Home > Uncategorized > Stop NATO news: January 21, 2012

Stop NATO news: January 21, 2012

====

Pentagon Chief: No Post-World War II/Korea/Vietnam/Soviet Collapse-Style Drawdown For “Strongest Military In The World”

Top U.S. Navy Commander On “State-On-State Conflict” In South China Sea

Dragon In The Room: U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander On South China Sea

Pentagon, Philippines Plan Military Exercise Near Spratly Islands

Asian NATO: U.S. Senators Push Increased Military Ties With Philippines

New Defense Strategic Guidance: U.S. Shifts Air-Sea Battle Operations To Asia

Global NATO: Baltic Troops In Afghanistan, NATO Warplanes In Baltic

Estonia: Baltic Air Space Is NATO’s Air Space

Polish Military Leader Visits U.S. Counterpart, Tours Bases

Canada Shifts Troops, Armored Vehicles From Afghanistan To Arctic

Canada Intensifies New Cold War With Russia In Arctic

Second U.S. Aircraft Carrier Strike Group Arrives In Arabian Sea

NATO Soldier Killed In Southern Afghanistan

====

Pentagon Chief: No Post-World War II/Korea/Vietnam/Soviet Collapse-Style Drawdown For “Strongest Military In The World”

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=66878

U.S. Department of Defense
January 20, 2012

Panetta: U.S. Military Best in World, But Threats Remain
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.

-“This isn’t like drawdowns in the past…when the potential enemy or the enemy that we were confronting, you know, was disabled and in some way rendered ineffective. We’re still confronting a number of threats in the world.”
-“Number one, we are and have to remain, the strongest military in the world. We are not going to back off from our position of being the strongest military. If we’re going to confront those threats, if we’re going to be a world leader, we have got to maintain our military power.”

NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – The U.S. military is the world’s best and it’s on the right path to face the challenges ahead, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said here today.

Speaking to a crowd of service members, civilians and local leaders at a town hall meeting, Panetta said the military “has to be able to make that turn as we head into the future.”

“We’re at a point, as you know, where the Iraq mission was brought to an end…”

The defense secretary also cited U.S., coalition and Afghan progress made in Afghanistan and NATO’s success in…Libya.

Panetta also said the current drawdown isn’t like previous drawdowns following World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War or the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“This isn’t like drawdowns in the past…when the potential enemy or the enemy that we were confronting, you know, was disabled and in some way rendered ineffective,” he said. “We’re still confronting a number of threats in the world.”

“We’re still fighting a war in Afghanistan,” Panetta said. “We’re facing threats from North Korea. We’re facing threats from Iran. We continue to face threats from the proliferation of nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction.”

The defense secretary also noted threats from “rising powers” in Asia, continuing turmoil in the Middle East, and in the cyber world where “the battlefields of the future could very well be in cyber.”

After Congress mandated a reduction of $487 billion in the defense budget over the next 10 years, Panetta said he saw it as an “opportunity to shape the defense system we need for the future.”

“Number one, we are and have to remain, the strongest military in the world,” he said. “We are not going to back off from our position of being the strongest military. If we’re going to confront those threats, if we’re going to be a world leader, we have got to maintain our military power.”
Panetta was also adamant about not hollowing out the force which, he said, is a mistake “we’ve made in the past.”

====

Top U.S. Navy Commander On “State-On-State Conflict” In South China Sea

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2088414/Dispute-oil-rich-islands-South-China-Sea-escalate-state-state-conflict-U-S-admiral-warns.html

Daily Mail
January 20, 2012

Dispute over oil rich islands in South China Sea could escalate into ‘state-on-state conflict’, U.S. admiral warns
U.S. top commander in Pacific warns drive to seize more oil resources could result in conflict in the region
By Wil Longbottom

The U.S. Navy’s top commander in the Pacific has said disputes over oil rich waters in the South China Sea could blow up into serious military confrontations.

Admiral Patrick Walsh said a diplomatic row between six Asian nations over the Spratly Islands could escalate into a ‘state-on-state conflict’ as countries attempt to seize new oil resources.

