NATO's spy planes, ships and WMD unit to guard Olympics

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

LONDON NATO has agreed to provide sophisticated miltary assets to help Greece secure the Olympic Games.

In a statement NATO said it will send airborne early-warning alert AWACS aircraft for the air surveillance. The statement did not cite the number of planes, but earlier officials said three AWACS would be sent.

NATO also said it would send ships to Greece for maritime surveillance. The ships would be sent through NATO's Operation Active Endeavour, which patrols the Mediterranean Sea to prevent Al Qaida and related insurgency activities.

In addition, NATO said it would deploy elements of the alliance's chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense battalion. That battalion has been based in the Czech Republic.

NATO said it has agreed to a request from Greece for security assistance during the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games from August through October 2004. The alliance said it will deploy a range of military assets to help protect Greece's air space and territorial waters from attack.

"NATO's efforts will support those of the Greek Government, which has full responsibility for the overall Olympic security operation," the statement said.

In May, the NATO E-3A component successfully completed an operational evaluation conducted by the Allied Air Forces North Tactical Evaluation Team, based at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Since 2001, NATO has used its E-3A component to support what officials termed major anti-terror and air space-defense missions over the United States during Operation Eagle Assist and over Turkey in Operation Crescent Guard.

Other help offered by NATO included enhanced intelligence sharing. NATO would also help coordinate assistance offered by nations relating to civil emergency contingencies. The statement did not elaborate.

The United States has pressed NATO to organize a rapid response force that could aid the Olympic Games. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the Olympic Games could be the first mission of NATO's new rapid response force, composed of air, ground, naval, special operations and other specialized units.

"The reality is that NATO is a military alliance that has no real relevance unless it has the ability to fairly rapidly deploy military capabilities," Rumsfeld said on the eve of the NATO summit in Istanbul on Sunday. "And NATO did not have a NATO response force that could do that."

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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