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NATO Declares Missile Shield Operational: NATO now has an interim ballistic missile defense capability to protect European members, announced alliance leaders May 21 at the NATO summit in Chicago. The interim system features a command and control element at Allied Air Command headquarters in Ramstein, Germany, with sensors and anti-missile interceptors from alliance members connecting to it, states a NATO release. "Our system will link together missile defense assets from different allies—satellites, ships, radars, and interceptors—under NATO command and control," said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. "It will allow us to defend against threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area." For this first stage, the BMD system includes US Aegis ships operating in the Mediterranean that are equipped with interceptors and radar and a ground-based radar in Kurecik, Turkey, US officials have said. Full operational capability of the alliance's BMD is expected to be complete "around the end of the current decade or early next decade," according to the release.