The South China Sea – which is heavily travelled by shipping companies, including tankers transporting oil from the Persian Gulf – is vital to the Asia-Pacific region.

Adm Walsh said there was potential for an incident to intensify, in the same way tensions between China and Japan spiked after two of their ships collides near the disputed Senkaku and Diaoyu islands in 2010.

‘Quickly the event escalated from something that was local, containable, manageable, to something that became a state-on-state sort of conflict.

‘No matter which perspective you adopt, it’s (the South China Sea)
critically important for security and stability. It is the critical node to all the economic activity.

‘Any interruption there would create a real problem.’

====

Dragon In The Room: U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander On South China Sea

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=66861

Department of Defense
American Forces Press Service
January 19, 2012

Admiral Details Challenges, Opportunities of Pacific Fleet
By Jim Garamone

WASHINGTON: As America’s focus shifts to the Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. Pacific Fleet is well-placed to protect national interests and connect with regional nations, Pacific Fleet’s commander, Adm. Patrick Walsh, said.

President Barack Obama’s military strategy announced earlier this month says that America’s focus will shift more toward the Asia-Pacific region in keeping with the U.S. position as a leading Pacific nation.

The Navy’s Pacific Fleet is…well-positioned to take on the added focus, Walsh said during a recent interview with American Forces Press Service.

The fleet will continue to build military-to-military relations with Pacific nations, the admiral said. It will seek to strengthen ties with rising powers such as China and India while maintaining long-established relations with Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Australia. It will continue to work bilaterally, trilaterally or multinationally with all in the region, he said.

China is the dragon in the room. The nation now has the second-largest economy in the world – growing at about 8 percent annually – and is investing in its military force.

The South China Sea and the Spratly Islands are a potential flashpoint with China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan all claiming sovereignty.

“It’s very important for us to understand how the Chinese characterize the South China Sea,” Walsh said. “We have very different interpretations of what we think they want. That leads to confusion and friction. That’s something I’ve addressed with my counterpart and something we must work toward resolving.”

“There are established norms and behaviors at sea that have brought us the security, the stability, the prosperity in the Asia Pacific since the World War II era,” he added. “We can’t set that aside for an interpretation that the South China Sea falls under the category of internal Chinese law. That just won’t work.”

“Moving forward, the question is how do we resolve the tension that exists now with the demand for greater resources?” he said. “Having a credible force that is sustainable forward is critically important to working with partners in the region to resolve disputes and to resolve conflict.”

India is another rising international economic power and the Pacific Fleet has a robust military-to-military relationship with the second-most populous nation in the world.

====

Pentagon, Philippines Plan Military Exercise Near Spratly Islands

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/regions/01/19/12/ph-us-plan-military-drills-west-philippine-sea

Reuters
January 20, 2012

PH, US plan military drills in West Philippine Sea

MANILA, Philippines: The United States and the Philippines are set to hold military drills that may anger Beijing near disputed waters in the ***West Philippine Sea***, testing their readiness to protect offshore oil and natural gas platforms, a Marine general said on Thursday.

Philippines Lieutenant-General Juancho Sabban, military commander on the western island of Palawan, said it is the first time an annual exercise will be focused on protecting offshore energy platforms, adding that the drills should not anger China which also has territorial claims in the region.

“Why should they be angry, this is an annual activity,” he said, referring to China, one of six states claiming sovereignty over the South China Sea.

The drills are to be held near the country’s Malampaya gas project, owned by Chevron Malampaya LLC, a unit of the U.S. energy firm, and Shell Philippines Exploration B.V, a unit of Royal Dutch Shell.

Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines also have conflicting claims over the disputed area believed to have rich deposits of oil and gas.

Since 2002, U.S. army special forces have held separate training for Filipino troops fighting a group of al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants in the southern Philippines…

The U.S. military has also held regular military exercises with Filipino counterparts under a 1951 security treaty with its former colony.

