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Category Archives: NATO

The Mediterranean: The Russian Navy’s New Playground? (NATO Worried?) – The National Interest Online

Posted: October 5, 2019 at 3:41 pm

Is the Mediterranean the new playground for the Russian Navy?

Russia is expanding its naval presence in the Eastern Mediterranean because its easier than trying to, compete with the United States on the worlds oceans, according to Dmitry Gorenburg, an expert on the Russian military, in an analysis for the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.

Maintaining naval presence in the Mediterranean is a far more effective strategy for the Russian Navy than pursuing a globally active blue-water navy because Russia has neither the resources nor the global ambitions to challenge U.S. naval supremacy around the world, writes Gorenburg. Moscows focus on developing and augmenting the Mediterranean squadron is thus a far more achievable limited objective that is well-aligned with Russias foreign policy objectives in the region.

During the Cold War, Soviet warships were a familiar sight in the Mediterranean. The Fifth Eskadra, the Soviet Mediterranean squadron established in 1967, would tail U.S. aircraft carriers, ready to strike them with missiles, torpedoes and even nuclear weapons in the event of war. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the squadron was disbanded in 1992.

It was resurrected in 2013 as the Mediterranean Squadron, drawn primarily from the ships of the Black Sea Fleet, which itself has been equipped with several new submarines and surface ships. Meanwhile, the Syrian port of Tartus a Cold War pit stop for the Fifth Eskadra has again become a Russian base for servicing warships, including nuclear-powered vessels.

Since the addition of sixVarshavyanka-class submarines to the BSF in 2017, Russia has stationed two such vessels in Tartus, Syria, Gorenburg writes. Surface ships and submarines from Russias other fleets, mainly the Northern and Baltic, have participated in squadron operations at various times as well. The force has actively contributed to Russias military operations in Syria. In addition to delivering troops, BSF [Black Sea Fleet] vessels have firedKalibrmissiles at ground targets throughout Syria. Russian ships have also shadowed U.S. ships in the eastern Mediterranean, and Russian submarines deployed to the Mediterranean have tracked U.S. and NATO platforms there as well.The squadron has also facilitated Russian naval diplomacy efforts, as ships from the squadron have called at ports at Cyprus, Egypt, and Malta.

In addition, Russian aircraft operate from Syrian bases, as well as a variety of missile systems, including S-400 and S-300 long-range and Pantsir short-range anti-aircraft missiles, as well as K-300 Bastian and Kh-35 coastal defense anti-ship missiles. A permanent force in the Mediterranean enhances Russian prestige in the region, deters Western military operations in the areas, and provides security against the Mediterranean as a base for hostile forces to strike the Russian homeland.

Gorenburg sees Moscow as eschewing an American-style power projection navy with its big aircraft carriers, in favor of a more defensive forces armed with access denial weapons such as small missile-equipped corvettes. The idea is that the Russian Navy can use these ships to create maritime zones that are difficult for enemy forces to penetrate. These A2/AD bubbles in the Black Sea and eastern Mediterranean form a set of layered defenses and multiple vectors of attack through the combination of long-range sea-, air-, and ground-launched missiles used to deny access, with shorter-range coastal and air defense systems focused on area denial.

The old Soviet-era cruisers and destroyers will continue to make port visits for prestige, but the small ships and the missiles will form the essence of the Russian Navy in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. Gorenburg expects the Mediterranean Squadron will comprise 10 to 15 surface warships and a couple of submarines.

However, Russia faces severe challenges in maintaining a meaningful naval presence in the Mediterranean, Gorenburg points out. Russias economy is sputtering, the countrys shipyards have been plagued by delays, and supplying its Mediterranean forces through the Bosporus chokepoint in wartime could be a problem.

Because of these challenges, Russian leadership would, prior to any outbreak in the eastern Mediterranean, have to choose whether to fight in the Mediterranean or attempt to bring forces back to the Black Sea to defend Russias southern borders. Should Russian forces stay in the Mediterranean, they would pose a serious threat to U.S. and NATO forces by creating an increasingly dense missile and electronic-warfare environment farther into the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Russia would have to expect that it would lose these forces to an ultimately numerically and qualitatively superior enemy force, albeit after exacting a potentially high cost on its adversary.

