March 3, 2015
Ukraine to take part in NATO crisis management exercise
KYIV: The NATO begins Annual Crisis Management Exercise, the NATO headquarters has told an Ukrinform correspondent in Brussels.
“Australia, Finland, Japan, Sweden and Ukraine will participate alongside Allies in the exercise. South Korea, New Zealand and Georgia chose to observe the exercise,” the NATO press office says.
The exercise is designed to test the North Atlantic Council procedures at the strategic political-military level.
The scenario for the crisis management exercise consists of a crisis developing between two non-NATO states at distance from Alliance territory. It contains a humanitarian and maritime dimension, with implications for the security of the Allies.
The exercise will take place between 4 and 10 March 2015.
March 3, 2015
NATO envoy: ‘Essential’ for US to train, advise and equip Georgia’s national security forces
Tbilisi,Georgia: A top NATO commander believes it is “essential” the United States (US) “train, advise and equip the national security forces of Georgia” as the country and region focus on maintaining stability and security.
NATO supreme allied commander in Europe and chief of the US European Command, Philip Breedlove, said it was “essential” the US offer support to Georgia and other US partner countries in light of the ongoing instability in the region.
As US partners, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine face a different security challenge from Russia than those facing NATO allies,” he said in report presented to the Senate Armed Forces Committee.
All three countries have implemented political and economic reforms to advance democracy and integrate with Europe. However, their ability to make further progress is significantly constrained by Russian interference and pressure.”
In the report Breedlove said Russia occupied portions of these countries’ territory with its military forces, used economic leverage and energy dependence as coercive measures, exploited minority Russian populations to serve its interests, interfered in democratic processes, engaged in bribery and coercion of government officials, and generated a constant propaganda deluge.
In addition to [all three countries] conducting expeditionary operations and while having differing objectives regarding the scope of their integration with NATO, [Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine] strive to develop military forces meeting NATO standards and interoperability requirements; however, their efforts face a number of challenges, as all three countries require deep institutional reforms to efficiently generate, organize, equip, and sustain their armed forces,” he said.
Post-Soviet countries which aspired to join NATO must also continue and accelerate their transition from Soviet-era systems to modern, NATO-interoperable systems and equipment, said Breedlove.
The report noted there were “growing security concerns” among Central and Eastern European countries that were members of NATO or the European Union (EU), or countries which were seeking closer ties with the trans-Atlantic community.
Having already experienced the use of Russian military force in the 1990s and in 2008, Georgia was “especially threatened” by Russian occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia), said the NATO official in the report.
Russia has signed a ‘treaty’ with Abkhazia and is pushing for another with South Ossetia to increase its influence while hampering Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration. In Moldova, Russian forces have conducted supposed ‘stability operations’ since 1992 to contain the conflict in Transnistria,” he said.
“In fact, Russia deliberately and actively perpetuates these conflicts by manipulating its support to the participants, while engaging in international diplomatic resolution efforts only to the extent necessary to prevent the resumption of all-out violence,’’ he said.
From Paths of Glory (1935)
The 181st had lost thirty-two men, the Tirailleurs seventeen. It wasn’t a bad record for a relief made during a heavy bombardment, nor did it make the slightest difference to the conduct of the war. Every day and every night men were killed at the rate of about four a minute. The line remained the same, everything remained the same – uniforms, equipment, faces, statures, men. Men standing at the same posts, listening to the same sounds, smelling the same smells, thinking the same thoughts, and saying the same words. Forty-nine men had been killed, and one set of collar numerals had been replaced by another. Rats weren’t interested in collar numerals, so it made no difference to them either.
The moon faded from his sight, and he was still for while. A rat climbed noiselessly up the jamb of the gallery entrance and looked at Paolacci for a long time. Then it turned and went down again. Two shells burst along the opposite wall, and a shower of gravel fell upon the unconscious lieutenant…
Later still, when the shadow cast by the moon was rising again on the side of the chalk pit, a rat climbed noiselessly up the jamb of the gallery entrance and watched Paolacci for a while. Then it stepped forward daintily, jumped onto the lieutenant’s chest and squatted there. It looked to the right and to the left, two of three times, quickly, then lowered its head and began to eat Paolacci’s under lip.
Assolant glanced at the the bundles of motionless clothing without pausing in his stride. He noted that one group wore the uniform of a line regiment and that another, a smaller one, wore that of the Tirailleurs. Large blue flies were buzzing indiscriminately over both groups, and clusters of them were busily feeding at eyes, nostrils, mouths, and open wounds.
U.S. Marine Corps
February 27, 2015
Georgia Deployment Program Resolute Support Mission Rotation One
Hohenfels, Germany: U.S. Marines and soldiers and from the Republic of Georgia join forces for a pre-deployment training during a Mission Rehearsal Exercise at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, Hohenfels, Germany. The month-long MRE is designed to test the capabilities of the 43RD Georgian Infantry Battalion before their deployment to Afghanistan. Video Produced by Cpl. Taylor Schrick.
U.S. Army Europe
March 2, 2015
US, Polish forces hone interoperability skills
By 1st Sgt. Jim Wagner
DRAWSKO POMORSKIE, Poland: On a sunny, winter morning, with the last of the morning’s frost dissipating into fog, U.S. troopers and Polish infantrymen met at the edge of the airfield here to await the UH-60 Black Hawk’s arrival and the beginning of medical evacuation training.
This is the latest in weeks of training between Dragoons assigned to K Troop, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment and Polish infantrymen from 3rd Company, 1st Infantry Battalion, 12th Mechanized Brigade. The training will culminate in an upcoming live-fire exercise as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
Operation Atlantic Resolve is a NATO exercise led by the U.S. to test the alliance’s interoperability with Polish, Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian military forces while demonstrating their commitment to a safe and prosperous Europe.
The Medical Evacuation (medevac) training was spearheaded by a Black Hawk flight crew from B Company, 3rd Battalion, 158th Assault Helicopter Brigade, based out of Katterbach, Germany. In the hours prior, Troopers from 2 CR prepared for the day by going over their training schedule before loading into Strykers and heading to the airfield. Meanwhile, the Polish moved out in their armored personnel carriers and plotted their own training points on a terrain map at the airfield’s edge.
Similar tactics, with different execution, is one of several challenges facing military members as they seek to streamline operations conducted in a joint coalition environment. Where the end goal is the same, getting the details right between forces and using different doctrine to achieve that end state can result in miscommunication and a potentially failed mission.
Polish and U.S. forces have trained for more than a year to hone their interoperability skills with the medevac training being no exception. Both militaries have spent years developing the most efficient means of removing injured troops from the battlefield and each have their preferred method of achieving that result.
For the Black Hawk air crew, responsible for the safety and security of all members involved, that meant providing instruction to Polish infantrymen using U.S. medevac procedures; watching for and responding to flight crew hand signals, removing thermal blankets (used to stabilize the injured soldier’s core body temperature) from the litter before it is sucked into the helicopter’s rotor blades, etc.
The lessons learned by military members of both armies will suit them well, not just in training, but in real-world situations in which they may find themselves in the future…
About us: U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51 country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.
March 2, 2015
US decision to give Ukraine defensive weapons ‘99% settled,’ says Saakashvili
The United States has “99% settled” the question of giving Ukraine defensive weaponry, former president of Georgia and current freelance adviser to the President of Ukraine Mikheil Saakashvili has told Ukrainian news broadcaster Channel 5.
“The main thing we are trying to achieve in the United States is that Ukraine receives defensive weapons,’ Saakashvili said.
“Almost everyone is standing by us – public opinion on our side. Giving defensive weapons to Ukraine is a powerful signal to save thousands of lives, to stop further Russian aggression: We all know that now Putin will try to capture not only Mariupol, but the whole southern flank [of Ukraine, and] then he will try to bring down the government in Kyiv. The Ukrainian state needs to defend and protect its security.”
“America is a democratic country, so it was very important to hear publicly voices in the Congress and the Senate, and to see a strong call next week regarding provision defensive weapons for Ukraine. This issue is in the spotlight of all U.S. media. When [Ukrainian] President [Petro] Poroshenko raised this issue in the Congress in his triumphal speech in September last year, for many it was a surprise and a lot of people refused even to listen to it. Now, the decision is practically settled – 99%. I don’t know when the last and most significant 1% will come – I hope soon, because Ukraine is running short of time.”
March 2, 2015
U.S. decision to provide Ukraine with weapons is 99% ready – Saakashvili
KYIV: The decision of the United States to provide Ukraine with defensive weapons is 99% ready.
Non-staff adviser to the President of Ukraine, president of Georgia in 2004-2013 Mikheil Saakashvili said this on the air of Ukrainian Channel 5.
“America is a democratic state, so it is very important that the strong demand to provide Ukraine with weapons has been stated in the Congress, in the Senate, and it will be stated the next week. This demand is now covered by all the U.S. media. When President Poroshenko said about this in the Congress in his triumphal speech in last September, it was a surprise for many and many did not even want to listen to that. At the moment, this decision is practically 99 per cent ready. I do not know when there will be the last, the most significant per cent. I hope that will happen soon, because Ukraine is short of time,” he said.
Saakashvili noted that in the U.S. “almost everybody is on our side.” Providing Ukraine with defensive weapons will be the strongest signal in order to save thousands of lives and stop further Russian aggression.
March 2, 2015
U.S. to allocate $120 million to equip Ukrainian army
KYIV: The U.S. will allocate Ukraine $120 million in 2015 for training and equipping its troops.
U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt said this in an interview with Ukrainian television’s Inter channel, according to Espreso.TV.
“The U.S. Congress has approved the allocation of $120 million this year for training and purchasing equipment. The only question that is still being discussed is whether it should include defensive lethal weapons,” Pyatt said.
According to him, the allocation of lethal weapons is not as important as the issue of reforms in the defense sector.
He also confirmed that the United States already has ample evidence of Russia’s participation to the conflict – photos from satellites and other evidence of the presence of Russian troops and military equipment in Donbas, as well as weapons supplies.
March 2, 2015
Poroshenko suggests army increases to 250,000 men
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has submitted a draft law enlarging the maximum size of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to 250,000 men, including 204,000 military servicemen, to the Verkhovna Rada.
The draft law was registered on Monday and presented for the parliament leaders’ consideration, says a report posted on the parliament website.
“The size of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in special periods shall grow by the number of servicemen recruited for military service consistent with the mobilization degrees of the Ukrainian president,” it said.
Ministry of Defence of Georgia
March 2, 2015
Levan Girsiashvili Held Working Visit to USA
The MoD delegation led by Deputy Defence Minister Levan Girsiashvili held two-day long working visit to the USA. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Evelyn Farkas hosted the Georgian side at the Pentagon. Within the framework of the visit, the MoD delegation also held meetings with Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Todd C. Chapman and the senators.
The sides discussed progress achieved by Georgia in the scope of intensified bilateral cooperation in the field of defence at the meetings. Implementation of NATO-Georgia Substantial Package and U.S. engagement in the process was referred at the meeting. Regional security issues and existing challenges were discussed at the meeting as well.
The American side expressed gratitude to the Georgian side for a huge contribution provided to the NATO-led ISAF operation and Resolute Support mission. The American side underlined the United States’ readiness to continue assistance for the development of national resources for rehabilitation of the Georgian military personnel wounded in international stability missions.
By and when each nation has 20,000 battleships and 1,000,000 soldiers we shall all be safe and the wisdom of statesmanship will stand confirmed.
If we had less statesmanship we could get along with fewer battleships.
It is sound statesmanship to add two battleships every time our neighbor adds one and two stories to our skyscrapers every time he piles a new one on top of his to threaten our light. There is no limit to this soundness but the sky.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
February 27, 2015
Secretary General visits NATO military headquarters in Naples
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked Allied personnel for their service and for their contribution to NATO operations and missions during his first visit to Allied Joint Force Command Headquarters in Naples on Friday (27 February 2015). “You are helping to keep our Alliance safe, and our world more secure,” he said.
The Secretary General underscored the command’s “wide range of responsibilities” and its key role in running a large number of missions and operations. He noted that Allied Joint Force Command Naples has been at the forefront of NATO’s engagement to train Iraqi security forces, protect civilians in Libya, combat terrorism in the Mediterranean, and bring stability to the Balkans.
Upon arrival at Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Mr. Stoltenberg met with the Commander, US Admiral Mark Ferguson, and other key officials. Touring the facility, the Secretary General received a series of briefings in the Joint Operations Centre. He completed his visit with a town hall address to the headquarters’ personnel.
“Every one of you here today, and every one of your colleagues, can be proud of the work you do”, he said.
Secretary General Stoltenberg is wrapping up a two day visit to Italy. Earlier on Friday, he visited and addressed the NATO Defence College in Rome. On 26 February, Mr. Stoltenberg held talks with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti, and other key officials and parliamentarians.
February 26, 2015
Exercise Spartan Pegasus demonstrates joint military partnership
By Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Smith
Spartan Pegasus demonstrates rapid Arctic airborne insertion, mobility Paratroopers, with U.S. Army Alaska’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, await their exit as they fly inside a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft during Exercise Spartan Pegasus on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
DEADHORSE, Alaska: Paratroopers, with U.S. Army Alaska’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, performed the largest U.S. airborne mission north of the Arctic Circle in more than a decade during Exercise Spartan Pegasus 15, Feb. 24.
This exercise demonstrated their unique ability to rapidly mass power on an objective in extremely cold and austere environments.
The airborne operation, spearheaded by the Spartan Brigade’s 6th Brigade Engineer Battalion, or BEB, inserted nearly 150 paratroopers along with arctic-mobility equipment, including a small unit support vehicle and arctic sustainment gear.
The large-scale exercise involved intricate planning and coordination amongst several military components including U.S. Army Alaska, or USARAK, the Air Force, the Alaska National Guard, and the state of Alaska.
The purpose of Spartan Pegasus was to validate Soldier mobility across frozen terrain, a key fundamental of U.S. Army Alaska’s capacity as the Army’s northernmost command.
The air support package included two Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and two Alaska Air Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft to fly the task force more than 800 miles north from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, or JBER, Alaska.
Pegasus was a joint operation. U.S. Air Force Maj. Kirby Chacon, with the Alaska Air National Guard at JBER, said working closely with the Army for Spartan Pegasus helped further relations, and that just being able to practice for real-world applications is important for both branches.
Air Force Capt. John Kline, commander of Bravo Company, 6th BEB, Spartan Pegasus, said the exercise demonstrated USARAK’s unique airborne and arctic skill sets and the unit’s ability to work closely with joint military partners.
“We do a lot of joint partnership missions,” Kline said. “We work with our Air Force brethren out of JBER and the Alaskan National Guard as well as many other partners from across Alaska.”
“This exercise showcases the rapidly-deployable capabilities of the paratroopers,” Kline said. “The arctic paratrooper can really survive in extreme conditions and can [deploy] in very short response time.”
USARAK is the Army’s proponent for extreme-cold-weather training. As home to the Northern Warfare Training Center, USARAK validates the training concepts taught there through operations across the state, including within the Arctic Circle and at the top of Mount McKinley.
Adding to the exercise’s success was command and control communications provided by the 307th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 516th Signal Brigade. The mission marked the farthest north a command post node has been established by the unit and was a key factor in the success of the overall mission. The various military components were able to maintain constant contact with each other allowing for efficient order issue and receipt during the entire exercise.
Though the mission was at the top of Alaska, it was tracked within the Department of the Army as an emergency deployment readiness exercise.
With all jumpers and gear safely on the tundra, the airborne team within USARAK once again demonstrated USARAK’s ability to work closely with joint military partners to respond to emergencies and contingencies in the harsh, Arctic environment in Alaska and other parts of the Asia-Pacific region.
From The Specter (1938)
Translated by Alexander Bakshy
It was quite clear to Samghin that the entire country was bursting with patriotic sentiment – exactly opposite to his observation at the commencement of the Japanese War. This time the liberal bourgeoisie had unanimously adopted the cry: “Unity of Czar and People!” The Duma solemnly erased all differences with the government. Students held patriotic demonstrations. Hundreds of telegrams flew from the provinces to the Czar, speaking of eagerness to fight, of confidence in victory. Newspapers reported “Teutonic atrocities.” Prose and verse writers threatened the Germans with destruction. Everywhere was praise of the Don Cossack Kozma Kryuchkov, who, in order to imbue civilians with military ardor, hacked with a saber and pierced with a lance eleven German cavalrymen.
…He was preoccupied with one question: What prospects, what paths, did the war open up for him? It had placed under arms such vast hordes of people that, of course, it could not last long – there would not be enough supplies for prolonged fighting. The Allies, of course, would defeat the Austrians and the Germans. Russia would obtain an outlet into the Mediterranean and secure a firm foothold in the Balkans. That was all very well, but what would be his personal gain? With all the determination of which he was capable, he decided he must make himself a position of prominence – as he should have done long ago.
“It is my duty to do that – out of sheer respect for my experience of life. It has a value which I have no right to conceal from the war, from the people.”
February 28, 2015
Ukraine receives foreign lethal weapons – NSDC
KYIV: Some countries supply lethal weapons to Ukraine.
Deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) Oleh Hladkovsky has said this at the briefing, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
“We are working with the whole world, and I may tell you, without going beyond the scope of state secret, that we receive lethal weapons from the countries, where there is no hype, where there is no impact, which we create, unfortunately, by ourselves,” he said, answering journalists’ questions whether Ukraine receives lethal weapons from some world countries.
Why the rise of fascism is again the issue
February 26, 2015
The recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazi iconography is embedded in our consciousness. Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear. Yet in the same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it is their fascism.
“To initiate a war of aggression…,” said the Nuremberg Tribunal judges in 1946, “is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
Had the Nazis not invaded Europe, Auschwitz and the Holocaust would not have happened. Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its savagery. They are the progeny of modern fascism, weaned by the bombs, bloodbaths and lies that are the surreal theatre known as news.
Like the fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent, repetitive media and its virulent censorship by omission. Take the catastrophe in Libya.
In 2011, Nato launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that “most [of the children killed] were under the age of ten”.
The public sodomising of the Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi with a “rebel” bayonet was greeted by the then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, with the words: “We came, we saw, he died.” His murder, like the destruction of his country, was justified with a familiar big lie; he was planning “genocide” against his own people. “We knew… that if we waited one more day,” said President Obama, “Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”
This was the fabrication of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. They told Reuters there would be “a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda”. Reported on March 14, 2011, the lie provided the first spark for Nato’s inferno, described by David Cameron as a “humanitarian intervention”.
Secretly supplied and trained by Britain’s SAS, many of the “rebels” would become ISIS, whose latest video offering shows the beheading of 21 Coptic Christian workers seized in Sirte, the city destroyed on their behalf by Nato bombers.
For Obama, David Cameron and then French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Gaddafi’s true crime was Libya’s economic independence and his declared intention to stop selling Africa’s greatest oil reserves in US dollars. The petrodollar is a pillar of American imperial power. Gaddafi audaciously planned to underwrite a common African currency backed by gold, establish an all-Africa bank and promote economic union among poor countries with prized resources. Whether or not this would happen, the very notion was intolerable to the US as it prepared to “enter” Africa and bribe African governments with military “partnerships”.
Following Nato’s attack under cover of a Security Council resolution, Obama, wrote Garikai Chengu, “confiscated $30 billion from Libya’s Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of an African Central Bank and the African gold backed dinar currency”.
The “humanitarian war” against Libya drew on a model close to western liberal hearts, especially in the media. In 1999, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair sent Nato to bomb Serbia, because, they lied, the Serbs were committing “genocide” against ethnic Albanians in the secessionist province of Kosovo. David Scheffer, US ambassador-at-large for war crimes [sic], claimed that as many as “225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59″ might have been murdered. Both Clinton and Blair evoked the Holocaust and “the spirit of the Second World War”. The West’s heroic allies were the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), whose criminal record was set aside. The British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, told them to call him any time on his mobile phone.
With the Nato bombing over, and much of Serbia’s infrastructure in ruins, along with schools, hospitals, monasteries and the national TV station, international forensic teams descended upon Kosovo to exhume evidence of the “holocaust”. The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and went home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily denouncing “a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines”. A year later, a United Nations tribunal on Yugoslavia announced the final count of the dead in Kosovo: 2,788. This included combatants on both sides and Serbs and Roma murdered by the KLA. There was no genocide. The “holocaust” was a lie. The Nato attack had been fraudulent.
Behind the lie, there was serious purpose. Yugoslavia was a uniquely independent, multi-ethnic federation that had stood as a political and economic bridge in the Cold War. Most of its utilities and major manufacturing was publicly owned. This was not acceptable to the expanding European Community, especially newly united Germany, which had begun a drive east to capture its “natural market” in the Yugoslav provinces of Croatia and Slovenia. By the time the Europeans met at Maastricht in 1991 to lay their plans for the disastrous eurozone, a secret deal had been struck; Germany would recognise Croatia. Yugoslavia was doomed.
In Washington, the US saw that the struggling Yugoslav economy was denied World Bank loans. Nato, then an almost defunct Cold War relic, was reinvented as imperial enforcer. At a 1999 Kosovo “peace” conference in Rambouillet, in France, the Serbs were subjected to the enforcer’s duplicitous tactics. The Rambouillet accord included a secret Annex B, which the US delegation inserted on the last day. This demanded the military occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia – a country with bitter memories of the Nazi occupation – and the implementation of a “free-market economy” and the privatisation of all government assets. No sovereign state could sign this. Punishment followed swiftly; Nato bombs fell on a defenceless country. It was the precursor to the catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq, Syria and Libya, and Ukraine.
Since 1945, more than a third of the membership of the United Nations – 69 countries – have suffered some or all of the following at the hands of America’s modern fascism. They have been invaded, their governments overthrown, their popular movements suppressed, their elections subverted, their people bombed and their economies stripped of all protection, their societies subjected to a crippling siege known as “sanctions”. The British historian Mark Curtis estimates the death toll in the millions. In every case, a big lie was deployed.
“Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over.” These were opening words of Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address. In fact, some 10,000 troops and 20,000 military contractors (mercenaries) remain in Afghanistan on indefinite assignment. “The longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion,” said Obama. In fact, more civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2014 than in any year since the UN took records. The majority have been killed – civilians and soldiers – during Obama’s time as president.
The tragedy of Afghanistan rivals the epic crime in Indochina. In his lauded and much quoted book ‘The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives’, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the godfather of US policies from Afghanistan to the present day, writes that if America is to control Eurasia and dominate the world, it cannot sustain a popular democracy, because “the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion… Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilisation.” He is right. As WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden have revealed, a surveillance and police state is usurping democracy. In 1976, Brzezinski, then President Carter’s National Security Advisor, demonstrated his point by dealing a death blow to Afghanistan’s first and only democracy. Who knows this vital history?
In the 1960s, a popular revolution swept Afghanistan, the poorest country on earth, eventually overthrowing the vestiges of the aristocratic regime in 1978. The People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) formed a government and declared a reform programme that included the abolition of feudalism, freedom for all religions, equal rights for women and social justice for the ethnic minorities. More than 13,000 political prisoners were freed and police files publicly burned.
The new government introduced free medical care for the poorest; peonage was abolished, a mass literacy programme was launched. For women, the gains were unheard of. By the late 1980s, half the university students were women, and women made up almost half of Afghanistan’s doctors, a third of civil servants and the majority of teachers. “Every girl,” recalled Saira Noorani, a female surgeon, “could go to high school and university. We could go where we wanted and wear what we liked. We used to go to cafes and the cinema to see the latest Indian film on a Friday and listen to the latest music. It all started to go wrong when the mujaheddin started winning. They used to kill teachers and burn schools. We were terrified. It was funny and sad to think these were the people the West supported.”
The PDPA government was backed by the Soviet Union, even though, as former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance later admitted, “there was no evidence of any Soviet complicity [in the revolution]”. Alarmed by the growing confidence of liberation movements throughout the world, Brzezinski decided that if Afghanistan was to succeed under the PDPA, its independence and progress would offer the “threat of a promising example”.
On July 3, 1979, the White House secretly authorised support for tribal “fundamentalist” groups known as the mujaheddin, a program that grew to over $500 million a year in U.S. arms and other assistance. The aim was the overthrow of Afghanistan’s first secular, reformist government. In August 1979, the US embassy in Kabul reported that “the United States’ larger interests… would be served by the demise of [the PDPA government], despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan.” The italics are mine.
The mujaheddin were the forebears of al-Qaeda and Islamic State. They included Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who received tens of millions of dollars in cash from the CIA. Hekmatyar’s specialty was trafficking in opium and throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. Invited to London, he was lauded by Prime Minister Thatcher as a “freedom fighter”.
Such fanatics might have remained in their tribal world had Brzezinski not launched an international movement to promote Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and so undermine secular political liberation and “destabilise” the Soviet Union, creating, as he wrote in his autobiography, “a few stirred up Muslims”. His grand plan coincided with the ambitions of the Pakistani dictator, General Zia ul-Haq, to dominate the region. In 1986, the CIA and Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, began to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. The Saudi multi-millionaire Osama bin Laden was one of them. Operatives who would eventually join the Taliban and al-Qaeda, were recruited at an Islamic college in Brooklyn, New York, and given paramilitary training at a CIA camp in Virginia. This was called “Operation Cyclone”. Its success was celebrated in 1996 when the last PDPA president of Afghanistan, Mohammed Najibullah – who had gone before the UN General Assembly to plead for help – was hanged from a streetlight by the Taliban.
The “blowback” of Operation Cyclone and its “few stirred up Muslims” was September 11, 2001. Operation Cyclone became the “war on terror”, in which countless men, women and children would lose their lives across the Muslim world, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria. The enforcer’s message was and remains: “You are with us or against us.”
The common thread in fascism, past and present, is mass murder. The American invasion of Vietnam had its “free fire zones”, “body counts” and “collateral damage”. In the province of Quang Ngai, where I reported from, many thousands of civilians (“gooks”) were murdered by the US; yet only one massacre, at My Lai, is remembered. In Laos and Cambodia, the greatest aerial bombardment in history produced an epoch of terror marked today by the spectacle of joined-up bomb craters which, from the air, resemble monstrous necklaces. The bombing gave Cambodia its own ISIS, led by Pol Pot.
Today, the world’s greatest single campaign of terror entails the execution of entire families, guests at weddings, mourners at funerals. These are Obama’s victims. According to the New York Times, Obama makes his selection from a CIA “kill list” presented to him every Tuesday in the White House Situation Room. He then decides, without a shred of legal justification, who will live and who will die. His execution weapon is the Hellfire missile carried by a pilotless aircraft known as a drone; these roast their victims and festoon the area with their remains. Each “hit” is registered on a faraway console screen as a “bugsplat”.
“For goose-steppers,” wrote the historian Norman Pollock, “substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manque, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.”
Uniting fascism old and new is the cult of superiority. “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being,” said Obama, evoking declarations of national fetishism from the 1930s. As the historian Alfred W. McCoy has pointed out, it was the Hitler devotee, Carl Schmitt, who said, “The sovereign is he who decides the exception.” This sums up Americanism, the world’s dominant ideology. That it remains unrecognised as a predatory ideology is the achievement of an equally unrecognised brainwashing. Insidious, undeclared, presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, its conceit insinuates western culture. I grew up on a cinematic diet of American glory, almost all of it a distortion. I had no idea that it was the Red Army that had destroyed most of the Nazi war machine, at a cost of as many as 13 million soldiers. By contrast, US losses, including in the Pacific, were 400,000. Hollywood reversed this.
The difference now is that cinema audiences are invited to wring their hands at the “tragedy” of American psychopaths having to kill people in distant places – just as the President himself kills them. The embodiment of Hollywood’s violence, the actor and director Clint Eastwood, was nominated for an Oscar this year for his movie, ‘American Sniper’, which is about a licensed murderer and nutcase. The New York Times described it as a “patriotic, pro-family picture which broke all attendance records in its opening days”.
There are no heroic movies about America’s embrace of fascism. During the Second World War, America (and Britain) went to war against Greeks who had fought heroically against Nazism and were resisting the rise of Greek fascism. In 1967, the CIA helped bring to power a fascist military junta in Athens – as it did in Brazil and most of Latin America. Germans and east Europeans who had colluded with Nazi aggression and crimes against humanity were given safe haven in the US; many were pampered and their talents rewarded. Wernher von Braun was the “father” of both the Nazi V-2 terror bomb and the US space programme.
In the 1990s, as former Soviet republics, eastern Europe and the Balkans became military outposts of Nato, the heirs to a Nazi movement in Ukraine were given their opportunity. Responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews, Poles and Russians during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Ukrainian fascism was rehabilitated and its “new wave” hailed by the enforcer as “nationalists”.
This reached its apogee in 2014 when the Obama administration splashed out $5 billion on a coup against the elected government. The shock troops were neo-Nazis known as the Right Sector and Svoboda. Their leaders include Oleh Tyahnybok, who has called for a purge of the “Moscow-Jewish mafia” and “other scum”, including gays, feminists and those on the political left.
These fascists are now integrated into the Kiev coup government. The first deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Andriy Parubiy, a leader of the governing party, is co-founder of Svoboda. On February 14, Parubiy announced he was flying to Washington get “the USA to give us highly precise modern weaponry”. If he succeeds, it will be seen as an act of war by Russia.
No western leader has spoken up about the revival of fascism in the heart of Europe – with the exception of Vladimir Putin, whose people lost 22 million to a Nazi invasion that came through the borderland of Ukraine. At the recent Munich Security Conference, Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, ranted abuse about European leaders for opposing the US arming of the Kiev regime. She referred to the German Defence Minister as “the minister for defeatism”. It was Nuland who masterminded the coup in Kiev. The wife of Robert D. Kagan, a leading “neo-con” luminary and co-founder of the extreme right wing Project for a New American Century, she was foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney.
Nuland’s coup did not go to plan. Nato was prevented from seizing Russia’s historic, legitimate, warm-water naval base in Crimea. The mostly Russian population of Crimea – illegally annexed to Ukraine by Nikita Krushchev in 1954 – voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia, as they had done in the 1990s. The referendum was voluntary, popular and internationally observed. There was no invasion.
At the same time, the Kiev regime turned on the ethnic Russian population in the east with the ferocity of ethnic cleansing. Deploying neo-Nazi militias in the manner of the Waffen-SS, they bombed and laid to siege cities and towns. They used mass starvation as a weapon, cutting off electricity, freezing bank accounts, stopping social security and pensions. More than a million refugees fled across the border into Russia. In the western media, they became unpeople escaping “the violence” caused by the “Russian invasion”. The Nato commander, General Breedlove – whose name and actions might have been inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove – announced that 40,000 Russian troops were “massing”. In the age of forensic satellite evidence, he offered none.
These Russian-speaking and bilingual people of Ukraine – a third of the population – have long sought a federation that reflects the country’s ethnic diversity and is both autonomous and independent of Moscow. Most are not “separatists” but citizens who want to live securely in their homeland and oppose the power grab in Kiev. Their revolt and establishment of autonomous “states” are a reaction to Kiev’s attacks on them. Little of this has been explained to western audiences.
On May 2, 2014, in Odessa, 41 ethnic Russians were burned alive in the trade union headquarters with police standing by. The Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh hailed the massacre as “another bright day in our national history”. In the American and British media, this was reported as a “murky tragedy” resulting from “clashes” between “nationalists” (neo-Nazis) and “separatists” (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine).
The New York Times buried the story, having dismissed as Russian propaganda warnings about the fascist and anti-Semitic policies of Washington’s new clients. The Wall Street Journal damned the victims – “Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says”. Obama congratulated the junta for its “restraint”.
If Putin can be provoked into coming to their aid, his pre-ordained “pariah” role in the West will justify the lie that Russia is invading Ukraine. On January 29, Ukraine’s top military commander, General Viktor Muzhemko, almost inadvertently dismissed the very basis for US and EU sanctions on Russia when he told a news conference emphatically: “The Ukrainian army is not fighting with the regular units of the Russian Army”. There were “individual citizens” who were members of “illegal armed groups”, but there was no Russian invasion. This was not news. Vadym Prystaiko, Kiev’s Deputy Foreign Minister, has called for “full scale war” with nuclear-armed Russia.
On February 21, US Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, introduced a bill that would authorise American arms for the Kiev regime. In his Senate presentation, Inhofe used photographs he claimed were of Russian troops crossing into Ukraine, which have long been exposed as fakes. It was reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s fake pictures of a Soviet installation in Nicaragua, and Colin Powell’s fake evidence to the UN of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
The intensity of the smear campaign against Russia and the portrayal of its president as a pantomime villain is unlike anything I have known as a reporter. Robert Parry, one of America’s most distinguished investigative journalists, who revealed the Iran-Contra scandal, wrote recently, “No European government, since Adolf Hitler’s Germany, has seen fit to dispatch Nazi storm troopers to wage war on a domestic population, but the Kiev regime has and has done so knowingly. Yet across the West’s media/political spectrum, there has been a studious effort to cover up this reality even to the point of ignoring facts that have been well established… If you wonder how the world could stumble into world war three – much as it did into world war one a century ago – all you need to do is look at the madness over Ukraine that has proved impervious to facts or reason.”
In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media: “The use made by Nazi conspirators of psychological warfare is well known. Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack… In the propaganda system of the Hitler State it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.” In the Guardian on February 2, Timothy Garton-Ash called, in effect, for a world war. “Putin must be stopped,” said the headline. “And sometimes only guns can stop guns.” He conceded that the threat of war might “nourish a Russian paranoia of encirclement”; but that was fine. He name-checked the military equipment needed for the job and advised his readers that “America has the best kit”.
In 2003, Garton-Ash, an Oxford professor, repeated the propaganda that led to the slaughter in Iraq. Saddam Hussein, he wrote, “has, as [Colin] Powell documented, stockpiled large quantities of horrifying chemical and biological weapons, and is hiding what remains of them. He is still trying to get nuclear ones.” He lauded Blair as a “Gladstonian, Christian liberal interventionist”. In 2006, he wrote, “Now we face the next big test of the West after Iraq: Iran.”
The outbursts – or as Garton-Ash prefers, his “tortured liberal ambivalence” – are not untypical of those in the transatlantic liberal elite who have struck a Faustian deal. The war criminal Blair is their lost leader. The Guardian, in which Garton-Ash’s piece appeared, published a full-page advertisement for an American Stealth bomber. On a menacing image of the Lockheed Martin monster were the words: “The F-35. GREAT For Britain”. This American “kit” will cost British taxpayers £1.3 billion, its F-model predecessors having slaughtered across the world. In tune with its advertiser, a Guardian editorial has demanded an increase in military spending.
Once again, there is serious purpose. The rulers of the world want Ukraine not only as a missile base; they want its economy. Kiev’s new Finance Minister, Nataliwe Jaresko, is a former senior US State Department official in charge of US overseas “investment”. She was hurriedly given Ukrainian citizenship. They want Ukraine for its abundant gas; Vice President Joe Biden’s son is on the board of Ukraine’s biggest oil, gas and fracking company. The manufacturers of GM seeds, companies such as the infamous Monsanto, want Ukraine’s rich farming soil.
Above all, they want Ukraine’s mighty neighbour, Russia. They want to Balkanise or dismember Russia and exploit the greatest source of natural gas on earth. As the Arctic ice melts, they want control of the Arctic Ocean and its energy riches, and Russia’s long Arctic land border. Their man in Moscow used to be Boris Yeltsin, a drunk, who handed his country’s economy to the West. His successor, Putin, has re-established Russia as a sovereign nation; that is his crime.
The responsibility of the rest of us is clear. It is to identify and expose the reckless lies of warmongers and never to collude with them. It is to re-awaken the great popular movements that brought a fragile civilisation to modern imperial states. Most important, it is to prevent the conquest of ourselves: our minds, our humanity, our self respect. If we remain silent, victory over us is assured, and a holocaust beckons.
Xinhua News Agency
February 27, 2015
Turkey, U.S. to start training Syrian rebels on March 1
ANKARA: Turkey and the United States will launch a program for training and equipping Syrian rebels on March 1, spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry Tanju Bilgic said on Friday.
On Feb. 19, Turkey and the U. S. signed an agreement for providing training and equipment for the Syrian opposition forces.
The program aims to train a total of 15,000 Syrian opposition fighters in a three-year period, 5,000 of them will be trained at a military base in the central Turkish city of Kirsehir.
The Syrian rebels will be trained and equiped to fight both the Islamic State (IS) militants and Syrian government forces, Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu said.
Trend News Agency
February 27, 2015
Poland plans to train up to 100 instructors to be sent to Ukraine
Poland plans to send several dozen military instructors to Poland, Minister of National Defence Tomasz Siemoniak said on Thursday.
“We want to train up to 100 instructors,” he said, adding that the exact number of instructors would be agreed with the Ukrainian side, as would be the time when they were to be sent to Ukraine.
“Actually, there will be several dozens. I don’t think 100 /instructors/ will be sent to Ukraine. Its centres are not ready for that,” he noted. In his words, the final decision would be taken in March.
Trend News Agency
February 27, 2015
Georgia is Eastern Partnership leading country – European Council
Tbilisi: Georgia is a leading country of the Eastern Partnership, the European Council President Donald Tusk said at a joint briefing with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili in Brussels, Garibashvili’s office said.
“This is not a compliment, but a fact,” he said.
Tusk has focused on the country’s progress in visa liberalization.
“As for the visa liberalization, we expect the result, positive recommendations,” Tusk said. “I hope that our next meeting in Riga will be successful in this direction.”
Tusk called the so-called agreement between Russia and the de facto regime of Abkhazia as a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, as well as international law.
He said that the EU supports the territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders and firmly adheres to a policy of non-recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and so-called South Ossetia.
Large-scale military action was launched between Georgia and Russia in South Ossetia on August 8, 2008.
Later, Russian troops occupied Tskhinvali and expelled the Georgian military.
Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in late August.
In response, Tbilisi ended diplomatic relations with Moscow and has called the two unrecognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia occupied territories.
February 28, 2015
Romanian PM Reiterates ‘Strong Support’ for Georgia’s EU, NATO Integration
Tbilisi: Romania is a “strong supporter” of Georgia’s EU and NATO integration, Romanian PM Victor Ponta told his Georgian counterpart Irakli Garibashvili at a meeting in Bucharest on February 27.
“It’s not an easy path… It’s true that everybody speaks about Ukraine; Romanians always speak about Moldova and I personally always speak about Moldova and Georgia,” PM Ponta said and added that Romania supports “equally” Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine.
“It is important not to forget about us. We understand that we have a very tense situation in the region, very difficult situation – I mean crisis in Ukraine, but we should not forget about Georgia and we should keep our country on radar,” the Georgian PM responded.
In separate remarks after the meeting, PM Ponta said again that it is “our duty to remember Georgia”, which had the “courage to stand by the European Union, NATO” despite difficult situation in the region.
“Georgia’s European integration and accession to NATO were high on the agenda of our discussions today. We want to express our gratitude towards your country, dear friend, and your personal contribution; we feel your very strong support,” Garibashvili told his Romanian counterpart.
PM Ponta said that energy and transportation projects, among them AGRI, were also the focus of discussions.
Liquefied natural gas transportation project, AGRI (Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania-Hungary Interconnector), envisages gas delivery via pipelines to a terminal in Kulevi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, where it will be liquefied and shipped by tankers to the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanţa and re-gasified to supply it to consumers in Europe.
Accompanied by Foreign Minister Tamar Beruchashvili and Agriculture Minister Otar Danelia, the Georgian PM visited Bucharest on February 27 after talks with the EU officials in Brussels on February 26.
In Bucharest the Georgian delegation also met speakers of upper and lower houses of the Romanian parliament, Călin Popescu Tăriceanu and Valeriu Zgonea, respectively.
Ministry of Defence of Georgia
February 27, 2015
COL Roman Jokhadze Familiarized with Georgian Military’s Pre-deployment Preparation
The military servicemen of the Armed Forces of Georgia are going through pre-deployment preparation for the NATO “Resolute Support” mission. The Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the GAF COL Roman Jokhadze familiarized with the ongoing training of the Georgian troops in Germany.
During his stay in Hohenfels, COL Jokhadze visited the military bases of Germany`s Federal Ministry of Defence located in the US Joint Multinational Readiness Centre (JMRC) and Bad Salzungen. The 43rd Battalion of IV Mechanized Brigade of GAF is being trained in the JMRD. Quick Reaction Force (QRF) of the 32nd Battalion of III Infantry Brigade is going through preparation for the Afghanistan mission at the Bad Salzungen`s military base.
Deputy Chief of Defence familiarized with the Georgian troops` training led by the American and German instructors. The US and German Infantry Forces Advisory Group members positively assessed the preparedness level of the Georgian servicemen. The training scenario is maximally closer to the Afghan reality. In a simulated town specially created for the scenario, the Georgian military are being practiced in the skills of communicating with local population and in those required for staying in the country. They are putting up with an environment where they will have to fulfill their duties. The German and American instructors train the Georgian servicemen to be able to carry out counterinsurgency operations (COIN), prepare, clear up, protect and maintain the security of a battlefield.
After the preparation the Georgian military will be deployed to Afghanistan. They will carry out full spectrum operations in their area of responsibility.
Focus News Agency
February 28, 2018
Finnish President: possible accession to NATO to be put up for referendum
Helsinki. The issue of Finland’s possible accession to NATO will be put up for referendum, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto told the media on Saturday, TASS reported.
“We had a referendum on [Finland’s] accession to the EU. In this case, we are talking about the issue of a similar scale,” Niinisto said.
He expressed hope that the new Finnish government that comes to power after parliamentary election in April will not include in its program the point on excluding accession to NATO. “In any case, I hope it [the new government] will not exclude the possibility altogether,” the president noted.
The incumbent authorities’ program includes a point that states that Finland will not file for accession to NATO in the period of the current government’s service.
Upton Sinclair: U.S. invasion of Russia: nothing but wholesale murder; American army and navy as a world police-force
From Boston (1928)
It was time to get excitable young rebels out of the country; the family realized that clearly more and more every day. For it appeared that the signing of the armistice was not going to mean peace; not even the signing of a treaty would mean it. Our troops were to stay in Germany; worse yet, they were to stay in Siberia and Archangel, and wage President Wilson’s private war upon the Russian people. The American army and navy were to service as a world police-force for the capitalist system. Exactly what Cornelia had seen the Boston police do in Plymouth, the national police were going to do all over Europe and Asia, sometimes under our command, sometimes under British command. And any persons at home who objected to this program would be hit over the head with the so-called espionage act; a law enacted to punish enemy spies, and now serving to jail American citizens for protesting against attacks upon a friendly people without a declaration of war.
It was the White Terror. Conducted partly by mobs, and partly by police and government agents acting as mobs, it had for its aim the destruction of every means through which the American people might learn how their blood and treasure were being wasted. It stopped at no crime; the law-enforcers of city, state and nation became the leading criminals. In New York four Russian boys and a girl, all of them under age, attempting to distribute a circular against the invasion of Russia, were seized by the police and tortured until one of them died; the rest were prosecuted in the federal courts and received sentences of twenty years’ imprisonment.
“It is nothing but a coward’s attempt to frighten and distress us. Joe was connected with the American legation in Russia, when President Wilson begin his private war on the Russian people, which was nothing but wholesale murder for the benefit of the British Tories. Joe said what he thought about it, and he may actually have done something to try to stop it. If he has a ‘criminal record,’ that is it. I’m sure.”
DSACEUR Discusses Hybrid Warfare during Visit to Albania
TIRANA, Albania: NATO’s current efforts to adapt to emerging hybrid challenges from the east and south were a focus of discussions between Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR) General Sir Adrian Bradshaw and senior Albanian political and military officials during meetings in Tirana, Albania, on 26 and 27 February. During the visit, General Bradshaw met with the Albanian Deputy Prime Minister, the Foreign and Defence Ministers, the Military Chief of Defence, and other senior Albanian officials.
A main area of discussion included Alliance plans to enhance and restructure the NATO Response Force (NRF) into a division-sized force that can move at short notice in response to hybrid threats. A vital new part of the NRF will be the creation of a ‘Very High Readiness Joint Task Force’ (VJTF), a multinational brigade of approximately 5,000 troops, with up to five manoeuvre battalions, supported by air, maritime and special forces. Some elements will be ready to move within two to three days, at the first indication of hybrid or conventional warning signs.
“NATO nations are resolute in their determination to respond to emerging security challenges from both the south and east, as evidenced by our ongoing and robust assurance measures, and our rapid establishment of an interim VJTF capability,” said General Bradshaw. “Every single Ally, no matter how large or small, is committed to the implementation of NATO’s Readiness Action Plan and I am pleased that Albania is contributing to our largest collective training event for 2015, Exercise Trident Juncture,” he said.
During the visit, DSACEUR also had the opportunity to visit an Albanian Special Forces unit and observe a military training exercise. He also had occasion to interact with soldiers and officers serving with the Albanian military.
“Albania is a relatively new member of NATO, and its troops have already made significant contributions to NATO operational missions,” said General Bradshaw. “Your ongoing efforts in Afghanistan on RESOLUTE SUPPORT and in Kosovo with KFOR and in BiH with EUFOR have been outstanding, and your contributions to last year’s NATO Response Forces were deeply appreciated,” he added.
Story by SHAPE Public Affairs Office
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
February 27, 2015
NATO and Italy discuss how Alliance is adapting to face threats from east and south
Arriving in Rome at the start of a two day visit to Italy on Thursday (26 February 2015), Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg underscored that NATO is adapting to “defend all Allies against threats from any direction”, east or south. He added that the Alliance is implementing the biggest reinforcement of NATO’s collective defence since the end of the Cold War, in order to respond to emerging challenges, including ISIL and instability in the Middle East and North Africa.
In meetings with President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, the Secretary General discussed NATO’s adaptation to new security challenges. This involves “improving our situational awareness over our southern borders, and developing our maritime strategy,” Mr Stoltenberg said. The leaders underscored the importance of working with partners to keep the region stable, particularly in light of the deteriorating security situation in Libya. The Secretary General noted that NATO “stands ready to support Libya with advice on defence and security institution building.” He added that “by helping countries in North Africa and in the Middle East build up their defence capacity, we can project stability without always deploying our own forces.”
The leaders further discussed the crisis caused by Russia’s aggressive actions against Ukraine, agreeing that the Minsk agreement remained the best opportunity for a peaceful solution. The Secretary General welcomed “recent indications of reduced fighting,” but noted that “Russia continues supporting the separatists with equipment, forces and training.” Mr. Stoltenberg called on all parties to “fully respect the ceasefire and withdraw heavy weapons.” He warned that any attempts to expand separatist-held territory would be “unacceptable to the international community”.
The Secretary General thanked Italy for its valuable contributions to the Alliance, including major deployments in both Afghanistan and Kosovo. Mr. Stoltenberg further welcomed the leading role that Italy will play in NATO’s new Spearhead Force, which will enable the Alliance to respond rapidly to threats emerging from any direction.
On Thursday, Secretary General Stoltenberg is also meeting with Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni. He also held separate talks with Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti, as well as with members of the Foreign Committee and the Defence Committee of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, including Italian members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
On 27 February, the Secretary General will address personnel at the NATO Defense College in Rome, before travelling to Naples for a visit to Allied Joint Force Command Headquarters.
Xinhua News Agency
February 27, 2015
Joint U.S.-Hungarian military exercise consolidates Hungary’s security: minister
PAPA, Hungary: The ongoing joint U.S.-Hungarian military exercise, Warlord Rock 2015, consolidates Hungary’s security and strengthens its Defence Forces, Hungarian Defense Minister Csaba Hende said Thursday.
The exercise is “to express our commitment to boost our country’s” and regional security under the changed conditions, Hende told a news conference in Papa, in northwest Hungary.
Warlord Rock 2015, the outcome of last year’s NATO summit in Wales, started in four locations in western Hungary Sunday and lasts until next Tuesday, involving 750 soldiers — 450 Americans and 300 Hungarians — and the U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team (“Sky Soldiers”), under the Hungarian command.
Hende, the Commander of U.S. Army Europe, Lt. Gen. Frederick Ben Hodges, Hungarian Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Tibor Benko, and U.S. Ambassador to Hungary Colleen Bell observed part of Warlord Rock 2015 airborne and live ammo exercise before the news conference.
Bell called the joint military exercise an excellent example of bilateral cooperation.
Thursday’s exercise involved a C-17 Globemaster III and two C-130 Hercules aircraft flying from Aviano Air Base, Italy, over the target area, Hungary’s Papa, where soldiers parachuted out from an altitude of 300 meters to conduct an offensive operation and “occupy” the airbase at Papa.
The purpose of the overall exercise is to give fighting and support forces a chance to practice airborne and offensive ground maneuvers.
Edward Bulwer Lytton: The heartless and miserable vanity from which arose wars neither useful nor honourable
Edward Bulwer Lytton
From Devereaux (1829)
One evening I was engaged to meet a large party at a country-house about forty miles from Paris. I went, and stayed some days. My horses had accompanied me; and, when I left the chateau, I resolved to make the journey to Paris on horseback. Accordingly, I ordered my carriage to follow me, and attended by a single groom, commenced my expedition. It was a beautiful still morning, – the first day of the first month of autumn. I had proceeded about ten miles, when I fell in with an old French officer. I remember, – though I never saw him but that once, – I remember his face as if I had encountered it yesterday. It was thin and long, and yellow enough to have served as a caricature rather than a portrait of Don Quixote. He had a hook nose, and a long sharp chin; and all the lines, wrinkles, curves, and furrows of which the human visage is capable seemed to have met in his cheeks. Nevertheless, his eye was bright and keen, his look alert, and his whole bearing firm, gallant, and soldier-like. He was attired in a sort of military undress; wore a mustachio, which, though thin and gray, was carefully curled; and at the summit of a very respectable wig was perched a small cocked hat, adorned with a black feather. He rode very upright in his saddle; and his horse, a steady, stalwart quadruped of the Norman breed, with a terribly long tail and a prodigious breadth of chest, put one stately leg before another in a kind of trot, which, though it seemed, from its height of action and the proud look of the steed, a pretension to motion more than ordinarily brisk, was in fact a little slower than a common walk.
This noble cavalier seemed sufficiently an object of curiosity to my horse to induce the animal to testify his surprise by shying, very jealously and very vehemently, in passing him. This ill breeding on his part was indignantly returned on the part of the Norman charger, who, uttering a sort of squeak and shaking his long mane and head, commenced a series of curvets and capers which cost the old Frenchman no little trouble to appease. In the midst of these equine freaks, the horse came so near me as to splash my nether garment with a liberality as little ornamental as it was pleasurable.
The old Frenchman seeing this, took off his cocked hat very politely and apologized for the accident. I replied with equal courtesy; and, as our horses slid into quiet, their riders slid into conversation. It was begun and chiefly sustained by my new comrade; for I am little addicted to commence unnecessary socialities myself, though I should think very meanly of my pretensions to the name of a gentleman and a courtier, if I did not return them when offered, even by a beggar.
“It is a fine horse of yours, Monsieur,” said the old Frenchman; “but I cannot believe – pardon me for saying so – that your slight English steeds are so well adapted to the purposes of war as our strong chargers, – such as mine for example.”
“It is very possible, Monsieur,” said I. “Has the horse you now ride done service in the field as well as on the road?”
“Ah! le pauvre petit mignon, – no!” (petit, indeed! this little darling was seventeen hands high at the very least) “no, Monsieur: it is but a young creature this; his grandfather served me well!”
“I need not ask you, Monsieur, if you have borne arms: the soldier is stamped upon you!”
“Sir, you flatter me highly!” said the old gentleman, blushing to the very tip of his long lean ears, and bowing as low as if I had called him a Conde. “I have followed the profession of arms for more than fifty years.”
“Fifty years! ’tis a long time.”
“A long time,” rejoined my companion, “a long time to look back upon with regret.”
“Regret! by Heaven, I should think the remembrance of fifty years’ excitement and glory would be a remembrance of triumph.”
The old man turned round on his saddle, and looked at me for some moments very wistfully. “You are young, Sir,” he said, “and at your years I should have thought with you; but -” (then abruptly changing his voice, he continued) – “Triumph, did you say? Sir, I have had three sons: they are dead; they died in battle; I did not weep; I did not shed a tear, Sir, – not a tear! But I will tell you when I did weep. I came back, an old man, to the home I had left as a young one. I saw the country a desert. I saw that the noblesse had become tyrants; the peasants had become slaves, – such slaves, – savage from despair, – even when they were most gay, most fearfully gay, from constitution. Sir, I saw the priest rack and grind, and the seigneur exact and pillage, and the tax-gatherer squeeze out the little the other oppressors had left; anger, discontent, wretchedness, famine, a terrible separation between one order of people and another; an incredible indifference to the miseries their despotism caused on the part of the aristocracy; a sullen and vindictive hatred for the perpetration of those miseries on the part of the people; all places sold – even all honours priced – at the court, which was become a public market, a province of peasants, of living men bartered for a few livres, and literally passed from one hand to another, to be squeezed and drained anew by each new possessor: in a word, Sir, an abandoned court; an unredeemed noblesse, – unredeemed, Sir, by a single benefit which, in other countries, even the most feudal, the vassal obtains from the master; a peasantry famished; a nation loaded with debt which it sought to pay by tears, – these are what I saw, – these are the consequences of that heartless and miserable vanity from which arose wars neither useful nor honourable, – these are the real components of that triumph, as you term it, which you wonder that I regret.”
Now, although it was impossible to live at the court of Louis XIV. in his latter days, and not feel, from the general discontent that prevailed even there, what a dark truth the old soldier’s speech contained, yet I was somewhat surprised by an enthusiasm so little military in a person whose bearing and air were so conspicuously martial.
“You draw a melancholy picture,” said I; “and the wretched state of culture which the lands that we now pass through exhibit is a witness how little exaggeration there is in your colouring. However, these are but the ordinary evils of war; and, if your country endures them, do not forget that she has also inflicted them. Remember what France did to Holland, and own that it is but a retribution that France should now find that the injury we do to others is (among nations as well as individuals) injury to ourselves.”
“Yes,” renewed my comrade, colouring with evident shame and drawing his cocked hat over his brows, “yes, I received my last wound at Ramilies. Then my eyes were opened to the horrors of war; then I saw and cursed the evils of ambition; then I resolved to retire from the armies of a king who had lost forever his name, his glory, and his country.”
Was there ever a better type of the French nation than this old soldier? As long as fortune smiles on them, it is “Marchons au diable!” and “Vive la gloire!” Directly they get beaten, it is “Ma pauvre patrie!” and “Les calamites affreuses de la guerre!”
U.S. Army Europe
February 25, 2015
USAREUR commander visits with Sky Soldiers in Vicenza
By Staff Sgt. Opal Vaughn
VICENZA, Italy: “I want to talk you today about Strong Europe,” said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe, speaking to paratroopers assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade here on Feb. 24, 2015, about their role in Europe and what they represent.
“Think of it in terms of people, places and things,” said Hodges. “The people, that’s all of you paratroopers. You all play a vital role and we want to continue that.”
During his visit, Hodges observed the brigade’s preparation for its scheduled training mission in western Ukraine, providing feedback for paratroopers who will train the newly-formed Ukrainian National Guard.
Hodges emphasized the important role the 173rd Airborne plays in enabling the NATO Alliance through multinational exercises.
“When you train in all these exercises with your allies, you build relationships,” he said, referring to the brigade’s participation in exercises such as Operation Atlantic Resolve and the upcoming Swift Response and Saber Junction. “It is U.S. Army Europe’s contribution to Europe on behalf of the Army, NATO and all the components that we support.”
Strong Europe represents the strategic framework that Hodges introduced since taking command last year of the approximately 30,000 Soldiers forward stationed in Europe.
Training allows paratroopers from the 173rd to exercise their own quick-response procedures. As the Army’s Contingency Response Force in Europe, the brigade maintains the ability to deploy on short notice to conduct the full spectrum of operations across the U.S. European, Africa and Central Command areas of responsibility.
National Radio Company of Ukraine
February 26, 2015
Norway is ready to help training Ukrainian army – Defence Minister
“Norway is ready to help with training the Ukrainian military,” Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Sjoreide said in an interview with The Guardian.
She said the majority of NATO member countries would hopefully follow the example of the UK that had announced sending non-lethal equipment and 75 military instructors to Ukraine. Poland is also planning to send its military instructors. The Polish Defence Ministry said on Thursday the final decision would be made in March. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Defence has announced that a group of military experts will shortly travel to Ukraine to assist in training military doctors.
Xinhua News Agency
February 26, 2015
U.S. donates 45 armored vehicles to Polish army
WARSAW: The Polish armed forces received 45 MRAP-type (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) armored vehicles previously used in Afghanistan from the United States, reported the Polish Press Agency on Wednesday.
“Today’s delivery is only a small segment of our partnership,” said U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Stephen Mull, noting the United States’ unflagging engagement in the security of Poland.
Polish soldiers have been in cooperation with the U.S. army for a long time, Maciej Jankowski, Poland’s Under-Secretary of State said, citing his country’s participation in the Iraq and Afghanistan missions. Nowadays, the cooperation is mostly based on technical assistance and support, Jankowski noted.
Lieutenant General Lech Majewski, in charge of the General Command of the Polish armed forces, said the equipment sent to Poland would significantly increase the combat potential and the Polish army’s ability to survive on the battlefield.
The MRAP vehicles, produced by Oshkosh Defense company, were donated to Poland by the United States.
Xinhua News Agency
February 25, 2015
Soldiers attend the U.S.-Lithuanian combined training in Pabrade, Lithuania, on Feb. 25, 2015. Lithuania held combined training with 250 U.S. soldiers on Wednesday’s media day. (Xinhua/Alfredas Pliadis)
February 26, 2015
Poland to send military instructors to Ukraine
The Ministry of Defence has announced that Poland will send an unspecified number of military instructors to Ukraine, with the purpose training their Ukrainian counterparts.
”We are preparing a mission under the auspices of NATO for the training of non-commissioned officers,” Minister of Defence Tomasz Siemoniak told the TVN24 news channel on Wednesday evening.
”We want our instructors, who will be working in training centres in Lviv and Kiev, to school Ukrainian instructors so that they in turn can train non-commissioned officers,” he expanded.
Siemoniak’s comments followed a tweet from Generał Bogusław Pacek, who is in charge of preparing the training program, that “Ukraine’s Defence Ministry turned to NATO countries with a plea to help train its soldiers,” adding that ”Poland will respond affirmatively.”
This came just hours after President Bronisław Komorowski praised the UK for pledging to send soldiers to assist Ukraine.
Defence Minister Siemoniak has confirmed that the final decision about the numbers of Polish soldiers will be made in March.
Although the minister did not rule out delivering weapons to Ukraine in the future he stated that “like the US and the UK we believe that this is not a good moment [to transfer weapons], as it would escalate the conflict. That is why other forms of assistance are more important.”
Siemoniak also added that unlike Lithuania, Poland will not be reintroducing compulsory military service.
From Empire (1936)
Translated by Eden and Cedar Paul
Here is a remarkable head, crowned with a Kepi…Yes, the Emperor is wearing the Kepi of active service, like everyone else. His name is Napoleon, and…he will fulfill the warlike obligations of his name…There was a time, soldiers, you will remember, when he sported the famous little hat that was unique, that had been so frightfully individual when flaunted above the crater of a Europe vomiting wars and compelled to sacrifice ten million lives for the Corporal’s gloire…The times have changed, soldiers of the people; the Emperor will not send you to the front while he himself stays safe at home, as he did when he despatched you to the Crimea where pestilence raged as well as war…
This almighty and immense plain of the Po, adapted by nature and art for the production of food, is permanently hostile to destruction; the pregnant, peaceful earth is permanently antagonistic to war. The man in the Kepi, soldier and commander, stands at its very marge, and he has already become aware of God’s enmity. That is no feeling to animate a solider; and it may lead him in the wrong direction. It may lead him back into civilian dress, which he has just laid aside; to a civilian mood which would make him see or desire to see the critical and discontented professional generals of his immediate environment peep out throughout all the holes in this threadbare war…A fine horse, as quiet as a lamb, reins loose on the neck, was standing across the road, motionless, obedient, and indifferent. The Emperor rose a little in his stirrups, bent forward and to one side to look past the beast’s twitching neck into the ditch. In the ditch lay a volunteer voltigeur, whose legs in their red trousers were higher than his head, and higher than anything else were the boots, almost new boots made of good, solid leather. Not a button was missing from the white gaiters. Since a heavy soft-nosed bullet or a shell-splinter had cut off the top of the man’s skull, some kindly hand had laid a kepi over the dead face; not necessarily his own kepi, but Everyman’s kepi, the burning-red kepi. What is one to say when a kepi is used to cover something half of which is gone? A horrid position for a kepi, a lapse into non-entity, making mock of the gaiters and boots that were so beautifully uninjured. Of the poor mutilated face nothing more remained than the mouth with the prescribed imperial. Over what was non-existent above had been clapped the kepi, whose peak yawned to disclose the imperial, and the open mouth, through which the tongue protruded, and on which metallic looking blow-flies had already settled. Kepi looked down from horseback upon the kepi in the ditch, which showed him its tongue, and hos own goatee, as surviving remnants of young life. He did not hurry himself over his study of this “casualty”, and his suite had plenty of time to watch how the amateur commander-in-chief stood the grisly test. It was said that he turned quite yellow; but then he was always yellow of visage.
Yes, the amateur plan of campaign was both spirited and venturesome. Perhaps the victor of Marengo would have done the same thing, without a siege-train or bridge-building apparatus. But the War God would not have spent so many minutes looking at one dead soldier. He had left so long a train of corpses that if he has stopped to look at them all, he would have had no time to keep his eyes fixed on victory.
Still, Kepi must not be grudged that long look at his victim, and his almost theological understanding of the way in which the peaceful earth resisted war-making…
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Maritime Command
February 24, 2015
NATO Mine-Hunters visit Poland
GDYNIA, Poland: Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) pulled into Gdynia’s naval harbour for a port visit on Friday, 20 February 2015, in advance of multinational exercises and historic ordnance disposal (HOD) operations.
The Group’s flagship FGS DONAU, an ELBE-class German tender, and the five mine hunters FGS AUERBACH (Germany), BNS LOBELIA (Belgium), HMS PEMBROKE (UK) and ORP MEWA (Poland) frequently conduct HOD operations in an effort to minimize the threat from mines back to the 20th century world wars for all those who use the sea for their benefit – fishermen, cargo ships, ferries and the like.
The commander of the group, Commander Peter Bergen Henegouwen (NLD N) led a delegation composed of the ship’s commanding officers on visits to the Mayor of Gdynia and by the senior military representative, Vice Admiral Stanislaw Zarychta, at the Polish Navy’s Maritime Operations Centre – Maritime Component Command.
This delegation was also received by the 3rd Ships Flotilla’s Commander, Rear Admiral Miroslaw Mordel while the ships were hosted by the 13th MCM Squadron led by Commander Piotr Sikora, former Commander of the SNMCMG1 in 2013.
SNMCMG1 provides a continuous maritime mine countermeasures capability for operations in peacetime and periods of conflict. The force demonstrates the support of the contributing nations to the NATO alliance. SNMCM Groups are key assets in the NATO Response Force (NRF) and are able to fulfil a wide range of roles from humanitarian tasks to high intensity operations. They are able to deploy at short notice and are often the first assets to go into an operational theatre both enabling and making a significant contribution to subsequent naval operations.
Story by HQ MARCOM Public Affairs Office
February 25, 2015
US military vehicles paraded 300 yards from the Russian border
By Michael Birnbaum
MOSCOW: U.S. military combat vehicles paraded Wednesday through an Estonian city that juts into Russia, a symbolic act that highlighted the stakes for both sides amid the worst tensions between the West and Russia since the Cold War.
Stars and Stripes
February 25, 2015
Breedlove: No substitute for permanent US military presence in Europe
By John Vandiver
Pentagon budget cuts set to take effect next year could force additional troop reductions in Europe, putting at risk efforts to deter potential Russian aggression and reassure allies, top military officials told lawmakers on Wednesday.
“Our ability to sustain our posture in Europe is going to be at significant risk,” if mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration return in fiscal 2016, Christine Wormuth, under secretary of defense for policy, told the House Armed Services Committee during a hearing on Europe’s emerging security challenges.
Wormuth, along with European Command chief Gen. Philip Breedlove, emphasized the need to maintain a steady forward presence of U.S. troops.
Breedlove said U.S. efforts in Europe were “essential.”
“There is simply no substitute for our forward force presence in Europe. It is the bedrock of our ability to assure our allies, to deter real and potential adversaries and to act in a timely way should deterrence fail,” Breedlove said.
“Rotating presence is no substitute for permanent force presence,” Breedlove said. “Genuine and fully funded rotational presence can play a very important role in helping to meet requirements in our theater, if it is heel to toe and fully resourced.”
The renewed focus on a forward military presence, deemed by many critics an outdated Cold War presence only a year ago, has taken on added significance in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 and its support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., a supporter of supplying Ukrainian forces with defensive arms, said the crisis in that country has altered views about security in Europe and the U.S. military presence there.
“Now we realize our presence in Europe is more important than we used to,” he said.
Breedlove, who also is NATO’s supreme allied commander, said Moscow’s support of the separatists is wide-ranging and continues despite a recent cease-fire agreement.
Breedlove said providing defensive military arms to Ukrainian forces to counter separatists should be given consideration, though stopped short of endorsing such a policy, which is currently under review by the Obama administration.
“Right now, we are not arming the Ukrainian with lethal weapons and what we see is Russia continues to build up its force,” Breedlove said.
Still, Russia’s potential reaction to such military support if it were given isn’t at all clear, Breedlove acknowledged.
“Clearly, we don’t know what Mr. Putin will do,” Breedlove said. “I think that we have to be cognizant it could cause positive results, it could cause negative results.”
In the meantime, Russian forces continue to play a role on the ground in Ukraine, providing direct support to separatists particularly when they face setbacks on the battlefield, Breedlove said. Moscow also has sent “more than 1,000 pieces” of military hardware, ranging from tanks and artillery to air defense systems, he said.
The Russian government has denied as “complete rubbish” allegations that it is involved in helping Ukrainian separatists.
Breedlove added he has concerns about Russian aggression stretching beyond Ukraine, into former Soviet states such as Moldova, where Russian forces maintain a presence in the breakaway region of Trans-Dniester.
However, “I don’t think any of us are sure he has accomplished his objective inside Ukraine,” Breedlove said.
U.S. Air Forces in Europe
U.S. Air Force Africa
February 24, 2015
Fly like an eagle
A 48th Fighter Wing F-15E Strike Eagle takes off from at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Feb. 24, 2015. The Liberty Wing’s forward presence and ready forces execute missions now in support of regional and global operations.
February 25, 2015
Canada’s Defense Minister won’t rule out sending military advisers to Ukraine – newspaper
Canadian Defense Minister Jason Kenney has said that his country may send military advisers to Ukraine, according to the Toronto Star newspaper.
“The U.S. and Britain are sending military advisers there to help Ukraine’s embattled central government fight Moscow-backed secessionists. The Defense Minister Jason Kenney says Canada might do the same,” reads the article.
However, the minister said that any Canadian soldiers in Ukraine would stay far away from the conflict zone.
February 24, 2015
Georgian FM Visits NATO HQ
Tbilisi: Georgian Foreign Minister, Tamar Beruchashvili, will meet NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels on February 25.
She will also address NATO-Georgia Commission on the same day.
PM Irakli Garibashvili will also head to Brussels this week for talks with EU officials. He plans meetings with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker; European Council President Donald Tusk and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
From Good-Bye to All That (1929)
England looked strange to us returned soldiers. We could not understand the war madness that ran everywhere, looking for a pseudo-military outlet. The civilians talked a foreign language; and it was newspaper language. I found serious talk with my parents all but impossible…
The training principles had been recently revised. Infantry Training, 1914, laid it down politely that the soldier’s ultimate aim was to put out of action or render ineffectively the armed forces of the enemy. The War Office no longer considered this statement direct enough for a war of attrition. Troops learned instead that they must HATE the Germans, and KILL as many of them as possible. In bayonet-practice, the men had to make horrible grimaces and utter blood-curdling yells as they charged. The instructors’ faces were set in a permanent ghastly grin. ‘Hurt him, now! In at the belly! Tear his guts out!’ they would scream, as the men charged the dummies. ‘Now that upper swing at his privates with the butt. Ruin his chances for life! No more little Fritzes!…Naaoh! Anyone would think that you loved the bloody swine, patting and stroking ‘em like that. BITE HIM, I SAY! STICK YOUR TEETH IN HIM AND WORRY HIM! EAT HIS HEART OUT!’
[Siegfried Sassoon] wrote how mad it made him to think of the countless good men being slaughtered that summer, and all for nothing. The bloody politicians and ditto generals with their cursed incompetent blundering and callous ideas would go on until they tired of it or had got as much kudos as they wanted…
Stars and Stripes
February 23, 2015
US inching toward sending arms to Ukraine
By John Vandiver
The U.S. and Britain on Saturday discussed new sanctions against Russia as Ukraine’s week-old cease-fire unravels, though it was unclear if the allies were on the same page about increasing pressure on an economy that means far more to Europe.
The failure of a European-brokered ceasefire to put an end to the fighting in eastern Ukraine is likely to increase pressure on President Barack Obama to send weapons to Ukraine’s government despite objections by Germany and other key European allies.
Any decision to send more sophisticated weaponry to Ukraine will require greater collaboration between the U.S. and Ukraine to ensure troops can manage those systems in the field.
What would such a move mean for U.S. troops?
“I think they have several options. They could send troops to Ukraine to have U.S. forces involved, or they could bring Ukraine’s [troops] back to the U.S. to train on those systems,” said Sim Tack, a military analyst with the Texas-based intelligence and advisory firm STRATFOR.
The amount of time and number of U.S. personnel required to conduct the training will largely depend on what type of systems would be deployed.
Another option could be bringing in contractors to carry out a portion of the training, Tack said.
While the Obama administration hasn’t specified the type of weapons being considered, key figures – including Secretary of State John Kerry and newly appointed Defense Secretary Ashton Carter – have indicated support for sending defensive arms to Ukraine.
Earlier this month, an independent report by several former administration officials called on the White House to send a range of arms to Ukraine. Among the report’s recommendations were anti-armor missiles, light armor vehicles, surveillance drones and communication systems. Those making the recommendations included Michèle Flournoy, a former top Pentagon official who was on the shortlist to replace Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and retired Adm. James Stavridis, former military commander of NATO and U.S. European Command.
Anti-armor missiles, such as the Javelin system, are fairly simple to operate, according to Tack.
“You can give people the short version or the long versions,” he said of the training. “You can technically teach them to use that (Javelin system) in a single training session.”
On the battlefield, such weapons would be a boost for Ukrainian forces, though the degree of effectiveness would depend on the size of the weapon delivery and how spread out it could be deployed among Ukrainian forces.
“Anti-armor missiles would give Ukrainians a much better capacity to fight weapon armor, which is something they’ve been facing heavily in the conflict recently,” Tack said.
Other systems, such as drones to track the movement of separatists, would require more detailed training and longer-lasting training support, he said. Still, there are other, more pressing, challenges than providing weapons for Ukrainian forces.
“I think an important thing to point out is a lot of these things [weapons] are not necessarily the biggest problem for Ukraine,” Tack said. “The main challenge Ukraine faces militarily is [lack of] manpower and financing.”
It also isn’t clear whether the weapons systems would in any way alter the balance on the battlefield…
Concern that new weapons would not tip the scales against the Russians is at the heart of Germany’s opposition. Berlin fears new weapons would only encourage the Russians to become more deeply engaged.
Others, such as U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a supporter of arming Ukraine, argue the weapons would raise the costs for Russia.
“Some say Ukraine cannot defeat Russia militarily. That is the wrong question. The right question is: If we help Ukrainians increase the military cost to the Russian forces that have invaded their country, how long can Putin sustain a war that he tells his people is not happening?” McCain said during the same conference.
For now, Obama has worked to remain in step with Merkel and other allies in Europe, resisting calls to send arms and remaining unified on sanctions against Moscow. That could change, however, if conditions in eastern Ukraine continue to deteriorate.
“If there is no actual truce and no actual end to violence, then I think that is a likely step for the U.S.,” Tack said.
February 24, 2015
UN discusses possibility of peacekeepers deployment in Ukraine
KYIV: Discussion on the possibility of a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine took place at the UN headquarters at night, on February 24, according to Ukrainian news broadcaster TSN.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said about Ukraine’s intention to invite the peacekeeping mission to Donbass during the Security Council’s open debates. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the foreign ministers participated in these debates. From today, the UN will seek ways to implement Kyiv’s peace initiatives. In addition, Klimkin said about Russian aggression during the debates. If Moscow is making no effort to stop the pro-Russian rebels in Donbas, Kyiv will look for all possible ways to stop the violence.
The Ukrainian Foreign Minister met with the UN Secretary General, with whom he discussed the possible ways of establishment of the UN peacekeeping mission. It will not be an ordinary peacekeeping mission, as in this case, Ukraine will lose the right to determine the composition and powers of the contingent. Ukraine intends to appeal to its partners from the European Union for the formation of this mission. Proposal for approval of the mission will be submitted to the Security Council. Russia has already made a statement in which it condemns the idea of a peacekeeping mission. But if Moscow will try to oppose this in the Security Council, the proposal will be submitted to the General Assembly.
Immediately after the debates Klimkin flew to Paris for a meeting of the foreign ministers of the “Normandy Four.”
February 24, 2015
Poroshenko, UAE agree on arms deliveries – Kyiv
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has met with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Ukrainian parliament deputy, advisor to the Ukrainian interior minister Anton Heraschenko said.
“The sides agreed on cooperation with the United Arab Emirates in the delivery of certain types of armaments and military hardware to Ukraine. As you understand, types and scopes of the deliveries cannot be disclosed on Facebook,” Heraschenko wrote on his Facebook page.
The Ukrainian president is paying an official visit to the UAE.
February 24, 2015
Poroshenko agrees on supply of UAE weapons to Ukraine
Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to cooperate in the supply of weapons and military equipment, advisor to the Interior Ministry Anton Herashchenko wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday.
According to Herashchenko, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko met with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Colonel-General Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
“During the meeting the parties agreed to cooperate with the United Arab Emirates in the supply of certain weapons and military equipment to Ukraine,” Herashchenko said.
“However, the types and volumes of these supplies will not be disclosed yet,” he said.
“However, it is worth noting that the Arabs, unlike the Europeans and Americans, are not afraid of Putin’s threats to unleash a third world war in the case of supplies of arms and military equipment being made to Ukraine,” Herashchenko said.
Southeast European Times
February 23, 2015
NATO expands presence in Eastern Europe
By Miki Trajkovski for Southeast European Times
Skopje: NATO’s plan to open six new command centres in Eastern Europe is being hailed by Balkan experts as a sign that the region is not being ignored.
Defence ministers from the 28-member military Alliance agreed on February 5th to set up command and control units in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.
The move came “in the light of the changing security environment to the east and south of the Alliance’s borders,” a NATO statement said.
The new centres “in six of our eastern Allied countries” ensure that “we have the right forces, in the right place, at the right time,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.
“Our decisions make clear that NATO is determined to defend all Allies against any threats from any direction,” he added.
Experts have suggested that the new NATO centres are the result of the crisis in Ukraine, to show that NATO remains a strong supporter and protector of its allies in these parts of Europe.
According to Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu, NATO may launch a new command and control centre on a division level in two years in Romania.
Setting up permanent NATO and US military facilities, such as the anti-missile base at Deveselu and the new command centres, carries a major political message to Russia…
Events in Ukraine and the Middle East inevitably led to NATO’s new strategic approach, said Pristina professor Behlul Beqaj.
“The entire geo-strategic situation has new moments that require new preventive solutions, and broad support from all potential partners, for their own safety, to be protected by NATO,” he said.
This also sends a signal to the Islamic and Orthodox world to respect differences, he added.
Janev said NATO’s presence can play an important role in curbing Russia’s influence in the region. Integrating the Balkans is of strategic interest to NATO…
Correspondent Paul Ciocoiu from Bucharest contributed to this report.
Xinhua News Agency
February 24, 2015
Colombia’s Attorney General requests repealing NATO agreement
BOGOTA Colombia’s Attorney General Office requested Monday the Constitutional Court to declare a cooperation agreement between Colombia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) unconstitutional due to privacy concerns.
The cooperation agreement, signed on June 25, 2013, was later endorsed by the Colombian Congress.
However, according to the country’s Attorney General Office, it has a “highly problematic” content regarding the precise determination of information to be exchanged, with vague terms that can actually be contradictory to the country’s constitution and the American Convention on Human Rights.
“Given that the agreement text does not clearly distinguish the type of information included within the generic term ‘classified information’, the information could be personal and, in particular, sensitive, with the consequent problem of no communication to the holder,” the public office said in the document sent to the Constitutional Court.
NATO, a major Western military bloc created in 1949, constitutes a system of mutual defense whereby its current 28 member states across Europe and North America agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party.
Joseph Addison and Richard Steele
From The Sir Roger de Coverley Papers (1711)
He is well acquainted with commerce in all its parts, and will tell you that it is a stupid and barbarous way to extend dominion by arms; for true power is got by arts and industry. He will often argue that of this part of our trade were well cultivated, we should gain from one nation; and if another, from another. I have heard him prove that diligence makes more lasting acquisitions than valour…
…I remembered that Monsieur Pascal, in his most excellent discourse on the ‘Misery of Man,’ tells us that our endeavors after greatness proceed from nothing but a desire of being surrounded by a multitude of persons and affairs that may hinder us from looking into ourselves…
A furious party spirit, when it rages in its full violence, exerts itself in civil war and bloodshed; and when it is under its greatest restraints naturally breaks out in falsehood, detraction, calumny and a partial administration of justice. In a word, it fills a nation with spleen and rancour, and extinguishes all the seeds of good-nature, compassion, and humanity.
Plutarch says, very finely, that a man should not allow himself even to hate his enemies; – “Because,” says he, “if you indulge this passion in some occasions, it will rise of itself in others; if you hate your enemies, you will contract such a vicious habit of mind as by degrees will break out upon those who are your friends, or those who are indifferent to you.” I might here observe how admirably this precept of morality – which derives the malignity of hatred from the passion itself, and not from its object – answers to that great rule which was dictated to the world about an hundred years before this philosopher wrote…
How many honest minds are filled with uncharitable and barbarous notions, out of their zeal for the public good! What cruelties and outrages would they not commit against men of an adverse party, whom they would honour and esteem, if, instead of considering them as they are represented, they knew them as they are! There are persons of the greatest probity seduced into shameful errors and prejudices, and made bad men even by that noblest of principles, the “love of their country.”
February 23, 2015
American equipment saves fighters near Debaltseve – ATO Staff
KYIV:. Supplies of lethal and non-lethal weapons from the United States may become an issue of survival of the Ukrainian state.
This has been announced on Monday by deputy head of the ATO staff in Donetsk and Luhansk regions Colonel Valentyn Fedychev in Ukrainian crisis media center, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
“If we see that the fighting in eastern Ukraine do not stop, if we see an escalation of these actions, then the scope of U.S. military support to Ukraine, including the supply of lethal and non-lethal weapons, will become a matter of survival of our state,” Fedychev said.
He noted that during the operation in Debaltseve the Ukrainian military used American equipment capable of determining the coordinates of mortar batteries. “Using this technique has saved a great number of lives of our soldiers,” Fedychev said.
Stars and Stripes
February 19, 2015
A-10 Warthogs return to Germany as situation in Ukraine deteriorates
By Jennifer H. Svan
Close-air support A-10 “Warthogs” — designed in the 1970s to knock out Soviet tanks — are back in Germany.
Over the last week, about 300 personnel and 12 A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft arrived from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., for a six-month deployment intended to bolster security in a region shaken by the political crisis in eastern Europe.
“Get ready for some travel,” Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, 3rd Air Force commander, told airmen from the 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, who gathered in a hangar along with local civic leaders for a brief ceremony to showcase the first so-called theater security package to deploy to Europe.
“This theater security package is a long-range strategic capability to allow the Air Force greater flexibility against evolving threats,” Roberson said.
Temporarily bringing the A-10 squadron to Spangdahlem “will allow us to focus on the challenges throughout Europe and potentially in Africa,” he said.
The jets will deploy from Spangdahlem and work with NATO partners, “especially along the border of Russia, Lithuania, Estonia, Romania, Bulgaria,” Roberson said. “They will train together and learn how to interoperate together, so that if something happens, we’re ready to fight together.”
The A-10s will participate in routine exercises already scheduled as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, the military’s response to the Ukraine crisis.
The training will focus on the close-air support specialty, Roberson said. Originally designed to fly low and slow to provide protection for ground troops in Europe if the Russians ever invaded Germany, A-10s were once a fixture on the Continent.
At one time, there were six squadrons of A-10s in Europe with more than 140 aircraft.
Since communism’s collapse, the jets have stayed busy, providing close-air support for ground troops during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. More recently, the Warthogs have been used to strike Islamic State targets in the Middle East.
The last A-10s to be assigned to Europe left Spangdahlem just less than two years ago.
Despite the recent flare-up of tensions between Ukraine and Russia, in hindsight it would not have made sense for the Air Force to keep the planes here, Roberson told reporters.
“Actually, the way we’re doing it now is a much more agile and responsive and cheaper way to present forces as required,” he said.
Ten of the 12 A-10s from Davis-Monthan were previously assigned to Spangdahlem, U.S. Air Forces in Europe officials said.
Behmer said a few of his personnel, including some pilots, were stationed at Spangdahlem.
“We tried to bring expertise that was here before, so that we could have those guys that have flown here and were familiar with the area, particularly for flying operations,” he said.
Roberson said the A-10 was chosen for the first theater security package to deploy to Europe because it was available at the time for the mission.
The next package will consist of F-15C fighter jets and will “be here in April,” Roberson said. Details about where they’ll be based and from which location they’ll deploy haven’t been determined, USAFE officials said.
“This operation will remain a construct here in Europe as long as it is needed,” Roberson said of rotational forces.
Focus News Agency
February 21, 2015
Former NATO head Wesley Clark: It was impossible to defend Debaltseve without Western weapons
Washington: Speaking at a conference dedicated to the situation in the Ukrainian city of Debaltseve former NATO commander Wesley Clark said Ukraine’s army could have successfully protected the strategic settlement if it had been provided with modern American or other western arms and weapons, TASS reported.
In his words, the lack of modern anti-tank systems is the major reason for the defeat of the Ukrainian government forces.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations
February 23, 2015
Dutch and Estonian Forces train together in Exercise Baltic Bison 2015
MONS, Belgium: Soldiers of the Dutch 43 Mechanised Brigade are training with their Estonian Infantry counterparts in tough winter conditions during Exercise Baltic Bison from 9-26 February 2015. Exercise Baltic Bison is part of NATO’s Assurance Measures in the region and is focused on international cooperation and knowledge sharing between the two NATO members.
“NATO’s assurance measures, including the Netherlands’ effort during operation Baltic Bison, is proof that NATO commitments are working in a proper way and in practice,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Aron Kalmus, Commander of the Estonian First Infantry Brigade. “I am more than glad, as an Estonian officer and as an Estonian citizen, that our Dutch colleagues amongst other NATO Allies have proved this by coming here in these difficult times in Eastern Europe.”
On 9 December 2014, the Dutch Minister of Defence, Ms Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, and her Estonian colleague Sven Mikser, signed a contract for the purchase of 44 Dutch CV-90 Combat Infantry Vehicles by Estonia. Exercise Baltic Bison provides the opportunity to introduce the tracked vehicle to the Estonian soldiers.
The Estonians will be trained on the various characteristics of this vehicle, such as mobility, firepower and protection, during the two week period. A lot of time will be spent on learning and recognizing each other’s procedures, so that close cooperation is guaranteed now and in the future.
NATO is continuing with its assurance measures such as increased exercises, enhanced air policing and maritime patrolling. The Alliance is also working hard to implement decisions from the Wales summit, including the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), establishing reception bases for command and control, looking at the pre-positioning of supplies and equipment, possible improvements to national infrastructure, and the enhancing of the NATO Response Force.
Story by the Dutch Ministry of Defence and SHAPE Public Affairs Office
From Lavrengo (1841)
And a strange place it was, this Norman Cross, and, at the time of which I am speaking, a sad cross to many a Norman, being what was then styled a French prison, that is, a receptacle for captives made in the French war. It consisted, if I remember right, of some five or six casernes, very long, and immensely high; each standing isolated from the rest, upon a spot of ground which might average ten acres, and which was fenced round with lofty palisades, the whole being compassed about by a towering wall, beneath which, at intervals, on both sides, sentinels were stationed, whilst outside, upon the field, stood commodious wooden barracks, capable of containing two regiments of infantry, intended to serve as guards upon the captives. Such was the station or prison at Norman Cross, where some six thousand French and other foreigners, followers of the grand Corsican, were now immured.
What a strange appearance had those mighty casernes, with their blank blind walls, without windows or grating, and their slanting roofs, out of which, through orifices where the tiles had been removed, would be protruded dozens of grim heads, feasting their prison-sick eyes on the wide expanse of country unfolded from that airy height. Ah! there was much misery in those casernes; and from those roofs, doubtless, many a wistful look was turned in the direction of lovely France. Much had the poor inmates to endure, and much to complain of, to the disgrace of England be it said – of England, in general so kind and bountiful. Rations of carrion meat, and bread from which I have seen the very hounds occasionally turn away, were unworthy entertainment even for the most ruffian enemy, when helpless and a captive; and such, alas! was the fare in those casernes. And then, those visits, or rather ruthless inroads, called in the slang of the place “straw-plait hunts,” when in pursuit of a contraband article, which the prisoners, in order to procure themselves a few of the necessaries and comforts of existence, were in the habit of making, red-coated battalions were marched into the prisons, who, with the bayonet’s point, carried havoc and ruin into every poor convenience which ingenious wretchedness had been endeavouring to raise around it; and then the triumphant exit with the miserable booty; and, worst of all, the accursed bonfire, on the barrack parade, of the plait contraband, beneath the view of the glaring eyeballs from those lofty roofs, amidst the hurrahs of the troops, frequently drowned in the curses poured down from above like a tempest-shower…