Daily Archives: December 18, 2019

Formation of Nato – Purpose, Dates & Cold War – HISTORY

Posted: December 18, 2019 at 9:41 pm


In 1949, the prospect of further Communist expansion prompted the United States and 11 other Western nations to form the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Soviet Union and its affiliated Communist nations in Eastern Europe founded a rival alliance, the Warsaw Pact, in 1955. The alignment of nearly every European nation into one of the two opposing camps formalized the political division of the European continent that had taken place since World War II (1939-45). This alignment provided the framework for the military standoff that continued throughout the Cold War (1945-91).

Conflict between the Western nations (including the United States, Great Britain, France and other countries) and the Communist Eastern bloc (led by the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics or USSR) began almost as soon as the guns fell silent at the end of World War II (1939-45). The USSR oversaw the installation of pro-Soviet governments in many of the areas it had taken from the Nazis during the war. In response, the U.S. and its Western allies sought ways to prevent further expansion of Communist influence on the European continent. In 1947, U.S. leaders introduced the Marshall Plan, a diplomatic initiative that provided aid to friendly nations to help them rebuild their war-damaged infrastructures and economies.

Did you know? NATO continued its existence beyond the Cold War era and gained new member nations in Eastern Europe during the late 1990s. That development was not well received by leaders of the Russian Federation and became a source of post-Cold War tension between the East and the West.

Events of the following year prompted American leaders to adopt a more militaristic stance toward the Soviets. In February 1948, a coup sponsored by the Soviet Union overthrew the democratic government of Czechoslovakia and brought that nation firmly into the Communist camp. Within a few days, U.S. leaders agreed to join discussions aimed at forming a joint security agreement with their European allies. The process gained new urgency in June of that year, when the USSR cut off ground access to Berlin, forcing the U.S., Britain and France to airlift supplies to their sectors of the German city, which had been partitioned between the Western Allies and the Soviets following World War II.

The discussions between the Western nations concluded on April 4, 1949, when the foreign ministers of 12 countries in North America and Western Europe gathered in Washington, D.C., to sign the North Atlantic Treaty. It was primarily a security pact, with Article 5 stating that a military attack against any of the signatories would be considered an attack against them all. When U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson (1893-1971) put his signature on the document, it reflected an important change in American foreign policy. For the first time since the 1700s, the U.S. had formally tied its security to that of nations in Europethe continent that had served as the flash point for both world wars.

The original membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) consisted of Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the United States. NATO formed the backbone of the Wests military bulwark against the USSR and its allies for the next 40 years, with its membership growing larger over the course of the Cold War era. Greece and Turkey were admitted in 1952, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) in 1955 and Spain in 1982. Unhappy with its role in the organization, France opted to withdraw from military participation in NATO in 1966 and did not return until 1995.

The formation of the Warsaw Pact was in some ways a response to the creation of NATO, although it did not occur until six years after the Western alliance came into being. It was more directly inspired by the rearming of West Germany and its admission into NATO in 1955. In the aftermath of World War I and World War II, Soviet leaders felt very apprehensive about Germany once again becoming a military powera concern that was shared by many European nations on both sides of the Cold War divide.

In the mid-1950s, however, the U.S. and a number of other NATO members began to advocate making West Germany part of the alliance and allowing it to form an army under tight restrictions. The Soviets warned that such a provocative action would force them to make new security arrangements in their own sphere of influence, and they were true to their word. West Germany formally joined NATO on May 5, 1955, and the Warsaw Pact was signed less than two weeks later, on May 14. Joining the USSR in the alliance were Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Hungary, Poland and Romania. This lineup remained constant until the Cold War ended with the dismantling of all the Communist governments in Eastern Europe in 1989 and 1990.

Like NATO, the Warsaw Pact focused on the objective of creating a coordinated defense among its member nations in order to deter an enemy attack. There was also an internal security component to the agreement that proved useful to the USSR. The alliance provided a mechanism for the Soviets to exercise even tighter control over the other Communist states in Eastern Europe and deter pact members from seeking greater autonomy. When Soviet leaders found it necessary to use military force to put down revolts in Hungary in 1956 and in Czechoslovakia in 1968, for example, they presented the action as being carried out by the Warsaw Pact rather than by the USSR alone.