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

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NATO and the EU were created in a world that vanished 30 years ago. Clinging to that lost era means denying the facts of the present day – The German…

Posted: at 3:41 pm

If solidarity is a valuable commodity, then the West was heaven on earth. It doesnt matter that NATO and the various European communities started out as emergency solutions. They were the answer of North American and Western European states to the specific challenges posed by the Cold War. The actions, especially in Eastern Europe, of Stalin and his successors were seen as so dangerous and unpredictable that Western nations were prompted to close ranks.

From that moment on, there was a West, which means that without the East, there would not have been a West. Without this threat from the East, it would have been hard to imagine such enduring solidarity among Americans, the British and the French not to mention the inclusion of a part of Germany so few years after the end of the Nazi regime.

These countries and their inhabitants shared a canon of values, determination to protect freedom from external dangers and, last but not least, a strong desire to assert their national independence. Together, they fought to avoid suffering the same fate as the GDR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, all of which were occupied by the Soviets after 1945, not to mention the Baltic States, which were fully incorporated into the Soviet Union.

This situation put the Americans in an incontestably strong position right from the start. Thanks to the fact that they alone were able to guarantee the independence of their allies in the nuclear age, the Americans used their bridgehead in Western Europe not only to push through their legitimate national interests, but also to solidify an uncompromising policy of supervisory control over their partners.

And then, in 1991, something happened that no one had expected: the Soviet Union, including its empire and the Warsaw Pact, collapsed and disappeared. It would have been only logical if the West, too, had exited the world stage following the Easts departure.

Instead, the opposite occurred. Everything in the West remained the same. The Wests associations continued to operate on the stage they had occupied for decades. In fact, they even beefed up their cast. However, in doing so, NATO and the EU either ignored or forgot to enact precisely those reforms that would have been necessary to adapt to the new shall we say East-free situation.

The West also took in stride that by incorporating a slew of Eastern and Central European countries into its alliance, they changed the geopolitical architecture of the continent. They ought to have known that this process would have inevitable effects on Russia in particular, especially as the Soviet Union whose legacy Russia inherited in 1991 had undergone a no less radical shrinking process in the course of its own implosion.

The young states of Eastern and Central Europe naturally had the full right to seek admission to the European Union and the Atlantic Alliance. But did anyone seriously think the Kremlin would stand by and watch these countries join the EU and even NATO, in particular, without reacting?

And the Western alliance went even further. In the spring of 2009, the EU entered into an Eastern Partnership with six former Soviet republics, for all practical purposes forcing them to choose between the West and Russia. Yet another far-reaching step was NATOs decision to station Western troops in former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact countries, and to include Ukraine which wasnt even a NATO member step by step into its military operations.

In the eyes of the Kremlin leaders, this was evidence of NATOs expansion to the East and the permanent deployment of American troops in, for example, Poland, which began during the US presidency of Barack Obama meant above all one thing: NATO was now only 200 kilometers away from St. Petersburg.

This could be dismissed as a bit of paranoia on Russias part, but that would do nothing to change Moscows perception of the situation. From the Russian vantage point, the radical eastern expansion of NATO and the build-up of the American missile defense shield in former Warsaw Pact states are two links in a tangible chain of escalation. For Putin and his team, these moves provided the jumping-off point to break international law, annex Crimea and start a war in Eastern Ukraine.

These actions revive an old image of Russia, the archenemy of the West. While the downfall of the Soviet Union meant that NATO had won the Cold War, it also stripped the Atlantic Alliance of its fundamental raison detre. But since it simply clung to its treaties and stuck to its adversarial concept, it had to keep the East and everything associated with it alive. The fact that Vladimir Putin regularly nourished this image of the East as a threating enemy, at least according to the Wests interpretation, lent it additional credence.

Of equal consequence is the continuation of Americas supervisory control. The fact that US troops remained at the express wish of the Europeans exactly where they were after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 meant that no one in Washington had any reason to give up or even modify their approach toward their junior partners on the other side of the Atlantic.

As radically as Donald Trump proceeds to break with US diplomatic and political norms, he is nevertheless retaining the attitude that his predecessors have held since 1949 with regard to US partners and allies. Of course, pulling out of the Iran Deal in May 2018, the subsequent cascade of sanctions and the suspension of the INF Treaty in February 2019 are legitimate actions in and of themselves. There are even comprehensible reasons for pursuing each of these steps.

However, what is most concerning is the fact that Americas partners in Europe whose security status is at stake in both regards are confronted with a fait accompli and, at least from their own perspective, have no alternative but to succumb to Washingtons measures. In this sense, the US and its president are continuing the path taken set out upon in 1949, much in the same way that the Europeans are unwilling to abandon the logic of a world that disappeared in 1991.

