Archive for January, 2011

Washington Intensifies Push Into Central Asia

January 29, 2011 11 comments

January 29, 2011

Washington Intensifies Push Into Central Asia
Rick Rozoff

A recent editorial on the website of Voice of America reflected on last year being one in which the United States solidified relations with the five former Soviet republics in Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

One or more of the five nations border Afghanistan, Russia, China and Iran and several more than one of the latter. Kazakhstan, for example, adjoins China and Russia.

The U.S. and Britain, with the support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, invaded Afghanistan and fanned out into Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in October of 2001, less than four months after Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan founded the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to foster expanding economic, security, transportation and energy cooperation and integration in and through Central Asia. In 2005 India, Iran and Pakistan joined the SCO as observers and Afghan President Hamid Karzai has attended its last five annual heads of state summits. [1]

Now the U.S. and the NATO have over 150,000 troops planted directly south of three Central Asian nations.

Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are also on the Caspian Sea, a reservoir of oil and natural gas whose dimensions have only been accurately determined in the past twenty years and where American companies are active in hydrocarbon projects.

After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the Pentagon and its NATO allies deployed military forces to, in addition to Soviet-constructed air bases in Afghanistan, bases in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The first two countries border China.

As of last March the U.S. military confirmed that a monthly average of 50,000 American and NATO troops passed through Kyrgyzstan’s Transit Center at Manas in support of the war in Afghanistan. Also last year, U.S. officials mentioned building new military training centers in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

The Voice of America feature mentioned above cited a speech by U.S. Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake, Jr., who two years ago succeeded Richard Boucher in that role.

The State Department’s Blake delivered a speech at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston, Texas entitled “The Obama Administration’s Priorities in South and Central Asia.”

Shorn of superfluous banter and obligatory diplomatese, his address accentuated American geopolitical designs in an area which Blake highlighted as being of vitally important interest to Washington:

“Central Asia lies at a critical strategic crossroads, bordering Afghanistan, China, Russia and Iran, which is why the United States wants to continue to expand our engagement and our cooperation with this critical region.” [2]

In furtherance of U.S. designs in an area that not only abuts the four nations named, but if controlled by the U.S. would prevent regional cooperation between them except insofar as it is mediated by an outside power, Washington, Blake listed the three priorities for the region as being to:

Support international efforts in Afghanistan

Build a strategic partnership with India

Develop more durable and stable relations with the Central Asian countries

He commented after the above itemization: “After describing these priorities at greater length, I will then focus on energy resources in Central Asia, which I imagine is of particular interest in Houston,” where ConocoPhillips, Shell Oil Company and Halliburton’s Energy Services Group have their headquarters.

The State Department assistant secretary also emphasized the role of the recently activated Northern Distribution Network (NDN) in moving supplies, military equipment and troops to the Afghan war front from the west, promoting the concept that “The NDN increasingly offers the people of the Central Asian countries the opportunity to sell goods and services to NATO troops in Afghanistan, and we hope it can help catalyze greater trade and economic cooperation between Afghanistan and Central Asia.”

The U.S. has assiduously worked to ensure that Chinese, Russian and Iranian influence in Central Asia and Afghanistan is blocked and instead promotes the economic, transportation and security integration of the region through the Pentagon-NATO Northern Distribution Network. The U.S. and NATO intend the NDN to supplant the SCO as the engine of economic and security integration in Central Asia. To date eleven of the fifteen former federal republics of the Soviet Union – all except for Armenia, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine – have been incorporated into the NDN grid originating in the Baltic and Black Seas.

Washington is also exploiting Afghanistan and Central Asia to attain an even larger prize. Again according to Blake, “South Asia, with India as its thriving anchor, is a region of growing strategic and commercial importance to the United States in the critical Indian Ocean area.

“In total, the region is home to over two billion people – roughly one fourth of the world’s population.”

He elaborated further on the main strategic objective of the wider Afghan war when he stated that “projects with India in Afghanistan mark a small but important part of a significant new global development – the emergence of a global strategic partnership between India and the United States,” as “by 2025 India is expected to become the 3rd largest economy in the world, behind the United States and China.”

“Secretary Clinton and other Cabinet officials will also travel to India this spring for the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, which oversees the entire spectrum of our cooperation.”

Blake also reminded his audience of an initiative instituted last year and conducted under his jurisdiction: Annual Bilateral Consultations (ABCs) with all five Central Asian countries. In his Houston speech he stated, “I look forward to starting the second round of ABCs with Uzbekistan next month in Tashkent.”

Blake’s boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, visited Uzbekistan last month – the first secretary of state to do since Colin Powell’s trip there in December of 2001 – as well as Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbek President Islam Karimov just returned from Brussels where NATO had invited him to visit its headquarters and meet with Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. While in the Belgian capital he also met with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barossa and Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger. Uzbekistan, though poor in oil supplies, is one of the largest producers of natural gas in the former Soviet Union.

Uzbekistan is, like its neighbors, assuming greater significance for the U.S.-NATO war effort in South Asia: “The airport at the Uzbek city of Navoi has emerged as a key cog in the Northern Distribution Network, a web of Central Asian rail, road and air links that funnels supplies to US and NATO troops in Afghanistan. Most of the NDN supplies bound for Afghanistan flow through the railway junction at Termez, at the Uzbek-Afghan border.” [3] German troops are based in Termez and across the border in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province.

While Clinton was in Kyrgyzstan she, seemingly without even the suggestion of a formal agreement to the effect, assumed the extension of U.S. rights to the air base there, stating “Washington would examine again in 2014 whether it needed the Manas base.”

“Clinton said Manas was the central transit point for troops from 49 countries going into Afghanistan.” [4]

Her subordinate Blake’s speech at Rice University also included discussion of the strategic role of Central Asia in regards to hydrocarbon extraction and transport. He claimed that the biggest and richest of the Central Asian states, Kazakhstan, “will account for one of the largest increases in non-OPEC supply to the global market in the next 10-15 years as its oil production doubles to reach 3 million barrels a day by 2020.” The U.S. and its EU and NATO allies have long planned the shipping of Kazakh oil and natural gas westward to the South Caucasus and thence to Europe, both bypassing and replacing Russia as Europe’s main supplier of hydrocarbons.

Western projects include the Nabucco natural gas pipeline and building a pipeline under the Caspian Sea to bring Kazakh oil to Azerbaijan where it would be transported via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey) pipeline with a connection to an Odessa-Brody-Plock-Gdansk branch running from Ukraine to Poland’s Baltic Sea coast and from there to the rest of Europe.

That is, the Western-initiated Southern Corridor versus Russia’s South Stream natural gas pipeline to the Black Sea and the Balkans.

In 2009 Richard Morningstar, the State Department’s Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy, spoke in the Czech Republic at an EU summit called Southern Corridor-New Silk Road, and asserted: “President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton share your support for the Southern Corridor and consider Eurasian energy issues to be of the highest importance.”

His State Department colleague Blake also said last week: “Though often overlooked as an energy source, Uzbekistan has substantial hydrocarbon reserves of its own and produces about as much natural gas as Turkmenistan. Located at the heart of Central Asia, much of the region’s infrastructure – roads, railroads, transmission lines, and pipelines – goes through Uzbekistan, offering it a unique opportunity to expand its exports with little investment in new infrastructure.”

The energy project that attracted the attention of Blake most, however, was the agreement concluded on December 11 of last year for the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) natural gas pipeline to run from the Caspian Sea littoral nation that gives the acronym its first letter to India, which was the death sentence for a competing “peace pipeline” from Iran to Pakistan, from there to India and onward to China – the $7 billion, 1,430-mile Iran-Pakistan-India gas (IPI) pipeline – that had been years in the planning but was opposed by Washington, which backed the earlier TAP (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan) and later the TAPI alternative.

The pipeline is extend over 1,000 miles and deliver 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually.

After mentioning that “The country’s substantial natural resources may make Turkmenistan one of the top five countries worldwide in terms of gas reserves” which have “attracted the attention of many countries interested in securing Turkmen gas for various pipeline projects,” Blake announced that “The U.S. has welcomed renewed interest in TAPI.” In fact it has been the prime mover behind the project through its influence in the Asian Development Bank, which is underwriting the pipeline’s construction.

Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimukhamedov “almost single-handedly resurrected the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline, which if successful will finally link the resources in Central Asia with the markets of the south,” Blake added.

In the middle of this month Afghan President Karzai and Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil sent letters to their Turkmen counterpart “express[ing] confidence that the gas pipeline TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) will be implemented soon.” [5]

Shortly afterward Berdimukhamedov met with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who also met with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev on the same trip and subsequently with Uzbek President Karimov in Brussels, in the Turkmen capital and announced that his government is prepared to replicate the TAPI project by shipping Caspian natural gas to Europe with “construction of a pipeline under the Caspian Sea [and] transportation of natural gas across the Caspian Sea on specialized ships, tankers.” [6] Turkmenistan will then link up with the Southern Energy Corridor (including the Nabucco gas pipeline) to bring Caspian and Middle Eastern, including Iraqi, natural gas to Europe.

Until now Turkmenistan’s natural gas deals had been primarily with Russia, China and Iran. Both Russia and China have expressed interest in participating in the TAPI pipeline, but the U.S. will ensure that doesn’t occur. “Washington’s vital interest in TAPI includes having an alternative route for Central Asian gas that will bypass the Russian pipelines’ network.”

In addition, “India has objected to any Chinese firm or consortium being given contracts related to the building of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline.” [7]

“The U.S. has supported TAPI – and Turkmen efforts to keep Russia off the project – as a way to break Russia’s and China’s monopoly on exporting Caspian Basin energy to the rest of the world.” [8]

It was observed years ago by past Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and all-around former Soviet space hand Matthew Bryza, now the incoming U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, that the transportation corridor the U.S. and its Western allies developed in the 1990s to ship energy to the west was used to transport troops and equipment to the east starting with the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. What the U.S. and NATO have for years called the New Silk Road, which is in truth an arms and energy transit route.

Until recently, however, Turkmenistan had remained comparatively uninvolved in the transit going both ways. It is the only Central Asian nation not to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (which also includes Armenia and Belarus as member states.)

Journalist Deirdre Tynan has provided valuable information on the degree to which Turkmenistan has been surreptitiously incorporated into the U.S. and NATO greater Afghan war structure. Two years ago she disclosed that Turkmenistan has been “quietly developing into a major transport hub” for the Northern Distribution Network to deliver supplies to U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Tynan also revealed:

“The Pentagon has confirmed a small contingent of US military personnel now operates in Ashgabat [the capital] to assist refueling operations.

“The United States has a deal in place that allows for the landing and refueling of transport planes at Ashgabat airport, according to the US Department of Defense. NATO is also seeking to open a land corridor for supplies destined for troops in Afghanistan….”

She also quoted a spokesman for the Defense Department stating, “The United States has a small Air Force team, normally around seven airmen, who assist US aircraft who refuel at Ashgabat Airport….” [9]

In a recent article the author wrote:

“Despite its long-avowed status as a neutral nation, Turkmenistan is playing an important supporting role for US and NATO forces fighting in Afghanistan. Washington and Ashgabat are both keen to keep Turkmenistan’s strategic role low-key, especially the financial aspects of cooperation.”

The country has supplied fuel for American and NATO troops in Afghanistan, “delivered free of all duties and taxes.”

“Fuel is exempt from local duties and taxes due to Turkmenistan’s and Azerbaijan’s participation in the NATO Partnership for Peace program….Similar arrangements are in place in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan….US military aircraft have been using Turkmen airspace and facilities since at a least 2002, and Ashgabat is a hub for operations involving C-5 and C-17 transport planes.”

A spokeswoman for the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) told Tynan the following:

“It is DLA’s understanding that both Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are partners in the NATO Partnership for Peace. As partners, they agree to abide by the terms of the NATO status of forces agreement, which provides in relevant part that NATO member countries shall make special arrangements for fuel, oil and lubricants for use by another member countries military and civilian personnel to be delivered free of all duties and taxes.” [10]

Tajikistan, with China to its east and Afghanistan to its southwest, has hosted a French air force contingent of at least 200 personnel, C-160 transport aircraft and Mirage multirole fourth-generation jet fighters since early 2002.

Last week the nation’s state-run railroad disclosed that in 2010 “In keeping with the agreements signed by the Tajik government, republican railroads delivered over 160 tonnes of commercial cargo, which was later taken by motor transport to Afghanistan for NATO needs.” [11]

In 2007 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers financed the construction of a bridge across the Panj River connecting Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

On January 17 U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Susan Elliott was in Kyrgyzstan to arrange for resuming bilateral consultations, which were suspended last year after the second violent overthrow of the government in five years occurred. [12]

The following week Kazakh Secretary of State Kanat Saudabayev visited Washington, D.C. for two days. Before meeting with his counterpart Secretary of State Clinton, he met with Colin Powell, Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski, ConocoPhillips Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James Mulva and Halliburton Energy Services Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David Lesar.

Clinton and Saudabayev stressed “the importance of timely implementation of the agreements” between President Barack Obama and Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev on the sidelines of last April’s Global Summit on Nuclear Safety in Washington. Accords that, according to Senior Director of Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council Michael McFaul, “will allow troops to fly directly from the United States over the North Pole to the region.” [13] U.S. and British troops led NATO Partnership for Peace training exercises, codenamed Steppe Eagle 2010, in Kazakhstan last August and afterwards Kazakhstan assigned military personnel to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

As Washington and NATO consolidate military-to-military relations with the five nations of Central Asia, the majority of both Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Collective Security Treaty Organization members will be shifted from the Russian and Chinese to the U.S. column.

Indian analyst and former diplomat M K Bhadrakumar wrote an article a month after NATO’s summit in Lisbon in November in which he stated that “the alliance is well on the way to transforming into a global political-military role” and “NATO is by far today the most powerful military and political alliance in the world.”

He added: “The various partnership programs of NATO in Central Asia and the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Mediterranean regions can be viewed as part of the overall approach to take recourse to other states or groups of states to promote the Euro-Atlantic interests globally.”

“From a seemingly reluctant arrival in Afghanistan seven years ago in an ‘out-of-area’ operation as part of the UN-mandated ISAF (International Security Assistance Force), with a limited mandate, NATO is suo moto stepping out of the ISAF, deepening its presence and recasting its role and activities on a long-term basis.”

“It is within the realm of possibility that NATO would at a future date deploy components of the US missile defense system in Afghanistan. Ostensibly directed against the nearby ‘rogue states,’ the missile defense system will challenge the Chinese strategic capability.”

The current geopolitical reality in Central and South Asia “is very much linked to NATO’s future role in Afghanistan. US strategy toward an Afghan settlement visualizes the future role for NATO as the provider of security to the Silk Road that transports the multi-trillion dollar mineral wealth in Central Asia to the world market via the Pakistani port of Gwadar.”

“The resuscitation of the Silk Road project to construct an oil and gas pipeline connecting Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (the TAPI pipeline) will need to be seen as much more than a template of regional cooperation.

“The pipeline signifies a breakthrough in the longstanding Western efforts to access the fabulous mineral wealth of the Caspian and Central Asian region. Washington has been the patron saint of the TAPI concept since the early-1990s when the Taliban was conceived as its Afghan charioteer.”

“On the map, the TAPI pipeline deceptively shows India as its final destination. What is overlooked, however, is that the route can be easily extended to the Pakistani port of Gwadar and connected with European markets, which is the ultimate objective.

“The onus is on each of the transit countries to secure the pipeline. Part of the Afghan stretch will be buried underground as a safeguard against attacks and local communities will be paid to guard it. But then, it goes without saying that Kabul will expect NATO to provide security cover, which, in turn, necessitates long-term Western military presence in Afghanistan.

“In sum, TAPI is the finished product of the US invasion of Afghanistan. It consolidates NATO’s political and military presence in the strategic high plateau that overlooks Russia, Iran, India, Pakistan and China. TAPI provides a perfect setting for the alliance’s future projection of military power for ‘crisis management’ in Central Asia.” [14]

Immediately after the signing of the TAPI agreement in the capital of Turkmenistan by the presidents of that country and Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as Indian’s energy minister, the government of Hamid Karzai announced that 7,000 Afghan troops – the army is being trained by the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan – would be deployed to guard the pipeline. [14]

Since the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union, Central Asia (with the Caspian Sea Basin on its western flank) has been the chessboard on which intensified international strategic positioning has occurred. It may be transformed into a battleground of conflicting 21st century geopolitical interests.

1) The Shanghai Cooperation Organization: Prospects For A Multipolar World
Stop NATO, May 21, 2009
2) Robert O. Blake, Jr., The Obama Administration’s Priorities in South
and Central Asia
U.S. State Department, January 19, 2011
3) Deirdre Tynan, Uzbekistan: Karimov’s Visit to Brussels was NATO’s idea
EurasiaNet, January 20, 2011
4) Reuters, December 2, 2010
5) Trend News Agency, January 13, 2011
6) Trend News Agency, January 15, 2011
7) Hindustan Times, January 17, 2011
8) Central Asia Newswire, January 26, 2011
9) EurasiaNet, July 8, 2009
10) Deirdre Tynan, Turkmenistan: Ashgabat Playing Key US/NATO Support Role
In Afghan War
EurasiaNet, January 10, 2011
11) Interfax-Military, January 20, 2011
12) Kyrgyzstan And The Battle For Central Asia
Stop NATO, April 7, 2010
13) Kazakhstan: U.S., NATO Seek Military Outpost Between Russia And China
Stop NATO, April 14, 2010
14) M K Bhadrakumar, NATO weaves South Asian web
Asia Times, December 23, 2010
15) NATO Trains Afghan Army To Guard Asian Pipeline
Stop NATO, December 19, 2010

Categories: Uncategorized

Afghanistan: War Without End In A World Without Conscience

January 27, 2011 3 comments

January 27, 2011

Afghanistan: War Without End In A World Without Conscience
Rick Rozoff

The largest foreign military force ever deployed in Afghanistan is now well into the tenth year of the longest and what has become the deadliest war of the 21st century.

Some 154,000 occupation troops, almost two-thirds American and the rest from fifty other nations, are waging an armed conflict that has become more lethal with each succeeding year.

At the beginning of this month Agence France-Presse calculated that over 10,000 people had been killed in Afghanistan in 2010. Based on official Afghan government figures and those from the icasualties website, record-level fatalities were documented in every category:

The U.S., its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies and assorted NATO partnership nations lost 711 soldiers, a substantial increase from the preceding year when the death toll was 521. The remaining 9,370 killed were Afghans. According to AFP they were:

810 government troops, 1,292 police, 2,043 civilians and 5,225 people referred to as “militants.” It is uncertain how many dead in the last category properly belong in the one preceding it. The United Nations, for example, said 2,412 civilians were killed and 3,803 wounded in the first ten months of last year, a 20 percent increase over 2009.

The fighting and the killing grew in intensity as the year came to a close, with the U.S. and NATO escalating bombing raids and counterinsurgency ground operations.

Last February NATO forces launched Operation Moshtarak in Helmand province, the largest offensive to date in the war that began on October 7, 2001. At least 15,000 foreign and government troops conducted a lopsided onslaught against at most a few hundred Taliban fighters with the population of Marjah the main victim.

The next month U.S. and NATO forces began Operation Omaid to gain control of Kandahar city, capital of the province of the same name, and prepared Operation Hamkari in the province, which was repeatedly delayed in large part because of the failure of the drawn-out and indecisive offensive in neighboring Helmand. The Hamkari offensive did not get underway until September and on a less ambitious scale than Operation Moshtarak.

This month a delegation of Afghan officials, led by President Hamid Karzai’s adviser Mohammad Sadiq Aziz, claimed that the still ongoing Operation Omaid has caused $100 million in damages to fruit crops (on the eve of harvest season), livestock and property. “The Om[a]id (Hope) military operation, which has been going on for some time in Arghandab, Zhari, and Panjwai districts, has inflicted severe damage to the people,” Aziz said. [1]

On January 24 President Karzai himself accused NATO of cutting down as many as 4,000 trees in Ghazni province. “The president in condemning this act emphasises to the international forces that they must avoid such action, which is a crime against Afghanistan’s public properties and destroys the environment,” [2] read a statement issued by the president’s office. Evidently the only plant to be left untouched by NATO is the opium poppy.

