A military drill is nothing new in today's world, and one in the name of terror combat is commonplace. But when you look at the joint anti-terrorism military drill, dubbed as "Peace Mission 2007", sponsored by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and slated for Aug. 9-17, don't forget this is a multinational anti-terror exercise on campaign scale.
What is a campaign? A basic requirement is the involvement of a division of army men, for in the military dictionaries of all participating countries division is the most basic tactical unit. Can exercise on such a huge scale qualify as a real anti-terror drill?
In considering the question, bear in mind lessons drawn from the Chechen war.
For sure, jets crashing into buildings, suicide bombing and kidnapping are terrorist acts, but isn't that a war by an armed terrorist group is of the same nature? In Central Asia, where terrorist, separatist and extremist forces interweave, a war comparable to the one in Chechen is by no means imagination, and its possible damage to human kind would be far more serious than a few jets hitting the World Trade Center Towers.
Central Asia, among other parts of the world, suffers from more rampant terrorist activities and faces a graver terror situation, and therefore shoulders larger responsibilities in this regard. Such a joint exercise by SCO members displayed their consensus on terror threat and the way to cope with it. That is, trans-border joint operations, perhaps on campaign scale, must be taken. When different countries have different anti-terror combat criteria and a few of them push forward hegemony under the cloak of war on terror, the SCO contributed significantly to regional or even global terror fight by reaching such consensus and taking joint actions.
Another concern about a multinational joint exercise is, who is the target, and will the exercise generate a new military alliance?
News from the""Peace Mission 2007" direction headquarters said that the drill targets terrorist militant groups supported by international terror forces, and no individual, country or organization, save the above-mentioned "three forces", needs to worry. As a matter of fact, the common security view the SCO formed since its establishment-reduce border forces and actions as much as possible on the basis of mutual trust, establish military transparency, deepen friendly contacts and build neighborhood friendship—has successfully established a new type regional security mode. Such a mode has made the traditional security outlook—the building of military alliances in seek of power balance-obsolete.
As early as before "September 11", the SCO members not only talked about the importance of joint actions against terrorism, but did real work in this regard. In June 2001, in its inauguration declaration, the SCO first proposed anti-terror institutions in the region. In October 2002, within the SCO framework, China and Kirghizstan held a joint anti-terror exercise. In 2003, forces of SCO members held a joint exercise at the border between Kazakhastan and China, being the first multinational drill. After that, SCO members have been holding anti-terror drills annually within the organization framework.
"Peace Mission 2007" targets no country, nor does it mean military alliance. This is a fact already proven by many years of practice.
By Chen Hu, executive chief editor of the World Military Affairs magazine; translated by People's Daily Online.