Analysis: Victor Davis Hanson: American soldiers leave Germany — and suddenly Germany is upset

President Trump recently ordered a 12,000-troop reduction in American military personnel stationed in Germany. That leaves about 24,000 American soldiers still in the country. A little more than half of the troops being withdrawn will return home. The rest will be redeployed to other NATO member nations such as Belgium, Italy, and perhaps Baltic and Eastern European countries. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is said to be furious. She claims the redeployments will “weaken the (NATO) alliance.” German commercial interests chimed in that the troop withdrawals will hurt their decades-old businesses serving U.S. bases. Perhaps, but Merkel surely cannot be surprised. Six years ago, all NATO members pledged to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense. Yet only eight of 29 so far have kept their word. Germany spends only about 1.4 percent of its GDP on defense. As NATO’s largest, wealthiest and most powerful European member, it sets the example for the rest of alliance. Merkel’s reneging on her 2014 pledge helps explain why less wealthy and influential NATO members also see no reason to meet their obligations. Germany surely knows that 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the World War II, and the 29th year since the fall of the Berlin Wall — the symbolic end of the Cold War. Will there be any point in the future when Europe is confident enough to be a full defense partner with the U.S. rather than an eight-decade client? NATO, of course, still provides a common European defense, but only by habitually relying inordinately on U.S. military contributions. That dependence seems increasingly odd when the European Union has an aggregate GDP nearly as large as America’s. More important, NATO’s frontline threats are now mostly concerned with rogue member Turkey, especially its bullying of Greece and its increasingly aggressive stance in the Middle East. Russia always poses a threat to Europe. But the likely flashpoints are not on the German border, but more likely eastward in the Baltic states or on the Russian frontier with Poland. Moreover, the Merkel government has concluded, over American objections, a huge natural gas deal with Russia that is currently under some U.S. sanctions and short of cash. Russian energy exports to Germany are said to earn Russia $10 billion a year, with a likely doubling of that income once additional pipelines to Germany are completed. Merkel likes to lecture the world on moral issues, but what is so noble about empowering Russian President Vladimir Putin, who recently reclaimed Crimea and seems now to be eyeing Belarus? Like a modern-day Byzantine emperor Justinian, who recovered much of the lost Western Roman Empire, Putin seems to think he can reabsorb the lost Soviet republics. In recent polling, Germans were more anti-American than any other nation in Europe. And while about 75 percent of Americans believe the U.S. still has a good relationship with Germany, only about a third of Germans feel that way about the U.S. Nearly half the German population in some polls want U.S. troops out. Note that Germany piles up the largest annual trade surplus with the U.S. of any nation in Europe — roughly $55 billion to $70 billion in most years. The Trump administration says the surpluses have grown in large part due to asymmetry in tariffs and duties, with Germany the far more protectionist of the two partners. With Germany now united, rich and often angry, and with the Soviet threat largely over, it’s Germany, not the U.S., that seems to have altered its view of this once-solid relationship. Does Merkel really believe that if her nation cuts huge deals with NATO’s historically greatest threat, polls as the most anti-American country in Europe and still refuses to honor its promises to increase defense spending, Germany still deserves a large American commitment of 36,000 troops to anchor its defense? There is one caveat that the Trump administration and other European countries might consider. According to its founders, NATO was created for three reasons: to keep the always aggressive Russians “out” of Europe, to keep the often isolationist Americans “in” to help protect it, and to keep the supposedly restless Germans “down” in order to avoid a replay of their invasions that ignited both world wars. In other words, the huge defense commitment to an often ungracious Germany over eight decades was not just envisioned to create a central base from which to protect Europe from ancient Russian ambitions, but also to remind Germany itself of its checkered past. That third mission seems ossified and silly now. But it is not entirely forgotten, and it may explain why many in Europe — and some in Germany itself — are worried when any American soldiers leave Germany.

Bottom line..  Germany has not kept its word on it’s commitment to NATO, and Trump isn’t a sucker.   Thanks to Dr. Victor Davis Hanson, PhD. for that excellent analysis and perspective!