On a day-to-day basis U.S. and NATO increased three-prong attacks on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border: An unprecedented level of bombings, intensified special forces night raids and a dramatic escalation of deadly drone missile strikes in northwestern Pakistan.

The U.S. Navy announced on the first day of this year that the 1,000th sortie for the war in Afghanistan had been launched from the nuclear-powered supercarrier USS Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea on December 28. Warplanes taking off from its deck logged almost 6,000 flight hours in the last four months of 2010.

Last year the U.S. Air Force more than doubled the amount of joint terminal attack controllers (JTACs) ordering air strikes in Afghanistan, who last October alone coordinated over 1,000 missions, the largest monthly amount of the war so far.

The Air Force plans to spend over $23 million to construct new facilities in Germany and Italy “for airmen who call in airstrikes for Army combat troops in Afghanistan.” It is planning to double the amount of tactical air control personnel, including joint terminal attack controllers, “the airmen trained to call in airstrikes on enemy targets.” [3]

A $13 million Air Support Operations Squadron complex is planned for the U.S. Army base in Vilseck, Germany and a $10 million installation is planned at the Aviano Air Base in Italy.

Vilseck is home to the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment and an infantry brigade and Aviano hosts an air support operations squadron which supports the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team based at Vicenza.

The upgrades are part of a $100 million package for U.S. major military construction projects in Europe for use in wars to the east and the south.

This month the U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft marked its two millionth flight hour “just four years after passing its first million-hour mark, and the first million hours took 16 years to reach.” [4] Its missions are overwhelmingly in support of the war in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon announced on January 20 that “airdrop operations in Afghanistan reached an unprecedented level in 2010 with a record 60.4 million pounds of cargo airdropped.

“[T]he 60.4 million pounds is nearly twice the previous record year of 2009, when more than 32.2 million pounds of cargo were airdropped, U.S. Air Forces Central statistics show.”

“Since 2006, the annual amount of airdropped supplies and equipment has practically doubled every year. Air Force Central statistics released yesterday show that 3.5 million pounds were airdropped in 2006, 8.12 million in 2007, 16.57 million in 2008, 32.26 million in 2009 and 60.4 million in 2010.”

The air dropping of equipment to U.S. and NATO troops is conducted by C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules and C-130 Super Hercules planes which operate out of the Bagram Airfield and the Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan.

In the words of the director of the Combined Air and Space Operations Center’s Air Mobility Division, “This continued sustainment of our warfighting forces is key to counterinsurgency operations, which require persistent presence and logistics.” [5]

The website of U.S. Air Forces Central states:

“The Combined Air and Space Operations Center Weapons System, also known as the AN/USQ-163 Falconer Weapon System, commands and controls the broad spectrum of what air power brings to the fight: Global Vigilance, Global Reach, and Global Power. Located in the Air Forces Central theater of operations, the CAOC provides the command and control of airpower throughout Iraq, Afghanistan and 18 other nations….The CAOC is a true joint and Coalition team, staffed by U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and Coalition partners.” [6]

In the middle of this month NATO deployed two Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft to Afghanistan, “where crews will be tasked with tracking the Alliances’ missions against Taliban insurgents.” [7]

Also this month it was revealed that the U.S. is adding to its drone fleet of Predators and Reapers with the introduction of the Gordon Stare, more advanced in scope and sophistication than its predecessors, able to relay up to ten real time video streams. “Gorgon Stare will be looking at a whole city, so there will be no way for the adversary to know what we’re looking at, and we can see everything,” stated a Pentagon official recently. [8] It hasn’t been reported whether the new drone will be equipped with the devastating Hellfire missiles launched from Predator, Reaper and Grey Eagle unmanned aerial vehicles.

The U.S. has recently deployed M1 Abrams tanks to Helmand province, the first heavily armored American battle tanks used in the over nine-year war. The move permits “ground forces to target insurgents from a greater distance – and with more of a lethal punch – than is possible from any other U.S. military vehicle. The 68-ton tanks are propelled by a jet engine and equipped with a 120mm main gun that can destroy a house more than a mile away.” [9]

General David Petraeus, commander of all foreign forces in Afghanistan, has intensified the counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan to record levels. Special operations raids and assassinations more than tripled last autumn.

Early this month Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ordered an additional 1,400 Marines deployed to Afghanistan, “temporarily,” raising the number of U.S. troops in theater to the current authorized level of 101,000.

Last year the number of nations officially providing NATO troops for its International Security Assistance Force operations in Afghanistan grew to 48, exactly a quarter of United Nations members. That tally excludes the armed forces of Afghanistan and Pakistan and other countries that have assigned forces to NATO for the war effort, including Bahrain, Colombia, Egypt and Kazakhstan.

In total there are over 150,000 foreign troops in the country, 130,000 now under NATO command.

The commander of the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan, U.S. Lieutenant General William Caldwell, announced on January 5 that the Western military bloc’s spending on building a U.S. and NATO proxy military in Afghanistan will total $20 billion for last year and this.

“The $20 billion for 2010 and 2011 is paying for training, equipment and infrastructure. The figure is a large increase over the $20 billion spent between 2003 and 2009.”

Caldwell also confirmed that “the NATO training mission would remain as long as necessary, but at least until 2016, when it expects to finish developing the air force.”

“We’re not leaving. If anything, our organization will probably grow a little bit more in size.” [10]

On January 12 the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, told a press conference in Washington, D.C. that violence in Afghanistan will continue to rise beyond its already unprecedented scale in the spring when the fighting season begins anew.

In his latest monthly press conference on January 24, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen concurred, stating:

“I do not expect 2011 to be easy. We will continue to drive deep into insurgent territory. And we expect continued violence as the enemy fights back.”

In his January 25 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama employed similar language – “There will be tough fighting ahead” – though he buried the topic of the world’s largest and longest war at the bottom of his speech under an avalanche of platitudes like American family, Sputnik moment, poised for progress, the future is ours to win, our free enterprise system is what drives innovation, what Americans have done for over 200 years: reinvented ourselves and others being polished for his reelection campaign next year.

As of the 24th of this month, traditionally a quiet one on the war front, the U.S. and NATO had already lost 27 soldiers. A NATO air strike killed three Afghan policemen earlier in the month, following similar incidents on December 8 and 16 when eight Afghan soldiers were killed in two bombing runs. On January 15 a U.S. soldier shot and killed an Afghan soldier.

Two days later an Afghan soldier killed an Italian serviceman and wounded another. The Italian soldier was the 36th lost in Afghanistan. Less than a week later a Polish soldier was killed in eastern Afghanistan, the 23rd Polish soldier to die in the country. A French service member was killed on January 8, the 53rd death from his country.

Early in the month three Afghan civilians, including a student, were killed in a NATO night raid in Ghazni province, sparking a protest by hundreds of people.

Yet according to Admiral Mullen, “We must prepare ourselves for more violence and more casualties in coming months.”

While in Afghanistan two weeks ago, Vice President Joseph Biden affirmed that “the United States is prepared to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014, if Afghans wanted it.” [11]

Days later NATO commander General Petraeus stated “Some international troops would stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014,” as last November’s NATO summit declaration “said the process would be conditions-based, not calendar-driven.” [12]

“US Vice President Joseph Biden, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and some other world leaders have promised their troops will stay in Afghanistan even after the agreed timeline.” [13]

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, while in Pakistan en route to Afghanistan this month, “pledged long-term support for Afghanistan, saying his country would continue engagements there even after 2014….” [14]

In the words of a Russian analyst:

“None of the targets set before the deployment of forces to Afghanistan has been achieved. The Taliban…have not been defeated, but military operations have been expanded. American and NATO forces have been denied access to many regions of the country. Consequently, it’s incorrect to say that the allied forces control Afghanistan. In these circumstances, American and NATO forces cannot withdraw from the country because this may be considered as a defeat.” [15]

In interviews with the Voice of Russia, Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman General Zahir Azimi and Kabul-based political scientist Nasrullah Stanakzai averred that “Both the United States and NATO are unlikely to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan in 2014.” Azimi added, “local government security forces will call the shots in Afghanistan by 2014, which, however, will unlikely see the pull-out of the US’ and NATO’s troops from this South Asian country.” [16]

Not only are American and NATO troops not going to withdraw from Afghanistan or even began to “draw down” this year as President Barack Obama pledged on December 1, 2009, but their number has reached its highest level to date and the war has been expanded into Pakistan in the interim.

The Conflict Monitoring Center, an independent research group concentrating on South Asia, revealed in a recent report that U.S. drone missile strikes in Pakistan, described as an “assassination campaign turning out to be a revenge campaign,” have killed 2,043 people, “mostly civilians,” over the last five years. [17]

Last year was the deadliest year by far, with 134 missile attacks in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (overwhelmingly in North Waziristan) killing nearly 1,000 people.

The reports provided these details:

“People in the tribal belt usually carry guns and ammunition as a tradition. US drones will identify anyone carrying a gun as a militant and subsequently he will be killed.”

“Many times, people involved in rescue activities also come under attack. The assumption that these people are supporters of militants is quite wrong.” [18]

Over 700 people were killed in the Central Intelligence Agency-directed missile strikes the preceding year, meaning over three-quarters of total killings occurred in the past two years. At the beginning of 2010 Dawn, Pakistan’s leading English-language newspaper, wrote:

“According to the statistics compiled by Pakistani authorities, the Afghanistan-based US drones killed 708 people in 44 predator attacks targeting the tribal areas between January 1 and December 31, 2009.

“For each Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist killed by US drones, 140 innocent Pakistanis also had to die. Over 90 per cent of those killed in the deadly missile strikes were civilians, claim authorities.” [19]

On the last day of 2010 a commentary on China’s Xinhua News Agency website stated:

“The number of air strikes doubled this year over the previous one, and the figure of people killed in these strikes also doubled, which shows the growing U.S. influence in Pakistan’s territory.”

“People killed in drone strikes are usually identified as militants or suspected militants by U.S. officials and Pakistani security forces. But the real fact always remains distant and far behind. There are never any details of the names of people killed in such aerial strikes in the media, nor are their identities confirmed or faces shown. The exact account always remains vague.

“Besides these militants, a large number of innocent civilians also became victims of the drone strikes aimed at militants. They raised their voice in protest but most of the times it is all in vain.” [20]

In addition to local protests, last month demonstrations were held in Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad against the bloody and cowardly targeted murders in the tribal areas. 10,000 people demonstrated in Peshawar at the beginning of this week demanding a halt to the attacks.

To demonstrate how much the U.S. is concerned about the outrage of Pakistanis over the missile strikes, and the victims of the same, over the last four weeks the CIA:

Fired a missile at vehicles near the town of Ghulam Khan in North Waziristan on December 31, killing eight people.

Killed 19 in three missile attacks in the same region on the first of the year.

On January 7 slew four more people in North Waziristan.

Five days afterward killed six in four missile strikes.

On January 18 killed at least five more people in North Waziristan in an attack on “a house suspected of housing militants.” [21]

On January 23 launched three drone strikes that killed 13 people in North Waziristan. The targets included a house, a motor vehicle and two people on a motorcycle.

With 62 killed in 24 days, the U.S. is on schedule to slay another 1,000 Pakistanis this year as well in what the State Department’s Harold Koh calls targeted killings as opposed to targeted assassinations. The use of the last term, but not its practice, is frowned upon by U.S. law.

With the passing of several resolutions on Afghanistan since September 2001 condemning terrorism but not war, the United Nations Security Council has been complicit in the expansion of a war that now costs the lives of 10,000 Afghans a year and almost three Pakistanis a day. One that includes 1,000 U.S. and NATO air sorties (bombings, missile attacks and strafing) a month in Afghanistan and on average over twice weekly lethal missile strikes in Pakistan.

Opposition to a war that, counting by days, is in its tenth year and by the calendar its eleventh is virtually non-existent on the official level. The number of the 192 UN member states that have in any manner opposed the Afghanistan-Pakistan war can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

When the Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan in late 1979 (with the support of both factions of the ruling People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan) the U.S. rallied other nations – in the General Assembly and not the Security Council – to condemn the action. A resolution demanding the “immediate, unconditional and total withdrawal of the foreign troops from Afghanistan” passed by a vote of 104-18 only 18 days after the first Soviet troops arrived in the country. According to major Western political and military officials, U.S. and NATO troops will remain in Afghanistan at least 15 years after the 2001 invasion.

The U.S.-backed mujahideen in Afghanistan and Northwest Pakistan posed a far greater potential threat to the Soviet Union, which bordered Afghanistan, than the Taliban could even theoretically present to the U.S., Canada and their European NATO partners.

Even the most steadfast supporter of the current war cannot with a straight face claim that over 150,000 foreign troops are in Central and South Asia to “hunt Osama bin Laden” and to “combat al-Qaeda.” Not after ten years, surely. (Though Obama in his State of the Union address persisted in asserting “al Qaeda and their affiliates continue to plan attacks against us.”)

The world stands indicted – and convicted – for not so much tolerating as actively supporting a war of unconscionable length with wildly disproportionate use of force by most of the world’s major military powers (three of them nuclear nations). For accepting the concept of indefinite, in practical terms permanent, war as a natural state of affairs in the 21st century as the exclusive prerogative of the world’s self-proclaimed sole military superpower and its phalanx of fellow NATO members.

1) Reuters, January 11, 2011
2) Agence France-Presse, January 24, 2011
3) Stars and Stripes, January 18, 2011
4) WAVY, January 3, 2011
5) Afghanistan Airdrop Levels Reach New Frontier
U.S. Department of Defense, January 20, 2011
6) U.S. Air Forces Central6
Combined Air and Space Operations Center
7) France-Presse, January 14, 2011
8) Daily Telegraph, January 26, 2011
9) Washington Post, November 19, 2010
10) Associated Press, January 5, 2011
11) Voice of America News, January 11, 2011
12) Pajhwok Afghan News, January 17, 2011
13) Ibid
14) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, January 9, 2011
15) Yevgeny Kryshkin, U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan
Voice of Russia, January 12, 2011
16) Pyotr Goncharov, US, NATO to stay on in Afghanistan?
Voice of Russia, December 31, 2010
17) Sify News
2010, The Year of Assassination by Drones
Conflict Monitoring Center, January 2011
18) Asian News International, January 3, 2011
19) Dawn, January 2, 2010
20) Misbah Saba Malik, Drone strikes lead to disaster in Pakistan
Xinhua News Agency, December 31, 2010
21) Xinhua News Agency, January 19, 2011

Categories: Uncategorized

Ivory Coast: Testing Ground For U.S.-Backed African Standby Force

January 23, 2011 Leave a comment

January 23, 2011

Ivory Coast: Testing Ground For U.S.-Backed African Standby Force
Rick Rozoff

The announcements of presidential election results last month in West Africa and Eastern Europe have served as the pretext for the United States and its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union to again embark on the warpath of sanctions, embargoes, travel bans, “regime change” plots and even the threat of military force.

The reelection of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on December 19 has been followed by the U.S. State Department supporting EU sanctions against him and other leaders of the nation. On January 20 the European Parliament adopted a resolution demanding the European Council “impose a ban on visas and freeze any EU bank accounts of senior government officials and members of the judiciary and security agencies responsible for rigging the elections and persecuting the opposition.” The EU’s 27 foreign ministers will formalize that decision at their first meeting of the year on January 31.

State Department Spokesman Philip Crowley confirmed American backing for the actions, about which, he added, “we are consulting closely with our counterparts in the European Union.

“We are very much aware and supportive of steps that the EU is taking, and we are also, in light of our concerns, prepared to take additional steps to restore sanctions that have previously been lifted.” [1]

On December 2 the opposition-controlled Independent Electoral Commission in Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) released provisional results showing that presidential challenger Alassane Ouattara had defeated incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo in the November 28 runoff election. The following day the nation’s Constitutional Council declared the Electoral Commission’s results invalid and proclaimed Gbagbo the winner.

Former colonial master France, the U.S. and the European Union backed the result which best suited their interests – a Ouattara victory – and secured support from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Security Council.

Both Gbagbo and Ouattara were sworn in as president and in the interim the drumbeats of military intervention to depose Gbagbo have steadily risen in intensity.

Whatever the respective merits of the two candidates’ contentions, that the U.S. has entered the fray on behalf of the one declared the loser by the nation’s top court exactly a decade after the 2000 U.S. presidential election was decided by the Supreme Court would prove embarrassing to any country other than the world’s sole military superpower.

ECOWAS has suspended Ivory Coast’s membership in the fifteen-nation group (Niger was suspended in 2009) and pressure is being put on ECOWAS to activate the West African Standby Force brigade under its control for an invasion of Ivory Coast.

The African Standby Force, under the nominal direction of the African Union but trained by U.S. Africa Command and NATO, was to have been activated last year and to have provided brigades of an estimated 3,000-4,000 troops each for five regions in Africa: East, west, north, south and central. The West African brigade is to grow to 6,500 troops.

Previous ECOWAS military deployments in Liberia in 1990, Sierra Leone in 1997, Guinea-Bissau in 1999 and Sierra Leone again in the same year were conducted under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) multinational armed force and the 2003 deployment to Liberia under the ECOWAS Mission in Liberia (ECOMIL), but the proposed intervention in Ivory Coast will be the first to employ the West African (ECOWAS) Standby Force brigade with troops from Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea (Conakry), Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Before the initial activation of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) on October 1, 2007, the person who would become its first and still current commander, General William Ward, affirmed:

“AFRICOM will assume sponsorship of ongoing command and control infrastructure development and liaison officer support. It would continue to resource military mentors for peacekeeping training, and develop new approaches to supporting the AU and African Standby Forces.” [2]

Regarding NATO’s role in establishing and supporting the African Standby Force, the U.S.-led military bloc has stated:

“Joint Command Lisbon is the operational lead for NATO/AU engagement, and has a Senior Military Liaison Officer at AU HQ in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. NATO also supports staff capacity building through the provision of places on NATO training courses to AU staff supporting AMISOM [African Union Mission for Somalia], and support to the operationalisation of the African Standby Force – the African Union’s vision for a continental, on-call security apparatus similar to the NATO Response Force.” [3]

The African Standby Force is not only similar to but based on the NATO Response Force, a 25,000-troop globally deployable strike force which was launched in the former Portuguese African possession of Cape Verde with the massive Steadfast Jaguar war games in 2006. Last year NATO began airlifting Ugandan troops assigned to AMISOM to Somalia for combat operations. Uganda is also a mainstay of the East Africa Standby Force.

The ECOWAS/ECOMOG intervention in Sierra Leone in 1999 was followed the next year by Britain’s Operation Palliser in the nation, commanded by Brigadier David Richards, now the United Kingdom’s Chief of the Defence Staff. In the interim Richards was commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in southern Afghanistan and Britain’s Chief of the General Staff and Commander-in-Chief of Land Forces.

The British invasion of Sierra Leone in 2000 included airborne troops, Special Air Service commandos and helicopter units. The Royal Navy dispatched the HMS Illustrious aircraft carrier, diverted from NATO exercises in the Bay of Biscay, along with seven other warships. British military forces remain in Sierra Leone almost eleven years later and the country was used by ECOWAS militaries for the intervention in Liberia in 2003.

During the latter operation the U.S. redeployed two warships from the Horn of Africa off the coast of Liberia with an initial contingent of 2,300 Marines. In July Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signed an order adding another ship and bringing total troop strength to 4,500 Marines and sailors. In the same month U.S. special forces, part of an “anti-terrorism” unit, and an elite rapid response Marine unit were deployed on the ground in the country. U.S. efforts were coordinated with those of 1,000 Nigerian troops assigned to the ECOWAS Mission In Liberia, who were airlifted into the capital on August 15.

After President Charles Taylor stepped down and went into exile in Nigeria, Washington set a $2 million bounty for his capture and extradition.

The role of ECOWAS military forces is to prepare the way for and give an African cover to Western armed interventions in West Africa.

When Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, the University of Colorado and Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, was sworn in as Taylor’s successor following the 2005 runoff election she was accompanied by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and First Lady Laura Bush. Three months afterward she spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C. where she said:

“We made this visit essentially in response to President Bush’s kind invitation, but to use that opportunity to thank him, to thank the U.S. government, to thank the American people for all that was done to support Liberia in its transition from war to peace.” [4]

Earlier Johnson Sirleaf worked for the World Bank in Washington and was the first chairperson of George Soros’ Open Society Initiative for West Africa

The president installed in Sierra Leone in 2002, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, received his post-graduate education at two universities in Britain and practiced law in London before going to work for the United Nations. After stepping down as his nation’s head of state, he was in charge of the Commonwealth’s observer mission for the 2007 election in Kenya and the head of the African Union’s observer mission for the Zimbabwean election the next year.

Alassane Ouattara, the West’s current man in Ivory Coast, received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in the U.S. and served as an economist for the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. from 1968 to 1973 and as its deputy managing director from 1994-1999.

In 1990 he was appointed, not elected, prime minister by Ivorian president for life Félix Houphouët-Boigny, who ruled his country from its independence in 1960 to his death in 1993.

Houphouët-Boigny was not only France’s but the U.S.’s main ally in West Africa. He gave support to forces opposing leftist and pan-Africanist governments throughout the region, including those which overthrew Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana in 1966, Marien Ngouabi in Congo-Brazzaville in 1977 and Thomas Sankara in Burkina Faso in 1987, the latter two killed in the process. He also supported groups opposed to President Sékou Touré in Guinea-Conakry and Mathieu Kérékou in Benin and collaborated with the U.S. and apartheid South Africa to back UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) in its war against the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) during the independence struggle against Portugal and later when MPLA formed Angola’s first government.

He severed relations with the Soviet Union in 1969 and did not renew them until the Gorbachev era in 1986. He didn’t recognize the People’s Republic of China until 1983.

Laurent Gbagbo founded the Ivorian Popular Front in 1982 in opposition to the Houphouët-Boigny regime. After he assumed the presidency in 2000, he paid visits to Russia and China and strengthened relations with those countries as well as others like Belarus and Iran.

During the last years of Houphouët-Boigny’s reign Ouattara was his faithful lieutenant. According to an American magazine account of the event in 1993:

“The African president’s death was announced by Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara in a televised speech. Ouattara wept as he announced the death of Ivory Coast’s only ruler since it gained independence from France in 1960.” [5]

Later, while serving as the Deputy Managing Director at the International Monetary Fund in Washington in 1998, Ouattara announced plans to return to Ivory Coast, which he did the following year. The government of then-President Henri Konan Bédié issued an arrest warrant for him, leading him to flee Ivory Coast, but in December of 2009 a military coup removed Bédié from power, which allowed Ouattara to return once more. His characterization of the military takeover was expressed in this manner:

“This is not a coup d’etat. This is a revolution supported by all the Ivorian people.” [6]

He was acting perfectly in character, then, when he issued these comments on January 20 of this year:

“The position of Ecowas now should be using other measures, including legitimate force. Clearly military intervention now is necessary, to remove Mr. Gbagbo. I talk to President Jonathan (of Nigeria) two times to [a?] a week, and he has given me assurances that we’re still on course (for military intervention). If Mr. Gbagbo does not want to leave, military intervention has been used elsewhere in Africa and Latin America, so why not Cote d’Ivoire?”

“I don’t think mediation should be on the agenda (anymore).” [7]

In fact, an invasion by the ECOWAS African Standby Force is exactly what is being finalized by the U.S. and its NATO allies with the connivance of local surrogates, Senegal in the first place.

France had intervened in Ivory Coast starting in 2002, initially to serve as a buffer between the government of President Gbagbo and rebel forces infiltrating from Burkina Faso, and at first engaged in fighting with rebel forces headed by Guillaume Soro, now Ivory Coast’s prime minister.

But in 2003 France forced a so-called peace agreement with the Ivorian government (similar to that forced on Macedonia by the U.S., NATO and the EU two years earlier which brought the Kosovo-based National Liberation Army leader Ali Ahmeti into the parliament and his party into a coalition government) and Soro was made prime minister. It is intriguing to note that the year before he threatened France with another debacle like that at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 as he “reminded France of its fate in Indochina where Vietnamese nationalists threw off French colonial rule in bloody fighting in the 1950s.” [8]

Tens of thousands of Ivorians protested outside the French embassy in Abidjan in January of 2003 against the French-engineered “national reconciliation” pact with Soro’s New Forces (Forces Nouvelles) rebels and French troops fired stun grenades into the crowd. The U.S. embassy was also besieged.

In January of 2004 Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade called for United Nations forces to support French troops in Ivory Coast, stating “he would expect the French to provide the weapons and other countries, possibly the United States, to help with transport.” [9]

French troop strength in the country had grown to over 3,000 the following month with the U.S. deploying an initial military contingent as well.

In November of 2004 Ivorian planes bombed a rebel stronghold in the north of the country, killing nine French soldiers and an American national, and French forces responded by shooting down two government Sukhoi fighter-bombers and a helicopter. In fact France destroyed the entire Ivorian air force: Four Sukhois and six helicopters. General Charles Wald, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, which before AFRICOM included most all of Africa in its scope, applauded the French action, saying: “We strongly believe the French took the exact right action: they destroyed those aircraft.” [10]

France scrambled three Mirage jet fighters from Chad to Gabon (where it maintains a military base) and set up a forward base in Togo for its aircraft. President Jacques Chirac “ordered the destruction of any other aircraft that violated the ceasefire and his office announced that two companies of troops were being rushed to the area to buttress the 4,000-member French peace-keeping force.” [11]

France was at war with the government of Ivory Coast. Its troops clashed with Ivorian civilians in the commercial capital of Abidjan after the downing of the aircraft. As the New York Times put it at the time:

“Since civil war erupted in 2002, the French, who exercise significant economic influence in their former colony, have been accused of aiding rebels and have repeatedly come under attack by supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo.” [12]

The country’s speaker of the parliament accused France of occupying the nation and conniving with Soro’s and other rebel groups operating out of neighboring states, saying that “Since the beginning of the crisis, we have had the feeling and the evidence that it is Jacques Chirac who has armed the rebels at first.

“The Ivorian people and government hope that this occupation army will leave the territory and go away.” [13]

The speaker, Mamadou Coulibaly, told French public radio on November 7 that French troops had recently killed 30 and wounded 100 civilians, and on the same day reinforcements arrived in Ivory Coast from the French base in Gabon.

Coulibaly also warned that France was in for a “long, hard war” and that “Vietnam will be nothing compared with what we are going to do here.” [14]

On November 10 France deployed two ships – Le Foudre with 250 marines, tanks, five helicopters and light vehicles and the cruiser La Fayette – off the shores of Ivory Coast.

A week later the Ivorian government announced it would take legal action at the International Court of Justice against French troops accused of killing what were then disclosed to be 60 civilians and the wounding of over 1,300 in Abidjan.

In what is a fascinating parallel with current events, then-French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie accused Belarus of being responsible for the deaths of the nine French troops killed earlier in the month, claiming “the assault had been a planned act carried out by Belarussian mercenaries who piloted two Sukhoi Su-25 planes.” [15] The government of Belarus denied the charges.

The situation settled down in 2005 but in January of 2006 the ruling Ivorian Popular Front accused France and the so-called international community, which demanded the dissolution of the national parliament, of carrying out a “constitutional coup d’etat,” pulled out of the putative unity government and ordered 10,000 French and UN troops present in the country to leave. President Gbagbo persisted in that demand to the end of the year.

In December the government foiled a coup attempt planned for the 17th “with the support of a military force present in Ivory Coast.” [16]

On March 4, 2007 a new peace accord was signed by the government of President Gbagbo and the New Forces of Guillaume Soro, who then became prime minister.

Ivory Coast had been at peace until last month. In the election of October 31 of last year Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front received 1,756,504 votes, 38.04 percent of the total; Ouattara’s Rally of the Republicans won 1,481,091, 32.07 per cent; and former president (1993-1999) Henri Konan Bédié 1,165,532, 25.24 percent.

The election was monitored by the UN, whose envoy, Y. J. Choi, stated it was “peaceful and democratic, and that the results of the elections were determined through a fair and transparent process.” [17]

The head of the ECOWAS Observer Mission for the election, Benin’s Theodore Holo, said: “Our mission did not observe any major irregularities likely to taint the freedom, credibility and transparency of the 31st October 2010 presidential election in Cote d’Ivoire.”

The mission “also found out that the voting process was smooth and in accordance with current standards, particularly in terms of collation and vote counting.” [18]

With Gbagbo six percentage points ahead of Ouattara in the first round, it was likely that he would also win the November 28 runoff election, which is what the Ivory Coast’s top court ruled happened.

That was not a result acceptable to the West.

In a recent article, Pierre Sané, former Amnesty International Secretary General and former UNESCO Assistant Director General, warned:

“Africa nowadays is subjected to a struggle for power which, beyond the obvious ethnic and religious national divergences, essentially opposes two concepts of society, and which, in simple words, see leaders promoting global liberalism to others, who support a sovereign and socialist pan-Africanism. As we celebrate 50 years of independence, all Africans should mainly consider what is really at stake through today’s events in Côte d’Ivoire. Gullibility after 50 years is unforgiveable!” [19]

He may have been alluding in part to recent threats like the following from State Department Spokesman Philip Crowley, the same who pledged U.S. efforts against Belarus:

“Nothing is preventing President Gbagbo from leaving Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). And as we’ve said, we don’t know where he might go. But we believe at this point it’s important for him to leave soon. And the opportunity for him to leave with a dignified exit is an opportunity that is…that window is closing fast.” [20]

His words were matched by American actions. The State Department announced earlier this month that the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury Department is taking punitive actions against Laurent Gbagbo, his wife and three of his senior advisers. Their property will be blocked and U.S. citizens are prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them.

The International Monetary Fund announced it would only work with a government headed by its former employee Alassane Ouattara.

The ultima ratio of the U.S. and its European NATO allies is a military invasion by the West African Standby Force.

According to a Sierra Leone newspaper, a meeting of ECOWAS military chiefs in Mali on January 20 “adopted a resolution to depose incumbent Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo from power by force.”

Nigeria has expressed some hesitancy and Ghana even more so, but “Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali and Togo are expected to participate, while Niger is still to confirm.” [21]

Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy last week as head of an ECOWAS delegation and afterward confirmed that “Burkina Faso will take its full share of responsibility when the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) decides to use force to oust outgoing Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo.” [22]

After Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga met separately with Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo and Ouattara on January 17 without the first conceding the presidency, the die is cast.

Ghanaian President John Mills told Odinga that “Ghana would only back ECOWAS on a military intervention if the peaceful negotiations fail” as in the view of the Western “international community” they have, and former president of Ghana Jerry Rawlings recently warned that “Africa has suffered enough and I do not believe that we should be allowing ourselves to be misled into waging war against ourselves simply to satisfy some colonial or foreign interest.” [23]

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated late in December that his country “is against UN Security Council interference in resolving internal problems in Cote d’Ivoire” and that “the situation in Cote d’Ivoire could impact the African continent as a whole.” [24]

The current African contingent in the UN Security Council – Gabon, Nigeria and South Africa – has also cautioned against military action in Ivory Coast.

But Nigerian General Olusegun Petinrin, speaking after the ECOWAS chiefs of general staff meeting in Mali last week, stated: “We are ready on the military level. It is up to heads of state to give us instructions.”

Another Nigerian military officer told Agence France-Press that the ECOWAS Standby Force would work with UN troops in the country – 9,500 soldiers with 2,000 more on the way, despite Gbagbo’s long-standing demand they leave – “if the military intervention is decided.”

“ECOWAS military chiefs in December outlined an intervention force headed by Nigeria which would also provide the most troops including a combat squadron and attack helicopters.” [25]

In recent days top U.S. military officials have visited West Africa and its near environs.

General David Hogg, commander of U.S. Army Africa (USARAF), traveled to Ghana, Togo and Benin from January 10-14 to meet with senior military leaders and land force commanders.

“Hogg spent the week visiting with key leaders in all three West African nations and toured the peacekeeping training facility in Togo for a first-hand look at the capabilities of their land forces.”

“In addition to meeting with military leaders, Hogg toured the Peace Keeping Operations (PKO) training center in Togo. The largest PKO missions in the world are in Africa, and all three nations visited allocate almost one quarter of their soldiers to a variety of missions on the continent.

“The goal of the PKO center in Togo is to become a regional center for enlisted soldiers throughout West Africa, he said.

“That regional focus is also a priority focus of the USARAF mission.” [26]

U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Africa (MarForAf) “recently received the first wave of new mentors bound for Liberia to participate in Operation Onward Liberty (OOL) – a U.S. Department of State-funded, U.S. Africa Command program aimed at rebuilding the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).”

“The OOL mission is a five-year program to ensure Liberia has the capability and capacity to defend her borders and come to the aid of her sister countries if that need should arise.”

“Operation Onward Liberty is a joint-service venture with support from Economic Communities of Western African States partner nations, and the United Kingdom which provides a Ministry of Defense-level advisor.”

Earlier efforts of the Liberia Security Sector Reform program run by U.S. Army Africa and Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa “saw a force of 2,000 AFL soldiers recruited, extensively screened, mentored and trained by State Department contractors for a period of two years. U.S. Africa Command took over the program January 1, 2010 and tasked the Marines from MarForAf with spear-heading the program and referred to the program as LDSR [Liberia Defense Sector Reform], highlighting the fact that MarForAf efforts [are] concentrated on the defense sector, a subset of the overall security sector that the U.S. State Department is committed to support.” [27]

U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Africa received a new commander on January 18, Lieutenant General John Paxton Jr., former chief of staff for the Multi-National Force-Iraq and veteran of earlier campaigns in Somalia and Bosnia.

On January 10 AFRICOM chief General Ward arrived in Rwanda to visit the Ministry of Defense headquarters and meet with the country’s defense minister and chief of defense staff, “with whom he discussed bilateral military issues.” [28]

Deputy Commander of the U.S. Africa Command J. Anthony Holmes, in charge of civil-military activities, is to visit Nigeria from January 24-28 to meet with senior military, security and civilian officials.

“In Lagos, Ambassador Holmes will call on senior Nigerian Navy commanders and visit joint naval training facilities. In Abuja, Ambassador Holmes will meet with the Honorable Minister of Defence and address military officers at the National Defense College….” [29]

The Pentagon also has its Africa Partnership Station naval program available to deploy an armada of warships to the Atlantic coast of Africa in support of an invasion of Ivory Coast. [30]

The West African Standby Force will be used as the West’s proxy, either as advance guard or surrogate, as with ECOWAS forces in Sierra Leone and Liberia, respectively. If the member states of ECOWAS are either hesitant concerning or unable to array the forces needed to mount an intervention in Ivory Coast, France with its bases in the region and AFRICOM with its foothold in West Africa will engage directly.

1) Russian Information Agency Novosti, January 21, 2011
2) Stars and Stripes, September 30, 2007
New Colonialism: Pentagon Carves Africa Into Military Zones
Stop NATO, May 5, 2010
3) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
February 24, 2010
4) Sirleaf Credits Bush for Ridding Liberia of Charles Taylor
U.S. Department of State, March 22, 2006
5) Jet, December 27, 1993
6) BBC News, December 29, 1999
7) Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2011
8) Australian Broadcasting Company, December 23, 2002
9) Reuters, January 7, 2003
10) Agence France-Presse, November 9, 2004
11) Agence France-Presse, November 6, 2004
12) New York Tomes, November 7, 2011
13) Xinhua News Agency, November 7, 2004
14) Financial Times, November 11, 2004
15) Interfax, November 11, 2004
16) The Analyst (Liberia), December 14, 2006
17) UN News Center, November 12, 2010
18) Economic Community of West African States, November 1, 2010
19) Pierre Sané, The Côte d’Ivoire Elections: Chronicle Of A Failure
Sahara Reporters, January 7, 2011
20) Voice of America, January 4, 2011
21) John Momoh, Is Attack On Ivorian Gbagbo Imminent?
Concord Times, January 20, 2011
22) Afrique en ligne, January 20, 2011
23) Citifmonline, January 16, 2011
J.J. Rawlings
24) Voice of Russia, December 31, 2010
25) Agence France-Presse, January 20, 2011
26) U.S. Army Africa, January 18, 2011
27) U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa, January 13, 2011
28) New Times, January 10, 2011
29) Panafrican News Agency, January 22, 2011
30) Militarization Of Energy Policy: U.S. Africa Command And Gulf Of Guinea
Stop NATO, January 8, 2011

Categories: Uncategorized

Britain Spearheads “Mini-NATO” In Arctic Ocean, Baltic Sea

January 22, 2011 Leave a comment

January 22, 2011

Britain Spearheads “Mini-NATO” In Arctic Ocean, Baltic Sea
Rick Rozoff

On January 19 and 20 British Prime Minister David Cameron hosted his counterparts from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania at the first Nordic Baltic Summit to consolidate an “alliance of common interests.”

Cameron’s initiative followed by two months a two-day meeting of Nordic-Baltic defense ministers in Norway with the defense chiefs of the same nine nations that participated in the London gathering along with defense representatives from Germany and Poland.

A Russian commentary on the day of the opening of the Nordic Baltic Summit in the United Kingdom stated:

“Europeans have decided to watch the Russians in the Arctic and how they behave there closely. The idea of creating an Arctic ‘mini-NATO’ was discussed at the [Nordic Baltic] Summit in London on Wednesday. According to analysts, the heightened activity of North Europe is explained by an increased interest in the Arctic and its natural resources.”

In addition to economic and energy issues, “experts insist that British Prime Minister David Cameron will discuss with his counterparts a draft agreement on the foundation of a new military alliance.”

The author of the piece argued that as part of a Nordic-Baltic military structure stretching from the Barents to the Norwegian to the North to the Baltic Seas “a Scandinavian mini-NATO alliance has long been hovering in the air.” [1]

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization subdivision is to include Alliance members Denmark and Norway, partners Finland and Sweden, and non-contiguous outposts Greenland (Denmark), the Faroe Islands (Denmark) and the Aland Islands (Finland).

The project for a Nordic military pact, modeled after and in the long run subordinated to NATO, was taken up in earnest by former Norwegian defense and foreign minister Thorvald Stoltenberg in 2009 and “provides for the creation of a mini-NATO for Scandinavia and the Arctic.” [2] Stoltenberg’s son Jens is currently Norway’s prime minister.

The Stoltenberg report of 2009, whose formal name is “Nordic Co-operation on foreign and security policy,” focused on “13 areas of potential closer co-operation in the Nordic region, such as peace-building, air-policing and maritime monitoring, security in the High North, cyber-security, co-operation between foreign services and defence.” [3] More specifically, it called for “creating a military and civilian taskforce for unstable regions; a joint amphibious unit; a disaster-response unit; a coastguard-level maritime response force; joint cyber-defence systems; joint air, maritime and satellite surveillance; co-operation on Arctic governance; and a war crimes investigation unit.” [4]

According to the EUobserver: “A Nato-style ‘musketeer’ clause and closer consular co-operation could form part of a new Nordic alliance, foreshadowing future developments inside the EU.” [5]

The Stoltenberg report’s recommendations served as the foundation for discussions between the foreign ministers of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden in Copenhagen last March which concentrated on “joint monitoring of the Nordic marine areas, the Nordic air space and the Arctic, as well as issues relating to search and rescue services.

