Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea.

 

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NATO allies co-operate on GBAD and C-RAM​


NATO defence ministers launched co-operation projects on ground-based air defence (GBAD) and rapidly deployable mobile counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar (C-RAM) capabilities during a virtual ministerial meeting held on 22–23 October, the alliance announced on its website on the second day of the meeting.

Both signings were conducted during virtual ceremonies on 23 October, with the C-RAM letter of intent (LOI) signed by the defence ministers of Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom; and the GBAD LOI signed by the defence ministers of Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană presided over the signing of LOIs on HVPs on GBAD (pictured) and C-RAM on 23 October. (NATO)

NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană presided over the signing of LOIs on HVPs on GBAD (pictured) and C-RAM on 23 October. (NATO)

The GBAD high visibility project (HVP) aims to deliver innovative, modular, and scalable solutions to equip the signatories and create threat-tailored multinational GBAD force packages covering the entire spectrum from very-short to medium range up to 50 km. NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană, who presided over both signing ceremonies, expected this approach to ”result in a dramatic increase in operational flexibility, scalability, and interoperability among ground-based air defence forces”.

The C-RAM LOI launched an HVP to investigate options for the development and procurement of rapidly deployable mobile capabilities, focusing on innovative solutions like directed-energy weapons. Geoană said the C-RAM initiative ”will significantly increase capacities to conduct high-intensity operations, while enhancing the protection of personnel, facilities, and equipment from rocket and mortar artillery attacks, and conventional air threats”.

 

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General Ben HODGES: "No way the US will pull out of NATO"​


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02.11.2020 (Caucasian Journal) On the eve of U.S. presidential election, Caucasian Journal discusses the risk of America's withdrawing from NATO, verbalized recently by President Trump's former national security adviser. Though in Georgia it is also the election time, the NATO aspiration is not questioned by any party. But is NATO ready to accept new member?

Our guest today is Lieutenant General (Retired) Ben HODGES, Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis, Commander of United States Army Europe from 2014 to 2017.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of Caucasian Journal: Dear Ben, welcome to Caucasian Journal, many thanks for attention to our international readership. Obviously, one of our central discussion themes will be NATO-Georgia relationship. But let me start with something else, and even more fundamental: The NATO-USA relationship. President Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton has more than once expressed his concern over a “very real risk” of the U.S. withdrawing from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, if Donald Trump wins a second term. Can you comment on what seemed unthinkable? After all, 2020 had proved already that unthinkable things happen.

Lt. Gen. Ben HODGES: No way the US will pull out of NATO, even if President Trump is re-elected. The Congress will oppose it, and I think that even the President realizes that the US needs allies, even if he doesn’t always say it or act like it. American prosperity as well as American security depends on a strong, stable, and prosperous Europe... That’s why we’ll remain committed to NATO, even if the President often says things about NATO that are unproductive. Of course it would also be helpful if other allies, particularly in Western Europe, would also demonstrate as much commitment to NATO as even the Trump administration has demonstrated. Despite the tweets, American boots on the ground in Europe have actually increased during this administration. I’d say that US commitment is far more tangible than some European allies.


General Ben HODGES on U.S.-NATO relationship:
1. No way the US will pull out of NATO, even if President Trump is re-elected. The Congress will oppose it.
2. President realizes that the US needs allies.
3.
We’ll remain committed to NATO, even if the President often says things about NATO that are unproductive.


AK: Let us get back to Georgia, South Caucasus. This country has recently marked the 5th anniversary of adoption of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP). SNGP is a set of initiatives endorsed at the September 2014 NATO Summit aimed at strengthening Georgia’s security cooperation with NATO. For a long time, the politicians and the experts have been talking about the progress achieved, and steps – or stumbling blocks – that still remain. You have, however, recently stated that Georgia should become a full NATO member right now. Can you elaborate on your position a bit?

BH: I cannot be more clear... Georgia should be a member of NATO right now. It has done everything required to meet NATO requirements. Of course, it is important that Georgia continues to move forward on democratic reforms, to continue to improve transparency in governmental affairs and elections, and in its judicial processes. It needs to continue improving societal resilience in order to be able to resist Kremlin disinformation efforts and the corrosive effects of corruption. But from a strategic standpoint, NATO must compete with the Kremlin in the Black Sea region – what I describe as the “cauldron of competition” – and having Georgia in NATO would be a significant improvement in this competition, in diplomacy and economy as well as in the military domain.

Members of the Alliance should not allow the Kremlin to veto who joins NATO through its threats and false narrative of provocation by NATO. Instead the Kremlin should have to answer the question “Why do so many former Soviet republics and former Warsaw pact countries want so badly to join NATO?” What do they know and understand, after decades of Soviet rule/oppression and centuries of Russian imperialism, that pushes them to clamoring for NATO membership?

