NATO boosts Afghanistan information sharing

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NATO unveiled a new 30-million-euro computer network Thursday it said would streamline information-sharing between nations with troops in Afghanistan, thus saving money and lives.

"From now on we have one mission, one network, one database which is available to all the nations deployed" in the fight against the Taliban, NATO official Major-General Leonardo di Marco told reporters in The Hague.

The new Afghan Mission Network would see previously separated national, regional and NATO information systems all linked into one, said Di Marco, deputy chief of staff support of NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE).

"Up to now, a commander (in the field) would have at least two or three computers on his desk, one connected to a national system, another connected to a regional system and another to the ISAF (NATO's International Security Assistance Force) system," he said.

Much of this information had to be transferred manually from one network to another.

The new network would allow a faster and better exchange, in near real-time, of orders, intelligence and battle reports -- including video images.

"We believe it will help commanders to accomplish the mission of reducing losses" of life, said Di Marco

Georges d'Hollander, general manager of NATO's technical support agency, NC3A, said getting the system online had cost the alliance about 10 million euros (some 13 million dollars).

By the time it is fully operational, by July next year, it would have cost about 30 million euros.

The United States and NATO have 143,000 troops in Afghanistan, with the number due to rise to 150,000 in coming weeks as international forces step up their campaign against the Taliban.

Afghanistan is in the grip of an insurgency now in its ninth year, with violence reaching record levels since the start of 2009.

© 2010 AFP

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