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25th anniversary of #Semipalatinsk closure marked in terms of progress and danger

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nuclear explosionAs has been underlined on many occasions, we are living in deeply uncertain times. Our world faces complex challenges and threats that put at risk all we have achieved and all our hopes for the future.

The global economy remains weak. While we may have agreed on the threat that climate change poses, we are still a long way from taking the collective action needed. Extremist groups put at risk our safety and stability. And their menace is linked to nuclear weapons.

Last month, British Prime Minister Theresa May reminded us that “the nuclear threat has not gone away, if anything, it has increased”

Former US Defence Secretary William Perry also warned that the nuclear threat is greater today than during the Cold War. These stark warnings are based on concerns that terrorist groups, such as ISIS, are actively seeking to get hold of the material and technology to build nuclear weapons. The international community must step up its counter-terrorism efforts to prevent these evil and dangerous groups from achieving their objective.

Of course, it is not all bad news. There has been a significant global reduction in nuclear weapons and nuclear material stockpiles. Dozens of countries are now free of weapons-grade materials. Central Asia is among the regions which are nuclear weapons-free zones, thanks to the initiative of Kazakhstan and its regional partners. But there are still approximately 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world.

It is against this background that Kazakhstan, and the world, is to mark the 25th anniversary of the closing of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. It is an event with a huge significance for our country, which is one of the few to have suffered the horror and devastation that nuclear explosions cause. It is why Kazakhstan has taken the lead in the global campaign to move to a world free of nuclear weapons.

On 29 August in Ypres, the ceremony of commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site  took place, attended by Kazakhstan.Ambassador Almas  Khamzayev. He told EU Reporter: "I believe that a nuclear-arms free world is possible, but every country must understand the importance of this step. Kazakhstan is doing its best to try to explain the importance of the steps that we have taken for many years, to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

"Our country suffered much from the test of nuclear weapons, for nearly 40 years - hundreds of thousands of people suffered for decades from these tests for decades, and we are still suffering. We must end the nuclear nightmare."

The international conference 'Building a Nuclear Weapons Free World, which took place in Astana on 29 August – the exact anniversary of President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s decision to shut down the test site as Semipalatinsk and now the UN International Day against Nuclear Tests – will add much-needed impetus to this important goal. It comes after President Nazarbayev published his manifesto setting out a blueprint for a world without nuclear weapons by 2045 and told the UN this must be the cause of our time.

The conference comes at an important time. The newly established UN Open Ended Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament is preparing to submit its report to the General Assembly on how multilateral progress towards a world free of nuclear weapons can be made. In addition, the discussions can feed into the preparation for the High-Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly on nuclear disarmament, which will begin in two years.

The Astana conference has attracted senior figures from nations that possess nuclear weapons, as well as non-nuclear-weapon states. Political and religious leaders, experts in the field of disarmament, as well as representatives of civil society, international and regional organizations, will take part in the discussions.

As US President Barack Obama has said, moving to a world without nuclear weapons won’t be easy. It requires the courage to take the steps, however small, to achieve this ambition over time. We must hope that the discussions in Astana help us plot the next stage of this journey.

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#USEUCOM - US European Command begins Europe exercise series 

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US European Command (USEUCOM) began its Europe exercise series on 10 May with the start of joint exercise Immediate Response in Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia. Immediate Response, a freedom of movement exercise, is the first of six, long-planned USEUCOM exercises scheduled to occur in Europe between May and September 2019.  USEUCOM's exercise series brings together NATO allies and partners to enhance interoperability across borders and to deter adversaries.

The goal of the exercise series, referred to as the Joint Exercise Program (JEP), is to "produce trained joint forces ready to enable and execute a full range of military missions," said Major General John Healy, director of USEUCOM's exercises and assessments directorate. "This is in concert with our allies and partners to secure  US national interests, deter Russian aggression and support a Europe that is stable and secure."

The command's exercises are carried out by the combatant command and its components to enhance US readiness to accomplish any mission required while fulfilling NATO treaty obligations. Additionally, the training improves US military capabilities and enhances co-ordination and synchronization with interagency partners. Now through September 2019, six exercises will be hosted by USEUCOM and more than 20 exercises will be hosted by the component commands.

The exercises will take place in Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovenia and the Ukraine.  Across the 51-country area of responsibility, USEUCOM's approximately 70,000 service members and civilians engage with European partners and NATO allies to strengthen regional relationships.