====

Asian NATO: U.S. Senators Push Increased Military Ties With Philippines

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=769155&publicationSubCategoryId=63

The Philippine Star
January 19, 2012

   
Phl, US to boost military ties
By Aurea Calica

“The senators said that they are increasing their presence in the Asia-Pacific region. As you know, they already have established bases in Australia and Singapore. There will be increased military exercises in Asia-Pacific region and that would also include the Philippines.”
-“We welcome their (US) strategic guidance on their continued presence and interest here in the country and the region. We also welcome their support on the West Philippine Issue…”

MANILA, Philippines: The Philippines and the United States have agreed to strengthen military cooperation following the visit in Manila of four American senators on Tuesday.

President Aquino met with Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Sheldon Whitehouse and Kelly Ayotte at Malacañang on Tuesday.

McCain, Lieberman and Ayotte are all members of the US Senate armed services committee.

“The senators said that they are increasing their presence in the Asia-Pacific region. As you know, they already have established bases in Australia and Singapore. There will be increased military exercises in Asia-Pacific region and that would also include the Philippines,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing yesterday, quoting Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin who was with the President in the meeting with the US senators.

Lacierda…said the Philippines also asked for a second Hamilton-class cutter, a request that the US senators vowed to support. The first Hamilton-class cutter arrived in the Philippines last August. It is now commissioned by the Philippine Navy to protect the country’s waters.

Lacierda said the Philippines welcomed the wider military cooperation between the two countries, and the Philippines is ready to engage itself in more military exercises with the US.

“We profit from the experiences of joint military exercises. It enhances our experience, it improves our capabilities. We learn from the Americans,” he said.

Some of the Filipino officials who attended the meeting included Gazmin, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

Department of National Defense (DND) Undersecretary for Finance, Munitions, Installations and Materiel Fernando Manalo, Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Installations and Logistics Patrick Velez and Assistant Secretary for Strategic Assessment Raymund Quilop were also present.

McCain said China should not be permitted to exercise “disproportionate control” over the West Philippine Sea.

“If there is indeed a withdrawal of the US then I believe that that would mean a lessening of stability in the region,” McCain said.

China is one of the claimants of the Spratly Islands in the ***West Philippine Sea***, which is also being claimed by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.

“It’s a welcome initiative to stabilize. As to whether this would cause tension, I don’t think so,” Galvez said. “Their (US) increased presence would also help us out in terms of maritime security.”

He said the meeting lasted for about 40 minutes and tackled the Philippine military’s modernization efforts and the Spratlys issue.

“We welcome their (US) strategic guidance on their continued presence and interest here in the country and the region. We also welcome their support on the West Philippine Issue. They said they are also for a rules-based multilateral approach,” he said.

Galvez said the US lawmakers had also expressed support for efforts to promote cooperation among the armed forces in the region.

He said Gazmin had also urged the US lawmakers to support the Philippine military’s modernization program.

“The secretary asked for assistance regarding military hardware, especially cutters,” he said without elaborating.

Last year, the Philippines acquired a warship from the US Coast Guard to beef up its territorial defense capabilities.

The vessel, which has been renamed BRP Gregorio del Pilar, was acquired under the US Foreign Military Sales program. The government spent P450 million for the vessel’s transfer costs.

The US has vowed to provide the Philippines another warship. 

====

New Defense Strategic Guidance: U.S. Shifts Air-Sea Battle Operations To Asia

http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123286868

Air Force Link
January 20, 2012

CSAF: Airmen key to new defense strategy
By Mitch Gettle
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

-While the United States will maintain its focus on the Middle East, the defense strategic guidance also calls for a rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific theater…
The Air Force will continue to strengthen its long-standing partnerships in that region, such as those with Australia, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines, and continue developing burgeoning relationships with others like India, Indonesia and Thailand, the general said.
-In addition to strengthening interoperability with selected key global partners, Schwartz said the U.S. military will continue to increase joint interdependence, as seen in ongoing efforts on the Air-Sea Battle concept.

