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NATO Surrenders Europe To U.S. Global Missile Shield Project

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NATO Surrenders Europe To U.S. Global Missile Shield Project
Rick Rozoff

On January 27 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization took the most decisive step yet toward the implementation of the decades-old project first proposed by the Ronald Reagan administration for a Strategic Defense Initiative, popularly known as Star Wars.

In what will be the culmination of five years of extensive planning by the U.S. and NATO to construct an impenetrable interceptor missile shield to cover the European continent, the military bloc announced on the above date that it had handed over the first-ever theater ballistic missile defence capability to NATO military commanders at the NATO Combined Air Operations Centre in the German city of Uedem, which occurred "after NATO technicians computer-tested a software system linking anti-missile equipment from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United States." [1]

Italian Air Force Brigadier General Alessandro Pera, head of the NATO Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence (ALTBMD) Programme Office, delivered the plan to NATO Deputy Secretary General Claudio Bisogniero while the second day of a NATO Military Committee meeting at the Atlantic Alliance headquarters in Brussels with chiefs of defense staff and other military representatives from 66 countries was underway.

Those also present in Germany included U.S. Air Force Major General Mark Ramsay, deputy chief of staff for Operations and Intelligence at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (NATO's main European command) and other military and civilian authorities from the Alliance and Germany. General Mark Welsh III, commander of Allied Air Command Ramstein, paid his first visit to the NATO Combined Air Operations Centre to coincide with the capability demonstration of the ALTBMD program. Brigadier General Pera "handed over a symbolic key to the operational user of the capability," represented by Major General Ramsay. [2]

This year the Pentagon will begin its announced ten-year Phased Adaptive Approach (sometimes with a comma between the first two words) project to deploy medium- and intermediate-range interceptor missiles on ships in the Baltic Sea and Mediterranean Sea, which will be followed by the stationing of no fewer than 48 advanced Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptors in Eastern Europe: 24 each in Romania and Poland.

The SM-3 is a ship-based missile jointly developed by the U.S. and Japan which will be deployed on Aegis class guided missile destroyers and cruisers in the two above-mentioned seas. A land-based version of the missile (Aegis Ashore) will be deployed near the Baltic and Black Seas in Poland and Romania.

Missile radar sites will accompany the interceptors, with potential sites discussed to date including Bulgaria, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Azerbaijan and Georgia in addition to the X-band radar (AN/TPY-2 Transportable Radar Surveillance/Forward Based X-band Transportable) designed for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system, with a range of 2,900 miles, deployed to the Negev Desert in Israel in 2008, manned by over 100 U.S. military personnel including a representative of the Missile Defense Agency. [3] The Azerbaijani location would be the early warning radar facility at Gabala currently operated by the Russian Space Forces.

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This week four U.S. senators endorsed the placement of an interceptor missile radar facility in Georgia, which fought a five-day war with Russia in August 2008.

Last May the U.S. deployed the first interceptors in Europe, a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 battery in the Polish city of Morag, 35-40 miles from the Russian Kaliningrad district. An estimated 150 American troops arrived with the missiles to service and train Polish service members to operate them.

Until 2005 the U.S. had concentrated its missile shield initiatives further east: In Alaska, including its Aleutian Islands chain, and Japan, with preliminary radar facilities in Greenland, Britain and Norway to the west. The Missile Defense Agency's 280-foot-high Sea-Based X-Band Radar, which displaces 50,000 tons and has a surface as large as two football fields, is based in Adak in the Aleutian Islands near Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula. 

Developments took a dramatic turn in that year, however. On March 11 NATO's North Atlantic Council, its highest civilian governing body, approved plans for a theater missile defense (TMD) system to protect deployed troops. The military bloc at that time had forces on the ground in Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Six years ago NATO envisioned a combination of the U.S.-German-Italian Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), Patriot Advanced Capability-3 and Surface Air Moyenne Portee/Terre systems as the foundation for lower-tier - battlefield or theater - components of its interceptor missile program, with U.S. Theater (now Terminal) High Altitude Area Defense and the then-current sea-based Standard Missile-2 systems serving as the upper-layer complements. [4]

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The integrated system was to achieve initial operating capability last year - when NATO's 28 members unanimously authorized a far wider-ranging missile shield at the Alliance's summit in Portugal in November - and full operating capability in 2013.

To that end NATO's Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence (ALTBMD) program was established in September 2005 after a seven-year feasibility study had been conducted by eight of the bloc's leading members and in which "various NATO projects cooperatively participated." [5]

At that time the ALTBMD project was described in part as an "integrated system-of-systems architecture [that] will create a larger range of detection, communication and missile defence capabilities for NATO forces, whether deployed within or beyond NATO's area of responsibility. It will also provide complete coverage against the threat posed by tactical ballistic missiles with ranges up to 3,000 kilometres. [6]

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/

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