more toy soldiers at play

NATO’s Big War Games Near Russia’s Borders Never End
Alex Gorka, Strategic Culture, Oct 12 2018

The NATO-led Trident Juncture ’18 (TRJE18) exercise that is to be held in October and November is the largest massive and coordinated show of force since the Cold War. It will primarily be hosted by Norway. The training event will largely take place in the central and eastern parts of this Nordic country that neighbors Russia, as well as over the skies and in the seas of Sweden and Finland. The maritime component will be conducted in the surrounding areas of the North Atlantic and in the Baltic Sea. TRJE18-related activities will take place as far away as Iceland. Russia has been invited to send observers to watch the exercise. Actually, TRJE18 consists of three parts. The deployment phase has been underway since August. A live field exercise will be held from October 25 to Nov 7 with six brigades fighting each other right in the heart of Norway. A command post training event will be conducted from Nov 13-24. The drill will involve 45,000 participants from over 30 nations, including 10,000 rolling or tracked vehicles, 150 aircraft and 60 ships. The main goal is to test the ability of NATO’s new Rapid Response Force to rapidly deploy. Norway will evaluate its ability to receive and handle reinforcements sent by its allies. There are 700 Pindo Marines stationed in Norway. That’s not a huge force, but as Adm Foggo, commander of Pindo naval forces in Europe and Africa in Naples, put it:

That’s 300 Marines today. 3,000 Marines tomorrow.

Pindostan’s prepositioned forward storage sites in Norway, a complex of caves, have been upgraded to store weapons and equipment for roughly 15,000 Marines. Thus Norway has become the source of a threat to Russia’s national security. The Truman Carrier Strike Group is also taking part. The carrier returned to Norfolk, Va, in July following a three-month deployment, but it was back in Europe in mid-September. Normally, carrier groups operate according to a seven-month cycle. Now they are being shifted to “dynamic force employment” in order to improve flexibility. Finland will contribute significantly to this exercise, which is based on a simulated Article 5 scenario, with its troops operating in their home region, in Sweden and Norway. It will also lead and host the naval exercise Northern Coasts ’18 in the Baltic Sea, which is linked to Trident Juncture ’18. Finland is sending about 2,000 troops to TRJE. The size of that force is comparable to the contributions made by leading NATO members. For example, Germany is sending 4,000 troops, Britain 3,500 troops, France 3,000, Canada 2,000, Denmark 1,000, Italy 1,500, Spain 1,000 and the Netherlands 1,500. The Pindo contribution will be 12,000 soldiers, and the primary host is sending 6,500 servicemen. There were only about 160 Finnish troops participating in the last Trident Juncture held in 2015. Three years ago, the drill was held in southern, not northern Europe. Sweden, another non-NATO active participant, is sending about 2,200 troops, along with four Gripen fighters that will be based in Norway. Before the TRJE kicks off, Pindo, Swedish and Finnish forces will conduct their own exercises in Sweden. Both Finland and Sweden participate in NATO’s Response Force. Until now, both have shied away from holding Article 5 exercises. The Trident Juncture ’18 is a drastic shift in that policy, which is being carefully evaluated by Russia. At an unofficial level, Sweden and Finland have already joined NATO through other groups and agreements such as their trilateral cooperation with Pindostan. The militarization of Norway, all of the Scandinavian Peninsula and the Baltic states is being perceived by Russia as a provocation and a threat that demands a response. The Baltic states continue to request an increased military presence on their soil. NATO is stockpiling weapons, military equipment and ammunition in the Baltic region and Poland.

There is a back story to the Trident Juncture 2018 exercise. In early October, Pindostan’s envoy to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchinson said Russia had been put on “short notice” due to its alleged violations of the 1987 INF Treaty. She warned that Pindostan might “take out the missiles” before they could be deployed if Russia did not back down. This year, NATO has already coordinated approximately 100 exercises, 20% more than during the same period in 2017. Poland will invite NATO members and partners for another large-scale national exercise called Anaconda 2018, which will be held at roughly the same time as some smaller NATO drills such as Citadel Bonus ’18, Iron Wolf ’18 and Baltic Host ’18. The hidden aim of the exercises is to keep those forces ready to close in on Russia’s borders. That’s why the alliance is creating this military Schengen zone, in an effort to minimize the time needed for troop deployment. Anaconda ’18 will be a cover for the deployment of an army brigade in Europe in addition to the deployment of an Armored Brigade Combat Team. Next month, we’ll see an entire mechanized division in operation in the Old World. Four multinational battalion-sized NATO groups are already stationed in the Baltic states and Poland. These never-ending exercises adjacent to Russia’s borders show that the terrorist threat has been forgotten. NATO is too busy preparing for a large-scale invasion by Russia to even think about it. Pindo strategists appear to have a short memory. It was not Russia who attacked Pindostan on 9/11. A different type of exercise would be needed to fend off a terrorist threat, but time, money and efforts are being spent on war preparations against Moscow, which is fighting against the very same Islamic fundamentalists who threaten the West. Last month, Russia held a very large-scale training event dubbed Vostok 2018, but it was held in Russia’s Far East region so as not to provoke NATO, although that alliance did not seem to appreciate this thoughtful gesture. It is true that the terrorist threat is no big prize for the defense industry. Opposing such big potential foes as Russia or China promises huge financial benefits for companies involved in military production. These never-ending and provocative exercises are needed to keep tensions high and justify the allocations of funds. This state of constant confrontation with Russia and China rakes in profits. The ends justify the means.

