Virtual theater antimissile defense

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The Russian-NATO staff command exercise for theater antimissile defense ended in Moscow on October 26. The exercise lasted for ten days and was conducted starting October 16, on the base of the fourth research institute of the Russian Defense Ministry. Specialists paid attention to the fact that the exercise was conducted with use of computer modeling and without real participation of the air defense and antimissile defense forces of the parties. Representatives of 17 NATO member states took part in the exercise together with Russian officers. General of the Army Yury Baluevsky, Chief of the Russian General Staff, and General Raimon Eno, chair of the military committee of NATO, watched the exercise.

The NATO general explained such representative participation of the parties in the staff command exercise saying, “Such exercises allow deepening and broadening of cooperation and provision of operational interaction between Russia and NATO.” The press service of the Russian Defense Ministry said that “the main goal of the exercise was connected with training and improvement of joint procedures of planning and coordination of actions of command bodies of the air defense and antimissile defense groups of Russia and NATO.” The press service explained that in the course of the staff command exercise the parties checked experimental documents and worked out recommendations for their further correction.

It was reported that “the exercise allowed working out issues of planning, organization and conduction of coordinated combat operations for parrying of attacks of non-strategic ballistic missiles in the designated zones of responsibility.” At any rate, it is clear to everyone that such computer games are very far from the real problems existing in the air defense systems of Europe and Russia still. The recent staff command exercise was already the third exercise in the series of such joint exercises organized through the Russia-NATO council. The first staff command exercise was held in two stages: in December 2003, on the base of NATO agency for consultations, command and governance in the Netherlands (Hague) and in March 2004, on Shriver (Colorado Springs) air base of the US in the united integration center. The second staff command exercise was held in March 2005, on the base of De Peel air base of the air force of the Netherlands.

Not a single of these events was connected with real use of troops and missile armament. According to the press service of NATO, the first so-called field staff command exercise of Russia and NATO is planned for autumn 2007. Meanwhile, it seems that the Russian Defense Ministry already does not cherish very big hopes for creation of real antimissile defense in Europe with participation of Moscow. Opening the Russian-NATO exercises Baluevsky called on NATO to give a clear and unambiguous answer as to whether NATO really wanted to create an antimissile defense system in Europe with participation of Russia.

The Russian general said, “It is necessary to decide what we are to do further” we either start development of a joint antimissile defense system in Europe with participation of Russia or this will be a segment of the national antimissile defense system of the US without participation of Russia.” Along with this, Baluevsky stated, “We will discuss this topic in Brussels where I will arrive in November, to take part in a meeting of the chiefs of staffs in the framework of the Russia-NATO council.” This way or the other, such discussions have been conducted between Russia and NATO for more than ten years already but do not bring any real results except for organization of computer games dedicated to antimissile problems. Back in October 2003, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia was prepared for cooperation “with all countries in the world and with our partners including cooperation in such sensitive direction like creation of antimissile defense systems.”

Commenting on the idea of joint exercises of theater antimissile defense in October 2003, George Robertson who was NATO Secretary General then, announced that Russia and NATO member states were working on “operational compatibility” for the theater antimissile defense systems for protection of troops during joint operations. Well, they are working and working but where are the results?

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