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Why Russia Felt Threatened By Estonia’s Largest Ever Military Exercise With NATO – The National Interest Online

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Key point: The former Soviet states in the Baltic are standing up to Russian aggression. And NATO has their back.

On May 2, 2018, Estonia began thelargest exercise in its historysince regaining independence in 1991. The exercise is calledSiil2018(hedgehog in Estonian),will last until May 14, and features 15,000 servicemen including 2,000 foreigners from ten NATO countries (Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States) and five non-NATO countries (Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Sweden and Ukraine).

The northernmost of the Baltic States, Estonia has been under pressure to increase its defense spending since the 2014 crisis in Ukraine, owing to its proximity and tumultuous history with Russia. Tallinn has increased the countrysdefense spending to record levels, meeting NATOs 2 percent requirement and making little Estoniaone of only six alliance membersto reach that goal. Estonia has increased the readiness of its reserves withregular exercises, a task other NATO members on the eastern flank areonly starting to tackle. On March 1, 2018, Estonias Chief of Staff, Brig. Gen. Martin Herem declared that Estonia can cant be occupied within days, throwing the gauntlet down for any hypothetical Russian aggression.

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Understandably, the Russian press has taken interest in Siil 2018, running the headline largest military exercisefrequently. For a country of fewer than 1.5 million people, these statistics and headlines are indeed impressive. Some Russian commentators have discussed the possibility that the Baltic States arepreparing their own aggression against Russia, either literally or by simply conducting these exercises inregions with Russian-speaking populations.

However, how does a 15,000-strong exercise stack up against Russian military exercises? It should be noted that most of the 13,000 Estonians participating in Siil 2018 come from theEstonian reserves (Kaitseliit). Russia, by contrast, has a rather dysfunctional reservist recall system only just beginning to rectify its problems. Even Belarus has a betterreservist trainingandreintegrationsystem than Russia.

However, Russia today retains a juggernaut of a regular force with a variety of supporting services technically not considered part of the armed forces. One of those services, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, hosted amassive 112,000-man exercise across Russia just two weeks ago. Including the ancillary government personnel involved, its total number of participant wasgreater than 640,000. However, this was an exercise designed to respond to large-scale natural disasters like floods and wildfires, not military operations (though these forces would certainly be providing support to Russian infrastructure and stricken population centers during a war).

In September 2017, Russia famously promised there were only12,700 participants in Zapad-2017. Laying asideassessments of why that claim was dubious, this would suggest Russia does not regularly perform exercises of the magnitude of Siil 2018. However, suggesting that would be an act of Russian information warfare: Moscow conducted a19,000-man exercisein the Far East inJanuary 2018.

Furthermore, Russia has a tendency of breaking up larger military operational exercises into smaller pieces, such as conducting an amphibious exercise over an unnecessarily long period of time, practicing only individual pieces of the operation. Adding together all activities in Russia just from April 2327, 17,389 servicemen were exercised. Russia is a large country, but exercises including1,000 or more participants took place in five events.

Looking closer to Estonia, more than 20,000 Russians were documented by theRussian Ministry of Defenseto have participated in March 2018 in the three regions adjacent to the Baltic States (Kaliningrad, Pskov and Leningrad Oblasts).My analysis suggeststhat March 2018 was a special time for training in the Western Military District, but not sufficiently so to merit a general name for the larger collection of exercises.

This is a spot assessment of three random events in Russia since the start of 2018 is hardly comprehensive, only hinting at the capabilities Russia regularly displays with its armed capabilities in what the Foreign Minister of Lithuania calls military hooliganism. Other incidents, such as thefiring of shipborne missiles over the Latvian exclusive economic zone (EEZ)even as the leaders of the Baltic Statesvisited the White Houseat the beginning of April 2018, are so numerous as to be trivia.

