US internal politics hinder arming of key allies

A number of foreign navies are eager to acquire ex-US Navy frigates, but politics is preventing some allies, like Turkey, from receiving any more. Here, the Turkish frigate Gelibolu, ex-USS Reid, approaches Doha, Qatar, on March 24.
A number of foreign navies are eager to acquire ex-US Navy frigates, but politics is preventing some allies, like Turkey, from receiving any more. Here, the Turkish frigate Gelibolu, ex-USS Reid, approaches Doha, Qatar, on March 24.

The US Navy’s frigate force is rapidly shrinking as the 1980s-era ships are taken out of service. The Navy wants to transfer the ships to friendly nations for further service, and several nations are eager to have them.

But in recent years, congressional politics have made some of the proposed moves overly controversial, and measures to approve the transfers have run afoul of partisan politics, particularly where Turkey and Pakistan are concerned.

But on April 7, the House passed a bill approving the transfer of eight frigates — four to Taiwan, two to Thailand and two to Mexico. Two of the ships named in the bill already have left service, with the other six set to leave the US fleet in 2015.

The bill now lies with the Senate, where it might have come to a vote before the body adjourned for a two-week recess. As of April 10, however, it appeared the opportunity for quick action would pass, leaving the measure to be taken up at a later date.

The House-sponsored bill eliminated a Senate bill introduced in November that included the same ships, plus three more for Pakistan — along with a series of conditions that country has recoiled from meeting.

Forces in the Senate have balked as well at providing Pakistan with the ships, and a hold — reportedly from Sen. Rand Paul R-Ky., — has been placed on the bill.

Similar squabbles led to another frigate transfer bill dying with the previous Congress. That bill would have provided more frigates for Turkey, which already operates eight ex-US frigates.

The latest House bill avoids those questions and centers the move on Taiwan.

“The transfer to Taiwan of retired US Navy frigates is an important part of the US commitment to Taiwan’s security,” Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “The administration and Congress must continue to find ways to enhance Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities.”

The bill would only approve a ship’s transfer should the specified nation and the US reach agreement. It does not indicate such a move is a done deal.

DefenseNews

UN hopes for Turkish troops for peace in Africa

Ban requested Turkey’s contribution as part of the European Union’s military mission, while, for his part, Erdoğan pledged to keep up assistance for the Central African people. AFP Photo
Ban requested Turkey’s contribution as part of the European Union’s military mission, while, for his part, Erdoğan pledged to keep up assistance for the Central African people. AFP Photo

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in order to encourage Turkey to play an active role in a military mission to help end sectarian unrest in the Central African Republic.

During the conversation which took place late on Feb. 24, Erdoğan stated that Turkey was still in the process of evaluating whether to take such a step, sources from the Prime Ministry told Anadolu Agency.

Ban requested Turkey’s contribution as part of the European Union’s military mission, while, for his part, Erdoğan pledged to keep up assistance for the Central African people.

Last week, Ban Ki-moon appealed to the international community to send an additional 3,000 troops and police to Central African Republic to combat escalating sectarian violence until a likely U.N. peacekeeping force is established.

The EU had already requested Turkey to deploy troops to the Central African Republic as part of a union-wide effort. The demand to send troops was brought to the attention of Turkey in Brussels on Feb. 13 at a meeting under the leadership of French Maj. Gen. Philippe Ponties who has been appointed the commander of the EU military operation in the Central African Republic (EUFOR-CAR).

Asking for compensation from Libya

Also late on Feb. 24, Erdoğan held separate telephone conversations with Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu and Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.

During the conversation with Zeidan, Erdoğan touched upon damages that Turkish companies suffered due to Libya’s deteriorating security and growing internal tensions, the Prime Ministry sources said. In response to Erdoğan who asked for compensation of those damages, Zeidan said they planned to send an official delegation to Turkey in the coming weeks in order to negotiate these issues.

Meanwhile, Eroğlu initiated the conversation during which he informed Erdoğan about the state of affairs regarding ongoing peace talks with Greek Cypriots on the divided island.

Algeria, Turkey to cooperate on defence industry

The Turkish Cabinet has approved of a cooperation agreement between Turkey and Algeria in the defense industry, a notice published in the Official Gazette on Wednesday said.

The agreement between the two countries, which underlines cooperation in research and development in the defense industry, the production of military accoutrements and providing technical assistance in modernizing those accoutrements, was signed on May 7, 2013.