WASHINGTON: Airmen will play an important role in the joint team’s effort to achieve the priorities laid out in the new defense strategic guidance, according to the Air Force’s top uniformed officer.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz spoke to members of the World Affairs Council of Wilmington here Jan. 19, where he discussed the capabilities the Air Force contributes to the new Department of Defense strategy.

The strategy, which was announced by defense officials Jan. 5, lays out a way forward for the military to defend the United States and its national interests while reducing military spending in a responsible, balanced manner.

Schwartz said he sees the Air Force contributing to the new strategy through the service’s four core contributions to the Nation’s joint military portfolio: domain control; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; air mobility; and global strike.

These four contributions, which are enhanced by the Air Force’s superior command and control networks, “have a proven track record of sustaining our Nation’s military advantage in the face of ***emerging threats***,” he said.

“The nation has come to rely on the strategic flexibility the Air Force provides to create desired, timely and precise effects at times and places of our choosing, and your Air Force is committed to providing it, even as current combat operations wind down,” Schwartz said.

While the United States will maintain its focus on the Middle East, the defense strategic guidance also calls for a rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific theater, he said.

The Air Force will continue to strengthen its long-standing partnerships in that region, such as those with Australia, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines, and continue developing burgeoning relationships with others like India, Indonesia and Thailand, the general said.

“Through these air force partnerships, we will work to leverage the unique characteristics of airpower to support our Nation’s, and mutual, strategic interests,” Schwartz said.

The new defense strategy also affirms that the United States will maintain its commitments and advance its long-standing alliances in Europe, the general said.

“Working with our European allies, as well as with other global partners, we will seek to develop an enhanced, ‘smart defense’ approach that capitalizes on our ability to specialize, share and pool capabilities toward collective effects,” Schwartz said.

In addition to strengthening interoperability with selected key global partners, Schwartz said the U.S. military will continue to increase joint interdependence, as seen in ongoing efforts on the Air-Sea Battle concept.

“As potential adversaries are pursuing strategies and investments in technical capabilities that are designed specifically to challenge our access to, and ability to maneuver in, areas where we have national interests, our Nation’s advantage in establishing and maintaining air superiority, sea control, and access to forward bases is being threatened,” the general said.

Air-Sea Battle will help to maintain U.S. freedom of action across the full range of missions, including non-military; enhance power projection capability in defense of U.S. and partner-nation interests; and preserve access to the global commons, Schwartz said.

====

Global NATO: Baltic Troops In Afghanistan, NATO Warplanes In Baltic

http://www.defpro.com/news/details/31503/?SID=206bc1607e257ec5929f0588ac27a6fd

Ugne Naujokaityte
Public Relations Advisor to the Minister of National Defence
January 20, 2012

Lithuanian Defence Minister emphasises value of collective planning, joint exercises with NATO

On January 19 Minister of National Defence Rasa Jukneviciene participated in the meeting of Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen where the perspectives of the Baltic Air Policing mission, smart defence, the operation of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and joint military training was addressed.

“Collective planning within NATO is of utmost importance to us, just like joint military training”, Minister of National Defence said.

With regard to the Baltic Air Policing mission Minister emphasized that the Baltic States have enhanced the host nation support to the mission which was an outstanding illustration of NATO’s solidarity and visibility in the region.

The NATO Secretary General, who is on a formal visit in Lithuania, also met with President H.E. Dalia Grybauskaite and leadership of the Seimas.

The NATO Secretary General finishes his official visit in Lithuania today. This has been a second visit of A. F. Rasmussen in our country. His first visit took place in 2009, during the celebration of the Baltic States of the 5th anniversary of NATO accession.

====

Estonia: Baltic Air Space Is NATO’s Air Space

http://www.eesti.ca/?op=article&articleid=34856

Estonian World Review
January 20, 2012

Office of the President
Public Relations Department

Ilves to NATO Secretary General: Baltic air space is NATO’s air space

-According to the President, it is important for us that the long-term solution regarding air security is adopted at the forthcoming NATO summit in Chicago, one of the key outcomes being the enhanced defence and deterrence capabilities of NATO.
-“This would also mean the maintenance of trans-Atlantic relations, the contribution of the alliance’s European member states to the defence capabilities of their own dominion and, consequently – for NATO – the continued presence of the US armed forces in Europe, enhancing NATO’s cyber defence ambitions,” President Ilves noted.