Estonias large-scale Siil 2018 exercise is not trivial. It is the largest exercise in independent Estonian history. However, were the exact same exercise taking place inside Russia, no one would notice it as it would blend in with all the other military activities ongoing there discreetly. Except for the fact that the existence of fifteen other nations willing to say they would defend Russia truly would be newsworthy.

Nicholas J. Myers is a Russian and Belarusian military analyst at War Vs Peace. You can follow him @WarVsPeaceOrg or see his research atwarvspeace.org. This article first appeared last year.

Image: Reuters.

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Turkey and NATO May Be at Loggerheads, but They Still Need Each Other – World Politics Review

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The recent NATO summit in London underscored how Turkeys relations with its allies are becoming increasingly confrontational. In the run-up to the meeting, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to veto the alliances defense plan for Poland and the Baltic states unless key Western powers became more attentive to Turkish interests in Syria. Although Erdogan eventually signed on to the summits final communique, the Turks are continuing to stonewall approval of the plan until the West agrees to designate the YPG, a Syrian Kurdish militia, as a terrorist group.

Turkey has been vocally complaining about Western support for the YPG and other Syrian Kurdish fighters for the past few years. The Syrian Kurds, anchored by the YPG, have been the U.S.-led coalitions principal partners on the ground in the fight against the Islamic State in northeastern Syria. But the Turks consider the YPG a Syrian Kurdish offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, a Turkish Kurdish insurgent group that has been fighting the Turkish state, often using terrorist tactics, for over 40 years. Both groups advocate for greater Kurdish political autonomy within their respective countries, which is vehemently opposed by Turks across the political spectrum, from Erdogans Islamist base to the right-wing nationalist parties. Erdogan has even threatened to open the floodgates on the 3.6 million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey, facilitating their passage to Europe if NATO and the European Union dont come around to Ankaras thinking on the matter. ...

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Turkey breaches airspace of Greece 40 times in a day, triggering mock dogfights between the NATO allies – Stars and Stripes

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Greek air force pilots scrambled to intercept Turkish fighter planes that illegally entered Greeces airspace 40 times in a single day this week as tensions soar between the NATO allies over a territorial dispute in the eastern Mediterranean.

Fighter jets from the two countries on Tuesday engaged in 16 mock dogfights following multiple Turkish incursions into Greek airspace, defense officials in Athens told Greeces Kathimerini newspaper.

Dogfights between the two NATO members are relatively commonplace and risky. Turkish jets and helicopters illegally entered Greek airspace 141 times on a single day in May 2017, the Hellenic National Defence General Staff said. Several Greek pilots have been killed in aviation accidents while intercepting Turkish jets in Greek airspace.

The fighter intercepts stem from a long-running row between the two countries over territorial claims in the Aegean Sea. Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos recently said the disputed area is under Greek military control, Kathimerini reported.

Among the issues disputed by the two NATO members are delimitation of territorial waters, airspace, exclusion zones and Turkish claims of sovereignty over a number of small islands off its southwestern coast.

Turkey could send military forces into the eastern Mediterranean and place armed drones in northern Cyprus over the territorial disputes, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said in parliament Tuesday.

If necessary, Turkey sends troops, drills in the east Mediterranean and launches cross-border operations. It does whatever is required, Oktay was quoted by Turkeys Ahval newspaper as saying.

The U.S. has enhanced military ties with Athens as tensions have risen, not only between Turkey and Greece but also between Washington and Ankara.

In October, Greece and the U.S. updated their defense cooperation pact, pledging to increase American troop rotations and joint exercises at several military sites in Greece, and to make infrastructure upgrades at the Navys longtime base at Souda Bay.

The moves come as Ankara threatens to cut off U.S. access to Incirlik Air Base if Washington moves ahead with sanctions over Turkeys military offensive in northern Syria and its acquisition of a Russian missile system. A U.S. Senate committee last week backed legislation to impose sanctions on Turkey.

