NATO surveillance planes to help Pindo-led coalition
BBC, Jul 9 2016
NATO has agreed to use AWACS surveillance planes in the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Sec-Gen Stoltenberg says. NATO will also train Iraqi forces and support special forces in Tunisia. Meanwhile, NATO has agreed to keep troop levels in Afghanistan and reiterated a funding pledge. Stoltenberg made the remarks on the second day of the 28-country NATO summit in Warsaw. He said the surveillance agreement against ISIS, using AWACS surveillance planes, was a “clear signal of our resolve to help tackle terrorism.” Additionally, NATO will start a training and capacity-building mission for Iraqi armed forces. NATO does not have many military resources of its own. They all belong to individual member countries. But one of the few things that NATO does hold in common is a small fleet of AWACS airborne warning and control aircraft, giant Boeing planes the size of an airliner with a rotating radar dish above the fuselage. NATO’s AWACS fleet is based at Geilenkirchen in Germany, with 16 Boeing E-3A aircraft drawn from 15 of the alliance’s members. There are FOBs in Greece, Italy and Turkey. An AWACS typically cruises at some 30,000 ft providing a radar picture over a vast area. It is expected to begin in the autumn, with the aircraft operating within Turkish airspace or in international airspace over the eastern Mediterranean. NATO will also work to establish an intelligence centre in Tunisia and will support the country’s SOF. Stoltenberg said:
We will provide greater support to our partners, so they can secure their countries and push back against violent extremism.
Cooperation with Jordan and Libya’s new government would also increase, he added. The alliance will also launch a new maritime operation in the Mediterranean, whose responsibilities will include counter-terrorism. Stoltenberg added that NATO’s troop levels in the country would be similar to this year, at around 12,000. This comes after Obama promised to slow a planned drawdown of troops from Afghanistan. The initial plan was to reduce troop numbers from 9k to 5.5k by the end of the year, but now 8.4 will remain, Obama has said.