“Defence and deterrence capabilities, visibility, solidarity and plausibility have made NATO the most successful international defence organisation,” stated President Toomas Hendrik Ilves at today’s meeting with the NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. “During the second half of the 20th century, this greatly contributed to the birth of a democratic Europe; in the 21st century, NATO is relying, more than ever and more successfully, on the principles of smart defence.“

When speaking about the continuance of a long-term NATO air security mission in the Baltic states, the Estonian Head of State said, “We have clearly stated repeatedly that the air security mission is not only unavoidable in a military sense, but it also represents a good example of smart defence and an expression of NATO’s internal solidary with respect to its member states.”

President Ilves reiterated that Estonia is admirably performing it its duties in the alliance, is willing to consider increasing its monetary contribution to air security and, therefore, is entitled to expect support from its allies.

“Baltic air space is also NATO’s air space; it is NATO’s task to defend this air space. This can only be done by the fighters of NATO members states located in the Baltic states,” President Ilves emphasised.

According to the President, it is important for us that the long-term solution regarding air security is adopted at the forthcoming NATO summit in Chicago, one of the key outcomes being the enhanced defence and deterrence capabilities of NATO.

“This would also mean the maintenance of trans-Atlantic relations, the contribution of the alliance’s European member states to the defence capabilities of their own dominion and, consequently – for NATO – the continued presence of the US armed forces in Europe, enhancing NATO’s cyber defence ambitions,” President Ilves noted.

The Estonian Head of State and NATO’s Secretary General also discussed the alliance’s operation in Afghanistan and its possible developments after the end of the mission’s military stage.

====

Polish Military Leader Visits U.S. Counterpart, Tours Bases

http://www.usafe.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123286885

U.S. Air Forces in Europe
January 20, 2012

Polish military leader visits base, student fighter pilots
By 1st Lt. Angela Walz
162nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

TUCSON, Ariz. – As part of a whirlwind tour of U.S. military commands, the Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, Gen. Mieczysław Cieniuch, visited the 162nd Fighter Wing here at Tucson International Airport Jan. 12.

In terms of military equivalents, General Cieniuch is Poland’s highest-ranking military officer and is the Polish counterpart to U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“We’ve trained F-16 pilots from Poland here since 2004, and it’s an honor to show their senior leaders first-hand the quality of our training wing, our personnel and our equipment,” said Col. Mick McGuire, 162nd Fighter Wing commander.

Other dignitaries who travelled with General Cieniuch were Army Maj. Gen. Andrzej Falkowski, the Polish Defense Attaché to Washington D.C., and Army Brig. Gen. Sławomir Wojciechowski, Polish Deputy Chief of Operational Planning.

Wing leaders escorted the Polish delegation around the Arizona Air National Guard base, which included visits to aircraft maintenance and operations facilities, the highlight of which were flights in the wing’s state-of-the-art F-16 flight simulators – a key aspect of flight training for Polish student pilots.

General Cieniuch stopped for lunch at the 162nd Fighter Wing Dining Facility, where he dined with base leaders and Polish student pilots before heading to nearby Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to tour the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, or “boneyard,” which is home to more than 4,400 military aircraft.

The event-filled itinerary for General Cieniuch concluded with dinner amongst 162nd Fighter Wing base leadership and spouses, as well distinguished civic and community leaders.

General Cieniuch’s trip to Tucson was preceded by a two-day visit to Washington D.C. in which he was presented the Legion of Merit award by General Dempsey for his leadership with the cooperation, understanding and relationship between the armed forces of the United States and Poland.

====

Canada Shifts Troops, Armored Vehicles From Afghanistan To Arctic

http://www.680news.com/news/national/article/321259–canadian-troops-head-to-the-arctic-for-major-military-exercise

680 Radio News
January 18, 2012

Canadian troops head to the Arctic for major military exercise

The Canadian military is planning a major exercise in the Arctic. This will be the first [of] its size in decades.