AK: NATO’s security concept is largely based on the Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which provides that if a NATO ally is a victim of an armed attack, other allies will consider it as an armed attack against all members and react accordingly. It’s often considered as one of reasons for Alliance’s hesitation about accepting new members with unresolved territorial conflicts, as such acceptance may immediately trigger a war. On the other hand, the aspirant states seek NATO membership because they need protection “now”, so the everlasting delay undermines the whole concept and leads to mutual frustration. How realistic is it to expect NATO allies would decide positively, given the complicated decision-making process?

BH: Well, for sure it won’t be easy. But strong diplomatic efforts by the USA and others to bring along the rest of the Alliance can be effective. Germany will be key here so diplomatic efforts should focus on Berlin, and on Paris.

By the way, Article 5 is not the only key pillar of NATO... it is trust in each other and in each nation fulfilling its responsibilities for self-defense in Article 3, and the shared values embodied in the Preamble to the Washington Treaty, which created NATO.

AK: In case of Georgia, there have been speculations about how this problem can be circumvented – like, for instance, to apply Article 5 to the part of Georgian territory which is under de-facto jurisdiction of the Georgian government. A creative idea perhaps, but isn’t it a profanation of the raison d’etre of the military alliance?

BH: We accepted West Germany into NATO when there were still a million Soviet troops in East Germany. It took long, sustained, persistent effort by West Germany and the Alliance to support the eventual reunification of Germany, which, happily, occurred 30 years ago. I think that we need to think long term about Georgia... and Ukraine. I’m confident that eventually Abkhazia and South Ossetia will be returned to Georgia, and we shouldn’t wait for that to accept Georgia into NATO. Ukraine is on a different timeline because of Crimea and Donbass... But I’m also confident that eventually both of them will be returned to full Ukrainian sovereignty.

AK: Can this lead to a situation when the aspirant country prefers to develop direct military cooperation with separate NATO states, rather than waiting for the whole Alliance? I guess this may be good for the aspirant, but not so bright for the Alliance as a whole. If this happens, will this be a good or bad thing, in your view?


General Ben HODGES on Georgia-NATO relationship:
1. Georgia should be a member of NATO right now. It has done everything required to meet NATO requirements.
2. Eventually Abkhazia and South Ossetia will be returned to Georgia, and we shouldn’t wait for that to accept Georgia into NATO.


BH: Each nation can and should develop bi-lateral relationships. USA and Georgia is a good example. But that doesn’t prevent eventual Alliance membership. I’m proud of what USA has done with Georgia – in diplomacy, private investment, military cooperation, including with the state partnership program between Republic of Georgia and US state of Georgia... and of course there is much more to be done, especially in terms of private investment.

AK: While membership it just a legal status, it is the military component that makes the whole mechanism operational. You have come up with the idea of rotational forces for our region in 2018 – what happened with this concept, is it present in the discussion agenda?

BH: Membership is not just a legal status, it is a commitment to shared values. Regarding rotational forces, I don’t know but I’d like to see it. I’d like to see the USA build up a logistics hub and rotational air base support infrastructure in Georgia. Need to keep looking for ways to take the initiative in the greater Black Sea region.

General Ben HODGES on Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict:
1. We should be learning from current use of technology there.
2. It is important to keep the Azerbaijan-Georgia corridor open.
3. Need a peaceful resolution... and for Azerbaijan to avoid hubris and overreach, in order to keep Kremlin from intervening on the ground.


AK:
Our region is among the ones with complicated interstate relations. Currently there is an ongoing armed conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, in which other countries are also actively involve, including Turkey which a NATO member. As a military professional with huge experience, can you share your views on this burning problem?


BH:
1.
We should all be learning from the current use of technology there: How to employ drones so effectively, how to avoid detection (technology but also discipline and training), and how to counter the growing presence of drones.
2. It is important to keep the Azerbaijan-Georgia corridor open and free of Russian “peace-keepers”. This is the only East-West corridor between Europe and Eurasia that doesn’t go through Russia or Iran.
3. Need a peaceful resolution... and for Azerbaijan to avoid hubris and overreach... in order to keep Kremlin from intervening on the ground.

AK: Security and economic prosperity are tightly interrelated. While some argue that stable political situation attracts investment, there is a contrasting theory that large investments in fact help to strengthen security. I know that you pay much attention to the problems investment climate. In particular, you were interested in the experiences of American investors in Georgia, which we published (link). From your view point, what are the priorities for Georgia in the FDI field?


BH: Private investment by European and American businesses will greatly improve security, as well as prosperity, because those nations will want to see their investments protected... which means they’ll be paying a lot more attention to Russian aggression and border violations in the region. That’s why the Kremlin tries so hard to limit/disrupt private investment by the West in Georgia. Georgian government must do all it can to make Georgia as attractive for private investment as possible: transparency in all processes is an important start.

