NATO Develops Joint Antiterror Package
Byline: Bill Gertz, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The NATO military alliance is stepping up cooperative efforts to fight terrorism with a plan for new defenses aimed at protecting ports from attack, stopping homemade bombs and creating new methods of sending commandos into hot spots.
The package of programs will be presented at the NATO summit set to begin Monday in Istanbul, and heads of state and defense ministers of the 26 NATO members are likely to approve it, according to a senior alliance official.
"There is a pressing need to combat terrorist organizations and provide the right mix of offensive and defensive capabilities to NATO troops in the field," the official said.
If formally approved, it will be the first time that NATO has agreed to carry out a collaborative arms and defense development program, the official said.
"The eight measures signal the determination that the alliance has to meet the terrorist threat to the alliance head-on," said the official, noting that the danger of Islamist and other terrorism is "present and growing."
The official said the eight-point defense package was developed by NATO's Conference of National Armaments Directors and includes:
* Reducing the vulnerability of large aircraft to portable missiles.
* Developing countermeasures to improvised explosive devices, such as nerve-gas and car bombs.
* Creating precision air-drop technology that will help NATO commandos conduct pinpoint drops on terrorist targets, such as houses and caves.
* Stepping up defenses at ports and harbors.
* Developing new aircraft defenses for helicopters, such as protecting rotary-wing planes from rocket-propelled grenades.
* Making better detectors, protective gear and equipment, and weapons that can combat chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear bombs.
* Developing new technology for intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance and apprehension of terrorists.
* Creating new methods of explosive-ordnance disposal and post-attack planning.
Unlike the European Union, whose members are divided over which measures to use in combating terrorism, NATO militaries are united in the new armaments program, the official said. …