Trump gets boost from British PM Theresa May at NATO summit

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday showed she was siding with Present Trump at the NATO summit in Brussels, saying her country was paying its fair share for the defense alliance. “We lead by example, not only by meeting the NATO targets of spending 2 percent of our GDP on defense,” Mrs. May said, adding that the U.K. also deploys thousands of troops to NATO missions around the world. Mr. Trump has made cost sharing a top issue at the summit. He has been pressing for all 29 member nations to pony up the 2 percent of GDP, which is the level agreed to in 2014. The U.K. is among a handful of NATO countries siding with Mr. Trump as he shakes up the military alliance. Most of the allies are rankled and riled by Mr. Trump’s demand that they pay up. Last year, only six other countries spent at least 2 percent: U.S., U.K., Greece, Estonia, Romania and Poland. The U.S. spent a little more than 3.5 percent of GDP on NATO defense. Mrs. May announced that the U.K. was sending an additional 440 troops to NATO’s mission in Afghanistan. “I think that shows when NATO calls, the UK is one of the first to step up,” she said. “But that gives us a powerful voice in NATO. It enables us to work as we have done to ensure that NATO adapts to meet the new threats of cyberterrorism, as well as conventional threats. “I’m sure at this summit we will be talking — President Trump and all the allies round the table — about how we can ensure that NATO is adaptable and flexible to meet the threats of the future,” Mrs. May said.

‘We waited for decades’: Polish govt welcomes US troops

Polish leaders declared themselves alone no longer at a ceremony Saturday welcoming the arrival of U.S. troops as part of a deployment that has angered Russia. The presence of U.S. troops on Polish soil marks a historic moment—the first time Western forces are being deployed on a continuous basis to bolster NATO’s eastern flank. “”We have waited for you for a very long time,” the soliders heard Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz say at Saturday’s event in Zagan amid falling snow. “We waited for decades, sometimes feeling we had been left alone, sometimes almost losing hope, sometimes feeling that we were the only one who protected civilization from aggression that came from the east.” The event also drew hundreds of ordinary Poles.  The American deployment includes an armored brigade of 3,500 American troops from Fort Carson, Colorado. It comes in reactions to Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and its backing of separatist insurgents in Ukraine’s east. Those actions have frightened many in Poland, the Baltic states and other countries in Eastern Europe that were once under Moscow’s control. “This is America’s most capable fighting force: a combat-ready, highly trained US armoured brigade, with our most advanced equipment and weaponry,” U.S. ambassador to Poland Paul James said at the ceremonies, according to an AFP report. “This force embodies America’s iron-clad commitment to honor our NATO treaty obligation to defend our NATO allies.” The Polish government organized several other events across the country, including in downtown Warsaw, to welcome the Americans. “This is an important day for Poland, for Europe, for our common defense,” Prime Minister Beata Szydlo told the U.S. soldiers. The troops are due to fan out across seven countries from Estonia to Bulgaria for exercises. A headquarters unit will be stationed in Germany. After nine months they will be replaced by another unit. NATO will also deploy four multinational battalions to its eastern flank later this year, one each to Poland and the three Baltic states. The U.S. will also lead one of those battalions. The Kremlin has denounced all these deployments, saying it considers them a threat to its own security and interests. One of the newly arrived Americans M.P Peter Gomez told AFP he felt “very welcome” as he posed for selfies with Polish citizens. “I’m surprised actually,” he was quoted as saying. “People are very excited to see us.”

Well, of course they are, Peter.  They’re terrified of Russia, and they know the only country that can protect them from Vlad the bully is America.  And, just when they thought they might be the next Crimea, we roll into their town letting them know we’re there for them.  This is very good news!  But, we can’t just show up for a little bit, and then leave.

