The MANPADS Menace

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The MANPADS Menace Powered By Docstoc
					                                                                                      BY BRIAN WOO

                                                                                                an-Portable Air Defence Systems,
                                                                                                or MANPADS, as they are known,
                                                                                                have been in the hands of both
                                                                                                state and non-state actors for
                                                                                      more than 30 years. The devices have been
                                                                                      deployed against civilian aircraft in more
                                                                                      than 40 incidents, scoring hits in more than
                                                                                      half of them and killing some 600 people.
                                                                                         Why are MANPADS so lethal and why
                                                                                      should a MANPADS alert be taken seri-
                                                                                         They are lightweight, easy to use and
                                                                                      simple to conceal. An individual weapon is
                                                                                      assembled from four main pieces in as lit-
                                                                                      tle time as five minutes. Anybody can learn
                                                                                      to use one with minimal training. Using a
                                                                                      combination of technologies, MANPADS are
                                                                                      capable of targeting many types of aircraft.
                                                                                      More sophisticated than rocket-propelled
                                                                                      grenades, they have a greater range and a
                                                                                      guidance system that can latch onto and
  A N T I-T E R R O R I S M                                                           track aircraft.
                                                                                         Hundreds of thousands of MANPADs

     The MANPADS
                                                                                      exist, including up to a quarter of a million
                                                                                      older-generation SAM7s. The availability
                                                                                      of the weapons on the black market, both

                                                                                      within the OSCE area and on its borders,
                                                                                      is a matter of growing concern. We know
                                                                                      that Al-Qaida and other terrorist and crimi-
                                                                                      nal groups are in possession of MANPADS.

     Taking aim at the                                                                They have resorted to them in the past and
                                                                                      will no doubt seek to do so again.
                                                                                         A widely held perception is that the prob-
     shoulder-fired missile                                                           lem of MANPADS is relevant only to a few
                                                                                      countries and specific sites. But if there is

     threat                                                                           any predictability to the behaviour of inter-
                                                                                      national terrorists, it is that they will invar-
                                                                                      iably opt to hit a soft target over a hardened
                                                                                      one. Counter-terrorism experts warn that
Confronting the very real threat that shoulder-fired missiles                         airports in the OSCE region should consider
pose to civil aviation was the subject of an OSCE-sponsored                           the possibility that they could be targeted
intergovernmental conference on 23 January in Vienna.                                 by terrorists.
Experts from Finland, France, the United Kingdom and                                     This growing concern was what led
the United States as well as from NATO, the European                                  the OSCE’s Action against Terrorism Unit
Community, the International Civil Aviation Organization                              to invite national counter-terrorism and
and the Collective Security Treaty Organization briefed                               airport security officials from OSCE capi-
government representatives on the measures they can take                              tals to Vienna to meet with international
to protect travellers and airports in the OSCE area against                           MANPADS and civil aviation specialists.
this deadly form of terrorist attack.                                                 The pioneering effort, made possible with
                                                                                      major funding from the Government of
                                                                                      Canada and with the co-operation of the
                                                                                      Montreal-based International Civil Aviation
                                                                                      Organization (ICAO), resulted in an
Shoulder-fired missiles come in three varieties: electro-optical (similar to a        exchange of practical and action-oriented
camera), laser-guided and infrared (or heat-seeking). Depending on type, they can     information on how to make airports in the
hit an aircraft as far away as 6.5 kilometres (4 miles) and as high as 4 kilometres   OSCE region more secure in the face of the
(2.5 miles). Photo: Finnish Defence Forces                                            MANPADS threat.

22     OSCE Magazine                                                                                                     March 2004
   The experts agreed that some basic plan-       was clearly uppermost
ning and co-ordination among local secu-          in everyone’s mind.
rity officials and with communities around           The OSCE should
airports can be very effective in address-        also encourage other
ing the threat, especially in identifying         regional organiza-
areas that could be ideal launching pads.         tions to support the
Solutions discussed ranged from increas-          MANPADS initiative
ing public awareness to installing defensive      within their spheres of
systems on airplanes.                             influence, whether it is
                                                  in Africa, the Middle
STOCKPILE SECURIT Y                               East or Southeast Asia.
   Protecting airports from such contingen-          The efforts of the
cies is not the only focus of MANPADS-            Asia-Pacific Economic
related counter-terrorism work. Controls          Co-operation Forum
over stockpiles and exports are also being        (APEC) are clearly a
strengthened. In July 2003, the OSCE’s            major step in the right
Forum for Security Co-operation agreed            direction. At their
“to promote the application of effective          meeting in Bangkok                              The man-portable nature of
and comprehensive export controls for             in October 2003, the 21 leaders of APEC           the weapons makes them
MANPADS”. The decision, endorsed by the           agreed to protect international aviation by         easy to conceal, such as
Ministerial Council in Maastricht, aims at        committing themselves to stricter control of       in a large duffle bag. The
bolstering stockpile security and manage-         MANPADS and essential components. This          weapons are typically 1.5 to
ment, reduction and disposal, as well as          includes strongly regulating their domestic                  two meters long
improving border controls to prevent illicit      production, transfer and brokering, as well      (4.9 to 6.6 feet) and weigh
trafficking.                                      as banning their transfer to non-state end-          between 14 to 18 kilos
   Valery Zemskov, representative of the          users.                                                    (30 to 39 pounds).
Collective Security Treaty Organization              APEC also pledged to strengthen co-
(CSTO), drew attention to the initiatives         ordination efforts in counter-terrorism,
of the six-member group, particularly the         including the MANPADS issue, within
Russian Federation’s voluntary introduc-          Asia-Pacific and between APEC’s Counter-
tion of “unilateral restraints on deliveries of   Terrorism Task Force and the G-8’s Counter-
such systems to politically unstable coun-        Terrorism Action Group, which was
tries and regions”.                               launched in June 2003.
   Mr. Zemskov said the CSTO was pre-                At the OSCE meeting, David Carriedo
pared to actively support the OSCE and            of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism
other organizations in their efforts to miti-     Committee (UNCTC) underscored the
gate the MANPADS menace through unified           importance of strengthening such regional
standards which might also be considered          initiatives. “The UNCTC is learning from
for adoption by other regional organizations      the work of others on MANPADS and looks
such as the OSCE.                                 forward to promoting the OSCE’s efforts in
   Also playing a crucial role is the             connection with the UNCTC’s meeting with
Wassenaar Arrangement, which in 2003              international, regional and sub-regional
agreed on a set of “Elements for Export           organizations later this year,” Mr. Carriedo
Controls of MANPADS”. With an eye                 said.
towards adopting or supporting best                  Although the tasks involved in counter-
practices and initiatives, the OSCE works         ing terrorism are daunting, OSCE partici-
closely with this group of 33 conventional        pating States have unambiguously demon-
arms-exporting countries, 28 of which are         strated firm political will to tackle current
also OSCE States.                                 and emerging security challenges in the
                                                  21st century: more than 170 representa-
TOP PRIORIT Y                                     tives from 52 of the OSCE’s 55 participating
   French official Bruno Bisson shared the        States took part in the January meeting.
highlights of the G-8 countries’ “Action          Significantly, 40 of the 50 OSCE States that
Plan to Enhance Transport Security and            have major airports sent key officials from
Control of MANPADS” which they adopted            their capitals.
at their summit in Evian in June 2003. He
said that the threat posed to civil aviation      Brian Woo is Head of the Secretariat’s Action
by these weapons, especially in the hands         against Terrorism Unit, which was established
of terrorists or States that harboured them,      in May 2002.

March 2004                                                                                        OSCE Magazine            23

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