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20 Oct 23. DOD, Estonian MOD Enter Into Security of Supply Arrangement. The Department of Defense today announced entering into a bilateral, non-binding Security of Supply Arrangement (SOSA) with the Republic of Estonia. The arrangement will enable both the U.S. and Estonia to acquire the industrial resources they need to quickly meet defense requirements, resolve unanticipated disruptions that challenge defense capabilities, and promote supply chain resiliency.
“This Security of Supply Arrangement is a robust addition to our prolific defense partnership with Estonia,” said Dr. William A. LaPlante, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment. “This joining together will strengthen our respective national security and supply resiliency for years to come.”
The SOSA was signed on October 20 by Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, Dr. William LaPlante and the Director General of the Estonian Centre for Defence Investment, Mr. Magnus-Valdemar Saar at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
In the Arrangement, the U.S. and Estonia commit intent to support one another’s priority delivery requests for procurement of critical national defense resources. The U.S. will provide Estonia assurances under the U.S. Defense Priorities and Allocations System, with program determinations by DoD and rating authorization by the Department of Commerce. Estonia will in turn establish a government-industry Code of Conduct with its industrial base, where Estonian firms will voluntarily agree to make every reasonable effort to provide the U.S. priority support.
SOSAs are an important mechanism for DoD to strengthen interoperability with defense trade partners. The Arrangements institute working groups, establish communication mechanisms, streamline DoD processes, and proactively act to allay anticipated supply chain issues in peacetime, emergency, and armed conflict. For more information, visit: https://www.businessdefense.gov/security-of-supply.html
Estonia is the fourteenth SOSA partner of the U.S. Other SOSA partners include Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
About the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Policy (OASD (IBP):
The OASD IBP works with domestic and international partners to forge and sustain a robust, secure, and resilient industrial base enabling the warfighter, now and in the future. (Source: U.S. DoD)
20 Oct 23. UK Autumn Statement 2023 – Fostering an attractive business environment. Every year, I write to the Chancellor and set out the case for fostering an attractive business environment that enables all four of our sectors to thrive. This year is no different, and on countless occasions I have continued to urge the UK Government to develop and implement a new industrial strategy.
Ahead of the Autumn Statement, we have identified areas that a clearly defined industrial strategy could deliver upon while addressing key blockers to growth and maximising return on public investment. A summary of ADS recommendations to the Chancellor includes calls to:
- Introduce a reformed R&D tax credit scheme over a longer timeframe, ensuring it addresses capital expenditure and maintains support for SMEs
- Encourage investment in the UK’s defence industrial base through long-term clarity on future defence spending
- Provide long-term uplifted funding for aerospace R&D through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI)
- Involve industry in developing the future revenue certainty scheme for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), ensuring the fair allocation of financial risk and amendments to related obligations to cover engine testing
- Prioritise the deployment of functional space programmes and an augmented UK technical capability to deliver upon the 2021 National Space Strategy (NSS)
- Address the challenges with the access to finance for the UK defence industry, including for SMEs requiring basic banking services and Primes seeking investment
- Introduce a long-term capital offering for our sector through a new Aerospace and Defence Strategic Supply Chain Fund
- Bolster the availability of electricity grid connections and support our sectors decarbonise the manufacturing processes
- Provide added flexibility in the Apprenticeship Levy, both on timescales and funds
- Strengthen resourcing for key operational agencies including the Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) and UK Security Vetting (UKSV)
- Bring forward a scheme to support exporting SMEs with attending international trade events
As we await in anticipation for the Autumn Statement, you can read our full submission here, and in the meantime please be assured that with 90% of our members SMEs, all day, every day we are considering how we can put you first and secure UK advantage. (Source: ADS)
19 Oct 23. Report by the Head of OSCE Mission in Kosovo, October 2023: UK response.
Ambassador Holland thanks the Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, Ambassador Davenport, for the Mission’s work to strengthen Kosovo’s institutions during the reporting period.
I would like to welcome Ambassador Davenport back to the Permanent Council. Thank you to you and your team for this comprehensive report, which provides a helpful summary of developments and activities over the reporting period.
The United Kingdom commends the work of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, its close engagement with government institutions, municipalities, and civil society, and its delivery of important initiatives across the three core pillars of its mandate.
The UK highly appreciates the Mission’s important work during this reporting period on monitoring and early warning functions, amid the tense security situation in the north of Kosovo in recent months. The UK supports the assessment in the Report that the participation of Kosovo Serbs in the judiciary, police and municipal institutions in the north of Kosovo is essential to restoring confidence and stabilising the security situation. We also encourage the unconditional participation of Kosovo Serbs in any new municipal elections that take place in the north of Kosovo.