Meanwhile, Greece plans to buy drones from the U.S. and Israel that could be used to monitor Turkish maneuvers in the Mediterranean. Greece needs more surveillance capabilities in light of a maritime border deal recently struck between Turkey and Libya, Panagiotopoulos said in a speech to the Greek parliament this week. The European Union has said the border deal violates international law.

vandiver.john@stripes.comTwitter: @john_vandiver

A Turkish air force F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off during an exercise in March 2016. Greek air force pilots scrambled to intercept Turkish fighter planes that illegally entered Greek airspace 40 times on Dec. 17, 2019.KEVIN TANENBAUM/U.S. AIR FORCE

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Turkey breaches airspace of Greece 40 times in a day, triggering mock dogfights between the NATO allies - Stars and Stripes

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NATO marks fifteenth anniversary of Istanbul Cooperation Initiative in visit to Kuwait – NATO HQ

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The ambassadors of the North Atlantic Council met with Istanbul Cooperation Initiative partners Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in Kuwait City on Monday (16 December 2019), marking the fifteenth anniversary of the partnership forum. Oman, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council were also represented at the meeting.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg highlighted the tailored training and practical support provided by NATO to all Gulf countries, and expressed appreciation for the support given by the Gulf partners to NATO-led operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Afghanistan. He also welcomed that NATO and its Gulf partners cooperate closely within the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh. I am proud of the cooperation that has taken place between our nations and I very much look forward to deepening our partnership in the future, Mr. Stoltenberg said.

Read the Secretary General's remarks at the ICI Ceremony here.

Read the Secretary General's opening remarks at the NAC meeting here.

More information about the Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme's support to NATO ICI Regional Center here.

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NATO marks fifteenth anniversary of Istanbul Cooperation Initiative in visit to Kuwait - NATO HQ

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Why NATO, at the ripe age of 70, still matters – The Boston Globe

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The Cold War is fast becoming a distant memory unless you happen to be in Ukraine, where its anything but and the 29-member alliance (soon to be 30 with the addition of North Macedonia) is fraying at the seams. Its recent London meeting looked less like the birthday bash it was billed as and more like a scene from Mean Girls. But petty squabbles can only embolden the likes of Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.

Even as Trump boarded Air Force One in a huff, other members of the alliance were indeed working on what would become the London Declaration, which at least says all of the right things. Things like, Solidarity, unity, and cohesion are cornerstone principles of our Alliance. It also affirmed the principle enshrined in its founding document as Article V, that an attack against one Ally shall be considered an attack against us all.

The problem remains: Do members of the Alliance actually believe that? In his controversial interview with The Economist this fall, Macron who was still smarting from Turkeys incursion into Syria, with the tacit approval of the Trump administration, and its attack on the Kurds raised the hypothetical: Would NATO defend Turkey against an attack by Syria?

What will Article V mean tomorrow? Macron asked. If the Bashar al-Assad regime decides to retaliate against Turkey, will we commit ourselves under it? Its a crucial question.

Macron continues to promote the idea of a European Army, as if the European Union and its 28 member states (at least prior to the likely departure of Britain) dont have enough to squabble about already.

If the Atlantic alliance is to be something other than a debate club in the days ahead, it will need to confront both its evolving mission and whether it can carry on absent, at least for the time being, strong US leadership.

The London declaration is a hopeful sign that NATO is preparing itself to weather that storm:

Russias aggressive actions constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security; terrorism in all its forms and manifestations remains a persistent threat to us all. State and non-state actors challenge the rules-based international order. Instability beyond our borders is also contributing to irregular migration. We face cyber and hybrid threats.

Alliance members also put China on its list of concerns in its rather oblique way, noting that Chinas growing influence and international policies present both opportunities and challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance. There are some real fears about Chinese domination of the 5G world of communications and recognizing the need to rely on secure and resilient systems.

The real issue the elephant in the room is NATOs ability and continued commitment to do all this, even in the presence of a US leader who repeatedly fails to see the threat posed by Putin.

For now, NATO remains the best option for securing the future of democracy and security in Europe. No all-European Army will ever match the might and the expertise that the United States and Canada have to offer. Nor should there be any doubt of the broader US commitment to its future. NATO has weathered worse storms in its 70 years than the petulance of a US president. Its new mission statement gives every indication it will weather this one too.