“In addition, possible joint efforts against cyber attacks and a possible further development of the co-operation already established in the military area” were topics taken up. [6]

The five above-mentioned nations are to “sign a joint statement on security policy in April next year aimed at strengthening Nordic co-operation and joint actions in cases of peace-time catastrophes as well as military threats,” [7] following discussion of the subject at a meeting of the Nordic Council in Iceland last November. At the latter event Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Store stated: “Increased cooperation in Nordic and Baltic defense is an important step in the right direction. It’s now time to formalize this cooperation further and confirm Nordic unity in defense.” [8]

A week later the meeting of the defense ministers of Britain, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania met in Oslo. British Defence Secretary Liam Fox said at the event: “The deepening of our bilateral and multilateral relationships with partners in the Nordic region is well worth exploring. We would like to create a broader framework that makes it easier for both NATO and non-NATO members to have a closer relationship in the region.” [9] Eleven months before Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden formalized a mechanism for collective military collaboration, the Nordic Defense Cooperation (NORDEFCO) agreement.

At the same defense chiefs gathering where the nine nations “discussed how they could cooperate more closely regarding security challenges in the High North” and “closer cooperation between the Nordic countries’ forces in Afghanistan,” Norwegian Defense Minister Grete Faremo stated:

“I think we should work together more closely in areas such as operational capabilities, education and training/exercising. Norway would welcome more allied units to take part in exercises set in our demanding natural environment.

“We have already achieved good results through such measures as common transport and logistics solutions for our forces in Afghanistan. In addition we have a series of projects in the fields of education, training and defence equipment collaboration.”

“We must continue to cooperate within UN, NATO and EU operations,” she added in conclusion. [10]

The Russian analysis cited earlier concluded by stating: “The organizers make no secret that the idea of a Scandinavian mini-NATO alliance is a response to Russia’s efforts to survey and develop the Arctic shelf. According to experts, about 25 percent of the world’s oil and gas resources are in the Arctic shelf, besides other natural resources.” [11]

On the day after the London Nordic-Baltic Summit ended, another article in the Russian press stated:

“The United Kingdom is no doubt one of NATO’s strongest members and would be the largest power in any Nordic NATO. It has long been interested in these northern areas and, because of its traditionally rocky relations with Russia, would be likely to back the initiative.

“Nor is the Baltic republics’ involvement surprising: their political elites tend to be keen to support any anti-Russian initiative. In this particular case, there was no attempt to hide it – Thorvald Stoltenberg said outright that the idea was a direct response to Russian efforts.

“The political picture might…change if Sweden and Finland, two neutral countries, were to join the alliance.” [12]

Speaking before the House of Commons the day before the Nordic-Baltic defense ministers meeting in Norway last November, British Defence Secretary Fox said:

“I shall point out our commitment to the submarine programme and to the aircraft carrier programme, and explain how we intend to ensure that across the range of capabilities the United Kingdom is a sound and secure NATO partner. The purpose of the meeting in Norway is to ensure that we deepen our bilateral relationship with Norway, that we create a NATO entity that Finland and Sweden feel a little more comfortable with, that we give further security to article 5 in the Baltic states by being a nuclear power as part of that grouping, and that as a NATO grouping we are better able to deal with regional disputes with Russia.” [13]

On August 1 2009 Norway shifted its Operational Command Headquarters from Stavanger to Reitan in the north, becoming the first nation to locate its military leadership structure in the Arctic.

The Russian writers quoted above expressed scepticism regarding the prospects for a NATO regional command in the Arctic and Baltic regions, but that project is not solely a British-Norwegian enterprise.

It is part of a broader strategy for the Arctic Ocean and the seas south of it.

Two years ago Washington released the National Security Presidential Directive 66 which stated in part:

“The United States has broad and fundamental national security interests in the Arctic region and is prepared to operate either independently or in conjunction with other states to safeguard these interests. These interests include such matters as missile defense and early warning; deployment of sea and air systems for strategic sealift, strategic deterrence, maritime presence, and maritime security operations; and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight.”

Later in January of 2009 NATO conducted what it called a Seminar on Security Prospects in the High North in the capital of Iceland which was attended by among others the military bloc’s secretary general, the chairman of its Military Committee and its Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Supreme Allied Commander Transformation. [14]

Last August the U.S. and Denmark participated for the first time in Canada’s annual Operation Nanook military exercise in the Arctic, although both fellow NATO members are involved in territorial disputes with Canada in the region. [15]

NATO has intensified its campaign to recruit Finland and Sweden into its ranks in recent years. Both nations supply troops for the Alliance’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, where Finland has suffered its first combat deaths since World War Two and Sweden in two centuries. [16]

Two years ago NATO held ten-day military exercises in Sweden, codenamed Loyal Arrow 2009, with the involvement of ten countries, 2,000 troops, an aircraft carrier and 50 jet fighters. [17]

Last year’s BALTOPS (Baltic Operations) exercise conducted with U.S., NATO and NATO partnership nations was held in Estonia and Latvia with over 3,000 troops and military hardware – including 36 ships and two submarines – from ten nations, among them Finland and Sweden.

Finland and Sweden are the only non-NATO nations (they are Partnership for Peace members) to have joined Alliance states Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the U.S. in running the first multinational strategic airlift operation, the Heavy Airlift Wing at the Papa Air Base in Hungary used for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Last September 50 warships and 4,000 navy personnel from the U.S., Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Britain, France and Germany participated in the two-week Northern Coasts military exercise in and off Finland’s coast, the largest war games ever staged in Finnish territorial waters.

Three months earlier the Finnish government presented a proposal to parliament to participate in the 25,000-troop, globally deployable NATO Response Force.

In the same month, June, Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb advocated a multinational deployment to the former Soviet Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan.

“The Nordic and Baltic countries are proposing a civilian rapid-reaction force be sent to southern Kyrgyzstan, where ethnic violence has left well over 100 people dead. Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb proposed the mission at [the June 14th] meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.” Stubb “compared the situation to that in Georgia in August 2008, when an international police mission was sent.” [18]

The first target of a NATO-EU Nordic-Baltic (inclusive of Poland) military intervention is likely to be Belarus.

In November Finnish President Tarja Halonen, Defense Minister Jyri Häkämies and Foreign Minister Stubb attended the NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal for strategy talks on the Afghan war.

Much the same situation obtains in Sweden [19], whose parliament last month extended the nation’s military deployment in Afghanistan and raised the troop ceiling from 500 to 855.

In fact what Al Burke at his Stop the Furtive Accession to NATO website [20] has assiduously argued and struggled against for years, the surreptitious accession of Sweden to NATO, has been proceeding steadily. A recent survey showed support for NATO membership more than doubling from 17 percent in 2005 to 35 percent in 2009. [21]

Last month Swedish Defense Minister Sten Tolgfors stated that “capital investments in defense will prioritize weapon procurement and infrastructure improvements to strengthen the military’s air and naval capability in the High North.”

He added that “Sweden intends to maintain 100 Gripen C/D combat and reconnaissance aircraft, a capability that is at least twice as large as its Nordic neighbors Finland, Norway and Denmark….Investments also are planned to strengthen Sweden’s conventional submarine fleet in 2011-2014 to ensure security in the High North.” [22] The ongoing program to modernize the country’s submarine fleet alone will cost $1.6 billion.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt stated at the Nordic Council meeting last November that “better Nordic-Baltic cooperation will strengthen the region’s position within the European Union and globally, and facilitate joint participation in peacekeeping.”

In his own words: “This region of Europe has everything to gain from a closer cooperation in defense between the Nordic countries and its Baltic neighbors. There are real issues, such as Arctic security, where such a cooperation will be advantageous.” [23]

The meeting also endorsed all its eight members (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Greenland, the Faroe Islands and the Aland Islands) joining the European Union Nordic Battle Group this year. The Nordic Battle Group currently consists of 1,600 troops from Sweden, 250 from Finland, 150 from Ireland and 100 from both Estonia and Norway. The last-named is not a member of the EU but is a NATO member state.

The Nordic contingent is one of 18 EU battlegroups which achieved full operational capacity on January 1, 2007 and are linked to NATO through the 1999 Berlin Plus agreement, “a comprehensive package of agreements between NATO and EU” which includes the provision of “NATO assets and capabilities” for EU missions. [24]

The Nordic Battle Group, which is “on stand-by for six months for deployment at five days’ notice to trouble spots around the world,” [25] has its headquarters in Sweden.

Last month the defense ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania met to “discuss defence cooperation among the Baltic States and relevant issues of NATO and regional cooperation with the Nordic countries.” They also deliberated over “developing joint air forces, special operations forces and energy security projects” and “the need to continue to develop and strengthen cooperation with the Nordic countries.”

“The ministers discussed the possibilities of improving conditions for the NATO contingents in the Baltic air space to ensure that this mission would involve more and more NATO countries.” [26] The reference is to the seven-year-old NATO Baltic Air Policing mission, subsumed under NATO Quick Reaction Alert and until the first of the year composed of U.S. F-15C Eagle fighters.

This month several high-level NATO officials travelled to Lithuania for the opening of a new Energy Security Centre in the capital. The facility, which “will contribute to international initiatives with a special emphasis on cooperation with NATO,” is to graduate to the level of a NATO Centre of Excellence like the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence established in nearby Estonia in 2008. [27]

The Baltic-Scandinavian region, especially the Arctic at its northernmost extreme, is the last spot on Earth where alleged threats from Iran, North Korea, al-Qaeda and pirates can be invoked to justify unprecedented military expansion and integration. That the latter is occurring at a breakneck pace belies NATO’s and the EU’s claims concerning the rationale for collaborating with the world’s sole military superpower both at home and throughout the world.

1) Ananyan Artyom, “Mini-NATO” – Dream in Polar fog
Voice of Russia, January 19, 2011
2) Ibid
3) Analys Norden, December 15, 2010
4) EUobserver, December 6, 2010
5) Ibid
6) Analys Norden, March 11, 2010
7) Analys Norden, December 12, 2010
8) Defense News, November 15, 2010
9) Ibid
10) Norwegian Ministry of Defence, November 12, 2010
11) Voice of Russia, January 19, 2011
12) Ilya Kramnik, Northern NATO: Tracking polar bears and Russians?
Russian Information Agency Novosti, January 21, 2011
13) House of Commons, November 8, 2010
14) NATO’s, Pentagon’s New Strategic Battleground: The Arctic
Stop NATO, February 2, 2009
15) Canada Opens Arctic To NATO, Plans Massive Weapons Buildup
Stop NATO, August 29, 2010
16) Afghan War: NATO Trains Finland, Sweden For Conflict With Russia
Stop NATO, July 26, 2009
17) Scandinavia And The Baltic Sea: NATO’s War Plans For The High North
Stop NATO, June 14, 2009
18) Finnish Broadcasting Company, June 14, 2010
19) Pentagon’s New Global Military Partner: Sweden
Stop NATO, August 25, 2010
20) Stop the Furtive Accession to NATO
End of Scandinavian Neutrality: NATO’s Militarization Of Europe
Stop NATO, April 10, 2009
21) NATO’S ‘Open Door’
Next Round of Enlargement May Turn North
Defense News, November 8, 2010
22) Sweden To Boost High North Air, Naval Defenses
Defense News, December 2, 2010
23) Defense News, November 15, 2011
24) Berlin Plus agreement
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Supreme Headquarters Allied Command Europe
25) RTE News, September 14, 2010
26) Baltic Course, December 17, 2010
27) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, January 14, 2011

Categories: Uncategorized

Washington To Rearm Georgia For New Conflicts

January 14, 2011 4 comments

January 14, 2011

Washington To Rearm Georgia For New Conflicts
Rick Rozoff

Recent reports in the Russian news media have detailed plans by the U.S. to provide the Mikheil Saakashvili government in Georgia with tens of millions of dollars worth of anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons.

The Russian government’s Itar-Tass news agency and Voice of Russia have confirmed the arms package with officials from the Russian special services and the Joint Staff of the armed forces.

An official from the second source responded to the proposed arms sale by stating: “We deeply regret that the reset of US-Russian relations declared by the administration of Barack Obama does not change anything in Washington’s military support for the Georgian leadership, which began the war in the Caucasus in August 2008 and which is continuing to mastermind aggressive plans against the independent states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.” [1]

The Georgian-South Ossetian-Russian war of 2008 was preceded by Georgian artillery barrages against the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali on August 1 which killed six people including a Russian peacekeeper stationed there.

That attack occurred within hours of 1,000 U.S. Marines, airborne forces and other troops completing the two-week Immediate Response 2008 North Atlantic Treaty Organization Partnership for Peace exercise in Georgia.

Six days afterward the Saakashvili regime launched an all-out assault against South Ossetia, timed to coincide with the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing.

American troops and military equipment remained in the war zone throughout the five days of fighting between Georgia and Russia which began after the latter nation reacted to the deaths of Russian peacekeepers and South Ossetian civilians (who overwhelmingly hold Russian passports) caused by the Georgian onslaught.

U.S. military transport aircraft ferried home 2,000 Georgian troops deployed to Iraq – the third largest national contingent after those of the U.S. and Britain at the time – as the fighting was still raging.

Five days after the war ended, Joseph Biden – then senator and chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, now vice president – rushed to the Georgian capital to support Saakashvili and offer $1 billion in “emergency aid” to the U.S. client.

After returning stateside, Biden, never reticent in respect to high-blown rhetorical excesses, stated:

“I left the country convinced that Russia’s invasion of Georgia may be…one of the most significant event[s] to occur in Europe since the end of communism….[T]he continuing presence of Russian forces in the country has severe implications for the broader region….Russia’s actions in Georgia will have consequences.”

Later in the month the U.S. dispatched the USS McFaul guided missile destroyer (part of the Aegis combat system designed to fire interceptor missiles), USS Mount Whitney (the flagship of the U.S. Sixth Fleet) and a Coast Guard cutter to the Georgian Black Sea coast, immediately south of Abkhazia and not much farther from the Russian shoreline. The heavily armed warships were, if one trusts Washington’s account of their mission, engaged in a humanitarian operation. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev accused the U.S. of bringing weapons into Georgia.

The American ships, joined by as many as fifteen other NATO vessels, and Russian opposite numbers deployed to the region were only some ninety miles apart.

Georgia’s head of state Mikheil Saakashvili, a graduate of Columbia Law School in New York City, was brought to power seven years ago on the back of an extra-constitutional putsch in 2003-2004 that he and his supporters and admirers in the West refer to as the Rose Revolution.

He remains the preeminent American political client in the world along with Kosovo’s prime minister and president presumptive Hashim Thaci, recently accused in a report to the Council of Europe of being the ringleader of a grisly crime syndicate that trafficked in narcotics, weapons and human organs extracted from at least 500 ethnic Serbian and other civilians murdered for that purpose. An empire can be judged by the satraps it arms and in other manners indulges.

After Saakashvili’s Pyrrhic attempt to eliminate the two barriers remaining to dragging his country into NATO – unresolved territorial disputes and the presence of foreign troops on its soil (at the time a small number of Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia and Abkhazia) – with the invasion of South Ossetia and following that an offensive against Abkhazia, the U.S. and NATO hastened to shore up their outpost in the South Caucasus.

In mid-September NATO’s Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and its North Atlantic Council (the permanent representatives – ambassadors – of all its 26 member states at the time) visited Georgia and, guided by the host country’s defense minister, inspected air force and infantry bases.

During the trip, the U.S.-controlled military bloc signed a framework agreement on creating the NATO-Georgia Commission, out of which developed an Annual National Program to further Georgia’s integration into the Alliance, an exceptional measure to circumvent the standard stages through which a candidate nation passes to achieve full NATO accession.

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded by issuing a statement that said in part:

“Instead of drawing serious conclusions about the failed attempt by Saakashvili to forcefully resolve the many-year-old conflict [with South Ossetia], NATO has again demonstrated its support towards his [Saakashvili’s] campaign of disinformation, and has promised to rebuild the military infrastructure of this country.” [2]

Washington followed suit in December when then-Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Bryza announced a framework agreement on a U.S.-Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership, which was formalized by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze in Washington on January 9, 2009.

In October of 2008 Washington deployed the destroyer USS Mason to Georgia for training exercises and in the same month the Georgian defense minister met with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on the sidelines of a NATO defense chiefs meeting in Hungary, after which it was announced that “U.S. military assistance will be aimed at strengthening Georgian air defenses.” [3]

At the same time the Pentagon sent “an assessment team to Georgia to determine what role the US should play in rebuilding that country’s military after its military conflict with Russia last August.

“After the assessment, Pentagon officials will review how the United States will be able to support the reconstruction of Georgia, including armed forces aid.” [4]

Toward the end of the month a delegation headed by Frank Boland, head of Force Planning for the NATO Defense Policy and Planning Directorate, visited Georgia to meet with the country’s top defense and military officials and prepare the nation for the next stage of NATO integration.

The month before, only weeks after the war had ended, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “Georgia, like any sovereign country, should have the ability to defend itself and deter renewed aggression, and there should be not be any question about whether Georgia is entitled to military assistance from the United States or, indeed, from NATO or any of the NATO allies.”

President George Bush supported Biden’s call for $1 billion worth of non-military aid to Georgia, which at the time was remarked would “dwarf the 63 million dollars that Washington provided to Georgia last year. Excluding Iraq, the infusion would make Georgia one of the largest recipients of American foreign aid after Israel and Egypt.” [5] Georgia has a population of 4.6 million, Egypt of 80 million.

Until now, however, the U.S. has been cautious about rebuilding and upgrading Georgia’s military arsenal or at least acknowledging that it is doing so. If recent reports prove true, Georgia is to receive a large quantity of high-tech weapons from the U.S., including surface-to-air missile complexes, Stinger and other portable surface-to-air missiles, Javelin third generation guided missiles and Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, the latter two designed for penetrating armor.

Three weeks ago South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity warned that “Georgia only pays lip service to peace, continues to rearm and refuses to sign non-aggression pacts that can avert another South Caucasus war.” [6]

According to Russian military expert Victor Baranets, “Georgia is buying anti-missile and anti-tank weapons because the 2008 war showed that these are weak points of the Georgian army.” [7]

In short, the U.S. will provide precisely the weapons Tbilisi needs for a new assault against South Ossetia and a new war with Russia.

Saakashvili is now in Washington, where “the purchase of weapons will be the main topic of his talks with American leaders.” His trip is centered on attending a memorial to the late White House Afghanistan-Pakistan special representative Richard Holbrooke in Washington, D.C. on December 14 at which President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will pay tribute to the deceased.

On January 12 Saakashvili became the first foreign leader to meet with the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner. The latter released a statement after the meeting which said:

“The American people will continue to stand with others struggling for democracy over the forces of despotism, dignity over degradation, and freedom over subjugation.” [8] His statement also expressed appreciation to Georgia for supplying the Pentagon with 2,000 troops for the war in Iraq and 1,000 so far for that in Afghanistan.

The Georgian leader met with other lawmakers, including Senator Joseph Lieberman, upon whom he bestowed the St. George’s Victory Order. Saakashvili announced last month that he – not the mayor of Tbilisi – would named a street in his nation’s capital after Holbrooke, a “trusted friend and confidant” who co-authored a piece in the Washington Post during the 2008 war denouncing what he termed the “full-scale Russian invasion of Georgia.”

While Washington’s favorite foreign head of state is being hailed and regaled with attention and praise in the capital, his foreign minister referred to a recent agreement between Abkhazia and Russia as “fascism.” [9]

The day before he arrived in the U.S., Saakashvili said in an interview to a Ukrainian television station:

“As for NATO, I am absolutely convinced that this is just a matter of time.”

“Nobody can ensure their security on their own, especially small countries, but I think this concerns Ukraine as well,” he added.

After seven years of mercurial, megalomaniacal, adventurist, dictatorial and murderous rule [10], Saakashvili remains the Washington political establishment’s pampered darling ne plus ultra.

At the NATO summit in November of last year, President Obama met privately with him the day before the NATO-Russia Council meeting with President Medvedev occurred.

Last July Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Georgia as Saakashvili’s guest and lambasted Russia for “occupying” Abkhazia and South Ossetia, described as Georgian territories although neither has ever been part of an independent Georgia. In her own words: “We, the United States, was appalled, and totally rejected the invasion and occupation of Georgian territory. I was in the Senate at the time, and, along with my colleagues and the prior Administration, made that view very clear. We continue to speak out, as I have on this trip, against the continuing occupation.” [11]

At a joint press conference with Georgian Prime Minister Nikoloz Gilauri ahead of the second omnibus meeting of the U.S.-Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership in October, she stated:

“The relationship between Georgia and the United States stands on a foundation of shared values and common interests….The United States will not waver in its support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. That support is a core principle of our Charter on Strategic Partnership, and it is fundamental to our bilateral relationship.”