We welcome the Mission’s continued engagement and support on electoral legal reform during the reporting period – including through technical support to the adoption of the Law on General Elections on 8 June, and your work with the Central Election Commission on refining secondary legislation in line with the new law. We welcome the Mission’s continued close engagement with municipal administrations – in particular through capacity-building to municipalities on communications, to promote transparency and gender inclusivity.
The UK values the Mission’s continued support to government institutions on human rights and inter-community relations, including on community safety, and facilitating dialogue among communities on freedom of religion or belief. We also particularly welcome the Mission’s continued work to strengthen inter-institutional cooperation in support of tackling domestic and gender-based violence.
Mr Chair, the UK has been following the recent developments in the north of Kosovo with serious concern. We strongly condemn the violent attack on Kosovo Police on 24 September by a group of heavily armed and organised assailants. The level of resourcing and organisation of this attack, including the discovery of significant heavy weaponry and ammunition, represented a marked escalation. It is important that Serbia co-operates fully with the investigations by Kosovo’s institutions in coordination with EULEX, to establish the full facts, identify those responsible and bring them to justice.
The UK continues to urge Serbia and Kosovo to avoid unilateral actions, and to take immediate steps to reduce tensions, including refraining from inflammatory rhetoric. Dialogue is vital to de-escalation, finding solutions, and protecting the gains of the last decade. We expect Kosovo and Serbia to re-engage in the EU-facilitated Dialogue, honour their commitments, and avoid actions or rhetoric that could reduce prospects for a comprehensive and sustainable normalisation agreement. In line with the Brussels and Ohrid agreements, we urge both parties to engage constructively – including on the establishment of an Association of Serb Majority Municipalities – as soon as possible.
Mr Chair, the United Kingdom remains a long-standing and strong supporter of Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state. We remain committed to supporting an inclusive, diverse and multi-ethnic democracy in Kosovo, and its full participation in the international system. We value and appreciate the Mission’s continued engagement and commitment to its work to strengthen Kosovo’s institutions.
In conclusion, I would like to thank you, Ambassador Davenport, for your leadership of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo during this reporting period. I also thank your team for their continued expertise, engagement and hard work under pressure and uncertainty – it really is much appreciated.
Thank you, Mr Chair. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
17 Oct 23. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said he was “trying to save everything that is possible” in bilateral relations during talks with Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, the first time a western leader has met Russia’s president since the International Criminal Court issued a war crimes warrant for his arrest. At their meeting on the sidelines of the Belt and Road forum in Beijing, Orbán, Hungary’s prime minister, said Budapest had always wanted “to establish and expand mutually the best contacts” with Russia. The visit to China is the first time Putin has left the former Soviet Union since the ICC indicted him for alleged war crimes last March, and only the second such trip since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Hungary is party to the ICC. Meeting the leader of Hungary, a member of Nato and the EU, is a major coup for the Kremlin, which is using the trip to defy western attempts to isolate Russia.
US ambassador to Hungary David Pressman condemned the meeting, posting on social media platform X that Orbán “chooses to stand with a man whose forces are responsible for crimes against humanity in Ukraine, and alone among our Allies. While Russia strikes Ukrainian civilians, Hungary pleads for business deals.” No western leader has met Putin since Austrian chancellor Karl Nehammer made a failed attempt to convince him to end the war in early April last year during a trip to Moscow. France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Olaf Scholz have kept phone contacts with Putin last year, but no calls were reported recently. Putin told Orbán that Hungary was among “many European countries where our relations have been preserved and are developing, [which] can only be to our liking”. He said he was looking forward to “having the chance to exchange views with an EU country, Hungary in this case, not just about bilateral relations but also the situation in the world and in Europe”. Russian state television said “some western politicians might be on the verge of a heart attack” at the sight of footage of Orbán’s limousine parked outside Putin’s residence in China — stressing the two leaders met there rather than at the summit. Hungary is party to EU sanctions against Russia but has pushed within the bloc to water some of them down. Orbán has insisted on maintaining ties with Moscow, especially in the field of energy where it claims it cannot decouple from Russian sources unlike most other western nations. “We have never been in such a difficult situation,” Orbán told Putin, according to a Russian translation of his remarks. (Source: FT.com)
16 Oct 23. Poland: Preliminary general election results indicate opposition will likely form government. Preliminary results from the 15 October general election indicate that the centre-right opposition led by former prime minister Donald Tusk’s Civil Platform (PO) secured enough votes to form a majority government. The PO and two smaller parties are projected to secure 248 of 460 seats in the parliament. While the nationalist ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party secured the largest share of votes with approximately 36.6%, it would lack a majority even if partnered with the radical right-wing Confederation party. President Andrzej Duda will likely give PiS the first chance to form a government; the party will possibly prolong this process in a bid to drive divisions within the opposition. If the opposition is able to form a government, it would mark a dramatic shift in the political landscape, improving relations with Brussels and likely unlocking bns of EUR of EU funding. (Source: Sibylline)
13 Oct 23. Kosovo alleges Serbia violated deal on how it uses US-made equipment. Kosovo’s defense minister claims the Serbian government may have violated a deal struck with the United States on how it uses American military equipment.