Yet, even if they wanted to, they couldnt. And this is due to their adamantly nurtured conviction that if they did, they would be helplessly exposed to the dangers and imponderabilities of world politics without the help of the US. This might actually be the case, but it is also a consequence of the Europeans inability to pool their strengths and create the conditions for a joint capability to act including militarily on the world stage.

The number of failed attempts since 1950 to create an autonomous European Defense Community is too high to count on one hand. Ultimately, when push comes to shove, Europe relies on the US. As also laid bare in todays eerie discussions about a joint Western maritime mission in the Persian Gulf, nothing has changed. In this sense, solidarity in the Alliance remains a one-way affair.

The fact that Trump himself is also making this very point does not automatically mean that it is wrong. When his ambassador in Berlin points out that the US defends Europe, but that Germany, in particular, doesnt pay what it should pay, its a reproach that all German chancellors have got to hear at some point in their tenure.

The presidents complaint is no exception. Indeed, there is not one member of the Western community that has failed to complain about a severe lack of solidarity on the part of at least one other fellow member. Still, if this solidarity falls by the wayside, the bonding agent vital to hold the community together will be dissolved. In other words, its no surprise that selfishness and solo initiatives have been booming since 1991. All in all, they testify to a massive failure to live up to the immense challenges of the present and future.

What we are indeed witnessing is the widespread collapse of a pledge that was made in 1945 and maintained its raison detre until 1991: to respond in unison to an external threat. Today, the US president is not only toying with the idea of an American withdrawal from NATO, he is actually carrying it out, for example, when he unilaterally terminates or suspends agreements like the INF.

In a similar vein, the dissolution of the EU did not begin with Brexit. The refusal of the vast majority of European countries to participate significantly in accepting migrants, refugees and asylumseekers along with the inability to agree on binding rules to save the environment in the face of a global climate catastrophe are symptoms of a glaring lack of unity.

This gradual dissolution of NATO and the EU represents an implosion that holds immense potential for danger. At its core, it is an apolitical and in many ways irrational reflex to a political vacuum. This vacuum emerged almost 30 years ago when no one could come up with an answer to the crucial questions being posed at the time, namely Who are we now? and Where do we stand?

From this perspective, it would be the essential task of Western leaders to become masters of their fates again. Unfortunately, such far-reaching community reforms now appear dead on arrival. Such changes would have to be so profound and so meticulously carried out that NATO and the EU would soon become more than the historical reminders of a chapter in world politics long since past. Even the founding nations of Europe dont have the courage and the strength to make that happen.

For these reasons, the UKs exit from the EU and the US withdrawal from NATO should be seen as an opportunity. The goal of the West should be to complete in orderly fashion a process that has already been underway for a long time. This is no capitulation, but rather a return to the active shaping of policy. The eventual dissolution of those old monstrous anachronisms should not be confused with the abandonment of proven political, economic and military structures. On the contrary, the orderly and effective removal of a cumbersome corset is the prerequisite for making a brand new start. And there is no reason for this subject to be taboo.

Gregor Schllgenis a professor of history. He taught at the University of Erlangen and at the German Foreign Office and was a visiting scholar at Columbia and Oxford universities as well as at the London School of Economics and Political Science. In 2017, his book Krieg. Hundert Jahre Weltgeschichte (War. 100 years of world history) was published by DVA.

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NATO takes the lead for digital cinema standards – IBC365

Posted: at 3:41 pm

Movie theatre owners will test evolving digital cinema technologies to set the best practise in new technology adoption set out by the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO).

Taking the lead in setting requirements for new digital cinema technology, NATO announced on Tuesday that its executive board approved a resolution that outlines how digital cinema technology will be evaluated.

NATO announced that its technology committee will initiate and conduct an open process to understand and evaluate digital cinema technologies and create metrics to analyse future technologies.

The process will include various stakeholders, including filmmakers, distributors, manufacturers, service providers, and exhibitors.

The technology evaluation program was approved last month by NATOs executive board at the organisations annual meeting.

According to reports, efforts are already underway to get the process started, which has included reaching out to members of the American Society of Cinematographers, as well as equipment manufacturers, service providers, and other organisations, for input and participation.

This new initiative contrasts with efforts during the early 2000s when studios were paying for the digital cinema transition through virtual print fees, which gave them a big say in setting requirements for digital cinema technology.