The agreement says both countries stipulate cooperating on knowledge and expert exchange, developing the abilities of personnel working in the field, providing technical and logistical support and enhancing the capacities of the defense industries in both countries.

With this agreement, Turkey and Algeria will engage in joint projects in R&D and the design and development of military equipment, weapon
systems and auxiliary equipment.

Defense Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Mustafa Avc? signed the agreement on behalf of Turkey.

TZ

Azerbaijan to manufacture Turkish rockets

Azerbaijan and Turkey to sign final document on joint missile production in the near future.

The range capability of ROKETSAN-produced 107 mm caliber missiles is more than 11 km and 122 mm caliber missiles more than 40 km (twice higher than the former Soviet - Russian equivalents).
The range capability of ROKETSAN-produced 107 mm caliber missiles is more than 11 km and 122 mm caliber missiles more than 40 km (twice higher than the former Soviet – Russian equivalents).

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense Industry and ROKETSAN company of Turkey will sign a final document on the joint production of missiles at an Azerbaijani facility, Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) told Azerbaijan’s APA.

Technical issues on joint production have already been solved. Necessary measures are being taken to start the production.

SSM has not revealed when the final document will be signed.

According to the agreement, 107 and 122 mm caliber missiles will be manufactured at the Azerbaijani facility with the participation of ROKETSAN. The engines for these missiles will be produced by ROKETSAN, other parts in Azerbaijan.

Relevant discussions have been held since 2008. The range capability of ROKETSAN-produced 107 mm caliber missiles is more than 11 km and 122 mm caliber missiles more than 40 km (twice higher than the former Soviet – Russian equivalents).

APA

Turkish AWACS delay to cost Boeing millions

US aircraft manufacturer Boeing delivered the first airborne early-warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft to Turkey at the end of January.
US aircraft manufacturer Boeing delivered the first airborne early-warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft to Turkey at the end of January.

Turkey has demanded $183 million worth of services from U.S. aircraft maker Boeing as compensation for the late delivery of airborne early-warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, a defense undersecretary official has said.

The Turkish Defense Ministry has requested an increase in the start-up support period from an initially planned two years to five years, as well as three years of software maintenance service and close to $32 million in spare parts, in return for canceling the $183 million delay penalty and accumulated interest, said Cemal Evci, a project director at the Undersecretary for Defense Industries (SSM).

He said the Boeing contract had been valued at $1.385 billion but that there had been a $59 million reduction, as some of the requirements were not met. He also noted Turkey had paid $637 million to Boeing in advance.

Under a July 23, 2003, contract, Boeing was to develop and deliver four AEW&C aircraft to the Turkish Air Force by 2008.

However, the first of the aircraft slated for deployment along the countrys Syrian border could only be delivered recently.

The AEW&C aircraft had arrived in Turkey for acceptance tests at the end of January and tests are to be followed by an inauguration ceremony Feb. 21 in the Central Anatolian province of Konya.

Last year, Defense Minister ?smet Y?lmaz had said Turkey would impose sanctions on Boeing for the delays, and the supplier and buyer parties have been attempting to reach a consensus over the cause for the delays for some time.

Some officials had said there were disagreements over whether the delays stemmed entirely from the companys shortcomings, or whether they were due to extra features that Ankara demanded be installed on the aircraft.

In yesterdays remarks, Evci said technological difficulties in developing some of the high-quality features demanded by Turkey led to the six-year delay.

The program involved the delivery of the 737-700 airframes, ground radars and control systems, ground control segments for mission crew training, mission support and maintenance support.

The 737-700 aircraft are to be used as part of Turkeys NATO capabilities. An AEW&C system is an airborne radar system designed to detect aircraft, ships and vehicles at long ranges, and control and command the battle space in an air engagement by directing fighter and attack aircraft strikes.

Used at a high altitude, the radars on the aircraft allow the operators to distinguish between friendly and hostile aircraft hundreds of miles away.

 

NATO head expresses concern about Turkey’s Chinese missile deal

turkish-HQ-9-sam-system(Reuters) – The head of NATO expressed concern on Monday over Turkey’s decision to co-produce a missile defense system with a Chinese firm, saying he expected Ankara to choose a system that was compatible with those of other allies.

Turkey has said it is likely to sign a $3.4 billion missile defense deal with a Chinese firm that is subject to U.S. sanctions, although its decision is not yet final.