On Sept. 24, about 30 armed ethnic Serbs entered a Kosovan village and killed a Kosovar police officer during a firefight, then took shelter in a monastery where police killed three of the ethnic Serbs while retaking the site.
According to Kosovan Prime Minister Albin Kurti, the ethnic Serb paramilitary force trained in Serbia before the raid. He produced video footage allegedly showing them train with what appears to be an American-made military Humvee, manufactured by AM General.
Kosovar Defence Minister Ejup Maqedonci decried the alleged use of a Humvee.
“The rules that apply to us — as I am sure they are also applicable to other countries — for securing military-grade equipment, such as the military Humvees used, is that there needs to be congressional approval and an end-user certificate,” Maqedonci told Defense News. “These systems are designed so that U.S.-produced military equipment is not used in terrorist attacks. This case raises many questions about Serbia’s violations of such agreements.”
The battle was the latest outbreak of violence in Kosovo, which declared its independence from the Balkan nation of Serbia in 2008 and now oversees a restive Serbian minority community of about 50,000.
Serbia, which does not recognize Kosovan independence, accuses Kosovo of mistreating Serbian residents.
Kosovo alleges Serbia foments violent resistance by arming the community.
Days after the battle, Kosovo’s prime minister posted the drone footage appearing to show a paramilitary exercise carried out at night.
He claimed it showed ethnic Serbian paramilitary forces training at Pasuljanske Livade, a military base inside Serbia, four days before the attack.
A Kosovo government spokesperson alleged the footage was captured by Kosovo police from the ethnic Serb paramilitaries.
In one of the videos, a fighter is seen firing a weapon mounted in the roof turret of what appears to be a military Humvee vehicle.
“The attacks enjoyed the full support and planning of the Serbian state,” according to Kurti — a claim since denied by Serbia.
In 2012 and 2017, the U.S. donated a total of 40 Humvee light armored vehicles to the Serbian Army.
Serbia has also purchased Humvees from U.S. company AM General, which delivered 66 vehicles in July 2023 — part of an order for a total of 118 vehicles.
A U.S. State Department spokesperson told Defense News the government is “looking into this matter.”
“The United States takes seriously any allegation involving U.S.-provided equipment anywhere in the world,” the spokesperson added.
A spokesperson for AM General told Defense News the company “cannot speak to the use of the vehicles by the customer.”
“AM General successfully delivered vehicles to Serbia following the [Direct Commercial Sales] process, which includes securing the proper authorization via an export license from the U.S. government,” the company spokesperson noted.
The Direct Commercial Sale process is used to export U.S. military goods by a U.S. firm made under a State Department license, as opposed to a Foreign Military Sales process, which is organized by the Defense Department.
For its part, Serbia has denied involvement in the raid in Kosovo.
When asked to confirm if the video showed a Serbian group training with a Serbian military-operated Humvee, the Serbian Defence Ministry referred Defense News to a press conference held Oct. 2 by Defence Minister Miloš Vučević and head of the military’s General Staff Gen. Milan Mojsilović, “where the allegations your questions refer to were refuted.”
During the news conference, Vučević denied the video showed the use of a Serbian Humvee during the training of paramilitaries.
“The fact that someone plays thermal vision recordings from a vague location, with utterly unidentified individuals and faces, can mean absolutely nothing,” he said. (Source: Defense News)
16 Oct 23. With eye on U.S., Turkey in no rush to back Sweden’s NATO bid – sources.
Turkey is willing to hold off ratifying Sweden’s bid to join NATO this month as it awaits signs of U.S. support for its own request to buy F-16 jets, sources said, potentially disappointing bloc allies hoping to end 17 months of delay.
President Tayyip Erdogan elated a NATO summit in July by promising to send the bid to Turkey’s parliament for ratification when it reopened in October, appearing to green-light Sweden after having raised objections over its alleged harbouring of terrorists.
However since parliament opened on Oct. 1, its foreign affairs commission, which would debate the NATO bid, has received almost 60 international agreements to review – excluding Sweden’s, official data shows.
Two people familiar with the situation said Ankara wanted to move in tandem with Washington, where the State Department is expected at some time to seek congressional approval for a $20bn sale of F-16 fighters to Turkey and dozens of modernisation kits.
“Given the lack of trust over the issue of F-16s and Sweden, Turkey is not rushing to ratify the NATO bid and looking for a sign that the United States is taking steps at the same time,” said an official from Erdogan’s ruling AK Party.
A second person familiar with U.S.-Turkish talks said a rough proposal – in which each side would take steps toward ratifying the NATO bid on the one side, and the F-16s purchase on the other – had been delayed.