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Why NATO, at the ripe age of 70, still matters - The Boston Globe

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Speaker Disinvited for NATO Celebration Shouldn’t Have Planned to Criticize Trump – Daily Signal

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I recently came across Stanley Sloans Dec. 7 Facebook post, in which he let his friends and followers know that his planned address for the Dec. 10 celebration of NATOs 70thanniversary was abruptly canceled by the Danish Atlantic Council.

The cancellation was due to the decision by the U.S. Embassy inCopenhagen not to support Sloans participation. The chief reason for that,spurred by U.S. Ambassador Carla Sands, was his strong criticism of PresidentDonald Trump.

On Facebook, Sloan posted what was to have been his entirekeynote speech, Crisis in Transatlantic Relations: What Future Will WeChoose? He had been scheduled to speak after Sands, but because he was droppedfrom the program, Lars Bangert Struwe, the head of the Danish Atlantic Council,had little choice but to cancel the entire event.

With all due respect for Sloans 50 years of expertise andexperience as a top expert on U.S.-European relations and as a visiting scholarat Vermonts Middlebury College, nonresident senior fellow at the ScowcroftCenter of the Atlantic Council of the United States, and associate fellow atthe Austrian Institute for European Security Policy with expertise in nationaldefense and NATO, he surely must have known that the harshly critical tone ofhis speech would not be greenlit by any ambassador representing the presidentof the United States.

But he likely took the risk because, as he asserted, he hadearned the right to use the platform to sound the alarm with your critique.

When I travel abroad and deliver keynote addresses with heads ofstates, ambassadors, and other dignitaries present, I dont levy suchcritiques. Thats the case even if I have fundamental concerns or disagreementson behalf of my country over issues, or even when I disagree with a policywhile visiting a country.

Thats not to say constructive criticism shouldnt occur, or that questions about a process, protocol, or procedure shouldnt be raised. But surely Sloan understands that the authorized representative of the president would respond to a critique like his as she did.

I saw Sloans tweet in which he stated that he wasoverwhelmed by the supporthe has been receiving after his participation in the celebration of NATOs 70thanniversary was vetoed by the ambassador to Denmark.

While Sloan no doubt has a lot of support for his views, it is my experience working with embassies around the world that otherwise support free speech that no speaker would be allowed to take the stage, after the U.S. ambassador speaks, to harshly criticize a sitting U.S. president, regardless of political party.

That speech, in that forum, would not have been permitted under Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, or Ronald Reagan. I can say that without fear of contradiction, because, with the exception of Reagan, I have met all of these presidents, spent time with them in various capacities, and worked on behalf of two administrations to promote public diplomacy throughout the world.

NATOs many challengesfrom Brexit to Turkey purchasing a missile defense system from Russianeed to be illuminated coherently and not through the prism of opposition to the president.

With his intellect and experience, Sloan could have discussed these and other issues without ascribing a possible failure of NATO to the U.S. president. NATOs challenges, which have indeed expanded beyond its original founding mission of 70 years ago to fight Soviet aggression, are undeniably real. As such, Sloanhad the opportunity for a robust critique that could strike a chord of unity and solutions for the alliance you are clearly passionate about.

The important issue of collective defense under NATOs Article 5and concerns over Russias continued dangerous moves (which Sloan did mentionin his speech), the growing Chinese threat, and other challenges facing thenon-free world cant be reiterated enough.

I concur with Sloanwith his view, stated in his2018 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,that the [NATO] alliance remains so important to American society. NATO is indeed necessary, as are newer strategic concepts of collective security in which preserving freedom, democracy, and civility are paramount.

But as I noted before, keynote addresses or even main talkingpoints are submitted in advance of a speech such as the one in question, anddiscussions are had with the host or hosts on the focus of the speech. Suchpreparation might include feedback prior to the actual speech and might wellinclude proscribingor editing out parts ofa presentation.

The last-minute nature of the invitation to Sloan didnt allowfor the latter and consequently set up a tenuous moment that causedembarrassment for Denmarks Atlantic Council, the U.S. Embassy in Denmark, and,yes, Sloan himself.

