NATO Committee Fosters Science's Role in Security
Teplitz, Vigdor, Science News
Not everyone knows about Science for Peace and Security, a NATO committee with a small budget that focuses on funding civil science projects with applications to countering threats. The committee's goal is developing high-quality knowledge in various areas relevant to antiterrorism, to other threats to security or to the priorities of the Partner Countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union and of the Mediterranean Dialogue countries.
Among current SPS projects is Virtual Silk Highway, or SILK-2, a multi-year NATO computer networking project which began early this millennium to bring connectivity to the eight countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia. SILK-2 provides universities and civil research institutions in participating countries with state-of-the-art satellite technology. As part of NATO assistance to Afghanistan, SILK-2 was extended to 14 institutions in Kabul (SILK-K). SILK-K will transition to SILK-Afghanistan, bringing improved connectivity to seven provincial Afghan cities.
Over a million people will make use of the new capabilities, and millions will benefit from the connection between the receiving countries and the West.
Another program, of high priority in defense against terrorism, is STANDEX--for Standoff Detection of Explosives. STANDEX's objective is to create a prototype multiple technology system for remote (standoff) detection of suicide bombers and to demonstrate it successfully under real conditions. Details of that project emerged from workshops held by SPS with the NATO (military) Research and Technology Organization. Seven leading institutions from France, Germany, the Netherlands and Russia will collaborate on the prototype. The combination of cutting-edge technologies could lead to a breakthrough in detecting improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, in a crowd. Russia has announced that it will contribute financially to the project as France, Turkey and the United States have.
STANDEX will develop new laser spectroscopic and active microwave devices and create new computer programming to control and coordinate these components. It marks the first cooperation of SPS with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
SPS efforts have produced immense benefits while attracting little publicity--the destruction of melange in Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, for example. …