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Monday, April 21, 2014

Woooooo! Scaaaaaaary!: Hagel Announces Microscopic Military Drills In Poland -- PatDollard.com


HagelWASHINGTON — The United States plans to carry out small ground-force exercises in Poland and Estonia in an attempt to reassure NATO’s Eastern European members worried about Russia’s military operations in and near Ukraine, Western officials said Friday.

The moves are part of a broader effort by NATO to strengthen the alliance’s air, sea and land presence in Eastern Europe in response to Russia’s new assertiveness in the region.

It is not yet clear what additional troop deployments the United States and other NATO nations might undertake in Eastern Europe after the exercises and to what extent the moves would ease anxieties there.

The land-force exercises the Obama administration is planning are extremely modest.

The exercise in Poland, which is expected to be announced next week, would involve a United States Army company and would last about two weeks, officials said. A company consists of about 150 soldiers.

The exercise in Estonia would be similar, said a Western official who declined to be identified because he was talking about internal planning.

Although the exercises would be short, the United States is considering other ways to maintain a regular ground-force presence in Eastern Europe by rotating troops and conducting training there.

“There’s an entire range of possibilities and measures that are being considered,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Thursday in a joint news conference with Poland’s defense minister, Tomasz Siemoniak. “Rotational basis of training and exercises are always part of that.”

The company-size Army exercise that is planned is far from the sort of NATO deployment that Poland’s foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, suggested this month when he told reporters that he wanted the alliance to deploy two combat brigades with as many as 5,000 troops each in Poland.

This week, NATO’s top military commander, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, gave members of the alliance a range of options for strengthening its military posture in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, along with his own recommendations.

The measures include immediate, midterm and long-term steps. One option, General Breedlove said in an interview this month, is to move the 4,500-member American combat brigade from Fort Hood, Tex., to Europe. But Obama administration officials have not publicly supported such a step. Keep reading

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is considering deploying about 150 soldiers for military exercises to begin in Poland and Estonia in the next few weeks, a Western official said Saturday. The exercises would follow Russia’s buildup of forces near its border with Ukraine and its annexation last month of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said earlier this week that the U.S. is looking for ways to reassure its NATO allies of its strong commitment to collective defense. The Pentagon’s press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said in a statement Friday that American officials are considering a range of additional measures to bolster air, maritime and ground readiness in Europe.

Ground exercises in Poland and Estonia would last about two weeks but such exercises would continue on a rotating basis off and on over time, the official said, and other locations in Eastern Europe would be considered. The official was not authorized to discuss the plan by name because it has not been made final and requested anonymity.

No specific date for the deployment of an Army company, which usually consists of 150 soldiers, has been set but an announcement was expected next week, the official said.

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