Thousands of US troops on Russia’s doorstep in Poland deployment

Thousands of U.S. troops crept up on Russia’s doorstep Thursday, rolling into Poland amid a slew of unanswered questions about their future in the region. It marked the first deployment of armored brigade combat teams and armor to Europe after a long drawdown from the continent. For decades, Poland had asked for help in keeping Moscow at bay, but at the same time, President-elect Donald Trump has signaled he could try to pursue a friendly relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Still, the president-elect said Wednesday nothing was off the table. “I don’t know that I’m going to get along with Vladimir Putin. I hope I do. But there’s a good chance I won’t.” Russia clearly wasn’t happy with the deployment. “We perceive it as a threat,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “These actions threaten our interests, our security, especially as it concerns a third party building up its military presence near our borders.” Moscow also announced it deployed anti-aircraft missile systems around the city. Russia had already been using the s-400 Triumph air defense system, capable of hitting moving targets including missiles and planes, in Syria, The Sun reported. Soldiers in camouflage with tanks and other vehicles crossed into southwestern Poland on Thursday morning from Germany and headed for Zagan, their planned base. Poland’s prime minister and defense minister said they would attend official ceremonies Saturday celebrating the Americans’ arrival. The deployment “symbolizes a turn in our efforts on this front, and is an important part of our continued effort to deter Russian aggression and maintain a free Europe,” U.S. European Command spokeswoman Meghan Henderson responded. U.S. and other Western nations have carried out exercises on NATO’s eastern flank, but this deployment — which includes around 3,500 U.S. troops — marks the first-ever continuous deployment to the region by a NATO ally. It represents a commitment by President Barack Obama to protect a region that became deeply nervous when Russia stormed Ukraine and took over Crimea in 2014, and then began backing rebels in Ukraine’s east. The deployment was “separate yet complementary to NATO’s deterrence and defense activities,” Henderson added. Many people in Poland said they still felt betrayed by Obama’s own “reset” with Russia early on in his administration, which involved abandoning plans for a major U.S. missile defense system in Poland and replacing it with plans for a less ambitious system. Many U.S. soldiers said they were optimistic. “Hopefully we can get right into training, get some range time in and have some fun,” Spc. Kyle Smith, an infantryman with the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, told Stars and Stripes.

For almost three years, here at The Daily Buzz we have been calling on the Obama Administration to take a MUCH tougher stance with Moscow, including taking measures such as this; sending several thousand U.S. combat troops to Poland to show our solidarity with NATO and are partners in eastern Europe.  With one week left in Obama’s presidency, he’s finally coming around on this one…sorta/kinda.

Putin Moves Missiles Closer to Europe: ‘We Are Concerned by NATO’s Decision-Making’

Russian media have reported that S-400 anti-aircraft missiles and Iskander ballistic missiles will be moved to Kaliningrad, which borders on Poland and Lithuania, because President Vladimir Putin is “concerned” about NATO expansion and the deployment of U.S. missile shield technology in Europe. “Why are we reacting to NATO expansion so emotionally? We are concerned by NATO’s decision-making,” Putin said in a TV interview broadcast on Monday, according to Sky News. “We have, therefore, to take countermeasures, which means to target with our missile systems the facilities that in our opinion start posing a threat to us,” Putin continued. The Russian president portrayed Eastern European nations as puppets or dupes of the United States: “When a country joins NATO, it becomes next to impossible for it to resist pressure from a major NATO leader such as the United States and hence it may deploy anything … a missile defense system, new bases or, if need be, missile strike systems.” Viktor Ozerov, head of the defense committee in the upper house of Russia’s Parliament, more specifically stated that U.S. missile shield deployment in Europe prompted Russia’s move. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg insisted that “everything NATO does is defensive, proportionate and fully in line with [their] international commitments.” “Before Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine, NATO had no plans to send troops to the Eastern part of our alliance,” Stoltenberg said. “NATO’s aim is to prevent a conflict, not to provoke a conflict. Moreover, we firmly believe and we are firmly committed to a two-track approach to Russia; strong defence, coupled with meaningful dialogue.” The UK Telegraph notes that the Iskander ballistic missiles are nuclear-capable and have a range of 450 miles, which means they could hit Berlin from Kaliningrad. The Telegraph reports that even Sweden was sufficiently alarmed by Russia’s recent actions to dust off its own Cold War weapons, announcing that it will put Kustrobotbatteri’s 90 launchers on the island of Gotland. President Obama and President Putin had a four-minute conversation at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru, during which White House officials said Obama urged the Russians to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine. The situation in Syria was also discussed. Numerous onlookers described the encounter as “frosty” or, as the New York Post put it, “as warm as winter in Siberia.” After his brief conversation with Obama, Putin told reporters he has spoken with President-elect Donald Trump about improving relations with the U.S. Putin said Trump “reaffirmed his intent to normalize relations with Russia,” adding, “I naturally said the same.”