It will be the first time that Canada’s armoured vehicles, used in the heat of Afghanistan, will be tested on the frozen tundra.

The exercise will allow the army to test its weaponry against defensive positions made out of ice, which can be almost as hard as steel.

More than 1,500 troops will be deployed for the Arctic Ram exercise which will run from February 14 to 26.

—————————————————————————

http://www.kenoradailyminerandnews.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3443774

Kenora Daily Miner And News
January 20, 2012

Kenora reserve soldiers train for Arctic Ram winter combat exercise
By Reg Clayton

-“With the (withdrawal of Canadian) combat forces from Afghanistan, this is an opportunity to reacquire skills to shoot, move and communicate in high arctic conditions. The ability to operate in the arctic is identified as one of six core tasks under the Canada First Defence Strategy.”

As if January in Northwestern Ontario isn’t cold enough, two reserve soldiers with Kenora’s 116th Independent Field Battery have volunteered for Arctic Ram; a joint winter combat operations exercise taking place northwest of Yellowknife from Feb. 17 to 27.

Bombardier Kyle Friesen and Bombardier Brandon Thompson prepared for the deployment by taking part in the Winter Warfare training course in Kenora this week…

Thompson, who is from Fort Frances, is looking forward to participating in Arctic Ram with friends from other artillery units he’s known since basic training and other courses he’s been on during his three years with the Kenora reserve.

Capt. Jon Baker explained the 116th Independent Field is one of three artillery components attached to 38 Brigade Group responsible for all army reserve units in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. Friesen and Thompson will participate in Arctic Ram along with reserve and regular forces soldiers from Edmonton, Shilo and the 1st Canadian Mechanized Unit.

“With the (withdrawal of Canadian) combat forces from Afghanistan, this is an opportunity to reacquire skills to shoot, move and communicate in high arctic conditions,” Baker said. “The ability to operate in the arctic is identified as one of six core tasks under the Canada First Defence Strategy.”

Last year five Kenora reservists took part in Northern Bison 2011. The joint training exercise of the 38 Brigade designated arctic response company group put their cold weather training to the test as 265 soldier travelled more than 300 kilometre by snowmobile from Churchill, Manitoba to Arviat, Nunavut.

====

Canada Intensifies New Cold War With Russia In Arctic

http://www.canada.com/news/Canada+Cold+lite+with+Russia+experts/6029086/story.html

Postmedia News
January 20, 2012

Canada in ‘Cold War lite’ with Russia: experts
By Jeff Davis

-Former Canadian ambassador to Russia Christopher Westdal said the Harper government took office with deep “Russo-phobic” instincts, similar to American neo-conservatives in the Bush administration.
-After taking power, the Harper government also advocated very aggressively for the acceptance of former Eastern Bloc countries in NATO. Framing this as a quest to finally free central European countries from Russian influence, Canada was among the biggest cheerleaders for countries like Ukraine, Latvia and Estonia to join the Western security alliance. Russia expressed deep displeasure at this push by NATO into its traditional sphere of influence.
-Beyond diaspora politics, the Tories have used the perceived Russian military threat to justify expensive purchases of military aircraft.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay loudly accused the Russians of provocation on the eve of President Barack Obama’s 2009 visit to Ottawa, telling the public a Russian bomber approached Canadian airspace.
“Back off and stay out of our airspace,” MacKay said at the time, sparking a media firestorm.

Canada and Russia are waging a “Cold War lite” two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, experts say, following news that a Canadian naval officer was slapped with espionage charges and accused of selling top-secret information to a foreign entity.

Professor Piotr Dutkiewicz, director of the Institute of European and Russian Studies at Carleton University, said the Harper government’s thinking toward Russia is outmoded.

“The Canadian government is stuck in a Cold-War mentality,” he said. “We now have a Cold War lite.”