“The United States remains committed to Georgia’s aspirations for membership in NATO, as reflected in the Alliance’s decisions in Bucharest and Strasbourg-Kehl. We strongly support Georgia’s efforts related to its Annual National Program, which promotes defense reform and guides cooperation with NATO. And we continue to support Georgia’s efforts on defense reform and improving defense capabilities, including NATO interoperability and Georgia’s contributions to ISAF operations in Afghanistan.”

“We continue to call on Russia to end its occupation of Georgian territory, withdraw its forces, and abide by its other commitments under the 2008 ceasefire agreements.” [12]

Her comments led the government of Abkhazia to challenge her to acknowledge countries like Afghanistan and Iraq as American-occupied territories.

Later in the month a NATO delegation inspected the Krtsanisi National Training Center and its Simulation Training Center – built by the U.S. – in Georgia (where U.S. Marines have trained Georgian soldiers and where three Georgian soldiers were killed and thirteen wounded in an explosion this month) as part of NATO Days events in the nation.

Also in October, Italian Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, chairman of the NATO Military Committee, visited the Krtsanisi National Training Center and the simulation facility to view training exercises of the Georgian battalion that would replace one serving under NATO command in Afghanistan. He also toured the newly established NATO Liaison Office in the Georgian capital.

In November Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Phillip Gordon told BBC: “We…recognize Georgia’s sovereignty and integrity. We are absolutely clear with Russia, we disagree on Georgia. [W]e want to see an end to Russian occupation and…we stand by Georgia`s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” [13]

At the same time Georgian Deputy Minister of Defense Nikoloz Vashakidze was sequestered with top U.S. officials in closed-door meetings at the Pentagon. The “negotiations were held within the framework agreement on cooperation in the defence sector between the US and Georgia.” [14]

As the Georgian deputy defense chief was in Washington, South Ossetian First Deputy Foreign Minister Alan Pliev warned:

“We are concerned about Georgia’s intention to increase its military capacities. Now Georgia is planning to buy a number of Merkava 4 Israeli tanks, which are clearly not meant for defensive action.

“The activation of the Georgian Defense Ministry, increased flights of Georgian drones near the borders of South Ossetia, as well as the maniacal opposition to signing a non-aggression agreement give rise to the reasonable assumption of a newly designed bloody venture by Georgian authorities.” [15]

The official also stated that due to assistance from the U.S. and other NATO states the military-technical capacity of the Georgian armed forces currently exceeds that at the start of the war in 2008.

On November 16 the NATO Parliamentary Assembly met in Poland and passed a resolution referring to Abkhazia and South Ossetia as “occupied territories.”

The Abkhazian Foreign Ministry issued a statement in response which included the following:

“The Abkhazian party considers this biased interpretation of the events yet another manifestation of NATO’s pro-Georgian position.

“NATO is an organization that has been contributing to the intensive militarization of Georgia for many years, stirring up the revanchist mindset of the Georgian leadership, which led to the August 2008 bloodshed in South Ossetia.” [16]

At their meeting during the Lisbon NATO summit, Obama “thanked his Georgian counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili for his country’s participation in NATO-led international peace efforts in Afghanistan and reaffirmed the United States’ support of Georgia’s territorial integrity.” [17]

Saakashvili offered more troops for the war in Afghanistan, pledged that his nation’s contingent would remain there as long as NATO does, confirmed that Obama backed his country becoming a full NATO member (“President Obama has supported Georgia’s course that will lead it to joining NATO”) and said that the NATO summit declaration cleared the way for Georgia to join the military bloc without the customary Membership Action Plan requirement.

The Lisbon summit declaration affirms that NATO will “continue and develop the partnerships with Ukraine and Georgia within the NATO-Ukraine and NATO-Georgia Commissions, based on the NATO decision at the Bucharest summit 2008, and taking into account the Euro-Atlantic orientation or aspiration of each of the countries.”

On December 1, at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Kazakhstan, during which she met privately with Saakashvili, Hillary Clinton advocated “a meaningful OSCE presence in Georgia.” In 1998 and until NATO’s war against Yugoslavia commenced in March of the following year her husband’s administration employed the OSCE’s Kosovo Verification Mission, under the control of the notorious William Walker, to set the stage for the 78-day bombing of Yugoslavia and the wresting of Kosovo from Serbia. [18]

Also early last month, the NATO-Georgia Commission met in Brussels and Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister and Secretary of the National Security Council Giga Bokeria, representing his country at the meeting, stated:

“The resolution of the summit says that NATO continues to assist Georgia in carrying out reforms, recognizes its territorial integrity and sovereignty, and calls on Russia to abolish the decision in connection with recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”

Afterwards, “issues of cooperation between Georgia and NATO were discussed at the headquarters of the Alliance, at a meeting of the Georgian National Security Council’s Secretary Gigi Bokeria and the NATO Deputy Secretary General.

“The NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the South Caucasus James Appathurai attended the meeting in his new status.” [19]

As a footnote, “In 2003, after a visit to Serbia to study peaceful revolution techniques, Bokeria helped bring Serb activists from the youth movement Otpor to Georgia to train students in the same techniques. As a result, the youth movement ‘Kmara’ was established, which played a leading role in the November 2003 Rose Revolution.” [20]

On December 3 the U.S. ambassador to Georgia, John Bass, was quoted as affirming: “The United States remains firmly committed to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We enjoy a strong defense relationship, defense cooperation, and we’re currently working closely with the Ministry of Defense and other Ministries in Georgia to improve Georgia’s ability to defend itself.” [21]

Three days later Bass visited the Krtsanisi National Training Center and “also took a tour of the Simulation Center and attended model exercises on the ground.” [22]

The American envoy is routinely present at send-off and welcoming ceremonies for U.S. Marine Corps-trained Georgian troops deployed to Afghanistan.

In fact the Pentagon instituted the Georgia Train and Equip Program in 2002, first under Green Beret, then Marine, control in 2002 and later the Georgian Sustainment and Stability Operations Program three years later.

While still commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, General James Conway visited Georgia in August of 2009 to inaugurate the latest Marine training of the host country’s armed forces. At the time Associated Press reported that when asked if the preparation could be applied “to the possibility of another war with Russia,” he answered, “In general, yes.”

Last September Saakashvili addressed cadets graduating from a new training center at the Kutaisi Military Base and stated:

“[S]omeone may say: ‘we have so many problems, our territories are occupied and there is no time now for going somewhere else to fight.’ But because of these very same problems that we have, we need huge combat experience…and that [Afghan mission] is a unique combat and war school.” [23]

On December 9 Associated Press, reporting on an interview with Georgian Vice Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze, stated he was “raising the issue [of a “road map” to full NATO membership] in Washington this week with the Obama administration.” He further “said Georgia already behaves as if it were a member of NATO.”

On the same day a bill crafted and introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Lindsey Graham, co-chairs of the Atlantic Council Task Force on Georgia, called “A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate with respect to the territorial integrity of Georgia and the situation within Georgia’s internationally recognized borders,” was presented to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. It refers to Abkhazia and South Ossetia as Georgian territories “occupied by the Russian Federation.”

The next day Shaheen’s and Graham’s colleague Senator John McCain spoke at a conference titled “Forging a Transatlantic Consensus on Russia” at the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at which he demanded the resumption and increase of arms sales to Georgia, stating:

“For two years, mostly out of deference to Russia, defensive arms sales have not been authorized for Georgia. This has to change. At a minimum we should provide Georgia with early warning radars and other basic capabilities to strengthen its defenses.

“Our allies in central and eastern Europe view Georgia as a test case of whether the United States will stand by them or not. Russia views Georgia as a test case, too – of how much it can get away with in Georgia, and if there then elsewhere. It is the policy of our government to support Georgia’s aspiration to join NATO.” [24]

Afterward, Robert Pszczel, the new director of the NATO Information Office in Moscow and formerly acting NATO Deputy Spokesman, confirmed that “NATO will continue its Eastward enlargement policy” and that “The NATO-Georgia Commission continues its work.” [25]

In mid-December U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Alexander Vershbow and Georgia’s Vice Prime Minister and State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration Giorgi Baramidze met in Washington to plan Georgia’s NATO accession. The Georgian official stated afterward that “Meeting with Vershbow is very important, as he is actively engaged in the issues of NATO enlargement, as well as personally ensuring Georgia’s accession into the alliance.” [26]

Baramidze, who studied at Georgetown University and was the country’s defense minister in 2004, also met with members of the U.S. Senate on the bill discussed above.
U.S. troops were in Georgia during the five-day war with Russia in 2008 and later in the same month American warships were docked in the country’s ports as ships from the Russian Black Sea Fleet were deployed within firing range.

Never before have military forces from the world’s two major nuclear powers been on opposing sides of a battle line during wartime.

By increasing the provision of sophisticated weaponry to Georgia, Washington is taunting Russia on its southern border and running the risk of a military conflict that may draw it into a direct confrontation with its main nuclear rival.

1) Voice of Russia, January 11, 2011
2) Civil Georgia, September 17, 2008
3) Civil Georgia, October 9, 2008
4) Voice of Russia, October 14, 2008
5) Ibid
6) Voice of Russia, December 22, 2010
7) Voice of Russia, January 12, 2011
8) Civil Georgia, January 13, 2011
9) Rustavi 2, January 13, 2011
10) Georgia: Simulating War Or Provoking It?
Stop NATO, March 16, 2010
11) U.S. Department of State, July 5, 2010
Clinton Renews U.S. Claims On Former Soviet Space
Stop NATO, July 7, 2010
12) Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton And Georgian Prime Minister
Nikoloz Gilauri At the U.S.-Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership
Omnibus Meeting
U.S. Department of State. October 6, 2011
13) Rustavi 2, November 11, 2010
14) Rustavi 2, November 11, 2010
15) RES Information Agency, November 13, 2010
16) Russian Information Agency Novosti, November 18, 2010
17) Russian Information Agency Novosti, November 20, 2010
18) Civil Georgia, December 1, 2010
19) Trend News Agency, December 2, 2010
20) Wikipedia
21) Civil Georgia, December 3, 2010
22) Ministry of Defence of Georgia, December 6, 2010
23) Civil Georgia, September 13, 2010
24) Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies,
December 10, 2010
25) Itar-Tass, December 13, 2010
26) Trend News Agency, December 14, 2010

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S. Enlists Japan As Global Military Partner

January 12, 2011 3 comments

January 12, 2011

U.S. Enlists Japan As Global Military Partner
Rick Rozoff 

During the preceding week the U.S.’s top military officer identified Asia as the central focus of the Pentagon’s attention in the world, U.S. warships joined Japanese counterparts in military maneuvers in the East China Sea for the second time in a month, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in East Asia on a trip that began in China and will end in Japan and South Korea on January 14.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara at the State Department on January 6 after summoning him and South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan to Foggy Bottom a month earlier and holding a joint press conference with Maehara in Hawaii in late October. Following the last-named event, Clinton toured the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and met with Admiral Robert Willard, head of U.S. Pacific Command, before embarking on a trip to the Asia-Pacific region that took her to Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia from October 27 to November 8. In the last two countries she renewed, strengthened and expanded military ties with her hosts. [1]

Clinton’s meetings with her Japanese and South Korean opposite numbers, dealing in large part as they did with the conflict on the Korean Peninsula, intentionally – indeed brazenly – circumvented the six-party talks format which also includes North Korea, China and Russia. On October 27 she assured the Japanese foreign minister the U.S. viewed the Chinese-Japanese dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu island chain as covered by the Article 5 military assistance clause of the 1960 U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, and five days later her spokesman Philip Crowley referred to Russia’s South Kuril Islands as the Northern Territories, the term used by Japan, which lays claims to them. [2]

During the recent Clinton-Maehara meeting, the participants “agreed to boost security cooperation” and announced that “the goals for cooperation will be revealed during Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s visit to the U.S. in spring.” [3]

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen visited the capitals of South Korea and Japan on December 8 and 9 where he campaigned for both a tighter and deeper trilateral military partnership with his hosts and the forging of a Japanese-South Korean defense alliance. He advocated that South Korea and Japan accelerate that cooperation without being “hung up on what’s happened in the past,” a reference to the hundredth anniversary of Japan’s post-invasion annexation of Korea in 1910. He also “proposed joint military drills among South Korea, Japan and the U.S….” [4]

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mullen meeting with Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa in Tokyo on December 9, 2010

At the beginning of this month the Japanese foreign minister affirmed his nation’s commitment to forming the first military links between Japan and South Korea, stating: “We hope to conclude an alliance with South Korea to ensure security.” [5]

At the same time an official at the South Korean Defense Ministry confirmed Maehara’s assertion in revealing that Seoul and Tokyo intend to sign a defense agreement. “The pact, if signed, will open a new chapter in the development of military relations between South Korea and Japan,” he stated.

The South Korean news source from which the above is extracted added that “the U.S. has been urging the two neighbors to build a stronger military relationship.” [6]

On January 10 the defense ministers of Japan and South Korea, Toshimi Kitazawa and Kim Kwan-jin, met in the South Korean capital to plan “future-oriented” joint military relations and to “start discussing two pacts designed to facilitate their ties.” [7]

The defense chiefs signed a General Security of Military Information Agreement and an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement, the first providing for the pooling of intelligence and the second for exchanging military supplies for so-called peacekeeping missions – which is how Japanese and South Korean troop deployments to Iraq after 2003 and military assistance for the war in Afghanistan (troops from South Korea and ships from Japan) have been characterized – and military exercises.

The efforts of Admiral Mullen, Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Defense Gates have borne fruit.

The U.S. has led almost monthly naval war games in East Asia since late last July, when Mullen, Clinton and Gates visited South Korea for the sixtieth anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War, with the last two traveling to the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas.

USS George Washington

The USS George Washington nuclear-powered supercarrier and its assigned carrier and expeditionary strike groups have participated in exercises in the Sea of Japan (East Sea), South China Sea, Yellow Sea and East Sea in that interim.

The Yellow Sea is bordered on the north and west by China, which maintains a 300-mile exclusive economic zone off its coasts there, and the Sea of Japan is abutted by the Russian port city of Vladivostok and reaches to oil-rich Sakhalin island, the southern part of which Japan owned until the end of the Second World War.

Last month the U.S. and Japan conducted the latest Keen Sword naval exercise in the East China Sea, which encompasses the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. It was the largest U.S.-Japanese joint military operation ever held, with 44,000 troops, 400 aircraft and over 60 ships, including USS George Washington. It also (deliberately) corresponded with the half-century anniversary of the U.S.-Japan mutual defense treaty.

USS Carl Vinson

On January 10 the two nations reprised the drills on a more modest scale, with the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and the destroyers USS Gridley and USS Stockdale joining the Japanese destroyer JS Kurama and helicopters from both nations in naval maneuvers in the East China Sea. The three American warships, joined by the guided missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill, then headed for South Korea. Vinson and Bunker Hill visited Busan, where last October the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen participated in the first Proliferation Security Initiative [8] exercise hosted by South Korea. In all ten warships and fourteen nations – including Australia, Canada, France and Italy – participated in what was codenamed Eastern Endeavour 2010.

Since the sinking of the Korean corvette Cheonan last March and President Obama’s upbraiding of Chinese President Hu Jintao over the incident three months later [9], the official rationale for regular U.S. war games in East Asia have been the actions of North Korea.

But the deployment of an Aegis class warship capable of launching Standard Missile-3 anti-ballistic missiles – USS Lassen – off the coast of South Korea in a drill nominally aimed at monitoring the “trafficking of weapons of mass destruction” and the dispatching of one of the U.S.’s eleven nuclear supercarriers to the East and South China Seas have nothing to do with putative threats from Pyongyang.

Confirmation of that fact recently appeared in an unlikely location. The official armed forces publication Stars and Stripes ran a feature on January 11 entitled “China real reason for South Korea, Japan military pact?”

Referring to the preliminary military agreements reached by Japan and South Korea the day before, the newspaper stated that “The top two U.S. allies in Asia are inching toward greater military cooperation,” in “an incremental but important development in Asian defense cooperation with an eye toward China.”

It quoted Denny Roy of the East-West Center, a think tank established by the U.S. Congress in 1960, as asserting: “South Korea-Japan (military) cooperation has more implications for China than the Korean peninsula. North Korea provides the political excuse for what would otherwise be a strategic move” against China. “It’s a fig leaf.”

The Stars and Stripes article added: “Should conflict erupt on the Korean peninsula, Japan would likely play a crucial role in U.S. and South Korean combat efforts, experts said.

“South Korea and Japan sent observers to participate in each other’s military exercises with the U.S. last year, a development viewed as an important step toward deeper military cooperation.” [10]

Japan deployed military observers to the U.S.-South Korea Invincible Spirit war games in the Sea of Japan in July and South Korea returned the favor during the Keen Sword 2011 exercise in the East China Sea in December.

Invincible Spirit

Keen Sword 2011

The South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh also reflected on the groundbreaking Japanese-South Korean military agreements signed on January 10, warning:

“A military pact between South Korea and Japan is problematic first and foremost because it legitimizes Japanese military expansion. Tokyo has been striving for some time to broaden the range of activity for the JSDF [Japan Self-Defense Forces]. In 1999, it enacted the Surrounding Situation Act, and has recently been mulling over an amendment of the law in connection with collective self-defense rights. The attempt to form a military pact with South Korea is part of this current. For example, the proposed agreement on munitions support would allow the two countries’ armed forces to loan out food, water, and fuel during times of emergency. Naturally, this would bolster the expansion of the range of JSDF activity.

“Moreover, Japan has recently been inquiring about dispatching forces to the Korean Peninsula in a time of emergency. Some time ago, Prime Minister Naoto Kan raised the possibility of the JSDF operating in North Korea and South Korea, on the pretext of rescuing Japanese refugees and abduction victims. At this point, our country should have grilled Japan on its true intentions at yesterday’s talks and strongly demanded that the misguided notion be withdrawn.

“There are also major concerns that military cooperation between South Korea and Japan will further develop the New Cold War structure taking shape in Northeast Asia. To date, the United States has been in the middle urging stronger military cooperation between Seoul and Tokyo, and Japan has actively welcomed this. The reason for this is that the strategic interests of those two countries coincide in their intent to curb Beijing.”

The paper’s editorial also penetratingly remarked on the consequences of the U.S.-Japan-South Korea military axis arrogantly excluding the other three members of the six-party format:

“It is not at all a desirable outcome for [South Korea] if military cooperation with the United States and Japan leads to stronger military cooperation among North Korea, China, and Russia and the Korean Peninsula becomes a stage for confrontation between these two sets of forces.” [11]

Confrontation – armed conflict and in the worst case war – is precisely what is being prepared for and which may be precipitated by Washington’s consolidation of the tripartite military alliance.

The National Defense Program Guidelines for 2011 adopted by the Japanese Ministry of Defense last month identified its major regional concerns as follows:

“North Korea’s nuclear and missile issues are immediate and grave destabilizing factors to the regional security.

“Military modernization by China and its insufficient transparency are of concern for the regional and global community.

“Russia’s military activities are increasingly robust.” [12]

According to the Japanese press, Tokyo’s new military strategy has shifted to “a posture that can effectively deal with possible contingencies on Japan’s vulnerable southern islands and China’s growing military presence.” [13]

An appendix to the guidelines details plans to increase the nation’s submarines from 16 to 22, acquire next-generation fighter jets and add to the number of Aegis class destroyers equipped with Standard Missile-3 interceptor missiles from the present four. [14] (South Korea has recently awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin to outfit another of its warships with Aegis missile defense technology. The third such destroyer is to be sea-ready next month.)

Japan will then equip all its six Aegis destroyers with Standard Missile-3 interceptors, and “Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptor missiles will be deployed at air bases nationwide,” [15] including those at Aibano, Ashiya, Gifu, Hakusan, Hamamatsu, Iruma, Kasuga, Kasumigaura, Narashino, Takaradai, Takeyama and Tsuiki.

