Commentary: Meanwhile, Over at the Massive Russian Military Buildup

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English: THE BARENTS SEA. A military exercise ...

A military exercise of the Russian Northern Fleet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Kristopher Rikken, ERR News – Estonian Public Broadcasting, Sept. 25, 2013

With Zapad 2013, Russia’s answer to NATO‘s Steadfast Jazz military exercise, continuing in parts east, ERR News profiles a piece that originally ran on February 13.

One year ago, Russia unveiled a new doctrine: then presidential candidate Vladimir Putin openly avowed an intention to radically expand and upgrade the Russian military. As of February 2013, the country continues to pursue the biggest military buildup in years in its western military district, which is flush up against Baltic borders and already easily the country’s most powerful in conventional military terms…

It’s unclear how much NATO’s own actions are driving the escalation, but only one side (Russia) has mentioned a “pre-war state,” which has drawn a response…

For a year now, the main theme in the Russian military doctrine has been a “prewar situation.”

“It took just three years for the ‘prewar state’ meme to make it from a retired colonel’s interview to a speech delivered by the President to the Federal Assembly… (more)

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Bloomberg: Russian War Games on Baltic Border Spark Security Fears

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Post-Soviet states in alphabetical order: 1. A...

Post-Soviet states in alphabetical order: 1. Armenia, 2. Azerbaijan, 3. Belarus, 4. Estonia, 5. Georgia, 6. Kazakhstan, 7. Kyrgyzstan, 8. Latvia, 9. Lithuania, 10. Moldova, 11. Russia, 12. Tajikistan, 13. Turkmenistan, 14. Ukraine, 15. Uzbekistan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Ott Ummelas & Aaron Eglitis, Bloomberg, Sept. 20, 2013

Baltic officials said regional security had been weakened as Russia led military exercises on their doorstep involving almost 12,000 troops.

A week of land and sea maneuvers dubbed “Zapad 2013,” or “West 2013,” began today as part of biennial exercises with Belarus, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on its website. Troops in both nations tested coordination in destroying “illegal armed formations,” it said.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which regained independence in 1991 after half a century of Soviet rule, joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 2004 amid Russian opposition. NATO has held exercises in the Baltic region since 2010, while Russia has opened new military bases and deployed more troops on its western border in recent years, according to the defense ministers of Estonia and Latvia… (more)

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The security concerns of the Baltic States as NATO allies

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Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Dr. James S. Corum, Strategic Studies Institute and U.S. Army War College Press,The three Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania hold a special position among the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) nations, as they are the three full members of the Western Alliance that were once republics of
the Soviet Union… (more)

Exercises, Training to Posture NATO for Future Challenges

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By Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5, 2013 – Sharpened by the past decade of combat operations, NATO forces are launching an ambitious effort to build on that foundation and to enhance the capabilities of the NATO Response Force, the top U.S. and NATO commander reported.

“After more than 10 years of experience fighting together in Afghanistan, we have achieved an unprecedented level of cohesiveness among allies and partners,” Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe and commander of U.S. European Command, said in his new blog posting…(more)

 

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The Case for U.S. Troops in Europe Today

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Taken from The Future of U.S. Bases in Europe: A View from America

By Luke Coffey, Heritage Foundation, July 15, 2013

… “In my opinion, however, basing American troops in Europe directly serves U.S. national security interests.

Of course, the presence of U.S. forces in Europe contributes to the collective defense of U.S. allies on the continent, but this is a consequence of, not the reason for, maintaining a robust presence. The challenge for U.S. decision makers is to keep a military force that can promote U.S. interests in the region without creating a culture of dependence on the U.S. security umbrella among some of America’s European allies.