The United States has expressed serious concerns to Turkey, saying the Chinese missile defense system would not work with NATO systems.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said choosing a defense system was a national decision.

“What is important for us is that the system acquired by the individual country … must be able to work and operate with the systems in other countries. I expect that Turkey will also comply with that,” the former Danish prime minister told Reuters, speaking in Danish.

“I of course expect that each allied nation makes sure of this. It comes with being a NATO member,” Rasmussen said, speaking on the sidelines of a conference in Copenhagen.

Rasmussen said he understood Turkey had not yet made a final decision and was still in talks on the new defense system.

Turkey’s Defense Ministry said last month it favored China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp’s (CPMIEC) FD-2000 missile defense system over more expensive rival systems from Russian, U.S. and European firms.

The United States announced sanctions on CPMIEC in February for violations of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.

NATO diplomats say buying a system that did not work with NATO systems would hamper the ability of NATO allies to work together, undermining a principle of the 28-nation alliance.

CYBER CONCERNS

Some NATO diplomats said integrating a Chinese system into NATO’s defenses would raise cyber-security concerns and issues about NATO swapping technical data with a Chinese firm.

Turkey sees a growing threat of spillover from the war in neighboring Syria, as well as wider turbulence in the Middle East, and has been scrambling to bolster its air defenses.

Turkey has said the selection was not politically motivated, and that the Chinese offer met Turkey’s main demands of price and the ability to place much of the production in Turkey.

For China, the deal would be a breakthrough in its bid to become a supplier of advanced weapons.

Some Western defense analysts have said they were surprised by Turkey’s decision, having expected the contract to go to Raytheon Co, a U.S. company that builds the Patriot missile, or the Franco-Italian Eurosam SAMP/T.

The United States, Germany and the Netherlands each sent two Patriot batteries to southeastern Turkey this year after Ankara asked NATO to strengthen its defenses against possible missile attack from Syria.

By Mette Fraende

Egypt cancels military exercise with Turkey

Egypt has cancelled a joint naval exercise with Turkey, the Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The two countries had been scheduled to conduct the exercise, dubbed ‘Sea of Friendship 2011,’ from October 21 to 28.

The move came one day after the Foreign Ministry announced that it had summoned the Egyptian ambassador in Ankara for consultations.

The announcement came shortly after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had summoned Turkish Ambassador to Egypt Huseyin Avni Botsali to Ankara for consultations on recent developments in Egypt.

WB

Did Israel Use a Turkish Military Base in Latakia Attack?

This story keeps getting weirder and more interesting: RT (formerly Russia Today) reports based on a “reliable source” that Turkey allowed Israeli air-force jet bombers to use one of its military bases to attack the Syria port of Latakia, where the government had stored Russian-made Yakhonts anti-ship missiles.  Israel believed the armaments were destined for Hezbollah, which would use them in the next war in Lebanon to neutralize Israel’s naval forces.  For a discussion of the weapons system and the role it might play in such a battle, read this report.

Given that this story keeps getting curiouser and curiouser, I believe the story is very possibly true.  So now we have to ask ourselves a number of questions:

Why would a Turkish government nursing a deep grudge against Israel for killing 9 of its citizens in the Mavi Marmara massacre, all of a sudden turn around and lend an air base for an attack on a third country?  Further, why would Turkey cooperate with Israel in attacking Syrian missiles destined for Hezbollah?  Turkey has no quarrel with the Lebanese militant group.

There are several answers.  Turkey is opposed to the Assad government and anything that will weaken it may cause Turkey to relax its former animosity toward Israel.  Also, Hezbollah has escalated its involvement in the Syrian conflict by sending thousands of its fighters to capture Qusayr.  This would be a way for Turkey to make the Islamist group pay a steep price for its intervention.  It would be yet another way for both Israel and Turkey to say to Assad that he faces a looming alliance among former enemies who are now united (at least covertly) in their opposition to his rule.

Second, if Israel wanted to attack Syria without violating its airspace it could just as easily have flown north from Israel to a point west of Latakia and attacked from the Mediterranean.  Why did the Israeli air force feel it needed to attack from Turkey?  The answer may lie in the fact that attacking from Turkey would allow Israel to attack from the north rather than the west.  Syria would not have expected an attack on Latakia from the north and therefore might not have defended against it.  This would give the Israeli attackers an element of surprise.

