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From strategypage.com: "While the French Army has recognized the importance of smart bombs and missiles, they found themselves poorly prepared to make the best use of these weapons when they sent troops to Afghanistan. They had several problems. First, they did not have enough FACs (Forward Air Controllers, teams trained to call in warplanes and smart bombs), and those FACs they had often lacked good enough English to deal with the non-French pilots. NATO pilots, like international commercial aviation pilots, use English as a standard language (for working with ground controllers and each other). Unlike pilots, the French FACs don't practice their English regularly, and have problems communicating with non-French pilots. Another problem was that the French FACs didn't have the Rover terminal (which allows U.S., and most NATO, FACs to see what pilots see via their targeting pods) . . ."

"In Afghanistan, everyone shares the same pool of warplanes and helicopters, and many other forms of support as well. Interoperability is essential. Decades of NATO efforts to develop interoperability standards for basic things like communications, air and artillery support, supply and medical evacuation, have paid off. Not perfect, but not a lot of costly confusion either. The French now have to play catch up after decades on their own."

From Air Force Link: "A group of Airmen with the 100th Air Refueling Wing traveled to Tampere, Finland, May 2 to participate in a week-long exercise with Navy and Finnish Air Force F-18 Hornet pilots.

The Airmen helped teach the Finnish pilots how to refuel in-air from a KC-135 Stratotanker.

The exercise marks the first time United States Air Forces in Europe has deployed a tanker team to Finland for an air-to-air refueling operation. The Finnish Air Force has been flying F-18s since the mid-1990s, but air-to-air refueling is a fairly new concept to the country's Hornet pilots.


According to the Finnish Air Force's 21st Fighter Squadron, some of the unit's pilots have refueled other aircraft in air, but the majority of them are inexperienced with the procedure.

'This provides an extension of our forces,' said the squadron's operations officer, who asked to remain anonymous due to government policies. 'This will allow us to be in the sky longer.'

The captain said the training helps the squadron, and the service as a whole, meet a government requirement to be able to deploy outside Finland to support NATO forces. Although Finland is not a member of NATO, it is a part of the organization's Partnership of Peace program, which USAFE also supports.

'This opens our eyes to a much wider operating area,' said the captain.

One of the primary missions of the 100th ARW is providing air refueling support to the United States' European allies, said Capt. Aaron Torczynski, KC-135 aircraft commander. The 100th ARW is the sole refueling unit for the European theater, supporting NATO members and broadening the range of air assets flying around the globe."

From canada.com: "'I can tell you from the senior Canadian in this headquarters that I have been asked on several occasions by AFCENT (United States Air Forces Central) and CENTCOM (Central Command), `How can we get Canadian F-18s into the game over here?'' said Maj.-Gen. Duff Sullivan. 'And I've told them that that is a political decision back in Canada . . .'"

"'Whenever our troops are in trouble and taking casualties, every single time they call for air support -- armed overwatch -- that is what the Canadian F-18s would do,' Sullivan said, noting that Canada alone among the allies contributes combat ground forces in Afghanistan without also providing close air support."

San Francisco State University professor describes geostrategic environment from Moscow's perspective.

From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: "Although Obama's efforts to 'reset' relations with Russia have been encouraging and although Georgia is entering a period of political change, the structural conditions for a great-power confrontation in the Caucasus remain in place. The Crimean War became possible because Russia could not defend the rights of its co-religionists without being perceived as a revisionist power.

Today the European balance of power remains equally fragile. Russia cannot neglect those who turn to it for protection from state violence. Nor can the Kremlin ignore its own interests that have been jeopardized by NATO expansion and efforts to divert flows of Caspian energy away from Russian territory.

In addition, many in the West continue to share the Russophobic attitude of Britain's Lord Palmerston by viewing Russia's weakness as essential for asserting U.S. and European interests in the region. Finally, the Caucasus has become heavily militarized and exposed to the use of force by various state and nonstate actors. To this day, Georgia has refused to sign an agreement on the renunciation of force with South Ossetia and Abkhazia."
In interview on TV channel Rossiya, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev challenges the role of NATO and ignores the OSCE.

From Russia Today: "The previous set of the European Institutions formed in the 1970s had been providing security in Europe. They’d played their role already. Now we have a range of state unions in Europe. We have the North Atlantic Alliance, but we don’t have a universal platform for considering all the issues. The idea of the European Security Treaty was related exactly to that. What’s been happening in the 1990s and in the present decade? Unfortunately the situation is Europe hasn’t become more secure. On the contrary, we are explained that security has been maintained in Europe by the means of expanding one military political bloc."
From Hurriyet Daily News: "Turkey, one of the most significant contributors to NATO’s activities and operations worldwide, has been a member of the alliance
since 1952, but has not undertaken a prominent position within the alliance since 1979. The last time Turkey held high-rank positions was between 1968 and
1971 as acting secretary general, and between 1973 and 1979 as deputy secretary-general in charge of scientific affairs.

The Turkish government openly expressed opposition to Denmark’s former Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen running for the chief NATO post due to a number of reasons, including his failure to handle the 2006 crisis over the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed and Denmark’s refusal to revoke the broadcasting license of Roj TV, which Turkey says is a mouthpiece for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK.

But the crisis was settled, as some reports suggested, after Turkey was convinced it would obtain a senior position within NATO in return for its acceptance of the Danish premier."



Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen, Minister of Defense of Norway, addresses security issues in the Arctic and calls for changes in NATO.

From defpro.com: "This view on possible challenges for NATO – not far away in another continent but on the continent where the it was founded 60 years ago – is being reflected in Norway’s recent efforts to outline the importance of refocusing on defence and security issues on NATO territory and its adjacent neighbourhood. “The Alliance has a mission ‘at home’ as well as ‘away’. For understandable reasons, the ‘away’ mission has dominated the agenda, not least because it has been perceived as more urgent than the long-standing commitment to collective defence. We think the time is ripe to re-address this balance.”
From Kazakhstan Today: "Almaty. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has officially invited Kazakhstan to take part in peace-making operation for restoration of Afghanistan. NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, Robert Simmons, informed, the agency reports citing Independent newspaper. According to R. Simmons, all the documents have been sent to the Kazakhstan party. 'NATO representative emphasized that Kazakhstan army already reached the level of compatibility with the NATO armies and will successfully demonstrate itself in the Afghani mission. However, R. Simmons said that in any case Kazakhstan will make final decision whether to send peacemakers to Afghanistan or not.'"
Medvedev signs new National Security Strategy which identifies NATO and conflicts over energy sources as threats to Russia.

From the Guardian: "The document, which will form Russia's national security strategy until 2020, also warns of the threat posed to Russia by Nato. The paper says Moscow wants a 'fully fledged strategic partnership' with Washington but is opposed to the US's plans to develop a missile defence system in central Europe.

Ruben Sergeyev, a Moscow-based defence analyst, said: 'This new doctrine makes clear that the main threat to Russia is the activities of western countries.'

He went on: 'Russia is seriously concerned about the growing gap between the US and Russia in the military field, and about America's attempts to dwarf Russia's nuclear potential by creating new arms systems, placed close to Russia's borders and in space. It is also worried about the US's high-precision, long-range, non-nuclear weapons.'"

For intriguing background on the development of Russia's new National Security Strategy, see Pavel Felgenhauer's work at the Jamestown Foundation.