The commonly held belief that U.S. forces are in Europe to protect European allies from a threat that no longer exists is wrong. In fact, forward basing U.S. troops in Europe is just as important now as it was during the Cold War, albeit for different reasons… (more)

Exercise Rapid Trident 2013 – Multinational exercise in the Ukraine

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English: Location map of Ukraine within Europe

Location map of Ukraine within Europe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rapid Trident supports interoperability among Ukraine, the United States, NATO and Partnership for Peace member nations. The exercise helps prepare participants to operate successfully in a joint, multinational, integrated environment with host-nation support from civil and governmental agencies.

Rapid Trident is a part of U.S. European Command’s Joint Training and Exercise Program, designed to enhance joint combined interoperability with allied and partner nations.

The exercise also supports Ukraine’s Annual National Program to achieve interoperability with NATO and commitments made in the annual NATO-Ukraine work plan.

Exercise Saber Strike 2013 – Multinational exercise hosted in the Baltics

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Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saber Strike is a long-standing, multilateral, multifaceted, U.S Army Europe-led security cooperation exercise primarily focused on the three Baltic States. The exercise spans multiple locations in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and involves approximately 2,000 personnel from 14 countries.

In addition to major contingents from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, Saber Strike 2013 includes participation from Finland, France, the United Kingdom, Poland, NATO’s Multinational Corps Northeast (MNC NE), U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), the U.S. Army and Air National Guard, U.S. Army Cadet Command and observers from Norway and Sweden.

The exercise trains participants on command and control as well as interoperability with regional partners and is comprised of a brigade-level command post exercise and computer assisted exercise, as well as company-level field and situational training exercises. It also features the integration of U.S. close air support with partner nation ground forces and the demonstration of U.S. Expeditionary Medical Support (EMEDS) capability.

This theater security cooperation exercise provides commanders and their staffs practical experience in organizing, controlling and supporting coalition operations and allows the United States, NATO and participating nations to demonstrate their own unique roles in contributing to regional and global stability by strengthening international military partnerships, enhancing multinational interoperability and preparing participants for worldwide contingency operations.

New report on European military capabilities

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By James Rogers, European Geostrategy, May 6, 2013

Chairman of the European Union Military Commit...

Chairman of the European Union Military Committe visits EUFOR HQ (Photo credit: European External Action Service – EEAS)

The European Union’s Institute for Security Studies published a report  commissioned by the European Union’s Military Committee to provide further reflection during 2013 about the future of European military capabilities.

The report argues that we are likely to face a series of growing threats and challenges, particularly in relation to the changing balance of global power… (more)

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Europe’s defense capabilities gap

The European Defence Agency (EDA) members: Blu...

The European Defence Agency (EDA) members: Blue: European Union Light blue: Opt-out (Denmark) Green: Opt-in (Norway) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Jorge Benitez, NATOSource, April 29, 2013From Thomas Enders and Wolfgang Ischinger, Munich Security Conference:  Demands are growing – as the recent crises in Mali and Libya illustrate – even as defence budgets steadily decline. . . .

In light of this situation, Europe – especially Germany, France, and Great Britain – should reach agreement on three aspects of joint defence:

1.     The strategic objective.

2.     The extent of shared sovereignty.

3.     The design of the market… (more)

(A longer, German version of this article appeared in the German newspaper Handelsblatt [translated here] on April 26, 2013.)

DOD Conducts ‘BRAC-like’ Review in Europe

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Europe - Satellite image - PlanetObserver

Europe – Satellite image (Photo credit: PlanetObserver)

By Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service, April 26, 2013While the U.S. continues to reduce its military presence in Europe, the Defense Department is conducting a review to identify more Europe-based installations and training areas to recommend for closure or realignment….In fact, the U.S. force in Europe has decreased about 80 percent from the height of the Cold War, when the United States had 450,000 service members serving at some 1,200 bases, Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, the U.S. European Command commander and supreme allied commander for Europe, told Congress last month.

Today, Eucom consists of 64,000 joint forces, representing less than 5 percent of the U.S. military, spread across 21 major bases and smaller supporting sites, Stavridis reported… (more)