Five Eyes intelligence alliance builds coalition to counter China
Noah Barkin, Reuters, Oct 12 2018

BERLIN – The five nations in the world’s leading intelligence-sharing network have been exchanging classified information on China’s foreign activities with other like-minded countries since the start of the year, seven officials in four capitals said. The increased cooperation by the Five Eyes alliance, grouping Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Pindostan, with countries such as Germany and Japan is a sign of a broadening international front against Chinese influence operations and investments. Some of the officials said the enhanced cooperation amounted to an informal expansion of the Five Eyes group on the specific issue of foreign interference. While China has been the main focus, discussions have also touched on Russia, several said. One Pindo boxtop told Reuters:

Consultations with our vassals, with like-minded servitors, on how to respond to China’s assertive international strategy have been frequent and are gathering momentum.“What might have started as ad hoc discussions are now leading to more detailed consultations on best practices and further opportunities for cooperation.

China has rejected accusations that it is seeking to influence foreign governments and that its investments are politically driven. The enhanced coordination by the Five Eyes network suggests that, despite signals from Pres Trump that he is prepared to go it alone in the confrontation with China, members of his administration are working hard behind the scenes to put together an informal coalition to counter Beijing. It also represents another blow to China’s fading hopes of convincing European countries, unsettled by Trump’s “Pindostan First” policies, to distance themselves from Washington and move closer to Beijing. The officials who spoke to Reuters said the talks have been taking place “below the radar” and mainly bilaterally. Two sources said France was also involved, but on a less regular and comprehensive basis. None suggested that Germany, Japan or other nations outside the Five Eyes network had been invited to meetings of the intelligence alliance, but a statement issued after a Five Eyes meeting on the Gold Coast of Australia in late August hinted at closer coordination. It said the group would use “global partnerships” and accelerate the sharing of information on foreign interference activities. International coordination has accelerated in parallel with a wave of national measures to limit Chinese investments in sensitive technology companies and counter what some governments view as a growing campaign under Pres Xi Jinping to sway foreign governments and societies in China’s favor through a mix of pressure and inducements. Last December, citing concerns about Chinese influence, the Australian government unveiled a package of new laws that tightened rules on foreign lobbying and political donations, while broadening the definition of treason and espionage. Pindostan has pushed through a law known as FIRRMA which gives Faschingstein new powers to block certain types of foreign investments. The text of that legislation mandates Trump to conduct a “more robust international outreach effort” to convince allies to adopt similar protections. Earlier this month, in a scathing attack on China’s foreign activities, Vice Pres Pence asserted (without evidence of course – RB):

The Chinese Communist Party is rewarding or coercing Pindo businesses, movie studios, universities, think tanks, scholars, journalists and local, state and federal officials.

The German government, which tightened its rules on foreign investments last year only to determine months later after a fresh wave of Chinese acquisitions that they were still inadequate, is poised to lower the threshold at which it can intervene. Last year, Berlin quietly launched an inter-ministerial drive to assess the broad range of Chinese activities in the country. Government sources say that analysis is broadly complete and new policy measures could follow, although they say far-reaching steps like those taken by Australia are unlikely. The Pindo boxtop said the foiled takeover of German semiconductor firm Aixtron in 2016 had underscored the need to build a broader coalition of countries to share information and coordinate responses to China. Two years ago, the German government approved a Chinese investment fund’s acquisition of Aixtron, to reverse course a month later when Pindo boxtops raised security concerns that Berlin had overlooked. The boxtops who spoke with Reuters described a “flurry of consultations” in recent months, with Faschingstein driving coordination on the investment side and Canberra taking a lead role in raising awareness about political interference. Talks have taken place between diplomats, intelligence officials and heads of government, they said. A person from a Five Eyes country who has traveled extensively to other capitals over the past year to discuss China’s foreign activities said:

We are living in a new world. The sudden shock from authoritarian regimes is prompting closer coordination and a real expansion of intelligence sharing.

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