The U.S. already maintains a Patriot battery at the Kadena Air Base on Okinawa.

In the meeting between Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Maehara earlier this month, the two sides “agreed to establish new common strategic goals for the Asia-Pacific region and other parts of the world.”

They also concurred that “the six-party talks on North Korea’s denuclearization and bilateral talks between Washington and Pyongyang can resume only if the North stops its provocative actions and takes concrete steps to abandon its nuclear program,” a rude rebuff to Chinese and Russian efforts to resume the talks without preconditions. China and Russia share borders with North Korea and can ill afford the consequences resulting from the further destabilization of the peninsula.

Clinton said that U.S.-Japanese collaboration should include the “full range of global and strategic issues, from nuclear proliferation to maritime security.” [16]

Japan will soon send a delegation of military officials to the U.S. to inspect Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles for acquisition “at a time of heightened tensions with neighbouring China and North Korea.”

“The defense ministry will start fully fledged research in the next fiscal year starting April, and intends to make a final decision on whether to deploy such aircraft by the end of fiscal 2015.” [17]

Global Hawks fly at an altitude of 60,000 feet, can survey up to 40,000 square miles of territory a day, and cost $35 million apiece.

The day Clinton met with the country’s foreign minister, it was reported that Japan will “move the command post for its missile defense system from a Self-Defense Force facility to a US airbase this year.”

Japan’s Defense Ministry said that “the plan will see the Air Self-Defense Force Command in Fuchu, Tokyo move into the compound of the US Yokota airbase in the same city.

“The shift will begin in March and is expected to be complete within the year. [T]he move will help the Self-Defense Force improve its speed of detection and response to incoming missiles identified by US early-warning satellites….” [18]

On January 10 the Japanese press disclosed that the “government will approve the transfer by the United States of next-generation antimissile missiles currently under joint Japan-U.S. development to third-party countries,” in the most fragrant violation yet of the constitutional prohibition against so-called collective self-defense.

The initiative will permit “the United States to have…SM-3 [Standard Missile-3] Block IIA missiles deployed in Europe and other parts of the world” and is “aimed at showing Japan’s resolve to deepen its alliance with the United States, several government sources have revealed.

“The Obama administration has been seeking Japan’s accord on deployment of the next-generation missiles, which are being developed primarily to beef up Japanese, U.S. and European missile defense networks.” [19]

Standard Missile-3 launch

What Japan and the U.S. are collaborating on is the deployment of dozens of SM-3 missiles adapted for land-based deployments (as part of what the U.S. calls the Aegis Ashore program) in Romania, Poland and other nations on and near Russia’s western borders.

At the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Lisbon, Portugal in November, the 28-member military bloc endorsed U.S. plans to place the European continent under an American-dominated interceptor missile shield.

The SM-3 is the interceptor missile heart of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System developed by the Pentagon, which has as its only partner to date the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

In 2007, 2008 and again in October of last year Japanese Aegis class warships launched SM-3s in tests run from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii. In the most recent test, the recently upgraded JDS Kirishima guided missile destroyer fired an SM-3 100 miles over the Pacific to destroy a ballistic missile target, a “significant milestone in the growing cooperation between Japan and the U.S. in the area of missile defense.” [20]

Tokyo’s new National Defense Program Guidelines mandate equipping all six of its Aegis class warships with SM-3s as observed earlier.

JDS Kirishima Aegis class destroyer

In addition to rendering the U.S. services for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Japan is also planning to become the first non-NATO nation to join the Pentagon in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti by opening its first overseas military base since World War Two. [21]

Japan’s military partnership with the U.S. will include joint endeavors in three continents – Asia, Europe and Africa – and the Middle East and the Arabian Sea.

On January 5 one of the main architects of heightened U.S.-Japan and U.S.-Japan-South Korea strategic military integration, Admiral Michael Mullen, released his Joint Chiefs of Staff’s guidance for 2011, “relaying the admiral’s priorities and strategic objectives for the year.” [22]

The document addresses Pentagon plans for the world and these component policies:

-“We will contribute to stability and defend our vital national interests in the broader Middle East and South Central Asia.

-“Over the last year, the balance of our resources and effort shifted from the war in Iraq to the one in Afghanistan.

“We must continue to transition well in Iraq and lay the foundation for a long-term partnership between our two countries.

“This transition in Iraq has allowed us to alter our posture and focus in the Gulf and in the Levant.”

-“The most significant threat to regional stability remains an Iranian regime that seeks the development of nuclear weapons, even as it continues to support terrorist organizations and acts throughout the broader Middle East.

“Accordingly, and in keeping with the President’s National Security Strategy, we will reassure our partners and allies through our efforts to build their defense capabilities and capacity.

“We will continue to plan for a broad range of military options should the President decide to use force to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear arms. Pursuant to that, we will maintain – as we have maintained – a robust force presence in the Gulf region.”

-“We face additional challenges and opportunities elsewhere around the globe. We must continue to support local efforts to combat the extremist threat that emanates from places like Somalia, Yemen and North Africa.”

-“In Europe, we will…implement a new NATO Strategic Concept by placing increased emphasis on cyber security, ballistic missile defense, and nonproliferation.”

And, most saliently:

“In the response to an aggressive North Korea and a more assertive China, our efforts to balance risk have increasingly focused on Asia.

“We will be prepared to support and defend our freedom of navigation and access to the global commons. Our partners and allies are our greatest strategic asset in the region. We will work with them to conduct multilateral exercises and operations….” [23]

At the forefront of the Pentagon’s strategic assets in the Asia-Pacific area and increasingly far beyond is Japan.

1) Obama, Gates And Clinton In Asia: U.S. Expands Military Build-Up In
The East

Stop NATO, November 7, 2010
2) U.S. Supports Japan, Confronts China And Russia Over Island

Stop NATO, November 4, 2010
3) Russian Information Agency Novosti, January 7, 2011
4) Yonhap News, January 4, 2011
5) Russian Information Agency Novosti, January 3, 2011
6) Yonhap News, January 4, 2011
7) Xinhua News Agency, January 10, 2011
8) Proliferation Security Initiative And U.S. 1,000-Ship Navy: Control
Of World’s Oceans, Prelude To War

Stop NATO, January 29, 2009
9) U.S. Risks Military Clash With China In Yellow Sea
Stop NATO, July 16, 2010
10) Stars and Stripes, January 11, 2011
11) Hankyoreh, January 11, 2011
12) Summary of National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG), FY 2011
13) Asahi Shimbun December 11, 2011
14) U.S. Builds Military Alliance With Japan, South Korea For War In
The East

Stop NATO, December 14, 2010
15) Kyodo News, December 11, 2010
16) Japan Times, January 11, 2011
17) Radio Netherlands/Yomiuri Shimbun, December 30, 2010
18) Japan Broadcasting Corporation
Monitored by Kuwait News Agency
January 6, 2011
19) Yomiuri Shimbun, January 10, 2011
20) Global Security Newswire, October 30, 2010
21) Japanese Military Joins U.S. And NATO In Horn Of Africa
Stop NATO, April 25, 2010
22) Department of Defense, January 5, 2011
23) GJCS Guidance for 2011

Categories: Uncategorized

Militarization Of Energy Policy: U.S. Africa Command And Gulf Of Guinea

January 8, 2011 2 comments

January 8, 2011

Militarization Of Energy Policy: U.S. Africa Command And Gulf Of Guinea
Rick Rozoff

At the beginning of the century, while the United States was still embroiled in military interventions in the Balkans and had launched what would become the longest war in its history in Afghanistan with the invasion of Iraq to follow, it was also laying the groundwork for subordinating the African continent to a new military command.

With 4.5 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. accounts for approximately 30 percent of crude oil consumption. Although the world’s third largest producer of crude, it imports over 60 percent of what it consumes (12.4 of 20.7 million barrels it uses daily). A decade ago 15 percent of those imports came from the Gulf of Guinea region on Africa’s Atlantic Ocean coast, mainly from Nigeria, and it is projected that the proportion will increase to 25 percent in the next four years.

The National Energy Policy Report issued by the Office of Vice President Richard Cheney on May 16, 2001 stated: “West Africa is expected to be one of the fastest-growing sources of oil and gas for the American market. African oil tends to be of high quality and low in sulfur…giving it a growing market share for refining centers on the East Coast of the U.S.”

The following year, the Washington, D.C.-based African Oil Policy Initiative Group conducted a symposium entitled “African Oil: A Priority for U. S. National Security and African Development,” with the participation of American legislators, policy advisers, the private sector and representatives of the State Department and Defense Department, at which Congressman William Jefferson said:

“African oil should be treated as a priority for U.S. national security post 9-11. I think that…post 9-11 it’s occurred to all of us that our traditional sources of oil are not as secure as we thought they were.”

As is customary in regards to American foreign policy objectives, the Pentagon was charged with taking responsibility. It immediately went to work on undertaking three initiatives to implement U.S. energy strategy in the Gulf of Guinea: U.S. Africa Command, the first overseas military command inaugurated since 1983. The U.S. Navy’s Africa Partnership Station as what has developed into the major component of the Global Fleet Station, linked with worldwide maritime operations like the 1,000-ship navy and the Proliferation Security Initiative and piloted in the area of responsibility of U.S. Southern Command and the U.S. Fourth Fleet reactivated in 2008: The Caribbean Sea and Central and South America. The NATO Response Force designed for rapid multi-service (army, air force, navy and marine) deployments outside of the bloc’s North American-European area of responsibility.

USS Nashville on Africa Partnership Station mission in 2009

In recent weeks Ghana joined the ranks of African oil producers, pumping crude oil for the first time from an offshore field in the Gulf of Guinea.

“The Jubilee oil field, discovered three years ago, holds an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of oil, and will begin producing around 55,000 barrels per day in the coming weeks. Oil production is expected, however, to rise to about 120,000 barrels over the next six months, making the country Africa’s seventh largest oil producer.” [1]

The Ghanaian oil exploitation is run by a consortium led by Tullow Oil plc, which is based in London and has 85 contracts in 22 countries.

The same source quoted above added:

“The Gulf of Guinea increasingly represents an important source of oil, with the US estimating that it will supply over a quarter of American oil by 2015. It has already sent US military trainers to the region to help local navies to secure shipping.

“Nearby Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Congo Republic are already exporting oil from the Gulf, while Liberia and Sierra Leone remain hopeful of joining the club.”

In March of 2010 95 U.S. Marines led by General Paul Brier, commander of U.S. Marine Forces Africa, deployed to the Bundase Training Camp in the Ghanaian capital of Accra for a three-week exercise with the armed forces of the host country, “part of the Africa Partnership Station,” which also included the participation of the USS Gunston Hall dock landing ship and “embarked international staff” in the Gulf of Guinea.

U.S. Marines conduct training at jungle warfare center in Ghana in 2005

According to the government of Ghana, “The US and Ghana [are] at the highest level, work together and at the military level inter-operate, train together, share ideas and skills and…it is important for the two countries’ militaries to come together so that Ghana can be at par with the US Army.” [2]

Washington’s energy strategy in regards to West Africa is a reflection of its international policy of not only gaining access to but control over hydrocarbon supplies and delivery to other nations, in particular to those countries importing the largest amount of oil and natural gas next to the U.S. itself: China, Japan, India, South Korea and the nations of the European Union.

While, for example, Chinese companies are expanding oil exploration in the African nation of Chad and are embarked on a program to build the country’s first refinery and a 300-kilometer pipeline, a U.S-led consortium has been extracting oil in the south of Chad and sending it by pipeline through Cameroon to the Gulf of Guinea, paralleling U.S. strategy in the Caspian Sea Basin vis-a-vis Russia and Iran.

Late last year the Atlantic Council, the preeminent pro-NATO think tank on either side of the Atlantic [3], co-released a report entitled “Advancing U.S., African, and Global Interests: Security and Stability in the West African Maritime Domain.” It proceeds from the fact that “The Gulf of Guinea is at the brink of becoming a greater supplier of energy to the United States than the Persian Gulf and is therefore of far higher strategic importance than has historically been the case.”

The report recommends enhanced U.S. government concentration on “a vital region to maintaining U.S. energy security, prosperity, and homeland security.”

It also calls for a higher level of integration between U.S. and European nations – that is, NATO and European Union member states – in respect to Africa, and promotes the following programmatic goals:

The establishment of “an interagency coordinating body to conduct strategic planning, oversee implementation and track progress in West African maritime security assistance and performance.”

Working with local security organizations like the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) and its affiliated African Standby Force brigade on “a comprehensive proof of concept pilot project…to develop the capabilities and conditions necessary for securing the maritime domain as a model for the region.”

Setting up a Gulf of Guinea coastal naval operation, “including the sharing of assets, establishment of joint operations centers, and assignment of key functions and centers of excellence.”

And to expand and deepen the work of the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission established by the U.S. State Department last April “as a vehicle for security cooperation, including maritime security.” [4]

Hillary Clinton signs U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission agreement

Three months after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton inaugurated a strategic dialogue with Nigeria, she met with Foreign Minister Ansuncao Afonso dos Anjos of Angola (on the southern end of the Gulf of Guinea) in Washington to sign the U.S.-Angola Strategic Partnership Dialogue, “which formalizes increased bilateral partnerships in energy, security, trade and democracy promotion.”

On the occasion, Clinton recounted that after her visit to Angola in August of the preceding year “a bilateral group on energy cooperation met in November 2009 to outline shared U.S. and Angolan objectives in developing Angola’s oil and gas reserves, promoting greater transparency in its oil sector and developing renewable energy sources.” [5]

The security and defense agreements with Nigeria and Angola, and demands by the Atlantic Council and like-minded parties that they be qualitatively and comprehensively expanded to the entire region, are the inevitable culmination of efforts by the Pentagon over the past nine years.

During that period U.S. naval vessels, troops and major military officials have been in Gulf of Guinea littoral states continuously, solidifying relations with Liberia (where the Pentagon has built a military from scratch), Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), Angola, and Sao Tome and Principe. [6] All except for Ivory Coast, which is currently in turmoil and facing the prospect of armed intervention by ECOWAS African Standby Force troops and the armed forces of assorted NATO states.

Until AFRICOM achieved full operational capability on October 1, 2008, Africa was assigned to U.S. European Command (EUCOM) except for Egypt, the nations of the Horn of Africa and four Indian Ocean island states that were under Central Command and Pacific Command.

The top commander of EUCOM is jointly NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe. AFRICOM, then, was created as the Pentagon’s first post-Cold War foreign military command under the tutelage of Marine General James Jones from 2003 to 2006 and Army General Bantz John Craddock from 2006 to 2009.

AFRICOM and the Africa Partnership Station (APS) have been envisioned since their inception as U.S. military operations that included the involvement of NATO, especially its member states that are the former colonial masters in the Gulf of Guinea area: Britain, France, Portugal and Spain. [7] In 2005 the U.S. submarine tender Emory S. Land led naval exercises in the Gulf of Guinea with naval officers from Benin, Gabon, Ghana, and Sao Tome and Principe along with counterparts from Britain, France, Portugal and Spain.

APS deployments include military officers from other NATO states and the African Standby Force is modeled after the NATO Response Force.

In 2002 U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld demanded the creation of a new NATO rapid reaction force, a 21,000-troop strike group that could “deal swiftly with crises outside its traditional area of operation.” [8] He won support for the concept at a meeting of Alliance defense chiefs in September and two months later what became the NATO Response Force was endorsed at the NATO summit in Prague.

At the next summit of the U.S.-controlled military bloc in Istanbul, Turkey in 2004, Rumsfeld stated, “The reality is that NATO is a military alliance that has no real relevance unless it has the ability to fairly rapidly deploy military capabilities.” [9]

In 2005 the Washington, D.C.- based Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Task Force on Gulf of Guinea Security released a report reiterating and updating U.S. strategy in West Africa which stated that “The Gulf of Guinea is a nexus of vital US foreign policy priorities.”

The Task Force consisted of “oil executives, academics, diplomats and retired naval officers under the chairmanship of Nebraska’s Senator Chuck Hagel and received briefings from serving US ambassadors, oil companies, the CIA and US military commanders.” [10]

In the same year U.S. Naval Forces Europe announced that it had embarked on “a 10-year push to help 10 West African nations either develop or improve maritime security.” The nations are Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo, Sao Tome and Príncipe, and Togo, all on the Gulf of Guinea.

When the above report appeared, in July, U.S. European Command had already “conducted 18 military-to-military exercises in Africa so far in 2005.” [11]

The following month a U.S. Coast Guard cutter visited the waters off petroleum-rich Sao Tome and Principe, travelling “through the seas of West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, where an oil boom could outpace Persian Gulf exports to America in a decade.” [12]

In 2002 the president of Sao Tome and Principe, Fradique De Menezes, reportedly agreed to host a U.S. naval base, disclosing that “Last week I received a call from the Pentagon to tell me that the issue is being studied.” [13]

In 2006 the Ghanaian press wrote that “Marine General James L. Jones, Head of the US European Command, said the Pentagon was seeking to acquire access to two kinds of bases in Senegal, Ghana, Mali and Kenya and other African countries.” [14]

Later in the year Jones was cited confirming that “Officials at U.S. European Command spend between 65 to 70 percent of their time on African issues…Establishing [a military task force in West Africa] could also send a message to U.S. companies ‘that investing in many parts of Africa is a good idea.’” [15]

In his other capacity, that of top NATO military commander, Jones asserted that “NATO was going to draw up [a] plan for ensuring security of oil and gas industry facilities” [16] and “raised the prospect of NATO taking a role to counter piracy off the coast of the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Guinea, especially when it threatens energy supply routes to Western nations.” [17]

Also in 2006, while still Supreme Allied Commander Europe, he announced that “NATO is developing a special plan to safeguard oil and gas fields in the region,” adding that “a training session will be held in the Atlantic oceanic area and the Cabo Verde island in June to outline activities to protect the routes transporting oil to Western Europe” and “the alliance is ready to ensure the security of oil-producing and transporting regions.” [18]

As Jones had alluded to, in June the NATO Response Force (NRF) was first tested in Exercise Steadfast Jaguar war games on and off the coast of the African Atlantic Ocean island of Cape Verde with 7,100 Alliance military personnel, including French and German infantry, American fighter pilots and Spanish sailors, along with warplanes and warships. “The exercise [was] the first to bring together the land, sea and air components of the NRF. Once operational, it will give the Alliance the ability to deploy up to 25,000 troops within five days anywhere in the world.” [19]

Steadfast Jaguar

A Western news agency at the time described the exercise in these terms: “The land, air and sea exercises were NATO’s first major deployment in Africa and designed to show the former Cold War giant can launch far-flung military operations at short notice.”

It also quoted then-NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer boasting that “You are seeing the new NATO, the one that has the ability to project stability.” [20]

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at Steadfast Jaguar

In September of 2007, Captain John Nowell, commodore of the Africa Partnership Station, travelled from Sao Tome and Principe to Ghana “to lay the groundwork for upcoming Africa Partnership Stations with local government and military officials from both countries.” [21]

Late in the following month the U.S. activated the Africa Partnership Station by deploying the USS Fort McHenry amphibious dock landing ship and the embarked Commander Task Group 60.4 (later joined by High Speed Vessel Swift) to the Gulf of Guinea. The APS deployment included stops in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal and Togo. USS Fort McHenry had staff from other NATO nations on board.

Gabonese navy personnel board USS Fort McHenry for Africa Partnership Station training in 2008

In November of 2007 Associated Press reported that with ships assigned to the U.S. Sixth Fleet patrolling the Gulf of Guinea, “U.S. naval presence rose from just a handful of days in 2004 to daily beginning this year.” [22]

On October 1 U.S. Africa Command was launched as (in Pentagon lingo) a temporary sub-unified command under U.S. European Command.