NATO technology committee chairman and AMC Entertainment executive vice president John McDonald said in a statement: Digital cinema has opened up the door to a wide range of technological advances.

Exhibitors the primary consumers of these technologies along with other industry stakeholders, need an open, rational testing program to determine which of these technologies will work in the cinema space.

The Digital Cinemas Initiatives (DCI) specification a technical blueprint for digital cinema was first introduced in 2005 with version 1.0 and set up at a time when this transition was being subsidised through Virtual Print Fees (VPFs), to create a uniform level of security, technical performance, and quality.

However, VPF agreements will soon be ending for most players in the domestic market, meaning that exhibitors will have more responsibility for the cost of new cinematic projection technology.

NATO announced: The pace of technological advance has increased.

It is, then, necessary and proper for exhibitors to take the lead in evaluating the impact of light levels, contrast and colorimetry on their patrons and the exhibition environment.

NATO seeks to create an open process to understand and evaluate digital cinema technologies and create metrics to analyse future technologies, and to open this process to include various stakeholders including filmmakers, distributors, manufacturers, service providers, and exhibitors.

NATO also said its technology committee, led by technology consultant Jerry Pierce, has begun initial measuring to prepare for industry-wide testing.

The new testing program will allow exhibitors to take the lead in evaluating the impact of light levels, contrast and colorimetry on their patrons and the exhibition environment, NATO said.

The technology committee will report its initial findings to membership at NATO annual meetings in 2020.

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Ireland is joining the Tallinn-based NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence – Estonian World

Posted: at 3:41 pm

Ireland has decided to join the Tallinn,Estonia-based NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence; the Irish ambassadorto the country, Frances Kiernan, visited the centre on 3 October to submit the letterof intent and start the accession process.

With its strongdigital economy and society, we believe Ireland is a country that is very muchaware about the security risks in cyberspace, Colonel Jaak Tarien, thedirector of the centre, said in a statement.

Accordingly, theIrish decision to contribute to tackling various cybersecurity challenges atthe international level along with a community of like-minded nations that wehave in the CCDCOE is mutually beneficial, highly welcome and most timelyhaving in mind the current Cyber Security Awareness Month.

The Irish decision tojoin the CCDCOE opens up new avenues for cooperation in the field of cyber defence.The multinational nature of the centre helps tie together national experiencesand bring synergy in cyber skills and knowledge. We are looking forward to havean Irish cyber expert joining our interdisciplinary team, he added.

The NATO CooperativeCyber Defence Centre of Excellence is a NATO-accredited knowledge hub,think-tank and training facility, based in Tallinn, Estonia. The internationalmilitary organisation focuses on interdisciplinary research and development, aswell as training courses and exercises in the field of cyber security.

Membership of the centreis open to all allies and the centre is also welcoming cooperation withlike-minded partners.

Currently Belgium,Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece,Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal,Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States havesigned on as sponsoring nations of the centre.

Austria, Finland and Sweden are part of the centre as contributing participants the status available for non-NATO nations.

Cover: The HQ of NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn.

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Ireland joining the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence – Baltic Times

Posted: at 3:41 pm

The Republic of Ireland has decided to join the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (NATO CCDCOE). Irish Ambassador to Estonia H. E. Ms Frances Kiernan visited the Centre yesterday to submit the Letter of Intent and thereby start the accession process.

With its strong digital economy and society, we believe that Ireland is a country that is very much aware about the security risks in cyberspace. Accordingly, the Irish decision to contribute to tackling various cybersecurity challenges at the international level along with a community of like-minded nations that we have in the CCDCOE is mutually beneficial, highly welcome and most timely having in mind the current Cyber Security Awareness Month, said Colonel Jaak Tarien, Director of the NATO CCDCOE.

Irish decision to join the CCDCOE opens up new avenues for cooperation in the field of cyber defence. The multinational nature of the Centre helps to tie together national experiences and bring synergy in cyber skills and knowledge. We are looking forward to have an Irish cyber expert joining our interdisciplinary team, added Col Tarien.

The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence is a NATO-accredited knowledge hub, think-tank and training facility. The international military organisation focuses on interdisciplinary research and development, as well as training courses and exercises in the field of cyber security.

The heart of the Centre is a diverse group of international experts from currently 25 nations, including legal scholars, policy and strategy experts as well as technology researchers with military, government and industry backgrounds.