AK: In close future both our countries will face elections. This year’s unusual conditions make it even more challenging to predict the outcomes. However, it is for sure that the same fundamental problems will remain in place and the authorities – old or new ones – will have to deal with them. Is there anything you would like to say to the Georgian and American voters at this moment? Caucasian Journal has almost equal shares of Georgian and American readers…

BH:
1.
Respect the vote... no excuse for violence by either side. President Trump should make it clear that he will hand over power in a peaceful way if he loses the election, and that none of his supporters should resort to violence no matter how unhappy they might be. Former VP Biden should make it clear that violence in American cities is not part of constitutional “peaceful protests” and that his supporters should respect the vote if president Trump is re-elected.
2.
The US election will be very close again... Important that everybody exercises their constitutional right and responsibility to participate and vote.
3.
Very important that we protect the pillars of liberal democracy: electoral process, judicial process, free media, peaceful protests... The Kremlin and the Chinese communist party are doing all they can to undermine these pillars and cause us to lose confidence in our own processes. We have to resist this.

AK: Thank you very much.

 

Test7

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NATO Group Clears 27 Mines off Estonia​


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Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) has completed a Historical Ordnance Disposal Operation (HODOPS) in Estonian territorial waters between 20 and 29 October 2020. The NATO Group, together with Estonian Mine Countermeasure Vessels (MCMV), covered an area of 34 square nautical miles and identified 20 historical ordnance objects, including two torpedoes. 19 of these, and an additional eight identified in previous operations, were disposed of by NATO teams. Also, one previously unchartered shipwreck (85m long with a deck length of 9m) was identified at 27m depth. All the historical ordnance disposal activities were executed in close coordination and with consent of the Estonian authorities.

Heavy mine-laying was conducted during both World Wars in the Baltic Sea, and some of the most affected areas are adjacent to Estonia. Units from 7 different nations, including the Estonian Navy, took part in the operation making the Baltic Sea a safer place for all seafarers. SNMCMG1 consists of the flagship LNS JOTVINGIS which has international staff onboard, in addition to six MCMVs:

  • ENS ADMIRAL COWAN
  • BNS CROCUS
  • FGS SULZBACH-ROSENBERG
  • LVNS IMANTA
  • HNLMS SCHIEDAM
  • HNoMS MAALOY.

SNMCMG1 in Estonia​

Even though in-person interaction was significantly scaled down due to COVID-19 precautions, some engagements still went ahead with preventative measures in place. As part of the engagements, Commander of the Estonian Navy, Commodore Jüri Saska, greeted the Commander of SNMCMG1, Commander Audrius Venckunas of the Lithuanian Navy, in the port of Tallinn upon arrival.

Commander Venckunas said, “The Baltic Sea region is of high strategic importance to NATO and its Allies. SNMCMG1 returned to Estonia for the second time this year. This time the main focus was on Historical Ordnance Disposal Operations. Heavy mine-laying was conducted during both World Wars in the Baltic Sea, and some of the most affected areas are adjacent to Estonia. It was a great opportunity to practice SNMCMG1’s capability of locating and neutralizing the threat posed by historical sea mines.”
Jack Richardson


 

TR_123456

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NATO warships enter Black Sea despite Russian warning​


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Russian state media has warned that Russian “Black Sea Fleet forces have started to continuously monitor” the NATO warships.​

The Black Sea Fleet has launched “a continuous monitoring” of a group of NATO’s warships that entered the Black Sea, Russia’s National Defense Control Center reported on Thursday.

“The Black Sea Fleet’s forces and capabilities have started to continuously monitor the NATO mine countermeasures naval group that entered the Black Sea on October 29, 2020,” the Center said.

Despite this, Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2) units have entered the Black Sea for the third time this year to conduct further routine operations, and to participate in a regional exercise organised by the Bulgarian Navy.

“SNMCMG2, consisting of FS Orion, ITS Alghero, ESPS Duero and TCG Edremit, were joined with BGS Tsibar and ROS Dinescu after their participation in the Turkish exercise Nusret, and deployed to the Black Sea together on 29 October 2020. They are participating in the Bulgarian-Romanian mine warfare exercise Poseidon between 30 October and 6 November. SNMCMG2 also intends to conduct Allied port visits and a passing exercise with the Ukrainian Navy during their time in the Black Sea.”

“The third SNMCMG2 Black Sea deployment constitutes an important opportunity for interoperability and readiness enhancement with our Allies and partners,” said SNMCMG 2 Commander Hellenic Navy Captain Dimitrios Katsouras.

With three Allied nations, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, and two regional partners, Ukraine and Georgia bordering the Black Sea, Standing Naval Groups presence in the region is a regular occurrence.

While in the Black Sea, the group will also conduct maritime security patrols in international waters to enhance NATO maritime situational awareness between Allies and regional partners.

 

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