If this account is true, it proves that Middle East relations are based far more on shared interests than on principles.  In other words, pragmatism and even cynicism is the rule of the day.  Turkey, which trumpets its dedication to the Palestinian cause and its implacable opposition to Israel’s Occupation, can do the unthinkable and allow Israeli military forces to use its sovereign territory to attack an enemy.  So much for the notion of Muslim solidarity.  And so much for the Islamist criticism of Muslim states (Saudi Arabia, etc.) that allow non-Muslim military forces (U.S., etc.) to attack fellow Muslim states, thereby betraying Islam.

For Erdogan, the opportunity to bloody Assad’s nose trumped all those considerations.  The other problem with Turkey’s decision is that it will give Israel the impression that since Turkey granted access to its military bases, it will also fold regarding its support of the Palestinians.

Alternately, we may see that Israel retracts its opposition to paying $1-million to each of the families of the victims of the Mavi Marmara attack.  Israeli capitulation on that score may signal a quid pro quo for Turkey’s help in attacking Latakia.

One way to gauge this is by whether Erdogan follows through on his commitment to visit Gaza.  He was supposed to come last month.  But the turmoil in both Egypt and Turkey caused a delay.  If he does visit Gaza Israel should know this alliance is extremely tactical and targeted at a very narrow range of issues.  If he doesn’t, then we’ll know that Israel has succeeded in co-opting yet another opponent of Occupation.

Finally, it’s interesting that the source for this report is a Russian media outlet.  Remember that Russia’s missiles were targeted and destroyed in Israel’s attack.  Vladimir Putin has not responded in any way to this.  Alex Fishman, in yesterday’s Yediot, took his silence as a confirmation that Putin is at heart nothing but a cynical weapons merchant who doesn’t care what happens to his weapons as long as he’s paid for them.  As with so much of what he wrote in that article, I think it’s a crock.

Israel’s attack is an affront not only to Hezbollah and Assad, but to Russia as well.  Putin is not the disinterested arms dealer Fishman makes him out to be.  There will be an accounting for this act of aggression by Israel.  The only question is where and when and under what circumstances.  If RT’s reporter learned her information from a Russian intelligence source, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

I am trying through DC and Turkey-based journalists with U.S. or Turkish military-intelligence sources to confirm this story.

Richard Silverstein

Erdogan acts to take away more clout from Turkish military

Turkey, fearing the prospect of intervention, has again reduced the influence of the military.

Parliament has voted to redefine the duty of the military in Turkey. On July 13, the ruling Justice and Development Party rammed through a bill that would end any military intervention in politics.

“The duty of the Armed Forces is to protect the Turkish homeland against threats and dangers to come from abroad, to ensure the preservation and strengthening of military power in a manner that will provide deterrence, to fulfill the duties abroad with the decision of the Parliament and help maintain international peace,” the amendment said.

The amendment was sponsored by the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan amid fears that the military, which staged four coups between 1960 and 1997, could exploit the nationwide protests in Turkey.

Under the revision, the military, the second largest in NATO, would be restricted to defense against foreign threats as well as participating in international peacekeeping missions.

Over the last five years, Erdogan has steadily whittled away at the power and influence of the military. The turning point came in 2010 when much of the General Staff resigned in protest of Erdogan’s intervention and the arrest of hundreds of officers. Since then, the prime minister was said to have maintained direct control over the General Staff.

“Our country has a tradition of coups,” Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said. “And the true victim of the coups has always been the people.”

Parliamentarians said the legislation also fell in line with European Union demands to place the military under greater civilian control. They said parliament would consider legislation to place the military under the authority of the Defense Ministry.

The pro-military opposition also voted for the amendment. Parliamentarians said they wanted to rule out any chance of a military coup.

“As of now, I hope Turkey will no longer speak of coups and will develop its democracy,” Sezgin Tanrikulu, a parliamentarian from the opposition Republican People’s Party, said.

WorldTribune

Kroenig: Why the U.S. needs its oversized nuclear arsenal

This week, President Obama gave a speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, calling for the United States and Russia to reduce the size of their deployed nuclear arsenals by one-third to around 1,000 strategic warheads. The call for further cuts has been greeted with enthusiasm in many quarters, but these proposed nuclear reductions could potentially be highly damaging to U.S. interests.