Membership of the Centre is open to all Allies, the Centre is also welcoming cooperation with like-minded Partners. Currently Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States have signed on as Sponsoring Nations of the Centre. Austria, Finland and Sweden are part of the Centre as Contributing Participants the status available for non-NATO nations.

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Russia opposes new NATO-like military blocs in the world Putin – RT

Posted: at 3:41 pm

Moscow believes the creation of new military blocs along the lines of NATO after the Second World War is a bad idea, and attempts to do so in Asia are alien to the region and its interests, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

Our concept is not to create new blocs along the model of Europe or the North Atlantic after the Second World War, Putin said on Thursday, during the debates at the 16th Valdai Discussion Forum in Sochi.

Asked about the possibility of a new military alliance in Asia presumably referring to US efforts for some kind of Indo-Pacific partnership against the rising influence of China the Russian president said that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is working for the needs of the region just fine.

Putin said called the attempts to create some kind of a bloc organization that is not aimed at cooperation with others alien to Asia in general and the current state of affairs in Asia.

He believes many states of the region do not want to join military blocs aimed against anyone, but wish instead to create cooperation so they can seek compromises in areas of mutual interest.

Find them, and move ahead together, said Putin. They dont want to get sucked into confrontations between some governments, and least of all participate in any blocs.

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Why electrician stole Grumman Tracker warplane from NATO base and flew to Libya aviation news – 9News

Posted: at 3:41 pm

"I seem to be the only one who survived an adventure like that."

In March 1964, the Dutchman made world headlines when he stole a warplane from its NATO base in Malta and flew it to a desert airfield in Libya.

"I know how Sgt Meyer must have felt," Mr van Eijck said. "Because it's what I felt. It was the best thing ever. You're doing something that everyone says can't be done and it's all you."

Mr Van Eijck joined the Dutch military at 19 with hopes of becoming a flyer. But fearing he would never make the grade as an air force pilot, he decided on a backdoor route through the Dutch navy.

He entered the service as a trainee electrician, with the promise he could apply for the Navy's pilot training course.

Mr van Eijck's plans started well.

"I got selected for the pilot scheme and I loved it," he said.

But after he'd completed about 40 hours' flying time, a few indiscrete remarks cost him dearly.

During a party at his barracks in the Netherlands, Mr van Eijck's commanding officer invited him to speak candidly about the quality of the course. It was, he assured the 21 year old, an off-the-record chat.

Perhaps naively, he declared the twin-engine training aircraft were "crap".

The next day he was stunned when he was officially cautioned over his words.

Angry at the way he had been treated, Mr van Eijck wrote a critical remark about the training course on a blackboard.

This only made his situation worse: he was jailed by the military for a weekend. Then, after he broke out of his barracks and his absence was discovered, he was dismissed from the pilot's course.

Mr van Eijck had only one avenue left to save his flying dream an appeal to senior officers. But his superiors mistakenly handed him the wrong documents to complete. Months later he was informed he had not followed the correct procedure and the appeal process was exhausted.

The navy ruled he could no longer train as a pilot and he must serve the remaining six years as an electrician.

"I felt it just wasn't fair," he recalled.

When Mr van Eijck's appeal to be discharged from the navy failed, he formulated his plan to steal an aircraft.

But unlike Paul Meyer, who made his dash on the spur of the moment and under the influence of alcohol, the Dutchman planned carefully.

The plane he had his sights set on was the navy's Grumman Tracker propeller-driven anti-submarine plane.

Mr van Eijck found a handbook for the US-built aircraft and befriended pilots to learn about take-offs, instrument controls, the engine and other key information. "I told absolutely no one. If I had, it would not have worked," he said.

A two-month posting to a NATO base on the Mediterranean island of Malta in early 1964 proved the golden opportunity for Mr van Eijck.

While stealing a plane from the Netherlands risked flying close to air defences of Soviet-controlled East Germany at the height of the Cold War, Malta offered a less hazardous route south to North Africa.

Just days before he was due to return, he made his move the morning after an alcohol-fuelled leaving party at which he carefully abstained.

"I got up early and I borrowed a bike and biked to the runway."

Posing as an officer, Mr van Eijck told the guard he had to make an urgent flight and the gullible guard helped him open the hangar doors.

Moments later he was in the cockpit of the Grumman Tracker armed that morning with two torpedoes.

When he switched on the engine of the plane, the airfield's control tower radioed to ask what he was doing.