NATO countries begin largest war game in eastern Europe since cold war

The largest war game in eastern Europe since the end of the cold war has started in Poland, as NATO and partner countries seek to mount a display of strength as a response to concerns about Russia’s assertiveness and actions. The 10-day military exercise, involving 31,000 troops and thousands of vehicles from 24 countries, has been welcomed among NATO’s allies in the region, though defense experts warn that any mishap could prompt an offensive reaction from Moscow. A defense attache at a European embassy in Warsaw said the “nightmare scenario” of the exercise, named Anaconda-2016, would be “a mishap, a miscalculation which the Russians construe, or choose to construe, as an offensive action”. Russian jets routinely breach Nordic countries’ airspace and in April they spectacularly “buzzed” the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea. The exercise, which US and Polish officials formally launched near Warsaw, is billed as a test of cooperation between allied commands and troops in responding to military, chemical and cyber threats. It represents the biggest movement of foreign allied troops in Poland in peace time. For the first time since the Nazi invasion of Soviet-occupied Poland began on 22 June 1941, German tanks will cross the country from west to east. Managed by Poland’s Lt Gen Marek Tomaszycki, the exercise includes 14,000 US troops, 12,000 Polish troops, 800 from Britain and others from non-NATO countries. Multinational operations publicised so far include an airdrop involving 1,130 parachutists over the northern Polish city of Toruń on Tuesday – including 500 US troops and 230 British ones – engineers building a bridge to carry 300 vehicles over the Vistula river and a night-time “assault” involving 35 helicopters. Marcin Zaborowski, a Polish defence analyst at the Centre for European Policy Analysis in Warsaw, said: “In Poland we see the exercise as a reassurance measure from the U.S. and NATO. The defense needs of central and eastern Europe are real. The scope and numbers of Anaconda are no match for the Russian exercises that go on all the time just across the border.”

Well, they should be!  As many of you know..  Here at The Daily Buzz, we’ve been calling on the Obama Administration to take several pro-active military measures intended to push back against Moscow’s ever growing aggressive posture for almost two years!  One of these measures included a large-scale military exercise in Poland.  Anaconda 2016 definitely is a step in the right direction toward achieving that standard.  But, our troop contribution is nowhere near enough.  Then again, the contribution from our other NATO allies is pathetic.  But, I digress..  We need to have an entire armored (tank) division, and at least a full brigade of an elite U.S. Army airborne division “jump” into Poland as part of such an exercise.  Vlad and his goons need to see the degree to which we wil support Poland, and the rest of our allies and friends in eastern Europe.  We need to send a clear message that what happened in Crimea will NOT happen again; that NATO and the U.S. will not allow it, and that we will NOT allow ourselves to be bullied by his thug tactics.  Period.  Vlad misses the “good ol’ days” when he was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Soviet Union and then the head of the KGB.  Well, that era is over, and his side lost…and he can’t seem to get over it.  Anyway, to read the rest of this article click on the text above.

New NATO supreme allied commander: Alliance should arm Ukraine

In a little covered news story that could have major ramifications for the geopolitical landscape, the new Supreme Allied Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, U.S. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, says the alliance should possibly arm Ukraine in its struggle against pro-Russian separatists in East Ukraine. This is a game changer for the Kremlin and for U.S.-Russian relations. It’s hard to see the White House supporting these comments so late in the Obama administration after the U.S. has steadfastly refused to arm the Ukrainian military since the conflict started in 2014, except for non-lethal military supplies. But then again, a man at this level of command most likely would not make that kind of statement unless it had been cleared from the National Command Authority. “I do believe that we should support the Ukrainians with what they need to successfully defend their territory and their sovereignty,” Scaparrotti said, reported the Associated Press. “Now, I’ll take a look at that as the SACEUR, specifically because I need to assess what weapons are best, what capabilities they can use, what capabilities are complementary to their forces today,” Scaparrotti said. “And I’ll make the more refined decision here as I get into this job.” Ukraine is mired in the twin crisis’ of rooting out corruption and shoring up its finances while at the same time fighting a draining, never-ending, conflict on the Russian border against rebels supported by Moscow. Perhaps the National Security Staff at the White House has gotten tired of the endless killing and escalation, de-escalation perfected by the Kremlin. Or perhaps, General Scaparrotti is simply leading from behind. In either case, the situation requires monitoring.