Although official diplomatic relations have proceeded steadily under the Harper government, there is a layer of frost on the relationship that is hampering closer ties and more trade, observers say.

This, they say, is in large part due to confrontational and inflammatory political messages from the Harper government, rooted in a deep, emotional distrust of Russia.

Former Canadian ambassador to Russia Christopher Westdal said the Harper government took office with deep “Russo-phobic” instincts, similar to American neo-conservatives in the Bush administration.

Relations between Canada and Russia have suffered as a result, he said.

“Harper came with that baggage of deep suspicion of Russia,” Westdal said. “It has been discouraging for anyone hoping for better Canada-Russia relations for some years.”

Dutkiewicz said although Russian and Canadian ministers and officials meet regularly, very little comes of it all.

“At the ministerial level there are meetings, but there is no follow-up,” he said. “It seems to me there is no vigour in this relationship.”

There has not been a significant improvement in bilateral relations since the 1990s, Dutkiewicz said. Trade volumes have stalled out at about $2 billion per year, which he said is a smaller volume of trade than Canada conducts with some small countries in Latin America.

While Canadian firms are eager to do business in Russia, Westdal said, they receive very little political support from the government. The government sponsors trade missions to many countries, he said, but those looking to trade with Russia “don’t get much help, or the royal blessing.”

Dutkiewicz said the Cold War was really about an acute lack of trust, and that in this sense, very little has changed for Canada.

“Formally, the Cold war is over, but this Cold War lite is alive in hearts and minds of bureaucrats,” he said. “We simply do not trust them.”

There exists only a “very thin layer of relations” between Canada and Russia, Dutkiewicz said. He said Canada has no apparent policy direction on Russia, and that Canadian actions have been haphazard and reactive as a result.

“We have had, for the last couple of years, no coherent strategy towards Russia,” he said. “Something is happening and we are reacting, and in most cases overreacting.”

A clear thread running through Canada’s relations with Russia, Westdal said, are actions calculated to score political points with new Canadians hailing from former Eastern Bloc countries. Since taking power, he said, the Harper government has taken many actions on the world stage seem calculated to please Canadians from Eastern Europe, the Baltics and the Balkans, many of whom harbour a deep resentment toward Russia.

“Those diaspora constituencies have been assiduously cultivated by (Immigration Minister) Jason Kenney and others in the government,” he said. “There is nothing new or secret on that.”

Kenney has made a number of high-profile symbolic overtures to these countries. For example, the Canadian government recognized the Holodomor — the “killing by hunger” inflicted on Ukraine while it was a Soviet republic in the 1930s — as a genocide. Much to the satisfaction of Ukraine and its diaspora, Canada in effect recognized Moscow’s policies at the time as culpable for the deaths of millions.

After taking power, the Harper government also advocated very aggressively for the acceptance of former Eastern Bloc countries in NATO. Framing this as a quest to finally free central European countries from Russian influence, Canada was among the biggest cheerleaders for countries like Ukraine, Latvia and Estonia to join the Western security alliance. Russia expressed deep displeasure at this push by NATO into its traditional sphere of influence.

All of these moves, Westdal said, appear to have been calculated to build electoral support among diaspora voters, such as the large number of Ukrainian-Canadians in Manitoba who traditionally have voted NDP.

Beyond diaspora politics, the Tories have used the perceived Russian military threat to justify expensive purchases of military aircraft.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay loudly accused the Russians of provocation on the eve of President Barack Obama’s 2009 visit to Ottawa, telling the public a Russian bomber approached Canadian airspace.

“Back off and stay out of our airspace,” MacKay said at the time, sparking a media firestorm.

NORAD officials, unlike MacKay, were quick to say Russian pilots were “professional” in their conduct, and underscored the fact there was no violation of Canadian airspace.

Former Office of the Prime Minister spokesman Dimitri Soudas played this card again in August 2010, saying the Russian threat justifies Canada’s purchase of F-35 stealth interceptors.

“It is the best plane our government could provide our Forces, and when you are a pilot staring down Russian long-range bombers, that’s an important fact to remember,” Soudas said.