"I just ignored them. I didn't answer. I taxied and then I was gone."

Flying at about 1500 metres to conserve fuel, the deserter headed to Libya but had little idea where to land.

Looking back on the daring flight, Mr van Eijck said he felt elated.

"It was marvellous. I felt so powerful. I didn't care about the torpedoes."

After five and a half hours flying, he spotted a basic airstrip in the desert near Benghazi and made his landing.

"And this is where my luck crucially held. The first man I saw running out of a nearby hut was a Dutchman," Mr van Eijck recalled.

On his countryman's advice, he surrendered to Libyan officials and told them he fled Europe because he objected to liberal policies towards women's equality and homosexuality.

He was granted asylum in Libya where he says he was well treated.

Tense negotiations between Mr van Eijck and Dutch diplomats who wanted their warplane and their wannabe pilot back followed.

After initially snubbing official approaches, he agreed to a deal. He would return to the Netherlands and serve a one-year sentence for desertion. In return, he would be granted an honourable discharge from the military.

But the flying dream continued and when he left prison he qualified as a private pilot.

Looking back, Mr van Eijck has no regrets about risking all on his airborne escape.

"I got what I wanted. I wanted to get out of the bloody navy and I got that."

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Portsmouth minehunter sails to the Baltic on bomb-busting Nato mission – Portsmouth News

Posted: at 3:41 pm

DOZENS of sailors have deployed to the Baltic on an explosive Nato mission to hunt out deadly Second World War mines.

Portsmouth-based minehunter HMS Cattistock will spend the next seven weeks in the region as part of Nato fleet dedicated to keeping the waters of northern Europe free of historic ordnance.

Half a dozen vessels Danish, German, Latvian, Norwegian and Belgian are assigned to the force, currently led by the Danish Navy.

Cattistocks divers and mine warfare specialists, trained to operate remote-controlled submersibles,will take the lead in the hunt for ordnance.

The team will also share its expertise with explosives with bomb disposal squads from across the globe.

Lieutenant Commander Claire Thompson, Cattistocks captain, said: We only returned from operations in the Gulf earlier in the year, so preparing has been hard work but the whole team are looking forward to visiting many new places, working with a number of different Natonations and generally taking part in such a rewarding deployment.

To prepare for themission, Cattistock the second oldest ship in the Royal Navy at 38, but with the latest minehunting systems crammed inside her plastic hull left Portsmouth for Loch Goil, Scotland, for engineering trials before undergoing a fortnight of intensive training and assessment.

All Royal Navy ships deploying on front-line duties must pass Operational Sea Training pre-season training for warships. Frigates and larger are assessed off Plymouth; smaller vessels, irrespective of where they are based, head to western Scotland.

Cattistock is due back in Portsmouth in late November.

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NATO chief says 2 experts to attend Russia-Belarus war games …

Posted: August 25, 2017 at 3:50 am

NATO's chief says the military alliance will send two experts to attend Russia's war games with Belarus, after Minsk invited them to take part.

The war games, known as Zapad (West in Russian) and starting on Sept. 14, have raised tensions between NATO and Russia. Zapad will see thousands of troops and equipment from Russia and Belarus deployed near the borders with NATO members Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told The Associated Press on Thursday that Belarus said the alliance could attend five distinguished visitor days during the war games. Russia has invited NATO to one such visitors' day but the alliance is still studying the offer.

Stoltenberg said attending visitors' days does not constitute real monitoring and that NATO is seeking "a more thorough way of observing" Zapad.

Stoltenberg's remarks came as he traveled to Poland for meetings with the country's president, prime minister, foreign and defense ministers. He will also visit NATO troops Friday who are stationed in the country.

A police car escorting Stoltenberg's convoy to the meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda was involved in a crash Thursday with a van, injuring three people but Stoltenberg's limousine was not affected, a police spokesman said.

Under international rules enshrined by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, monitors should be invited to observe war games involving more than 13,000 troops. Both Russia and Belarus say the number taking part will be less, but NATO officials say Russia has low-balled troop numbers in the past.

"We call on Russia to fully comply with the (OSEC's) document, but also to not use loopholes like snap exercises, like many different commands for what in reality is one exercise," Stoltenberg said.

He said NATO routinely invites Russia to watch its war games as a confidence-building measure, but noted that "Russia has never, since the end of the Cold War, invited any NATO ally to observe any of their exercises."