Sloan undeniably has freedom of speech. However, understanding the nature of his platform was imperative, and the privilege he had was sacrificed because of what he was going to present, given the event sponsor, the U.S. Embassy in Denmark. As a fellow professional, I believe Sloans message could have been presented differently and still have had tremendous outcomes.

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The US and NATO are preparing for Russia to go after troops in the field and at home – Business Insider

Posted: at 9:41 pm

At the beginning of 2017, after Dutch fighter pilots deployed to Lithuania on a Baltic Air Policing rotation called home using their own phones, their families started getting sinister phone calls.

The men on the calls, made with pre-paid sim cards, spoke English with Russian accents, according to reports in Dutch media, and would ask the recipients questions like "Do you know what your partner is doing there?" and "Wouldn't it be better if he left?"

Later that summer, after US Army Lt. Col. Christopher L'Heureux took command of a NATO base in Poland, he returned to his truck after a drill to find someone had breached his personal iPhone, turning on lost mode and trying to get around a second password using Russian IP address.

"It had a little Apple map, and in the center of the map was Moscow," L'Heureux, who was stationed not far from a major Russian military base, told The Wall Street Journal in 2017. "It said, 'Somebody is trying to access your iPhone.'"

US Army armored units in Poland. U.S. Army photo by: Staff Sgt. Michael Eaddy

Those incidents and others like them reflect ongoing efforts by Russians to misinform and intimidate civilians and troops in Europe and abroad.

"Malign influence is of great concern, specifically in the information domain," US Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, head of US European Command, told reports at a Defense Writers Group breakfast in Washington, DC, on Tuesday.

"A comprehensive defense involves air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace, which are the five domains that we recognize in NATO," Wolters added.

But on the fringes of those domains, he said, is hybrid activity, "and part of hybrid activity happens to be information operations ... and from a malign influence standpoint we see that often from Russia."

A soldier from NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence battle group jumps in icy water during the winter-survival exercise in Adazi, Latvia, February 8, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

Several soldiers under L'Heureux's command had their phones or social-media accounts hacked, according to The Journal.

Wolters, who took over European Command in May 2019, said US personnel and families under his command hadn't been targeted with that kind of harassment spokesmen for British and French contingents deployed to the Baltics have recently said the same of their troops but they have encountered "misinformation" put out by Russia media, including state-backed television channel RT TV.

"If ... they're part of US EUCOM, and they're in Europe, and they happen to see RT TV, this is a classic example of misinformation," Wolters said.

"Probably not to the severity" of those 2017 incidents, he added, "but it is another example of exposure of misinformation and from a malign influence perspective on behalf of Russia in the info ops sphere against citizens" in Europe.

Misinformation campaigns are central to Russia's strategy on and off the battlefield as the 2016 US election interference showed, and not limited to whoever happens to be watching RT.

US troops, part of a NATO mission to enhance Poland's defense, before an official welcoming ceremony in Orzysz, Poland, April 13, 2017. Associated Press

In Lithuania in 2017, officials warned of propaganda efforts seeking to undermine Lithuanian territorial claims and set the stage for "kinetic operations" by Moscow, a persistent concern among Russia's smaller Baltic neighbors. Russia is also suspected of orchestrating a broader disinformation campaign to smear NATO's reputation in Lithuania.

Farther north, Finland has dealt with Russian misinformation throughout the century since it declared independence from its larger neighbor, with which it shares a long border and a contentious history.

Helsinki launched an initiative to build media literacy and counter fake news among its citizens in 2014. The Finnish capital is also home to the European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, set up in 2017 by a dozen members of the EU and NATO.

Former US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis praised the Hybrid CoE, as it's known, for allowing democracies involved to research shared concerns and threats "each of us learning from the other and building resistance to those with malign intent toward our democracies."

US Air Force Gen. Tod D. Wolters speaks with airmen during a visit to RAF Mildenhall in England, June 22, 2018. US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee

While Wolters said personnel under his command haven't experienced the kind of electronic interference seen in 2017, it's something they should expect and prepare for, according to Keir Giles, senior consulting fellow with the Russia and Eurasia Program at the British think tank Chatham House, who called those 2017 incidents "unprecedented in recent times."