The following is a list of EUCOM-hosted exercises:

10-30 May: Immediate Response occurs in Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia and is focused on combined training with Croatia and Slovenia. It is designed to demonstrate freedom of movement and operational command and control, interoperability, and leverage strategic mobility to respond to an emerging contingency.

4-10 June: Astral Knight occurs in Croatia, Germany, Italy and Slovenia, and is a bi-annual Integrated Air and Missile Defense Capstone Exercise focused on conducting defense of key terrain. Training will involve a combination of flight operations and computer-assisted scenarios.

3-24 June: Saber Guardian occurs in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, and is a multinational brigade level event focusing on defensive operations and interoperability with NATO countries.

1-12 July: Sea Breeze occurs in Ukraine and the western Black Sea, and is a joint US, Ukrainian sponsored maritime field training exercise (FTX) focusing on maritime security in support of the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program.

29 July to 19 August: Agile Spirit occurs in Georgia, and focuses on peacekeeping, support operations and NATO response force operations in response to regional crises.

16-20 September: Northern Challenge occurs in Iceland, and focuses on rendering safe improvised explosive and sabotage devices.  Exercises in the USEUCOM area of responsibility allow USEUCOM's components to strengthen solidarity with allies and partners; increase transparency to build understanding among neighboring countries; and align collective efforts across borders.

"Exercises like Immediate Response are critical to building readiness and interoperability among our forces, strengthening the alliance and promoting security and stability in the Black Sea and Balkan region," said Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander, US Army Europe.

"The level of multinational cooperation demonstrated here at Immediate Response is a credit to our host nations - Croatia and Slovenia - who have hosted this exercise for several years."

Cavoli went on to add that the two countries have been instrumental in growing it from the small command post exercise it began as, to the premier multi-domain logistical and airborne training opportunity it has become.

US European Command is one of two US forward-deployed geographic combatant commands whose area of focus spans across Europe, portions of Asia and the Middle East, the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. The command comprises of approximately 70,000 military and civilian personnel and is responsible for US defence operations, relations with NATO and 51 countries. For more information about US European Command, click here. 

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#SEAD - Hitting where it hurts

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The Indian Air Force’s new NARGM anti-radiation missile promises a step change for the force’s SEAD doctrine.  Work on the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) New Generation Anti-Radiation Missile (NGARM) commenced in 2012 with an initial budget of $62 million, writes Thomas Withington.

Open sources state that the weapon has a range of between 54 nautical miles/nm (100 kilometres/km) to 65nm (120km). It is intended to equip the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Sukhoi Su-MKI and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Tejas series combat aircraft. The missile includes millimetric wave radar transmitting on frequencies of 30 gigahertz/GHz and above. Millimetric wave radar is particularly useful to analyse the precision of the missile’s attack.
No details have been released regarding the frequencies of the NGARM’s radar seeker. It is reasonable to assume that this covers at least a two gigahertz to 20GHz waveband.  One aspect of the missile’s design which remains unclear is whether it can use an aircraft’s Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) to determine hostile radar locations, or whether a separate radar detection system has to be carried by the aircraft to give targeting information of sufficient accuracy.
This is the case for the Panavia Tornado-ECR air defence suppression aircraft flown by the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) and the Aeronautica Militaire (Italian Air Force). These aircraft use the Raytheon Emitter Locator System (ELS). This detects and geo-locates hostile radars across 500 megahertz/MHz to 20GHz waveband. The ELS’ design is thought to be closely based on Raytheon’s AN/ASQ-213(V) HARM Targeting System which outfits the US Air Force’s Lockheed Martin F-16CJ Block-50D Viper Weasel air defence suppression aircraft.
While several platforms such as the McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet, and the F-16 series can deploy the AGM-88 sans the AN/ASQ-213(V), the pod enables the aircraft to launch missiles at multiple targets, and to do so with impressive accuracy. This transforms an aircraft from employing the missile for self defence, or to protect a strike package, to assuming an offensive posture.
The latter will see the aircraft can hunting and engaging radar threats as part of a wider operational effort to degrade or destroy an Integrated Air Defence System (IADS) at the theatre level.  The development of the NGARM represents an important shot in the arm for the IAF’s SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defence) capabilities.
The IAF is presently thought to possess around 600 Zvezda-Strela Kh-25MP (NATO reporting name AS-12 Kegler) ARMs (Anti-Radiation Missiles). These were delivered between 1995 and 2004. They are believed to be used by the IAF’s MiG-27ML (NATO reporting name Flogger-D/J) jets. This weapon has an inferior range of 22nm (40km) compared to the NGARM.
Given that the Kh-25MP originally entered service in the 1970s, and that the rounds India purchased were delivered in the 1990s, at best this missile maybe a generation behind the NGARM in design and performance.
Air Marshal (rtd.) Daljit Singh, a former IAF fighter pilot and highly respected electronic warfare expert, broadly welcomes the IAF’s NGARM acquisition, although he warned MON that “to be really relevant and effective, the ARM would have to be capable of multimode operations. It must also be upgradable to match emerging radar technologies”.
He stressed that the missile’s seeker must be capable of detecting and locking onto contemporary radar threats employing a myriad of low probability of deception/interception and electronic counter-countermeasure tactics and techniques to hide in the ether. AM Singh also urges the IAF to invest in escort jammers for strike packages, an area he argues where the air force is currently deficient.