Loud protests were also made by the Canadian government after a Russian submarine planted a Russian flag on the Arctic sea floor in 2007.

Retired Colonel Alain Pellerin, executive Director of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute, said the Russian military threat is on the wane.

Large parts of the once-mighty Soviet military machine have rusted out, he said, with whole fleets of submarines and aircraft having degraded beyond repair.

“As a military threat, I don’t see it,” he said. “Their military equipment has deteriorated a lot in the last 20 years, mainly due to poor maintenance.”

Nevertheless, he said, diplomatic attempts to smooth relations between Russia and the West — such as the NATO-Russia Council — have borne little fruit.

Pellerin said Russia has not lived up to the high hopes for democratization following the fall of the Soviet Union, to the profound disappointment of many in Canada and throughout the West.

The mounting need for co-ordination and co-operation in the High Arctic, Pellerin said, is the place he’s looking for a breakthrough in chilled bilateral relations.

====

Second U.S. Aircraft Carrier Strike Group Arrives In Arabian Sea

http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=64854

U.S. Navy
January 21, 2012

Abraham Lincoln Arrives in U.S. 5th Fleet
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zachary Welch, Carrier Strike Group 9 Public Affairs

USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea: The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (CSG) arrived for a routine deployment in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR), Jan. 19.

Abraham Lincoln conducted work-ups for months to train, man and equip the CSG prior to it deploying to the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR, to support maritime security operations, counter-piracy operations, theater security cooperation efforts, and conduct air missions over Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom.

“Our strike group has trained countless hours to ensure our Sailors are ready to conduct vital operations,” said Rear Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander, CSG 9. “We’re looking forward to working closely with our coalition and regional partners to keep the sea lanes safe and secure for the free flow of maritime commerce that is so important for the continued prosperity of nations in this region and around the world.”

Abraham Lincoln CSG is comprised of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71) and embarked Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 9, which includes the guided-missile destroyers USS Momsen (DDG 92) and USS Sterett (DDG 104).

The arrival of Lincoln brings the number of aircraft carriers to two within the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR. Carl Vinson arrived in theater, Jan. 9. A second aircraft carrier in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility (AOR) ensures the U.S. military has the naval and air capabilities to support operational requirements while adequately meeting other security commitments in the region. The aircraft carriers will simultaneously conduct operations in different areas of the AOR, to adequately provide support operations requirements and other security commitments in the region.

====

NATO Soldier Killed In Southern Afghanistan

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-01/21/c_131372427.htm

Xinhua News Agency
January 21, 2012

NATO soldier killed in insurgent attack in Afghanistan

             
KABUL: A NATO soldier was killed Saturday in an insurgent attack in the restive Afghanistan’s southern region.

“An International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) service member died following an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan today,” the NATO-led ISAF said in a press release.

However, the brief statement did not reveal the nationality of the victim under ISAF policy.

The latest casualty brings the number of foreign troops killed in Afghanistan to 11 since Thursday and 29 since the beginning of this month.

Four French soldiers with ISAF were killed and 15 others injured when an Afghan army solider opened fire in eastern Kapisa province on Friday morning while six other U.S. troops with ISAF were killed when a military helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan on Thursday.

The Taliban-led insurgency has been rampant since the militant group announced to launch a rebel offensive from May 2011 against Afghan and NATO-led troops stationed in Afghanistan.

====

About these ads
Categories: Uncategorized
  1. rosemerry
    January 21, 2012 at 8:37 am

    How great it would be if the USA tried to be the best in the world in education, health care for all, freedom, jobs, housing, infrastructure instead of in military might, lethal weapons, invasions of other lands, surveillance and imprisonment in the “homeland”.

    Canada under Harper seems to have degenerated even further since he unaccountably won the last election. Were there election monitors in Canada?

    The poor Philippines, under the cruel US yoke for so long, now has to be “defended” by its patron.

    China, of course, has no rights in the South China Sea, or to spend some of its resources on defence against the threats of NATO/US.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 489 other followers

%d bloggers like this: