Category Archives: Poland

A single European military begins with merging of German-Dutch armies & navies

Formed in 1993, the European Union (EU) is a political-economic union of 28 member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

28 member states of European UnionUntil now, the EU has been a confederation — a union of nation-states in specific and agreed-on areas, such as defense (NATO), economic cooperation and a common currency, wherein each member state retains its sovereignty. A mark of a sovereign nation-state is its possession of an independent military.

But with the merging of the militaries of Germany and the Netherlands — in spite of disagreements among EU members on refugee-migrant policy (see, for example “Sweden slams shut its open-door policy towards refugees“), and the UK’s upcoming Brexit referendum on leaving the EU — the beginning of an EU military is taking shape.

Donna Edmunds and Raheem Kassam report for Breitbart, April 20, 2016, that the German and Dutch armies and navies are poised to “merge”, creating the nucleus of the longed-for goal of a pan-EU military force.

As German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leye said in a speech last year, “The European Army is our long-term goal, but first we have to strengthen the European Defense Union. To achieve this, some nations with concrete military cooperation must come to the fore – and the Germans and the Dutch are doing this.”

To date, the merging of the German and Dutch military consists of:

  • Last year, German command took over the Dutch 11th Airmobile Brigade.
  • Last month the Dutch 43rd Mechanized Brigade was subsumed into the German 1st Armored Division.
  • The two countries are sharing the Netherland’s largest war ship, the Karel Doorman, and aim to merge its two naval powers into one unified navy within the next two years.
  • That leaves the Netherlands with just the 13th Mechanized Brigade to its name, along with special forces and military infrastructure, but the plan is to accelerate towards a merger of these entities within the next few years, Germany’s Sachsische Zeitung confirms.

That is just the beginning. According to insiders, the Czech Republic has entered talks to bring its army under German control, with the Poles also considering to be part of the plan. But there are skeptics about the latter, doubting whether the new Polish Government would go down the same route.

As Britain prepares to go to the polls on June 23 to vote on whether or not to remain within the EU, UK Independence Party (UKIP) Defense spokesman Mike Hookem MEP warns that if the UK opts to remain in the EU, the British military forces will not be able to resist the same fate: “The EU is moving towards a common defense and foreign policy regime with an EU army as the goal. While Britain remains in the EU, we cannot escape being part of this dangerous setup. The EU was supposed to be about corralling Germany military dominance in Europe. That aspiration has clearly died and just as Germany now politically dominates the EU, this latest move with the Dutch army shows that in time Germany wants to expand and control as much as it can militarily.

Hookem warns that the EU Army will not be a benign force, dedicated only to the defense of the Union, pointing out that there has already been lobbying in European circles for intervention in Libya. Indeed, European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker has said, “You would not create a European army to use it immediately… But a common army among the Europeans would convey to Russia that we are serious about defending the values of the European Union.”

UKIP’s leader Nigel Farage had previously issued multiple warnings that were mostly dismissed by the British political establishment and media classes. Most notably, then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in a live debate with Farage ahead of the 2014 European Elections, called Farage’s claims a “dangerous fantasy,” and that “The idea there’s going to be a European army, a European air force, it is simply not true”.

In September last year the Telegraph reported that German chancellor Angela Merkel expected British PM David Cameron to “drop his opposition to an EU army in exchange for supporting Britain’s [EU] renegotiation”. Cameron did drop his opposition, in exchange for a widely mocked “renegotiation” deal with the European Union.

U.S. Army commander says Russia is “real threat” as Patriot missiles are deployed to Poland

Lt. Gen. Ben HodgesJustin Huggler reports for The Telegraph, April 18, 2015, that Lt. Gen. Frederick “Ben” Hodges, Commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, warns that NATO must remain united in the face of a “real threat” from Russia:

It’s not an assumption. There is a Russian threat. You’ve got the Russian ambassador threatening that Denmark will be a nuclear target if it participates in any missile defense program. And when you look at the unsafe way Russian aircraft are flying without transponders in proximity to civilian aircraft, that’s not professional conduct.”

Gen. Hodges spoke to the Telegraph on the sidelines of a military debriefing after an exercise to move live Patriot missiles 750 miles across Europe by road and deploy them on the outskirts of Warsaw. The sight of a US military convoy crossing the German-Polish border more than 20 years after the end of the Cold War made international headlines and brought traffic to a standstill as people posed for selfies beside the troops.

map of Baltic StatesPointing to recent Russian decisions to move Iskandar ballistic missiles to its Kaliningrad enclave, between Lithuania and Poland, and long-range nuclear-capable bombers to Crimea, Gen. Hodges said the intention of the highly visible deployment of Patriot missiles to Poland was to send a signal:

“That’s exactly what it was about, reassuring our allies. I don’t think a military confrontation is inevitable. But you have to be militarily ready in order to enable effective diplomacy. The best insurance we have against a showdown is that NATO stands together.”

Danish F-16sSince taking over command of the US army in Europe last year, Gen. Hodges has found himself on the front line of an increasingly nervous stand-off with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Eastern European countries are looking to NATO, and the US in particular, for reassurance that they will not be left to face Russian aggression alone.

A year after the Obama administration pulled its last battle tank out of Europe, the US is sending hundreds of tanks and heavy fighting vehicles back to the continent, and Gen. Hodges is in the middle of talks over where to position them. He has also assumed command at a time when many Western European countries are cutting their military budgets, and relying ever more on the US for their defense. “I think the question for each country to ask is: are they security consumers or security providers?” Gen Hodges said. “Do they bring capabilities the alliance needs?”

In recent years, while Western countries have been cutting their defense budgets, Russia has been spending heavily on modernizing its military.
Gen. Hodges said the recent involvement of Russian forces in fighting in eastern Ukraine has shown that they have made huge advances, particularly in electronic warfare: “We’re not interested in a fair fight with anyone. We want to have overmatch in all systems. I don’t think that we’ve fallen behind but Russia has closed the gap in certain capabilities. We don’t want them to close that gap.”

But he doesn’t think this is the start of a new Cold War:

“That was a different situation, with gigantic forces and large numbers of nuclear weapons. The only thing that is similar now is that Russia and NATO have different views about what the security environment in Europe should be. I don’t think it’s the same as the Cold War. We did very specific things then that are no longer relevant. We don’t need 300,000 soldiers in Europe. Nobody can afford that any more. We want to see Russia back in the international community and cooperating against Islamic terrorism and on Iran’s nuclear ambitions. That’s different from the Cold War. I’m sure they’re not going to line up Russian tanks and go rolling into another country. They don’t want a military confrontation with NATO. Our alliance is the most successful alliance in history and it has a lot of capability.”

Gen Hodges has an easy manner with the men under his command, making jokes and asking the opinions of the most junior privates, as well as senior officers. He has combat experience as a brigade commander in Iraq, but in his current role he has to deal with different challenges.

Hodges believes Russia will not risk an open attack on a NATO member for fear the alliance will invoke Article V of its treaty, under which an attack on one member is an attack on all. Instead, the danger is that Russia will seek to put pressure on NATO members on its borders through other means, such as information, economic pressure, and border violations. He points to the large Russian-speaking populations in the Baltic countries, and the economic power Russia has as a major consumer of eastern European agricultural produce, as possible avenues Russian president Vladimir Putin may try to exploit.

But Hodges is confident that NATO will remain united in the face of Russian aggression:

“If President Putin’s objective is to fracture the alliance, then he’s going about it the wrong way. At the Wales summit there was a unity of the alliance I have not seen before, and it came about because of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and its use of force to change the borders of a sovereign country, Ukraine. It was a direct response to Russia’s behaviour in Crimea.”

Is Gen. Hodges not aware that last December, Hungary, which joined NATO in 1997, accused the United States of instigating a new Cold War against Russia and declared Hungary will not participate?

Pointing to recent moves by traditionally neutral Sweden and Finland to cooperate more closely on defense with NATO members Norway, Denmark and Iceland, Hodges observes:

“Nobody’s trying to join Russia. There’s no country scurrying to get under Russia’s protective umbrella. Why do so many countries want to join the EU or NATO? It’s about values. They want security and prosperity. Russia wants to make it difficult for countries that were affiliated with the USSR or the Warsaw Pact to join the West. The way they see it they’re entitled to a role, to a sphere of influence. I think the position of the West is that this idea of a sphere of influence is not applicable in the 21st century. In the 21st century countries have the right to decide for themselves what is right for them and what kind of country they want to be. They’ve made the European choice. That’s what this is all about.”

Since taking up his command, Gen Hodges has been outspoken over the Russian threat in a way that is rare for a serving general. Admitting that “I understand my role” as carrying out, not making, policy for the U.S. or the NATO alliance, Hodges nevertheless has chosen to speak out because he fears Russia is going unchallenged in the information war:

“We talk about DIME: diplomacy, information, military and economy. An important aspect of how Russia operates is how they use information. They use information the way they use infantry and missiles. They’re not burdened by the truth. Most of the independent media has left Russia and a large percentage is government-owned or -dominated. They don’t have to worry about congressional or parliamentary oversight. There’s a constant bombardment of information.”

In his last interview before his death on Monday, Günter Grass, the Nobel-winning German author, said he feared that humanity was “sleepwalking” towards another World War. But Gen. Hodges disagrees:

“I think we were sleepwalking a few years ago when we thought Russia wanted to be a part of the international community. They were with us in Bosnia. We actually have a mechanism for them to cooperate with NATO. But I think we’re wide-awake now.”

See also:

~StMA

U.S. deploys 290 paratroopers to Ukraine flashpoint

The Ukraine flashpoint between the U.S. and Russia is heating up.

More than 10 days after the AFP first reported that the Obama administration will be deploying 290 paratroopers to Ukraine to train its national guard soldiers, the story finally is getting traction, carried by other news media like NewsMax, MoneyMorning, and China Post.

Beginning April 20 in three waves of training, each lasting eight weeks, 290 paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team based in Italy, will train 900 Ukrainian national guard troops in the town of Yavoriv in the government-controlled western region of Lviv, near the Polish border.

Yavoriv, Ukraine

At the end of the training, the U.S. and Ukraine will conduct joint war games.

U.S. Defense Department spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said the paratroopers will train six Ukrainian national guard companies “with a focus on internal security and territorial defense, and that “While we continue to believe that there is no military resolution to this crisis, Ukraine has the right to defend itself.” The training assistance “is part of our ongoing efforts to help sustain Ukraine’s defense and internal security operations. The program is also designed to strengthen Ukraine’s defense capability and capacity and assist in its defense reform.”

The National Guard of Ukraine is made up of reservists, and was reformed in 2014 to bring volunteers and militia under government control following the Maidan protests that brought down the pro-Russian government of Victor Yanukovych.

Russian president Vladimir Putin had already accused the U.S. of fuelling the Maidan protests. Given that, U.S. paratroopers’ training of Ukrainian national guards is sure to provoke anger in Moscow. A shaky ceasefire is currently in place in Ukraine, but skirmishes continue on a daily basis.

The U.S. counters that Russia has supplied Ukrainian separatists with weapons and troops during a near year-long conflict that has claimed more than 6,000 lives, but Putin has always denied the claims.

The United States provides some military aid to Ukraine, though it stops short of delivering the lethal weapons asked for by Kiev. The latest aid consists of more than $75 million worth of armored and unarmored Humvees, unarmed Raven drones, counter-mortar radars, night vision devices and other “non-lethal defensive” equipment. Congress recently voted to urge President Barack Obama to provide “lethal” aid to Kiev.

Sporadic fighting is ongoing in pro-Russian, separatist-held eastern Ukraine, despite a ceasefire agreement signed last month.

See also “U.S. arms Latvia against Russia with 120 armored units.”

~StMA

Obama admin moves battle tanks back into Europe as Russian troops invade Ukraine

On April 4, 2014, Star and Stripes reported that the Obama administration was removing the remainder of U.S. battle tanks from Germany and, thus, from Europe.

Nearly five months later, the administration is reversing that decision.

NATO satellite image of Russian artillery in Ukraine NATO satellite image, taken on August 23, shows Russian artillery units in firing position near Krasnodon, Ukraine.

Joseph Trevithick reports for Medium.com, Aug. 28, 2014, that as the Ukraine crisis deepens — the latest being Russian troops reportedly having crossed the border into Uraine (see satellite image above) — U.S. Army troops from the 1st Cavalry Division are headed for NATO’s eastern border bringing Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles all the way from Fort Hood in Texas.

Bradley Fighting Vehicle

Bradley (armored) Fighting Vehicle

Detachments from 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry, a so-called “combined arms battalion” with tanks and fighting vehicles, will spend the next few months training with U.S.’s friends and allies in the region. The force will also take over from U.S. paratroopers who have been in Eastern Europe since April. The Pentagon has been rotating troops through the region since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region earlier this year.

But the M-1 tanks and M-2 Bradley fighting vehicles are a new twist. This relatively small shipment of heavy gear from the States to Europe is probably a first in over 20 years. Previous troops from the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team had no heavy armor.

Last year, the ground combat branch pulled out the last permanent tank units in Europe. A pool of Abrams and Bradleys—the European Activity Set—in storage in Germany are the only such vehicles on the continent at present.

Until 1993, the Pentagon had prepared to blunt a Russian-led invasion by rushing thousands of troops across the Atlantic. During the Cold War, the Army planned to send large units to fight in Germany. Now, smaller company-sized elements from 2–8 Cav—between 100 and 200 people each—are on their way to Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Germany.

Washington hopes these training exercises will reassure its European allies as the crisis in Ukraine simmers. The Pentagon says pro-Russia insurgents fighting Kiev are getting “tanks, armored personnel carriers, rocket launchers, air defense equipment and other heavy weapons” from Russia.

~StMA

Obama admin sends 600 “boots-on-the-ground” to E. Europe

To EE

Ben Watson reports for Defense One, April 22, 2014:

The Pentagon is sending about 600 U.S. troops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team to Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia in a show of support for Eastern European countries uneasy with Russian forces still lingering near Ukraine.

Eastern Europe Map

“Nothing we’ve seen out of Russia or their armed forces, is de-escalating the tension, is making things any more stable in Ukraine or on the continent of Europe,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters Tuesday.

The first steps of the increased U.S troop presence will occur in Poland and involves approximately 150 paratroopers from the 173rd, based in Vicenza, Italy. Those troops are expected to arrive Wednesday.

The 173rd, which has deployed once to Iraq and four times to Afghanistan since 2003, was already on call to help with NATO security in Europe, led by the alliance’s top military commander, U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove. The paratroopers will be conducting infantry exercises with their Polish counterparts, Kirby said. The other 450 troops — also from the 173rd — will arrive by next week to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

“This isn’t the first time that the 173rd has done exercises with these countries,” Kirby said. “So there’s a relationship there. But yes, these exercises were conceived and added onto the exercise regimen as a result of what’s going on in Ukraine.”

Kirby was asked if the troop deployment is meant to send a message to Russia, after the annexation of Crimea in Ukraine and subsequent buildup of Russian troops along its eastern border set off fresh worries in other former Soviet Union countries. “Any time you put troops on the ground and doing exercises, in this case for a month at a time, it’s more than symbology,” Kirby replied. “The kind of work that we’re going to be doing is real infantry training. And that’s not insignificant.” Still, he said the message is intended to reassure Eastern European allies, not to provoke Russia.

The additional U.S. troops will be maintaining a “persistent rotational presence” through at least the end of the year and maybe longer depending on how the situation in Ukraine develops. The exercises are part of a bilateral operation, and as such, not official NATO events, Kirby said. Regardless, he added, “You’re going to see more [troop and equipment deployments] coming through the alliance, but you’re also going to see more coming bilaterally.”

The Pentagon will also be sending one of its warships, the USS Taylor, to the Black Sea to backfill the guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook in the coming days. Tensions flared on April 12 when Russian fighter jets — ignoring repeated radio warnings from U.S. sailors — made multiple, close-range passes near the USS Donald Cook for nearly 90 minutes.

The White House announced Monday it would send another $8 million in aid to Ukraine, including vehicles, explosive disposal equipment, handheld radios and tactical gear.

See also:

~StMA

Colorado newspaper asks if Obama is a Manchurian candidate for Russia

The Aspen Times is an 11,500-circulation, 7-day-a-week newspaper in the ski resort of Aspen, Colorado with a history dating back to 1881.

Glenn K. Beaton is a columnist for The Aspen Times, and a contributing columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is a former Partner and Co-Chair of the Intellectual Property Group of the international law firm of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, LLP, and practiced in the U.S. Supreme Court.

In other words, Beaton is neither crazy nor a flake.

In an opinion essay for The Aspen Times on March 30, 2014, Beaton asks if Barack Obama is a Manchurian candidate secretly working in Russia’s interest.

~StMA

Obama & MedvedevObama whispers “This is my last election. After my election, I’ll have more flexibility.” to then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the nuclear security summit in Seoul, March 26, 2012.

Is Obama a Manchurian?

By Glenn K. Beaton

I don’t think Barack Obama was born in Kenya.

Yes, his father was born in Kenya, and his brother was born in Kenya. But that doesn’t mean he himself was born in Kenya.

And yes, for 16 years he allowed his literary agent to circulate a one-paragraph bio stating that he was born in Kenya, which was revised numerous times over the years while continuing to state that he was born in Kenya. But I’m inclined to think he did that because it seemed cool and a way to sell books and not because it was true.

And yes, he refuses to release his college transcripts, as other presidents and candidates have done. But I’m guessing that’s because they show poor grades and not because they state he was a foreign student.

And yes, for many years he attended a church where the pastor sometimes exclaimed, “God damn America!” but I think he was just trying to fit in.

No, I don’t think he’s Kenyan.

But I wonder whether he’s Manchurian.

“The Manchurian Candidate” was a 2004 movie about a U.S. politician who was secretly a “sleeper agent” working to overthrow American democracy. (Manchuria is the region of Russia and China where the agent had been brainwashed into working for the other side.)

Here’s why I wonder:

When Obama came into office, he announced that he was “resetting” America’s relationship with Russia. Sure enough, he then canceled the planned defensive missiles in Poland aimed at deterring a Russian invasion. That infuriated our Polish allies and pleased the Russians. He got nothing from the Russians in return that we know of.

Vladimir Putin was then the Russian prime minister, and Dmitri Medvedev was the Russian president. Putin was the boss, and Medvedev was his handpicked puppet.

Later, Obama spoke at a seminar with Medvedev, who speaks English. Putin was not there.

During a break, Obama approached Medvedev on the stage. Thinking his microphone was off, he said privately, just one on one, “This is my last election. After my election, I’ll have more flexibility.” The context was a discussion on defense. Good puppet that he was, Medvedev promised, “I will transmit this information to Vladimir.”

___________________

Note: This is a video of Obama’s exchange with Medvedev:

___________________

But the microphone was not off. The exchange was captured and recorded. And the pair also were captured by a distant video camera showing Obama warmly shaking the hand of Medvedev and patting Medvedev’s knee as they completed the exchange.

Ask yourself this: Why did Obama choose an awkward in-person exchange on a stage at a seminar for delivery of this important message? Why didn’t he simply pick up the phone in the Oval Office and call Putin directly? Could it be because he didn’t want any Americans to hear it — even White House aides and interpreters?

Fast forward another two years. Russia has invaded a sovereign nation, Ukraine, and has purported to annex part of it. Obama’s response so far has been to impose “sanctions” that are so trivial that the Russians have literally laughed at them.

Putin refuses to state whether he will extend his invasion farther into Ukraine or re-invade the East European countries that were liberated by the fall of the Soviet empire in 1991 — an event that Putin has repeatedly declared was “the major geopolitical disaster of the century.”

In contrast to Putin’s poker face, Obama — without being told Putin’s next move insofar as we know — has ruled out military options. In short, Putin has refused to rule out annexing additional sovereign nations, and Obama has refused to guarantee that he’ll stop him.

In dealing with foreign dictators gassing their people as they did in Syria, threatening to “wipe Israel off the map” with a nuclear attack as Iran repeatedly has done, invading sovereign nations as Russia has now done or threatening to reduce America to “radioactive dust” as one of Putin’s apparatchiks recently did, Obama promises “resets” and “flexibility.”

On those promises, by golly, he’s delivered. He boasts that his strategy constitutes “leading from behind.” (I wonder if he imagines that Putin is “following from the front.”)

In dealing with Americans, on the other hand, he shows less flexibility, gives few “resets” and most decidedly leads from the front. The White House uses the National Security Agency to spy on Americans, uses the IRS to target Americans with whom it disagrees politically, refuses to rescue American diplomats begging for help as they’re slaughtered in Benghazi, calls the American political party that freed the slaves “hostage takers” and, most recently, uses the CIA to conduct surveillance on American senators (according to the longtime Democratic senator who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee).

One more thing: That seminar — the one where Obama made his fateful promise to the Russians that in his defense of freedom and liberty he would be flexible — was in South Korea, just a few hundred miles from Manchuria.

Latest news on Ukraine

US fighter jets, Troops to Poland & lithuania Over Ukraine Crisis

Jennifer Svan and John Vandiver report for Stars and Stripes that on March 10, 2014, Polish government officials said the U.S. military was sending 12 F-16 fighter jets and about 300 service members to their country in response to the situation in Ukraine.

It’s the second time in less than a week that the Pentagon has ordered combat planes and personnel to countries in Eastern Europe amid mounting tensions over Russia’s incursion into Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula. On March 6, the U.S. Air Force sent six F-15C Eagles and more than 60 U.S. airmen from RAF Lakenheath, England, to Lithuania to bolster NATO’s air policing mission over the Baltics.

The Baltic nations and Poland had requested the deployments, officials said.

UN Assembly declares Crimea referendum invalid

On March 27, 2014, by a vote of 100 in favor to 11 against, with 58 abstentions, the 193-member UN Assembly declared that the March 16 referendum in Crimea that led to the peninsula’s annexation by Russia “has no validity” and that the parties should “pursue immediately a peaceful resolution of the situation.”

The UN calls on all States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol on the basis of the 16 March referendum “and to refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing any such altered status.”

Russia adds more troops along Ukraine border

Jim Garamone reports for the American Forces Press Service, March 27, 2014, that Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said during a news conference Russia is continuing to reinforce units along the eastern and southern Ukraine border.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had told Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week that the Russian troops were massing for regularly scheduled exercises. Kirby said “The minister said it was exercises, no intent to cross the border. They need to live up to that word.”

The AFP reports on March 27, 2014, that Andriy Parubiy, chairman of Ukraine’s national security council, said via a webcast from Kiev that nearly 100,000 Russian forces have massed on Ukraine’s border — a number far higher than US military estimates.

Parubiy said, “Almost 100,000 soldiers are stationed on the borders of Ukraine and in the direction … of Kharkiv, Donetsk. Russian troops are not in Crimea only, they are along all Ukrainian borders. They’re in the south, they’re in the east and in the north.”

CHINA WON’T TAKE SIDES

Harriet Torry reports for the Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2014, that Chinese President Xi Jinping said China had “no private interest in the Ukraine question,” dashing hopes in the West that Beijing could turn more critical of its Russian ally.

~StMA