In his speech, the president argued that such cuts would be consistent with the goal of maintaining “a strong and credible strategic deterrent,” but this argument rests on a contested theory about how nuclear deterrence works. The Obama administration, and many scholars and experts, believe that a secure, second-strike capability is sufficient for deterrence and that anything more is “overkill.” Therefore, they believe that nuclear warheads in excess of a “minimum deterrent” threshold can be cut with very little loss to our national security.

However, there are those who argue that maintaining a nuclear advantage over one’s opponents enhances deterrence. As Paul Nitze argued during the Cold War, it is of “the utmost importance that the West maintain a sufficient margin of superior capability. . . . The greater the margin (and the more clearly the Communists understand that we have a margin), the less likely it is that nuclear war will ever occur.”

For decades, this debate was largely theoretical – neither camp marshaled systematic evidence in support of its views – but, recently, I methodically reviewed the relationship between the size of a country’s nuclear arsenal and its ability to achieve its national security objectives. I found strong evidence that, when it comes to nuclear deterrence, more is better.

In an analysis of 52 countries that participated in nuclear crises from 1945 to 2001 (think the Cuban Missile Crisis), I found that the state with the greater number of warheads is over 17 times more likely to achieve its goals. In addition, there is qualitative evidence from these crises that leaders in nuclear-armed states pay close attention to the nuclear balance of power, that they believe nuclear superiority enhances their position, and that a nuclear advantage often translates directly into a geopolitical advantage.

For example, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Secretary of State Dean Rusk argued, “One thing Mr. Khrushchev may have in mind is that . . . he knows that we have a substantial nuclear superiority . . . He also knows that we don’t really live under fear of his nuclear weapons to the extent . . . that he has to live under ours.” Even if Russia agrees to match the president’s proposed cuts, the nuclear reductions would attenuate our advantages vis-à-vis Russia and eat into our margin of superiority against other nuclear-armed states, such as China, possibly increasing the likelihood that the United States will be challenged militarily and reducing the probability that we achieve our goals in future crises.

If there is at least some reason to believe that reductions could harm America’s strategic deterrent, then certainly those in favor of reductions provide concrete evidence that the benefits of reductions outweigh these costs, right? Alas, they do not.

Supporters of further cuts argue that reducing the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. policy will help us stop the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries. They argue that our large nuclear arsenal makes it difficult (if not hypocritical) to tell, say, Iran that it cannot have nuclear weapons, or to demand that other non-nuclear countries (such as Brazil and Turkey) help us pressure Iran. Therefore, they argue, we can generate goodwill and strengthen our nonproliferation efforts by cutting our own nuclear arsenal.

This argument makes sense at a superficial level, but on closer inspection it falls apart. As Iran’s leaders decide whether to push forward with, or put limits on, their nuclear program, or as Brazilian and Turkish leaders think about getting tougher with Iran, they likely consider many things, but it is implausible that the precise size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is among them. The evidence backs this logic up; the United States has been cutting the size of its nuclear arsenal since 1967, but there is no reason to believe that we have ever received any credit for doing so, or that these cuts have contributed to any breakthroughs on important nonproliferation problems. In short, we can’t stop other countries from building nuclear weapons by getting rid of our own.

Finally, proponents of cuts claim that nuclear reductions will lead to cost savings in a time of budget austerity, but, at least in the short term, nuclear reductions will actually result in cost increases, not decreases. Cutting arsenal size means pulling missiles out of silos, erecting buildings in which to store them, dismantling retired warheads, and decommissioning nuclear facilities. All of this costs money. Only if we think we can maintain a diminished nuclear posture indefinitely is it plausible to think there might be marginal cost savings to be had over the long run. But this would be an unwise bet given that U.S. competitors, including China, are moving in the opposite direction, expanding and modernizing their nuclear forces.

Since there are potential strategic costs and no identifiable benefits to further reducing the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, the United States should refrain from making any additional nuclear reductions. It must not go below the 1,550 warheads agreed to in New START (and it should take its sweet time getting down to that number). In addition, the United States should maintain the “hedge” of weapons it keeps in reserve at current levels and halt the transfer of warheads from storage to retirement and elimination. Finally, the Obama administration must follow through on its promise to fully invest in modernizing U.S. nuclear infrastructure so that it does not lose the capability to sustain a safe, secure and effective nuclear arsenal for decades to come.

Some may find this argument provocative, but it is actually quite anodyne; I recommend simply that the United States maintain the status quo. What is provocative is slashing America’s nuclear arsenal to 60-year lows in the face of evidence suggesting that doing so will harm our national interests.

Newsday