"NATO forces should by now be training and exercising with the assumption that they will be under not only electronic and cyberattack, but also individual and personalized information attack, including exploitation of personal data harvested from any connected device brought into an operational area," Giles wrote in August.

Wolters said his command and its European partners are working together to prepare troops to face and thwart that kind of assault.

"To have a good, comprehensive defense you have to be willing to deter in all domains, to include the information domain, so we have ongoing activities ... that involve what we do in US EUCOM with the NATO nations and what we do in US EUCOM with all the partner nations," Wolters said Tuesday.

Polish soldiers use an anti-aircraft cannon's sights to simulate engaging enemy aircraft during exercise Saber Strike 18 at Bemowo Piskie Training Area in Poland, June 14, 2018. Michigan Army National Guard/Spc. Alan Prince

At the Supreme Headquarters for Allied Powers in Europe, or SHAPE, Wolters said, "we have information operations, deterrence activities that take place with the 29 [NATO members]" and with NATO partner nations, includingFinland, Ukraine, and Georgia.

Most reports of harassment and intimidation of NATO personnel date to the years immediately after the 2014 Russian incursion in Ukraine, when NATO increased activity along its eastern flank, Giles noted in an interview with Military.com in September.

That may just mean the campaign has changed form rather than stopped, Giles said, adding that such incidents could be reduced, though not prevented, by speaking more openly about the threat and by strengthening information security among NATO personnel.

Wolters said his command does have ongoing information-operations training.

"For an infantry soldier that's part of the battalion-size battle group that's currently operating in Poland, they receive information-ops training, and they know that that info-ops training is just as important as the training to shoot a 9 mm pistol," he said Tuesday. "From that standpoint we ensure that we counter with the facts, and we don't hesitate to call out when truths are not being told in public with respect to the activities that are taking place in NATO and ... in Europe."

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The US and NATO are preparing for Russia to go after troops in the field and at home - Business Insider

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NATO Nightmare: A Russian Invasion of Iceland? – The National Interest Online

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Key Point:If war broke out, seizing Iceland would have been one of the Soviet's first initiatives.

Tom Clancys 1986 novel Red Storm Rising depicts a conventional war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Its one of Clancys best books and, interesting for a story about a Third World War, doesnt involve a nuclear apocalypse.

It does describe a ground war in Germany, naval and air battles in the North Atlantic andcentral to the plotan invasion of Iceland by a regiment of Soviet troops. Clancy, who died in 2013, was known for his realism and extreme attention to technical detail.

In Red Storm Rising, the Soviet troops overwhelm a U.S. Marine company in the Nordic island country after sneaking to shore inside the MV Yulius Fuchik, a civilian barge carrier loaded with hovercraft. Before the amphibious assault, Soviet missile target and destroy NATOs F-15 fighters based at Naval Air Station Keflavik.

Iceland was an overlooked by highly strategic location in the Cold War. Were the Soviet Unions attack submarines to break out into the Atlantic and threaten NATO shipping, neutralizing Iceland and penetrating the GIUK gap would be of vital importance.

But that doesnt mean the Soviets really couldve invaded Iceland right?

For a possible answer, lets consult The Northwestern TVD in Soviet Operational-Strategic Planning, a 2014 report by Phillip Petersenan expert on the Soviet and now Russian militaries for the Potomac Foundation.

In December, the Pentagons Office of Net Assessment made the report public and available on its website.

Petersens analysis is a revealing blueprint for how to defend Scandinavia from a Russian attack. Much of the report is comprised of military-oriented descriptions of remote rivers and sparsely-inhabited valleyspictures includedwhich the word obscure can barely describe. Obscure, except in case of World War III.

Faced with a predominantly sea-oriented NATO coalition dependent on control of the [sea lines of communication], there can be no question but that the Soviets would have liked to capture or at least neutralize Iceland, Petersen wrote.

Soviet operations against Iceland could have theoretically covered a wide spectrum of means, ranging from air and missile attacks to troop assaults.

