Friday, January 13, 2017

New Cold War? Russia and NATO Moving Troops, ICBMS, Tanks to East Europe

By Matt Carden

Being born in the late 1960's, I remember the Cold War well.   I clearly remember the tensions of the 70's and 80's.   I remember the 1983 shootdown of KAL007 by the Soviets and the tensions it caused.

I remember almost every movement of "the Doomsday Clock" (since the late 70's) and how in 1984 it was moved to "3 Minutes to Midnight"- the closest the Clock got to midnight since 1953 while Stalin was still in power.

I remember Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov, Konstantin Chernenko, and finally Mikhail Gorbachev.

I remember arguing for a grade school "persuasive paper" the superiority of be B-1 to the B-52.

I remember Titan II missiles outside Tucson, Arizona, and knowing if I ever saw streaks in the sky to the south of Phoenix, arcing from ground toward the north and eventually across the pole, I would probably have less than 30 minutes to live- maybe a bit longer, depending on being killed in the original nuclear blasts that would surely target Scottsdale, Glendale, and Tucson, Arizona-- Tucson, being the location of multiple missile silo's until the mid 1980's, Glendale because of Luke Air Force base-- the largest fighter training base in the US at the time, and Scottsdale due to the number of companies involved in strategic arms development.  

I remember my dad working for Strategic Electronics Operations at Motorola, and knowing that whatever my dad was working on was "need to know"- and I didn't- but still knowing it was all related to classified military technology. I remember the names MX Peacekeeper, Titan and,Minuteman and even in grade school knowing what "overkill" was.

I remember "The Day After" and how the entire country was talking about it (my wife's family owned the Lawrence, Kansas farm where the movie was partially filmed).

We didn't know at the time how close we actually came-- much closer than even the Cuban Missile Crisis-- to total nuclear war with the Soviets in November 1983-- two months after KAL007, and ironically about the same time "The Day After" was aired.  The Soviets under Andropov had been running Operation RYAN- an attempt to learn if the US was planning a nuclear strike.  A NATO training exercise- ABLE ARCHER 83, caused the Soviets to believe we were about to strike- and the Soviets started preparing for a preemptive nuclear strike.

I also remember the night "the Wall" fell-- and then the lowering of the Flag of the Soviet Union on Christmas, 1991 and the collapse of the Soviet Union.  The Cold War had ended without nuclear exchange, and the world breathed a collective sigh of relief. 

Why do I mention all this Cold War History?  Partially because those in their 30's and younger do not have the same memories of what it was to live during the Cold War.  We have no common reference between those who spent the first twenty years of their life or more during the Cold War, and those who have grown up after.  But, I also mention it because, although history does not repeat itself, it often rhymes a lot.

In December, I wrote of how the Russian hacking discussion was being overplayed to distract the public.   Since then we have had more and more information that allegedly has come from Russia that has captured headlines- this time about President-Elect Trump.   

I am convinced now more than ever before, that the public is being distracted, perhaps intentionally, to keep people from noticing that the the Cold War may be back, and we maybe creeping closer to conflict with Russia. 

Numerous indicators of heightening tensions are beginning to appear.   Recently, Moscow announced the deployment of four new Strategic Missile Regiments to the Western end of the the country.  These four regiments are equipped with the RS-24 YARS ICBM, with each missile holding ten MIRV's (independently targeted warheads).   

A regiment of SA-21 Growlers has been deployed to Moscow.  These missiles are an advanced SAM (Surface-to-Air-Missile) system that Russia claims is capable of destroying ballistic and cruise missiles as well as aircraft.  Four more regiments will be deployed to the Western Military District of Russia this year.  Details of the SA-21 (S-400 is it's Russian Designation) can be found here.  The SA-21 is mobile and can fire about 96 missiles.  
SA-21 Growlers

One of the more "interesting" facts coming out of Moscow, is the SA-21 Growler regiment deployed to the west of Moscow, was announced on January 11, 2017; This is the same day word was getting out about NATO Troops were arriving in Europe

Russia also announced the increase of military hardware and personnel for the Baltic, as well as for the west and southwest this year.  The Russian mobile SS-26 short-range ballistic missile system (Russian name - Iskander) has also been deployed in the region, as well as the SS-C-5 Stooge anti-ship missile system (Russian name - Bastion).