Zapad is held roughly every four years. The exercises will be a chance for Russia to flex its military muscle near nervous neighbors that have joined NATO since breaking away from the former Soviet Union.

The alliance, and those neighbors, are concerned that Moscow might leave military equipment behind in Belarus when the exercises are over, raising fears that Russian troops could quickly move across the borders later, as they did in Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014.

Monika Scislowska contributed.

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NATO CCD COE Considering ‘Petya’ Malware a Potential Act of War

Posted: at 3:50 am

On Saturday, Kevin Scheid, a Department of Defense veteran, was placed in charge of NATOs cyber operations. The appointment wouldnt be big news if it werent for the fact that hes joining the organization at a hair-raising point in history. The vicious malware triggered the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (NATO CCD COE) to announce on Friday that the attack is believed to be the work of a state actor and is a potential act of war.

The 90s cyberpunk thriller Hackers is used too often to illustrate the fearful future of cyber

There was a lot of ruckus back in May when Donald Trump met with the leaders of NATO and failed to confirm that the US is committed to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. Thats the clause of the agreement that pledges the members of NATO to mutual defense. Legally speaking, if Article 5 is triggered by an attack on one member, the other members are required to join in retaliation. NATOs Secretary General confirmed this week that a cyber operation with consequences comparable to an armed attack can trigger Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty and responses might be with military means. But Fridays press release emphasizes that we dont know enough about the origin of NotPetya or the intentions behind its release at this time.

NATO CCD COE is part of the NATO Allied Command Transformations Centers of Excellence and is classified as an International Military Organisation. It functions in an advisory capacity and helps member nations cooperate in the realm of cyber security. CCD COE researchers have concluded that the malware can most likely be attributed to a state actor, and if a nation is determined to be responsible, this could be an internationally wrongful act, which might give the targeted states several options to respond with countermeasures. What sort of countermeasures? Well, pretty much anything. Independently, the UKs defense secretary announced this week that his country was prepared to respond to cyber attacks from any domain - air, land, sea or cyber.

If our unhinged president in the US wants to start a war for the hell of it, he pretty much has the power to do that. But NATO functions on strict rules. Tom Minrik, a researcher at NATO CCD COE writes:

If the operation could be linked to an ongoing international armed conflict, then law of armed conflict would apply, at least to the extent that injury or physical damage was caused by it, and with respect to possible direct participation in hostilities by civilian hackers, but so far there are reports of neither.

Minrik is outlining what would justify full on IRL military conflict. That doesnt, necessarily, mean that NATO couldnt respond in the cyber-realm if it determined that a government was responsible for NotPetya. He continues:

As important government systems have been targeted, then in case the operation is attributed to a state this could count as a violation of sovereignty. Consequently, this could be an internationally wrongful act, which might give the targeted states several options to respond with countermeasures.

NATO doesnt know whos responsible for NotPetya, and no experts have attributed the attack to one actor with certainty.

Its one of the most fascinating pieces of malware to ever wreak havoc on a large scale. At first, people thought it was ransomware, then it was more likely to be a wiper with some ransomware code. Its become clear that it uses the EternalBlue and EternalRomance exploits that were pilfered from the NSA and released by the hacking group the Shadow Brokers in April. But intriguingly, it appears that whoever created NotPetya had access to those exploits two weeks before they were given to the public.

Another puzzling factor is the motive for releasing this malware that doesnt seem to benefit anyone. No one is getting paid. Its just a really destructive worm that locks up systems. It was first released in Ukraine, and that countrys security services are blaming Russia. But Russians were victims of the attack as well. Its such a pointless and nasty worm that the crime group behind the original Petya actually jumped in and volunteered to help victims. Lauri Lindstrm, a researcher at NATO says, it seems likely that the more sophisticated and expensive NotPetya campaign is a declaration of power - a demonstration of the acquired disruptive capability and readiness to use it.

According to Bloomberg, attacks on NATOs electronic infrastructure increased by 60 percent last year. If its true that a state actor is responsible for NotPetya, its possible that NATO taking notice and talking up Article 5 could make the perpetrator think twice. Then again, if the responsible party gets away without a trace, theyll know that theyre untouchable.

Correction: This post has been updated to clarify that NATOs CCD COE is accredited by the Alliance and serves to give advice, conduct research, and facilitate cooperation among the nations on issues of cyber security.

[CCDCOE via Security Affairs, Bloomberg]

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NATO CCD COE Considering 'Petya' Malware a Potential Act of War

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