Voices of concern were raised throughout Africa, typified by these excerpts from commentaries in the Nigerian press:

“The issue of Africa Command is…because of the oil interest on the Gulf of Guinea, going out to the coast of Liberia and so on. Americans are finding an easy place where they can extract oil, and you know is a much shorter route than going around from the Middle East.” [23]

“From the current data on production capacities and proven oil reserves, only two regions appear to exist where, in addition to the Middle East, oil production will grow and where a strategy of diversification may easily work: The Caspian Sea and the Gulf of Guinea.

“Some of the problems linked to Caspian oil give the Gulf of Guinea a competitive edge. Much of its oil is conveniently located off shore.

“[T]he region enjoys several advantages, including its strategic location just opposite the refineries of the US East Coast. It is ahead of all other regions in proven deep water oil reserves, which will lead to significant savings in security provisions. And it requires a drilling technology easily available from the Gulf of Mexico.

“Curiously, the newly formed NRF [NATO Response Force] carried out its first exercise codenamed STEADFAST JAGUAR in Cape Verde, here in West Africa, from 14-28 June 2006.” [24]

“I am normally a fan of the United States of America….But over this matter of plans by the United States to establish what it calls the Africa Command or Africom in the Gulf of Guinea, it is time to call for deep caution and to agree with Nigerian officials that we should take the American initiative with a pinch of salt.

“The Gulf of Guinea has emerged as the second largest pool of commercial petroleum resources in the world, next only to the Persian Gulf and its territorial environs.

“In fact, it has recently surpassed the Persian Gulf as America’s highest supplier of crude oil.

“Not satisfied with only a small piece of the new oil destination of the world, America stepped up its formation of Africom, making open moves to extend the kind of cohabitation it enjoys with Sao Tome and Principe to Nigeria.” [25]

“The whole thing about this Africa Command by the US is all borne out of their interests in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea, which they have…been angling to take over. The Nigerian government should not fold its arms to allow the US government re-colonise it.

“[T]he US had concluded plans to establish a military base in Africa with the intent of protecting the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea and also to forestall the economic incursion of China into Africa, especially Nigeria.

“The US has completed all the groundwork and has moved into the offshore of Sao Tome and Principe, Angola and Guinea to secure positions for their submarines and other security facilities.” [26]

“The gulf’s oil and gas deposits are put in the region of 10 billion barrels. Statistics show that as of 2004 Africa as a whole produced nearly 9 million barrels of oil a day, with approximately 4.7 million barrels a day coming from West Africa.

“Also, African oil production accounted for approximately 11 percent of the world’s oil supply, while the continent supplied approximately 18 percent of US net oil imports. Both Nigeria and Angola were among the top 10 suppliers of oil to the US.” [27]

The apprehensions were not without foundation. On October 3 U.S. ambassador-designate to Gabon and to Sao Tome and Principe, Eunice Reddick, issued the following statements:

“Mismanaged, an oil boom could threaten Sao Tome and Principe’s young democracy, security and stability.”

“The United States has trained Gabonese forces under the African Contingency Operations Training Assistance (ACOTA) program….To promote the security of the strategic Gulf of Guinea region, origin of a growing share of U.S. oil imports, U.S. military engagement with Gabon has developed in several areas….If confirmed, I will work closely with the Gabonese civilian and military leadership, our European Command and the new Africa Command….” [28]

As noted above, the month after AFRICOM’s preliminary activation the U.S. Navy dispatched its first Africa Partnership Station mission to the Gulf of Guinea, described by the Pentagon as a multinational maritime security initiative.

The guided missile destroyer USS Forrest Sherman visited Cape Verde for three days in early November “to consolidate a growing sense of partnership between the U.S. Navy and the Caboverdian armed forces” [29] at the same time USS Fort McHenry began the Africa Partnership Station’s maiden mission with a visit to Senegal en route to the Gulf of Guinea.

In 2008 the NATO secretary general at the time, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, visited Ghana, meeting with the country’s president and defense minister “on deepening the cooperation between NATO and Africa,” and delivered a speech on the topic at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center in Accra. [30]

In July of that year U.S. European Command conducted the Operation Africa Endeavor 2008 multinational interoperability and information exchange exercise in Nigeria with the participation of the armed forces of Nigeria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Uganda. General William Ward, commander of AFRICOM, attended the closing ceremonies at Nigerian Air Force Base, Abuja.

The following year’s Africa Endeavor exercises were held in Gabon, with “more than 25 nations participating…the second largest communications exercise in the world.” For the first time run under the command of AFRICOM, it focused on “interoperability and information sharing among African nations via communication networks and collaborative communications links with the United States, NATO and other nations with common stability, security and sustainment goals/objectives for the African continent.” [31] Participants included the Economic Community of West African States and Gulf of Guinea nations Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, and Sao Tome and Principe.

Africa Endeavor in Gabon in 2009

At the time Associated Press reported:

“Just a few years ago, the U.S.military was all but absent from the oil-rich waters of West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea.

“This year, it plans to be there every day.

“Africa — including Algeria and Libya in the north — supplies the U.S. with more than 24 percent of its oil, surpassing the Persian Gulf at 20 percent, according to statistics from the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration. Of that amount, 17 percent comes from the Gulf of Guinea and Chad, which runs a pipeline to the Atlantic Ocean through Cameroon.” [32]

A spokesman for the U.S. Sixth Fleet said that in terms of “ship days” in the Gulf of Guinea, U.S. naval presence had increased 50 percent from 2006 to 2007 and the U.S. Navy was expected to have a daily presence in 2008.

The Pentagon and its NATO allies are firmly ensconced in the Gulf of Guinea, in part to realize one of the decisions agreed upon at last November’s NATO summit in Portugal: To “develop the capacity to contribute to energy security,” as the summit declaration stated.

The Pentagon has forged both bilateral and regional military partnerships with every African nation except for Eritrea, Ivory Coast, Libya, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

What began in the Gulf of Guinea has now absorbed an entire continent.

1) Associated Press, December 15, 2010
Al Jazeera/Daily Mail (Ghana), December 20, 2011
2) Ghana Government, March 18, 2010
3) Atlantic Council: Securing The 21st Century For NATO
Stop NATO, April 30, 2010
4) Advancing U.S., African, and Global Interests: Security and Stability
in the West African Maritime Domain

Atlantic Council, November 30, 2011
5) U.S. Africa Command, July 12, 2010
6) AFRICOM Year Two: Seizing The Helm Of The Entire World
Stop NATO, October 22, 2009
7) NATO: AFRICOM’s Partner In Military Penetration Of Africa
Stop NATO, March 20, 2010
8) Agence France-Presse, September 24, 2002
9) U.S. Department of Defense, June 27, 2004
10) Agence France-Presse, July 22, 2005
11) Stars And Stripes, July 31, 2005
12) Associated Press, August 7, 2005
13) BBC News, August 22, 2002
14) Ghana Web, February 23, 2006
15) U.S. Department of Defense, August 18, 2006
Global Energy War: Washington’s New Kissinger’s African Plans
Stop NATO, January 22, 2009
16) Trend News Agency, May 3, 2006
17) Associated Press, April 24, 2006
18) Associated Press, May 2, 2006
19) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, June 30, 20016
20) Reuters, June 22, 2006
21) United States European Command, September 18, 2007
22) Associated Press, November 6, 2007
23) Malu Suleiman Mohammed and Olumide Bajulaye
Why US Wants to Establish Military Base in the Country
Daily Trust, November 24, 2007
24) Abba Mahmood, Country, Gulf of Guinea And Africom
Leadership, November 22, 2007
25) Ochereome Nnanna, Nigeria: No to U.S. Army Base
Vanguard, November 22, 2007
26) Juliana Taiwo, U.S. Military Base – Country Begins Diplomatic Inquiries
This Day, October 2, 2007
27) Horatius Egua, Nigeria too late to stop US military on base in Africa
Business Day, September 27, 2007
28) United States Department of State, October 3, 2007
29) United States European Command, November 13, 2007
30) North Atlantic treaty Organization, November 25, 2008
31) U.S. Africa Command, January 14, 2009
32) Associated Press, November 5, 2007

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S. Employs Afghan War To Build Global NATO

January 6, 2011 Leave a comment

January 6, 2011

U.S. Employs Afghan War To Build Global NATO
Rick Rozoff

In an article entitled “How Afghanistan Became a War for NATO,” American journalist Gareth Porter argued that, contrary to the official position that an estimated 52,000 non-American troops from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and assorted partnership programs are in Afghanistan to in any manner protect their respective homelands, “NATO’s role in Afghanistan is more about NATO than it is about Afghanistan,” citing an unnamed U.S. military officer.

In relation to turning the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the overwhelming majority of foreign troops in the nation (currently 120,000 of 152,000) over to NATO command, the same official was quoted as stating, “You have to understand that the NATO lobbyists are very prominent in the Pentagon – both in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and on the Joint Staff.”

Porter reminded readers that while serving as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe from 2003-2006 Marine General James Jones (until recently the Obama administration’s National Security Advisor) “sold (Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld on turning Afghanistan over to NATO,” according to the above-mentioned source.

In testimony before the U.S. Congress in 2007, Karl Eikenberry – at the time commanding general of the Pentagon’s Combined Forces Command Afghanistan, shortly afterward deputy commander of NATO’s 28-nation Military Committee and currently American ambassador to Afghanistan – argued that “the policy of turning Afghanistan over to NATO was really about the future of NATO rather than about Afghanistan…one that could ‘make’ the alliance. The long view of the Afghanistan campaign is that it is a means to continue the transformation of the alliance.” [1]

General Karl Eikenberry and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in 2006

Rather than “reinventing” NATO to make it “relevant” and to gratuitously preserve a Cold War relic, although doing only that allows the U.S. to retain air and naval bases and nuclear weapons on the European continent as well as extending its global missile shield and cyber warfare command there, transforming NATO means in the first place expanding it into a global military force, one able to wage wars like that in Afghanistan and others modeled after it.

It is worth noting that while making his case for NATO control of all Western military operations in Afghanistan in February of 2007, then-Lieutenant General Eikenberry was in command of 12,000 U.S. troops in the Afghan war theater. Less than four years later there are 100,000 American service members there.

The Porter article also asserts that the George W. Bush administration promoted a NATO role in Afghanistan in part to free up American forces for the invasion and occupation of Iraq which began in March of 2003.

However, as noted above, there were only 12,000 U.S. troops and a far smaller amount of non-U.S. NATO forces in Afghanistan four years after the launching of Operation Iraqi Freedom; a negligible number in relation to the 140,000 American troops in Iraq in early 2007.

In fact both Iraq and Afghanistan – previously the Balkans and since Africa – have been used by Washington to integrate the armed forces of scores of nations around the world into a global expeditionary military formation complementing the NATO Response Force.

Between 2003 and 2006 there were troop contingents from over forty nations in the Multi-National Force – Iraq, including ones from 21 of 28 current NATO member states and from the military bloc’s Partnership for Peace integration program. The Polish-led Multinational Division Central-South was supported by NATO since its creation in December of 2003.

Of today’s 28 NATO states, only seven – France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Canada, Greece and Turkey – did not deploy troops to Iraq, although all 28 are now supporting the NATO Training Mission-Iraq and Turkey permitted the stationing of three Dutch Patriot missile batteries on its soil shortly before the invasion of Iraq after all NATO members but France – at the time still outside Alliance military structures – approved the deployments under NATO’s Article 4 provisions.

Starting in earnest in 2006 troops from NATO member and partner states were withdrawn from Iraq and redeployed to Afghanistan.

The following 33 nations supplied the U.S. with troops for the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan:

Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Britain, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mongolia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Tonga and Ukraine.

Most of the above nations also provided troops for the NATO missions in Bosnia starting in 1995, Kosovo in 1999 and Macedonia in 2001, the last beginning only months before the invasion of Afghanistan. Late last month the NATO senior military representative to Macedonia handed control over a military camp to Macedonian Defense Minister Zoran Konjanovski, who stated on the occasion that “the act symbolized Macedonia’s maturity and readiness, as well as the country’s principled partnership with NATO, which has been proven in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.” [2] NATO intervened in Macedonia in 2001 as an alleged mediator between the government and armed insurgents operating out of NATO-occupied Kosovo, members of the so-called Albanian National Army, to enforce a power sharing arrangement between the country’s legitimate, elected authorities and a force of armed invaders spawned by the Kosovo Liberation Army.

Pentagon and NATO military bases and other facilities succeed wars as night does day: Camp Eagle in Bosnia, the 1,000-acre Camp Bondsteel and its companion site Camp Monteith in Kosovo, Camp Able Sentry in Macedonia and, most recently, dozens more in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as several neighboring nations.

NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples, activated in 2004, oversees Kosovo Force (KFOR), the NATO Training Mission-Iraq [3], NATO Headquarters in Albania, Bosnia and Macedonia, and a Military Liaison Office in Serbia.

The seven NATO members that didn’t dispatch troops to Iraq have sent them to Afghanistan, with Canada, France and Germany among the top six troop contributors, and several NATO partnership affiliates that didn’t provide troops for Multi-National Force–Iraq have joined them: Partnership for Peace members Austria, Finland, Ireland, Montenegro (which became independent in 2006), Sweden and Switzerland; Mediterranean Dialogue members Jordan and Egypt; Istanbul Cooperation Initiative partners Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Finland, which had not been engaged in combat operations since World War Two, and Sweden, which had not been at war in two hundred years, are in charge of four northern Afghan provinces under NATO command. Sweden has approximately 500 troops and Finland almost 200 in Afghanistan. Both countries have lost troops in the fighting there.

Australia, a NATO Contact Countries along with Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, has 1,550 troops in theater (including elite special forces), the largest contribution of any non-NATO nation. At least 21 Australian soldiers have been killed in NATO’s Afghan war and 162 wounded, 62 last year.

The expansion of the Afghan war in the last days of the Bush and throughout the Obama administration, and its extension into neighboring Pakistan (with a population of over 170 million and nuclear weapons), has led to the highest-ever deaths among U.S., NATO and other ISAF contributing nations’ soldiers.

This week Agence France-Presse reported that, based on official figures and other sources, over 10,000 people were killed in Afghanistan in 2010, among them 711 foreign soldiers, 810 Afghan government troops and thousands of Afghan civilians and insurgents.

USS Abraham Lincoln

The U.S. Navy announced on the first day of this year that the 1,000th sortie for the war in Afghanistan had been launched from the nuclear-powered supercarrier USS Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea on December 28.

“Lincoln pulled in to the United Arab Emirates Dec. 23-27 with a total of 999 sorties flown supporting OEF [Operation Enduring Freedom] and 76 sorties in support of Operation New Dawn (OND) during the ship’s 2010-2011 deployment to the Middle East. The first launch after returning to sea marked the carrier’s millennial OEF mission, amassing a total of more than 5,884 hours flown for OEF in just under four months.” [4]

USA Today disclosed on January 2 that the U.S. Air Force more than doubled the number of joint terminal attack controllers (JTACs) responsible for calling in air strikes – aerial bombings, missile attacks and strafing runs – from 53 in 2009 to 134 last year. In October of 2010 they coordinated over 1,000 missions “in which warplanes dropped bombs or fired missiles or guns, the most ever, topping the previous peak of 984 in June 2008.” [5]

Last autumn the U.S. led a joint terminal attack controller exercise, Sabre Strike 11, at the Adazi Training Aria in Latvia with military personnel and warplanes from the host nation, Estonia, Lithuania and Poland.

“The purpose of this exercise was to continue mutual support for the fight in Afghanistan and demonstrate previous successful NATO coordination in Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

The U.S. Air Force’s 100th Air Refueling Wing “provided fuel to…Polish F-16s, which allowed the fighters to conduct bomb and strafing runs as coordinated by the NATO JTAC trainees and instructors. This marked the first time that live munitions were dropped in Latvia since their separation from Russia in 1992.” [6]

The American armed forces publication Stars and Stripes wrote last October that “Faced with a critical shortage of joint terminal attack controllers, the Air Force has ramped up efforts to train more from allied nations, many of whom could deploy to Afghanistan to call in NATO airstrikes.” [7]

At the time a five-week initial qualification class for JTACs conducted in Germany graduated troops from Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Romania and Slovenia.

According to the same source, the now retired U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander, General Roger Brady, instructed the school to double the amount of annual graduates from 72 to 144, and in 2009 General David Petraeus, now in charge of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, “highlighted in a memo to the Army and Air Force chiefs of staff the need for more JTACs, according to military officials.”

In August and September of 2010 the U.S. and NATO held Exercise Ramstein Rover 2010 in the state of Wisconsin, “the first international exercise training NATO Forward Air Controllers (FACs) in the US” and “an advanced training opportunity to exercise Close Air Support (CAS), FAC and Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) capabilities.” In addition to the U.S., participating NATO nations were Belgium, Britain, Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovenia.

The exercise “prepare[d] NATO FACs/JTACs for their deployment to NATO’s ISAF mission in Afghanistan.” [8]

South of the Wisconsin border, last November the Illinois National Guard, which has been deploying to Poland since 2003 “for one-year tours in support of the Global War on Terror,” trained Polish troops for NATO’s war in Afghanistan. A Polish officer present for the event was quoted as affirming: “We train together because we fight together. If we train together we fight and work better in Afghanistan. It is good idea to train together before we deploy. We are good soldiers and our brigade was deployed in Iraq two times and in Afghanistan so we work at a high level. We are ready.” [9]

In August U.S., Belgian, Danish, Dutch, German and Portuguese air force and army personnel participated in the Allied Strike 10 exercise in Germany, “in a realistic combat training environment,” that a Danish army forward air control instructor described as “the best training that is offered for JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers) in Europe.” [10]

F-15E Strike Eagle

The preceding autumn a squadron of U.S. F-15E Strike Eagles participated in a training exercise in the Baltic Sea state of Estonia “to train Estonian forward air controllers in calling in close air support.

“The event, titled Baltic Region Training Event IV Alpha, gave F-15E aircrews and the Estonian FACs the opportunity to work together in a training environment, to better prepare them for real-world missions.”

U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) characterized the maneuvers as follows: “While this was a NATO training event, it supports USAFE’s goal of building partnership capacity throughout the region.

“The program [Baltic Region Training Events] assists Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and neighbouring NATO countries also in their efforts towards interoperability and integration of air assets in line with existing NATO standards.”

An Estonian military officer said of the exercise: “This was our first time training with F-15s. We were able to exercise coordination between us, the aircraft and the ground forces. We are constantly learning, and this training helps prepare us for our deployment to Afghanistan next year.” [11]

The war in Afghanistan has also been used for U.S.-led multinational NATO special forces and other military training in Eastern and Central Europe and the acquisition and expansion of bases in Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. Last September the Pentagon led the Jackal Stone 10 multinational military exercise in Poland and Lithuania with 1,300 special forces from the U.S., Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Croatia, Romania and Ukraine.

Building on previous NATO status of forces agreements, in 2005 and 2006 the Pentagon acquired eight new military bases in Bulgaria and Romania, including the Graf Ignatievo and Bezmer air bases in the first country and the Mikhail Kogalniceanu Airfield in the second.

The U.S. Joint Task Force-East operates out of the Mihail Kogalniceanu Airfield and the Babadag Training Area in Romania and the Novo Selo Training Area in Bulgaria, and Stryker brigades exercise in both countries for the war in Afghanistan. Last October the U.S. dispatched F-15C jet fighters to Romania’s Campia Turzii Air Base for Operation Golden Lance, large-scale air exercise involving 100 U.S. airmen and 10 fighter aircraft, and in the same month the U.S. 86th Airlift Wing and 435th Air Ground Operations Wing led two weeks of maneuvers to train 1,000 Bulgarian paratroopers in the Thracian Fall 2010 exercise.

NATO has upgraded air bases in Eastern Europe, including the Amari Air Base in Estonia, the Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania and the Lielvarde Air Base in Latvia, to accommodate U.S. and NATO jet fighters and strategic transport aircraft. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been recruited into the U.S. and NATO Northern Distribution Network to transit military equipment and personnel to Afghanistan. U.S. and NATO military transit routes to the Afghan war front will incorporate eleven of fifteen former Soviet republics, all except for Armenia, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine for the moment.

Poland’s 31st Air Base in Krzesiny will soon host U.S. F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole jet fighters and C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft. The U.S. moved Patriot Advanced Capability-3 anti-ballistic missiles and over 100 troops into Morag last May and plans to station dozens of Standard Missile-3 interceptors in Poland and Romania in the upcoming years.

In 1995 Hungary’s Taszar Air Base became the first U.S. and NATO military base on former Warsaw Pact territory, used for interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo.

For several years the Pentagon has employed the Papa Air Base in Hungary, recently upgraded by NATO, for its C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft, making it one of the few crucial strategic air transport centers outside of the U.S. In 2007 the base was selected to host three NATO C-17 transport planes for the Heavy Airlift Wing which was activated on July 27, 2009, the first multinational strategic airlift operation.

U.S. personnel and that of several NATO allies are deployed to the air base.

Interior of C-17 Globemaster III

In December of 2009 the multinational Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) performed its first official flight, an airlift mission into Iraq which “facilitated the deployment for members of the NATO Training Mission-Iraq.”

The mission also “enabled the redeployment of 30 International Security Assistance Force members and 25 tons of equipment from Afghanistan. Combining missions and increasing airlift efficiencies is a central wing goal.”

In the words of a U.S. military official at the time, “The HAW is starting to make a real difference in moving missions to Iraq and Afghanistan.” [12]

Though two months before, the HAW flew a C-17 Globemaster III into the Afghan capital of Kabul “with military representatives from all 28 NATO member states as well as those from the 14 non-NATO nations who also contribute forces to ISAF.” [13]

Last April it was announced that the U.S.-NATO Heavy Airlift Wing at Papa had “recently moved 2.1 million pounds of equipment essential to surge operations supporting the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

“The international wing has been part of the operation to move more than 6 million pounds of basic expeditionary airfield resources, or BEAR materiel, to build six forward operating bases supporting 3,500 people….” [14]

In June 100 paratroopers from the American, British, German, Norwegian and Belgian air forces, armies and marines participated in “airborne jump operations to build partnerships and capabilities needed to meet future challenges” in Germany, parachuting from a C-17 from the HAW and C-130J Hercules from the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein Air Base. Though it wasn’t “the first time NATO countries have participated in jump week, it was the first time the recently stood up HAW participated.” [15]

Last month the scope of the operation became evident when a a C-17 left the Papa Air Base for a three-day, 7,000-mile mission “covering the countries of Hungary, Poland, Afghanistan and Lithuania as they move[d] more than 75,000 tons of cargo” [16] to the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

C-17 Globemaster IIIs

On January 4 the U.S. Defense Department’s news service announced that the C-17 Globemaster III had celebrated its two millionth flight hour.

“As a testament to the C-17 mission tempo, the aircraft passed its two millionth flight hour just four years after passing its first million-hour mark, and the first million hours took 16 years to reach.

“Although Air Mobility Command officials estimate the international C-17 fleet passed the milestone on Dec. 14, the achievement was commemorated on a Dec. 10 airdrop mission out of Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.” The latter was identified by the source as the busiest military airport in the world, one which accommodates “approximately 100 missions, 1,500 passengers and 800 short tons of cargo daily.” [17]

Last April the White House secured an agreement with the government of Kazakhstan to permit U.S. troops to fly over the North Pole and across the Central Asian nation bordering China and Russia to Afghanistan.

USS Bainbridge

On January 3 USS Bainbridge, an Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer, left Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia to deploy with Standing NATO Maritime Group 2: “The ship and its crew will conduct joint operations with various countries of NATO and also conduct maritime interdiction operations near the coast of Somalia.” [18] That is, it will operate in the Gulf of Aden and the broader Arabian Sea where the U.S. and NATO have created a war zone that stretches from the Horn of Africa to the Indian subcontinent.

The Afghan war has indeed contributed in transforming NATO from a military bloc that had waged bombing campaigns in the Balkans to an international, integrated, expeditionary force the Pentagon and White House are employing to conduct military operations not short of war for a number of key geopolitical purposes.

1) Gareth Porter, How Afghanistan Became a War for NATO
Inter Press Service, January 3, 2011
2) Macedonian International News Agency, December 28, 2010
3) Iraq: NATO Assists In Building New Middle East Proxy Army
Stop NATO, August 13, 2010
4) USS Abraham Lincoln Launches 1,000th Sortie In Support of OEF
Navy NewsStand
January 1, 2011
5) USA Today, January 2, 2011
6) U.S. Air Forces in Europe, December 9, 2010
7) Stars and Stripes, October 4, 2010
8) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
September 2, 2010
9) Belleville News Democrat, November 1, 2010
10) United States European Command, August 9, 2010
11) U.S. Air Forces in Europe, September 17, 2009
12) U.S. Air Force, December 16, 2009
13) U.S. Air Forces in Europe, October 16, 2009
14) United States European Command
United States Air Forces in Europe
April 2, 2010
15) United States Air Forces in Europe, June 17, 2010
16) U.S. Air Forces in Europe, December 17, 2010
17) American Forces Press Service, January 4, 2011
18) WAVY, January 3, 2011

Categories: Uncategorized

Pentagon And NATO Apply Afghanistan-Pakistan War Model To Africa

January 2, 2011 2 comments

January 2, 2011

Pentagon And NATO Apply Afghanistan-Pakistan War Model To Africa
Rick Rozoff

The New Year began with three North Atlantic Treaty Organization soldiers killed in Afghanistan and 20 people, all portrayed as militants, killed in four American missile strikes in northwest Pakistan. The third drone missile attack killed four people attempting to rescue and remove the bodies of the victims of the first, a technique used by the U.S. and NATO in their war against Yugoslavia in 1999.

The West’s war in Afghanistan and Pakistan is currently the longest, largest and deadliest in the world. Fatalities among U.S. troops, non-U.S. NATO and allied forces, Afghan National Army soldiers and anti-government fighters reached a record high last year: 498, 213, 800 and an unknown number (by U.S. and NATO accounts well into the thousands), respectively. The United Nations estimated 2,400 Afghan civilians were killed in the first ten months of last year, a 20 percent increase over the same period in the preceding year. Approximately a thousand people were killed by U.S. drone missile strikes in Pakistan.

It says something discouraging about a world of almost 200 nations that perhaps no more than half a dozen countries – so-called rogue states (alternatively Condoleezza Rice’s “outposts of tyranny”) – have voiced opposition to the war.

Washington’s self-designated global war on terror (sometimes capitalized), in recent years more politely and antiseptically called overseas contingency operations, has not diminished in intensity but rather escalated in breadth and aggressiveness from West Africa to East Asia and against targets not remotely related to al-Qaeda, which has proven as nebulous and evasive as the West portrays it being ubiquitous.

From 2001 to the present the U.S. has engaged in and supported military operations against Marxist guerrillas in Colombia and the Philippines, ethnic Tuaregs in Mali, nominally Christian insurgents in Uganda and Shiite Houthi militia in northern Yemen in the name of combating…al-Qaeda. The Wahhabist school of extremism that characterizes al-Qaeda and analogous groups derives its doctrinal inspiration and material support from Saudi Arabia, yet last October Washington announced a $63 billion arms package with the kingdom, the largest foreign weapons deal in American history.

Washington and its NATO military allies have opened a war front across the Arabian Sea from Pakistan in the east to Somalia and Yemen in the west as the central focus of operations that began almost ten years ago. [1]

On October 1, 2008 the Pentagon formally launched its first overseas military command in the post-Cold War era, U.S. Africa Command, which takes in 53 nations and an entire continent except for Egypt, which remains in Central Command.

The second command’s area of responsibility reaches from the eastern border of Libya to the western border of China and southern border of Russia. From Egypt to Kazakhstan. The Horn of Africa region, including Somalia, was ceded by Central Command to Africa Command (AFRICOM), but the Arabian Peninsula, including Yemen, remains in Central Command.

Though the Pentagon’s Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, now subsumed under AFRICOM and based in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti, includes thirteen nations in East Africa, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Peninsula in its area of operations: Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Yemen. Operation Enduring Freedom, under which the U.S. conducts its greater Afghan war, encompasses sixteen countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Cuba (Guantanamo Bay), Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Yemen.

The U.S. maintains at least 2,500 troops in Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti and in late 2009 deployed over 100 troops, Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) equipped for guided bombs and missiles and three P-3 Orion anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft to Seychelles.

Washington was accused by Houthi rebels in the north of Yemen of participating with Saudi Arabia in deadly bombing raids against them in the northwestern province of Sa’ada in December of 2009. They stated American jet fighters launched 28 attacks in the province which included bombing the governor’s house and killing 120 people in one attack. [2]

Later in the same month the U.S. conducted cruise missile and air strikes with the use of cluster bombs in southern Yemen which killed over 60 civilians, mostly women and children. Another air strike was launched in March of 2010.

Leading American officials have demanded drone missile strikes in Yemen and several hundred U.S. special forces are deployed to the country.

The U.S. and its allies in NATO and the European Union are actively involved in the civil war in Somalia, across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen.

The Pentagon supported the Ethiopian invasion of the country in 2006 and launched two days of air strikes in January of the following year. In the autumn of 2009 U.S. special forces conducted a deadly helicopter gunship raid in southern Somalia.

The New Year in Somalia started with a fierce battle between foreign troops backing the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and al-Shabaab rebels, resulting in at 15 dead and 25 wounded. Inhabitants of the Somali capital reported that “the Mogadishu sky turned red [and] kids were crying and had been unable to sleep as the crackling of machine guns and barrages rocked throughout the city.” [3]

There are approximately 6,000 troops from U.S. military client states Uganda and Burundi fighting on behalf of the formal government of the country under the banner of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Although approved by the African Union, AMISOM and its predecessor, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Peace Support Mission in Somalia (IGASOM), primarily have been initiatives by Washington and its allies in NATO and the EU.

European warships are deployed for NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield and the EU’s Operation Atalanta off Somalia’s coast in the Gulf of Aden. (In military matters the distinction between NATO and the EU is becoming an increasingly formal one.)

At least fifteen EU member states, most of them also NATO members – Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Belgium, Portugal, Luxembourg, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Malta and Cyprus – have sent no fewer than 150 military personnel to Uganda to train 2,000 Somali troops for war in their homeland in a program financed by the U.S.

In the middle of last month the local press reported that the first 1,000 Somali soldiers “trained by officers from the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) and senior military officers from 27 European Union countries” graduated from the Bihanga military training school in Western Uganda, a “facility…set up early this year to train TFG Officers and foot soldiers in a bid to boost the military capability of war-torn Somalia….”

“The soldiers are expected to provide the core of officers and men of a new Somali army…to provide a much-needed boost to the fragile Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Mogadishu.” [4]

Since June of 2007 NATO has provided airlift and sealift for AMISOM (Ugandan and Burundian) troops deployed to Somalia. The next year NATO flew a Burundian battalion into Somalia and in March of last year the Western military bloc transported 1,700 Ugandan troops into and 850 out of the Somali capital.

The month before the initial inauguration of AFRICOM in 2007, when it was still under U.S. European Command (whose top commander is simultaneously NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe), a Pentagon official announced that Africa Command “would involve one small headquarters plus five ‘regional integration teams’ scattered around the continent” and that “AFRICOM would work closely with the European Union and NATO,” particularly France, a leading member of both organizations, which was “interested in developing the Africa standby force”. [5]

In the same year the U.S. Defense Department acknowledged it had already “agreed on access to air bases and ports in Africa and ‘bare-bones’ facilities maintained by local security forces in Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia.” [6]

The five regions of Africa identified by the U.S. military – north, south, east, west and central – are all represented by the locations named above and are each home to a branch of the African Standby Force (Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western and Central), like AMISOM nominally under the control of the African Union but in fact overseen by the U.S. and NATO.

The North Atlantic Alliance inaugurated the NATO Response Force, in NATO’s own words “a highly ready and technologically advanced multinational force made up of land, air, maritime and special forces components that the Alliance can deploy quickly to wherever it is needed,” in and off the coast of the African island of Cape Verde in 2006 in a two-week, 7,000-troop exercise codenamed Steadfast Jaguar. [7]

The African Standby Force is modeled after the NATO Response Force. “NATO…supports staff capacity building through the provision of places on NATO training courses to AU [African Union] staff supporting AMISOM, and support to the operationalisation of the African Standby Force – the African Union’s vision for a continental, on-call security apparatus similar to the NATO Response Force.” [8] It is a joint project of NATO and the Pentagon, formerly U.S. European Command and currently U.S. Africa Command.

To date the only fully successful implementation of the project is the Eastern Africa Standby Force, whose Eastern Africa Standby Brigade (with headquarters in Ethiopia and its Eastern African Standby Brigade Coordination Mechanism in Kenya) consists of Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania (as an observer) and Uganda.

It is largely coterminous with the Pentagon’s Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa without Yemen and with Burundi and Rwanda added. In October of 2009 the Eastern Africa Standby Brigade (EASBRIG) held military exercises in Djibouti, where Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa is based.

Last month the defense chiefs of the twelve members of EASBRIG (presumably Eritrea was absent) met in the capital of Burundi to discuss “the Policy Framework for the Establishment of the Eastern Africa Standby Force [EASF] and the Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation between the Eastern Africa Standby Force Coordination Mechanism [EASBRICOM] and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development [IGAD] that aims to harmonise the relations of both institutions….” [9]

NATO, which has been training African Standby Force staff officers at its training center in Oberammergau, Germany, has designated the NATO Joint Command Lisbon to implement the bloc’s military cooperation with Africa. Joint Command Lisbon has what it identifies as a Senior Military Liaison Officer at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (The territory of every nation in Africa except for Liberia, founded by the American Colonization Society in 1821-1822, was formerly ruled by nations that joined NATO: Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Turkey.)

On September 5, 2007 “the North Atlantic Council – NATO’s top political decision making body – agreed to provide assistance to the African Union with a study on the assessment of the operational readiness of the African Standby Force brigades,” according to the NATO website.

In the west of Africa, the Economic Community of West African States Standby Force brigade is being readied to intervene in Ivory Coast to depose President Laurent Gbagbo as the Dutch Defense Ministry announced last week that one of its ships was “heading for the coast of Cote d’Ivoire to provide supplies for French warships stationed there.” [10]

U.S. Naval Forces Europe – U.S. Naval Forces Africa, which is headquartered in Naples, Italy and directs its operations through the U.S. Sixth Fleet, also headquartered in Italy, launched the Africa Partnership Station in 2007 as a naval component of AFRICOM. Warships assigned to it have visited several African nations on the east, west and south ends of the continent, among them Angola, Cameroon, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Reunion, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania and Togo.

Last month the Pentagon’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Africa Vicki Huddleston and the State Department’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto (who was ambassador to Ethiopia when it invaded Somalia in 2006) visited U.S. Africa Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. While there the Defense Department’s Huddleston asserted that “East Africa becomes extremely high for DOD [the Department of Defense] in terms of priority. So the highest priority for DOD, and therefore AFRICOM, becomes East Africa because of Somalia and then West (Africa), North Africa….” [11]

The month before, Ugandan People’s Defence Air Force Chief Major General Jim Owoyesigire visited 17th Air Force (Air Forces Africa) at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, also headquarters for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and NATO’s Allied Air Command.

Owoyesigire stated that his country’s new air force was in part the product of an African air chiefs conference he attended in Ramstein in 2007 where he “began learning from the US Air Force.”

In regards to Uganda’s role as one of the two major belligerent forces in the war in Somalia and its counterinsurgency war at home (and across its borders) against the Lord’s Resistance Army, the air force head confirmed that “Help from U.S. Africa Command and 17th AF has been a key enabler for the UPDAF’s [Ugandan People’s Defence Air Force’s] contribution to these missions.”

“When we started in AMISOM, we had no airlift capability. General Ward [William Ward, AFRICOM commander] came and visited and helped us to partner with the U.S. Air Force to get this airlift capability. To get training, 17th AF came and trained us in loading cargo and airdrops, and this has really helped us.

“This is a wide question, but right now, we are asking 17th AF to come and help us establish a squadron officers’ school and NCO academy in Uganda. If we can develop these schools, then we can also involve our east African partners.” [12]

Early in December the commander of U.S. Army Africa, Major General David Hogg, visited Algeria to meet with senior military and government officials to discuss “bilateral relations and regional issues,” including joint reconnaissance and training activities and “a future visit by Algerian soldiers to the United States to investigate how the Army integrates its lessons learned center into its training regime.”

U.S. Army Africa is the Army’s newest service component command and is based in Vicenza, Italy, assigned to AFRICOM and tasked with “developing relationships with land forces in Africa and supporting U.S. Army efforts on the African continent.” [13]

The regional issues deliberated on by the American general and his Algerian counterparts relate to Algeria’s military campaign against Salafist insurgents and similar counterinsurgency operations throughout the Sahel, which consists of parts of Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia and Sudan.

At the end of last month U.S. military personnel assigned to Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa and Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti participated in a combat casualty course in Burundi as part of a U.S. State Department-sponsored program. According to James Cobb, State Department program country manager in Burundi, “The course is part of a U.S. Department of State initiative to provide African armies an opportunity to partner with American defense forces to develop their peacekeeping skills for operations throughout Africa.” [14]

In December the defense chief of Djibouti, Major General Fathi Ahmed Houssein, met with AFRICOM commander General William Ward at AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart to discuss “joint security cooperation activities and potential areas of further cooperation…in East Africa and throughout the continent.”

As the AFRICOM website put it:

“Djibouti hosts approximately 3,000 U.S. and allied personnel at Camp Lemonnier, which is the only major U.S. military facility in Africa, though small teams of U.S. personnel work across the continent on short-term assignments. The main military organization at Camp Lemonnier is the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). A component of U.S. AFRICOM, CJTF-HOA sends teams throughout the East Africa region [to] protect U.S. and coalition interests.”

Among several joint programs, the generals elaborated plans for “Support to Djiboutian armed forces in the Eastern African Standby Brigade (EASBRIG) field training exercise, aimed to assess the readiness and capability of EASBRIG, a component of the African Union’s Africa Standby Force….”

And expansion of the “International Military Education and Training, a program that invites foreign military officers to attend military schools in the United States, and provides funding for trainers to provide specific, localized training in African countries.”

As well as the continuation of the “Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program, designed to improve African militaries’ capabilities by providing selected training and equipment required to execute multinational…operations.”

Ward and Houssein also discussed “other ways to increase support in building partner capacity in the Horn of Africa through the U.S. Defense Department’s 1206 program [to train and equip foreign militaries for “counterterrorism or stability operations”] and the U.S. State Department’s Partnership Regional East African Counter-Terrorism program,” especially in regard to Ugandan-Burundian AMISOM operations in Somalia. [15]

Air strikes, drone and cruise missile attacks, special forces operations, helicopter gunship raids, counterinsurgency campaigns, multinational armed interventions, cluster bomb and depleted uranium weapons use, and the entire panoply of military actions associated with the Afghanistan-Pakistan war are already being conducted in Africa and will only be increased.

1) Arabian Sea: Center Of West’s 21st Century War
Stop NATO, October 25, 2010
U.S., NATO Expand Afghan War To Horn Of Africa And Indian Ocean
Stop NATO, January 8, 2010
2) Yemen rebels say 120 killed in US airstrikes
Russia Today, December 16, 2009
Yemen: Pentagon’s War On The Arabian Peninsula
Stop NATO, December 15, 2009
3) All Headline News, January 1, 2011
4) Daily Monitor, December 15, 2010
5) Agence France-Presse, September 12, 2007
6) Xinhua News Agency, May 28, 2007
7) NATO: AFRICOM’s Partner In Military Penetration Of Africa
Stop NATO, March 20, 2010
8) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
February 24, 2010
9) New Times, December 2, 2010
10) Xinhua News Agency, December 29, 2010
11) U.S. Africa Command, December 21, 2010
12) 17th Air Force, November 17, 2010
13) U.S. Army Africa, December 28, 2010
14) Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, December 27, 2010
15) U.S. Africa Command, December 29, 2010

Categories: Uncategorized