Supporting the theory that the USSR could have pulled off a Clancy-style surprise attack, the Soviet Union possessed the exact equipment in Red Storm Risingreflecting Clancys attention to all-things hardwaresuitable for landing troops in Iceland without the need for a major port.

In fact, the Soviets trained to use such repurposed roll-on/roll-off vessels like Yulius Fuchik for precisely those kinds of missions. Meanwhile, NATO kept its military presence in Iceland minimal because of the countrys heated political divisions over its participation in the alliance.

Iceland has not had a military since 1869.

Thus, in the event of a war breaking out, NATO would have to rush troops to the island and shore up its defenses to raise the costs of, and hopefully deter, a Soviet attack.

Icelands remote location and ruggednessand the Soviet Navys comparative weaknessmeant that a surprise attack by a small and relatively light force before the Western alliance could respond was Moscows only feasible strategy.

The Soviet military had experience with similar operations in World War II, including deploying small teams to Norway to spy on German troops. In 2014, Russia carried out an almost-bloodless surprise attack on Crimea which occurred too quickly for Ukraine to respond.

Iceland wouldve been a far more difficult target. For one, there was the problem of distance. The country is also windy and rough, making an airborne drop an exceedingly hazardous proposition. Paratroopers might have been swept away by winds and dashed into rocks, or broken their legs upon landing.

And any Soviet operation would have faced challenges at sea. The Kremlin would have to bet on basically perfect weather and skilled navigators to make it through Icelands narrow fjords and around its numerous reefs.

However, even if the Soviets had attempted a lower-risk effort such as inserting a naval infantry company by submarine, Petersen wrote, such a force might have been sufficient to attack the Kevlavik airbase, while special-purpose (spetsnaz) forces, in teams of five to twelve men each, attacked outlying facilities like that at Hofn.

Hofn was the site of a Cold War-era NATO radar station which tracked Soviet bombers heading south.

So the Soviets couldve taken Iceland. Or at least caused a lot of chaos and disruption if the United States did not bolster the defenses beforehand.

But that would just be the beginning. A Soviet occupation force would probably face a NATO counter-attack, likely supported by at least one U.S. carrier battle group, without having Soviet warplanes backing them in comparable numbersand little cover from NATO aircraft flying overhead.

Which is pretty much what happened in the fictional battle for Iceland in Red Storm Rising. NATO won.

This piece was originally featured in January 2017 and is being republished due to readerinterest.

Originally posted here:
NATO Nightmare: A Russian Invasion of Iceland? - The National Interest Online

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Indra to work with Boeing on Nato AWACS aircraft upgrade – Airforce Technology

Posted: at 9:41 pm

]]> Nato AWACS aircraft at Melsbroek Air Base last month to mark the signing of the modernisation contract. Credit: Nato.

Spanish firm Indra will support the Natos E-3A Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS) aircraft fleet upgrade programme.

The company will work with Boeing and other firms on the AWACS Final Lifetime Extension Programme (FLEP) to extend the service life of the early warning, surveillance and command and control aircraft.

The modernisation will equip the strategic aircraft with the capability to maintain advantage in future digitised scenarios.

Nato uses the AWACS aircraft to support an array of missions including command and control, aerial surveillance, battlespace management and communications.

The organisation has 14 Boeing E-3 AWACS aircraft that operate from Nato Air Base (NAB) Geilenkirchen in Germany.

Equipped with radar and passive sensors, the surveillance aircraft is capable of detecting air and ground targets over large areas.

The AWACS is derived from Boeing 707 platform and can detect low-flying aircraft that seek to avoid detection from air defence systems, Indra said.

The company also stated that the aircraft provides improved command and control capability for land, air and sea operations.

Last month, Nato signed a $1bn contract with Boeing for the AWACS FLEP programme, which will be funded by 16 Nato allies.

The upgrade is intended to keep the aircraft in operational service until 2035. Enhancements will include improved networking and communications.

The project will also include other companies from Europe and North America.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg revealed that the alliance is planning to introduce another aircraft to replace the E-3A AWACS aircraft fleet.

Excerpt from:
Indra to work with Boeing on Nato AWACS aircraft upgrade - Airforce Technology

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