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US European Command holds change of command

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US European Command (USEUCOM) has held a change of command ceremony at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany, where US Air Force General Tod D. Wolters assumed command from US Army General Curtis M. Scaparrotti. 

Wolters is the 18th USEUCOM commander and will also serve as the 19th Supreme Allied Commander Europe for NATO Allied Command Operations. As the USEUCOM commander, Wolters is charged with leading more than 68,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, coast guardsmen, and civilians across the area of responsibility spanning 51 countries and territories.

The change in leadership comes at an important time for the command, which has remained focused on meeting the challenges of a complex and dynamic operating environment. In his remarks, Scaparrotti discussed evolving threats throughout the region during his tenure, emphasizing the command's ability to adapt to an ever-changing landscape.  "We've faced revisionist powers and non-state actors challenging the interests of the United States and our allies and partners in Europe," he noted. "The security environment has become more complex, trans-regional, and certainly more challenging. We have been tested - and proved vigilant, strong, and ready."

According to Scaparrotti, those accomplishments were made possible through the work of talented and tireless leaders throughout the command. He also expressed gratitude to German allies and the continuous support they provide to USEUCOM.

"I want to thank our German hosts, and the special city of Stuttgart. Since 1967, thousands of U.S. service members and their families have called Stuttgart home," said Scaparrotti. "The wonderful experiences they have had here are forever woven into the tapestry of their lives, just as Stuttgart is now a special place for Cindy and me."

Secretary of the Army, Dr. Mark T. Esper, who presided over the event, said the command benefited tremendously while under Scaparrotti's watch, and will continue to thrive under Wolters' leadership.  "For 57 years, EUCOM has been defending freedom, standing bravely alongside a resilient network of like-minded partners and allies," said Esper. "The men and women of this command symbolize America's enduring commitment to Europe, the NATO alliance, and freedom around the world."

Upon taking the helm, Wolters praised Scaparrotti's leadership and impact on the men and women of the command and the mission.   "The guarantee with General Scaparrotti [is] that you're in great hands and you could not be better led," said Wolters. "He is always vigilant, always responsible, always detailed."

Wolters addressed those he now serves alongside, saying: "You've demonstrated a relentless desire to engage and embrace a whole-of-government, whole-of-nation, and whole-of-alliance approach. It has dramatically enhanced our alignment and transparency. We won't relent on building relationships and nurturing trust."

Prior to taking command, Wolters served as Commander, U.S. Air Forces in Europe; Commander, US Air Forces Africa; Commander, Allied Air Command, headquartered at Ramstein Air Base; and Director, Joint Air Power Competence Centre, Kalkar, Germany. He was responsible for the air and missile defense of 29 NATO Alliance member nations while commanding US airpower across more than 19 million square miles, to include 104 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, the Arctic, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.   Wolters is a graduate of the Air Force Academy, where he received his commission in 1982.

Wolters is a command pilot with more than 5,000 flying hours in the F-15C, F-22, OV-10, T-38, and A-10 aircraft. He has been assigned to numerous operational, command and staff positions throughout his career.

US European Command is one of two US forward-deployed geographic combatant commands whose area of focus spans across Europe, portions of Asia and the Middle East, and the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. The command is comprised of more than 60,000 military and civilian personnel, and is responsible for U.S. defense operations and relations with NATO and 51 countries. For more information about U.S. European Command, click here.

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