Erdogan’s office did not immediately comment on a time frame for Sweden’s ratification or on any U.S. talks.
The U.S. State Department looked forward to Sweden joining NATO “in the near future”, a spokesperson said, and that President Joe Biden backed the F-16s sale in the interest of the alliance, the United States and its relationship with Turkey.”
“(W)e should do both of these things,” the spokesperson said.
IN NO RUSH
Turkey, NATO’s second-biggest military, is still expected to ultimately endorse Sweden’s bid and could rapidly move on it.
But Turkish officials and foreign diplomats say Erdogan is in no rush, especially after a bomb attack in Ankara on the day parliament opened and, days later, the downing of an unmanned Turkish drone by the United States in northern Syria.
Addressing the drone incident, which occurred near U.S. troops on Oct. 5, Erdogan said last week: “Isn’t Turkey a NATO ally of the U.S.? …How can we explain this? Only when it suits them, they call themselves partners”.
Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO last year after Russia invaded Ukraine. Finnish membership was sealed in April, marking an historic expansion of the Western defence bloc, but Sweden’s bid remains held up by Turkey and Hungary.
Turkey says Sweden must take more steps at home to clamp down on the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which the European Union and United States also deem a terrorist group.
After meeting NATO counterparts in Brussels on Friday, Turkish Defence Minister Yasar Guler told reporters Sweden was expected to implement new counter-terrorism measures, adding parliament “would have the final say” on ratification.
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Friday he was convinced the process to join NATO will be resolved “reasonably soon,” given Stockholm has fulfilled all commitments in a deal signed last year with Ankara and Helsinki.
But Erdogan appears willing to leverage the situation for other gains. Last month, he openly floated exchanging Sweden’s ratification for the U.S. go-ahead to upgrade Turkey’s F-16 fleet.
With Washington keen to expand NATO, senior U.S. and Turkish officials had sketched out a plan in which Erdogan would send the NATO proposal to parliament and the State Department would ask leaders of the U.S. Senate and House foreign affairs committees to review the F-16 deal, the second source said.
But hopes for a swift approval took a blow on Oct. 1 when the PKK claimed responsibility for the bomb attack near Ankara government buildings.
In response, Turkey redoubled strikes on militant targets in Iraq and Syria, where the United States is allied with some Kurdish fighters, leading to the drone incident.
After that, the second source said, discussions quieted down on the U.S.-Turkish proposal to move roughly in parallel.
While the White House endorses the sale of the Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) F-16s, there are objections in Congress over Turkey delaying NATO enlargement and its human rights record.
Another potential strain in U.S.-Turkish ties emerged last week in Israel’s war against Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Erdogan – long supportive of Palestinians and a two-state solution – said that a U.S. aircraft carrier that arrived in the eastern Mediterranean was meant to commit “serious massacres” in the Gaza Strip. (Source: Reuters)
16 Oct 23. British Army goes ‘back to the future’ with renewed focus on Combined Arms Manoeuvre. The war in Ukraine is taking the British Army “back to the future”, according to the Director of Land Command.
Brigadier Karl Harris has been speaking about a renewed focus on Combined Arms Manoeuvre and a new course for Army captains designed to improve understanding and familiarity with this way of warfighting.
The five-week-long Captains’ Warfare course has been entirely dedicated to the warfighting technique that is very much back in favour in the British Army, with the new final exercise involving 52 students from a wide range of different specialisms having to work together to take on the enemy.
Captain Phill Birkett, OC Workshops 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, said: “There’s a conventional force crossing an international border, so we’ve had a fair few defences where we’ve had to stop enemy penetrating through, pretending they’re getting to places like Salisbury.
“Most recently we’ve been pushing them around past Bath, and pushing them back into Bristol is the aim.”
The invasion of Bath and Bristol was just an exercise and not a live military operation, but the war in Ukraine has focused minds on the clear and present danger presented by Russia, and a desire to re-visit what were once standard Cold War tactics.
The fieldwork is still in a trial phase with the expectation that it will be rolled out across the board in 2024.
‘Back to the future’
Brig Karl Harris, Director of Land Command and Staff College, told Forces News: “This is a little bit of ‘back to the future’. This is something that I recognised from 20 or so years ago when I was in a similar position to our students now.
“It’s reinvigorating and relearning some of what it is that we have needed to focus on, but also exploiting the technologies, the synthetic rap, the priority that we’ve afforded this within the Field Army.”
The Army has acknowledged that its familiarity with Combined Arms Manoeuvre took a backseat during the years dominated by counter-insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The training being done as part of the Captains’ Warfare course in Wiltshire seeks to change that.
And although the fieldwork is still in a trial phase, the expectation is it will be rolled out across the board in 2024. (Source: forces.net)
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