Italy’s Air Force Restructures Special Ops Brigade

Sep. 30, 2014 – 11:55AM   |   By TOM KINGTON
New Machinery: The Italian Air Force is due to receive AW101 helicopters for search-and-rescue and special operations missions.
New Machinery: The Italian Air Force is due to receive AW101 helicopters for search-and-rescue and special operations missions. (AgustaWestland)

ROME — Through a shake-up of its bases, the Italian Air Force is streamlining its special operations and rescue operations, trimming costs as new aircraft come into service, and reflecting what officials describe as a shift in the type of mission they are handling in the 21st century.

On Sept. 22, the Air Force’s 1st Brigade for Special Operations moved into new premises at Cervia Air Base on Italy’s Adriatic coast, part of an enlargement of the brigade that saw it take command of the 15th Wing already based at Cervia, which undertakes combat search-and-rescue missions.

Three wings already grouped under the brigade’s command, which are spread around Italy, are set to partly shift personnel and machinery to Cervia. Continue reading

Council of Europe – The Journal: PACE President’s visit to Azerbaijan, terrorist recruitment & Russia accused of intercepting phone data – Week of 29 September 2014

Council of Europe Palais de l'Europe aerial vi...

Council of Europe Palais de l’Europe aerial view – Architecte Henry Bernard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

September 26, 2014 -

Council of Europe Journal for the week of 29 September 2014:

 

  • PACE President, Anne Brasseur, pays an official visit to Azerbaijan
  • Recruitment and financing of terrorism and organised crime – a Council of Europe conference discusses the issues
  • Russia’s accused of intercepting telephone data without a court order

 

The President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Anne Brasseur, has been paying an official visit to Azerbaijan

Ms Brasseur met with President Aliyev and also held meetings with leaders of political parties in the parliament, members of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE and the Prosecutor General. She also met human rights activists to discuss the issue of journalists and others held in detention. 
Afterwards, Ms Brasseur commented on her visit, saying that: more progress was needed in Azerbaijan regarding freedom of expression, freedom of association, and judicial  independence.

And, speaking about the recent arrests of civil society activists, the President said it was a source of “grave concern”. She went on to say that the detentions highlighted the need to address systemic deficiencies in the operation of justice in Azerbaijan as noted in the findings of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of the pre-trial detention of Ilgar Mammadov.

NEWS IN BRIEF



  • A Council of Europe international conference in the Spanish city of Málaga has been discussing ways of tackling recruitment to terror and organised crime groups. The conference, made-up of judges, prosecutors, policy makers and other terrorism experts, has also been addressing a range of issues, including radicalisation and recruitment in prisons and ways of stopping the funding of terror campaigns. Continue reading

Greece intelligence on alert for traveling Islamist militants

The Balkan peninsula as defined by the Soča-Kr...

The Balkan peninsula as defined by the Soča-Krka-Sava border in the north. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: The Western Balkans.

English: The Western Balkans. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Greece intelligence on ‘heightened state of vigilance’ in search for suspected Islamist militants
Greek surveillance alert comes amid concern that Islamist State fighters might hit back for U.S. airstrike

Greece’s National Intelligence Service said Tuesday that it was at “a heightened state of vigilance” for suspected militants, keeping close tabs on radical Muslims, and had detected at least six foreign fighters with the terrorist group Islamic State transiting through the country in recent months.

The surveillance operation comes amid concern that the militant group, formerly known as  Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, will retaliate for increased U.S airstrikes in Iraq and possible strikes in Syria.

New Intelligence on Italian Jihadists

English: War flag of al-Shabaab

English: War flag of al-Shabaab (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

August 25, 2014

Compared to France, Germany, or Britain, Italy’s problem with domestic jihadism is relatively modest, yet it is growing fast, thanks to the wars in Syria and Iraq. A new report in Corriere della Sera, Italy’s paper of record, based on current intelligence from Italian secret services, paints a disturbing picture of rising radicalism.

At present, according to the latest intelligence in Rome, some fifty Italians are fighting with the Islamic State (IS — get my assessment of that dangerous group here), of whom a shocking eighty percent are converts, not immigrants or born Muslims. Many go abroad to wage holy war after a surprisingly brief period of conversion and radicalization. They are very young and come mostly from northern Italy. The Salafi jihadist scene in Italy is fragmented regionally and a key role is played by what Italian intelligence terms “liaison officers,” the individuals who facilitate the recruitment of new holy warriors and get them to the war zone. Continue reading

Germany stops numerous arms exports, risks compensation fees: report

germany

germany (Photo credit: osde8info)

BERLIN Sat May 24, 2014 2:27pm EDT

Op-Ed: The POST “Post Cold War” Era in Europe

English: Map showing the maximum territorial e...

English: Map showing the maximum territorial extent of countries under the direct influence of the Soviet Union — between the Cuban Revolution/21st Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union/Sino-Soviet split. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

April 24, 2014 | Dr. Jeffrey D. McCausland

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine reflects neither strategic wisdom nor military strength. In fact, it reflects just the opposite. Putin invested over $50 billion and significant personal capital in the Sochi Olympics and the upcoming G8 Summit. That has now been squandered. It was clearly humiliating for Putin to watch as the Ukrainian president he had strongly supported, if not hand-picked, was forced to flee Kiev. This was particularly true, given that President Yanukovych fled in response to a popular uprising driven by opposition to his efforts to establish closer Ukrainian relations with Russia at the expense of closer ties to Europe.

      Putin assuaged this humiliation with a military invasion of Crimea on March 1. On March 20, the Russian Parliament overwhelmingly approved a treaty presented by Putin to formally annex the Black Sea peninsula. At this juncture, it seems impossible to envision Moscow backing down, withdrawing its forces, and returning Crimea to Ukrainian control. President Obama, as well as Western European leaders, have acknowledged this reality. The so-called “post-Cold War era” has now come to a close, and the West must now confront a new European security environment. What is the nature of the new threat? What is the general outline of a new strategy for the United States and its NATO allies?
      It is important to realize that the longer-term threat posed by this new era does not herald a return to the Cold War. That “twilight struggle” had an ideological underpinning. It pitted Marxist-Leninist ideology against democracy and market economies. When Nikita Khrushchev made his famous threat, “We will bury you!” in 1956, he was not necessarily predicting imminent war so much as a belief that history was on the side of Communism. He believed that it was Communism, with its focus on a command oriented economy rather than the Soviet military, that would ultimately triumph. Continue reading

Eastern Europe Goes South

Disappearing Democracy in the EU’s Newest Members

Regression to the mean: unveiling a bust of Hungary’s one-time ruler Miklos Horthy, 2013. (Laszlo Balogh / Courtesy Reuters)

Europeans love to celebrate anniversaries, especially those commemorating a terrible past overcome. This year will offer many such moments, marking as it will 100 years since the outbreak of World War I, 75 years since the beginning of World War II, and, most uplifting of all, a quarter century since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Such milestones are bound to make everyone feel good about European unity.

But another important anniversary is less likely to be celebrated, precisely because it would put a damper on those good feelings. Ten years ago, eight eastern European states joined the European Union, followed by Bulgaria and Romania three years later. Europe seemed to have overcome not just Cold War divisions but also deeper historical differences. The EU had brought East and West together, consolidating the fragile democracies that had emerged from the fall of communism. Continue reading