In December, Russia promised Serbia 30 T-72 Battle Tanks, and six MiG-29 aircraft and 30 other combat vehicles.   These are all from Russian reserve equipment stores.

On the NATO side, the Czech military has contributed troops and equipment, from the 74th lightweight Motorized Battalion to Training Bridge 2017.  Not only will Czech troops exercise in Slovakia, but also in the Baltic States of  Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.  Czech troops will be training along with Lithuanian troops over the next two months- being joined soon by Slovkian, Polish and Hungarian troops.

Yesterday, the 3rd Armoured Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division crossed into Poland. The commander of the unit stated on arriving in Poland “I have no doubt we will credibly deter any threat in the area....It doesn’t take long to put it (my unit) together and get ready to fight." This Armoured Brigade will be deployed around Poland, with exercises again in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well.

In February, the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, based in Fort Drum, N.Y. will move to Europe, with 50 Blackhawks, 10 Chinooks, and 1,800 troops. An additional 400 personnel and 24 Apaches from a Ft. Bliss aviation battalion will be attached to the 10th CAB.

The 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, will be operating out of  Romania and Bulgaria as part of Operation, and in April- unless moved sooner- a squadron from the 2nd Armoured will be moving into northeast Poland.

The commander of US European Command, General Curtis Scaparrotti stated, “The European infrastructure and integrated support has enabled our force to rapidly be ready and postured should they need to deter Russian aggression.” (emphasis added).

The British and Canadians are sending 2000 troops to Estonia and Latvia.

A NATO Brigade formed under German Command is set to deploy to Poland and the Baltics this month as well. A German-led armored battalion is being deployed in Lithuania for the first time since WW2. This will be seen as extremely provocative by Russia.   German Troops entering Poland toward the Russian boarder will definitely catch the Kremlin's attention- as well as the attention of the majority of Russia.  Russia and Germany fought two wars last century WW1 and WW2- with millions and millions of both Russians and Germans killed.

An additional movement of US Troops is also historic.  Wednesday, a  reinforced company of US Marines has been landed in Norway.  They will participate in Arctic Training (they couldn't train in the Alaskan training bases?)  Additionally they will be deployed to Baltic states.  This is the first time foreign troops have been deployed to Norway since WW2.  In October, when this planned deployment was announced, Russia informed Norway they would become a nuclear target should the Marines deploy.

The deployment of the US Troops alone, not to mention the additional six NATO Brigades, makes up the largest troop deployment to Europe since the end of the Cold War.   Moscow is feeling threatened.

Although this troop movement was under planning since earlier in 2016, deployment was not scheduled until after the inauguration. Interestingly, the move started November 7, 2016, the day before the election,  However, three days later the President Elect and President met, and foreign policy must have been discussed at some point. Further, the President Elect (and his transition team) start receiving very detailed national security briefings after the election.  Gen. Mattis and SecState Nominee Tillerson have both made statements within the last two days that are hawkish towards Russia, with Gen. Mattis stating he supported permanent troop deployments to the Baltics and that Russia must be "confronted."

The movement of troops is not cheap- either financially or politically.  As late as last October, there were budget questions on whether the 3ABCT/4ID would be deployed at all.   Further, it would be disastrous for US Foreign Policy- as well as to NATO- for this deployment to occur this close to a change of US Administrations, only to have it reversed after January 20, 2017 at noon Eastern Time.

The only possible conclusion that can be drawn is that although President Obama ordered the initial movements, President-Elect Trump is on board, and will continue the deployments.  The hacking news, as well as the latest "sexually explicit" releases from the media, are only serving to distract the public from the bigger story- the massive movement of troops near the Russian border.

Welcome to the "New Cold War."

(Facebook readers- for references, please refer to the Web version of this article)



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