Indeed..  And we will, here at The Daily Buzz.  Count on it!   🙂

Russian envoy to NATO warns US over Baltic Sea incident involving destroyer

Russia’s ambassador to NATO accused the U.S. Wednesday of trying to intimidate Moscow by sailing a Navy destroyer in the Baltic Sea, and vowed Russia would respond to future incidents with “all necessary measures.” Alexander Grushko spoke following a meeting of the NATO-Russia council in Brussels, the first in nearly two years. The meeting, which involved Grushko and ambassadors from NATO’s 28 member states, ran over its allotted time by about 90 minutes, but produced no major breakthroughs. “It’s better to talk than not to talk,” Grushko told reporters, before adding that relationships between NATO and Russia would not improve “without real steps on NATO’s side to downgrade military activity in the area adjacent to the Russian Federation.” Reuters reported that U.S. ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute pressed Grushko about the April 11 incident in which two Russian Su-24 attack aircraft buzzed the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea. The destroyer was conducting flight operations with a Polish helicopter when the jets came within 1,000 yards of the destroyer at a height of 100 feet. The following day, a Russian jet came within just 30 feet of the destroyer. “We were in international waters,” Lute told Grushko before reiterating that the incident had been dangerous, Reuters reported. U.S. officials told Fox News last week that they believed the incident breached a 1972 agreement meant to prevent such near-misses from occurring. Grushko insisted that the Russian aircraft “were acting fully in line” with international agreements. Grushko told reporters the USS Cook’s presence in the Baltic was a NATO attempt “to exercise military pressure on Russia”, then added, “we will take all necessary measures, precautions, to compensate for these attempts to use military force.” Secretary of State John Kerry said last week that under U.S. rules of engagement, the Cook could have opened fire on the planes. The Russian jets did not appear to be armed at the time. The NATO-Russia Council was founded in 2002 as a forum for consultations between the former Cold War foes, but before Wednesday, had last met in June 2014, when the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine sent relations with the West into a tailspin. NATO has suspended practical cooperation with Russia because of the Crimean annexation and what it views as Russia’s support for the armed insurgency in eastern Ukraine. “NATO and Russia have profound and persistent differences,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who chaired the council, told reporters afterward. “Today’s meeting didn’t change that.”

Of course not..  But, Obama likes to fight Vlad the bully’s threats when pens and lawyers.  Vlad uses actual, physical bullying; something Obama doesn’t know how to respond to.

More than 5,000 tons of ammo sent to US Army depot in Germany

The U.S. Army’s largest Europe-bound ammo shipment in a decade has arrived at a depot in Germany as its forces ramp up their missions in response to Russia’s military actions. More than 5,000 tons of ammunition – which required 415 shipping containers to transport overseas – was stored last week at a depot in Miesau, the Army says. The ammo will be available to all forces participating in Operation Atlantic Resolve, launched in the wake of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. “This critical shipment will help us to continue to enable the NATO alliance, and the fact that it’s the largest single shipment in 10 years demonstrates our continued commitment to the defense of our allies,” said Col. Matthew Redding, 21st Theater Sustainment Command chief of staff. The ammo also will be used for an upcoming U.S. Army exercise in Poland that will involve around 20,000 troops, the Stars and Stripes reports.

Russia ramping up military drills to Cold War levels, NATO says

Russia has stepped up its military maneuvers to a level unseen since the height of the Cold War, according to a new report released by NATO Thursday. Jens Stoltenberg, the alliance’s secretary general and author of the report, noted that Moscow has conducted at least 18 large-scale exercises over the past three years, “some of which have involved more than 100,000 troops.” Those exercises included several simulated nuclear attacks against NATO allies and partner nations, such as Sweden in March 2013. The report was released two days after the Obama administration proposed spending $3.4 billion on its troops and training in Europe as a direct result of Russia’s recent action in the regions, including the 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. “We haven’t had to worry about this for 25 years, and while I wish it were otherwise, now we do,” said Defense Secretary Ash Carter Tuesday. Moscow’s military adventurism has raised fears among other NATO members, most notable Poland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, that they could be next. The Pentagon has already increased the pace of troop rotations in and out of Europe, providing training and other advice and assistance to the region. In Tallinn, Estonia, last June, Carter stood with his Baltic counterparts and announced that the U.S. would spread 250 tanks, armored vehicles and other military equipment across six of the former Soviet bloc nations. And he promised NATO that the U.S. would contribute weapons, aircraft and forces, including commandos, for the alliance’s new rapid reaction force. Despite such measures, a recent analysis by the RAND Corporation released earlier this week suggested that Russian tanks could overrun NATO’s current forces in the Baltic states and be in their respective capitals within 60 hours. Signs of Russia’s military buildup are also present at sea. British Royal Navy Vice Adm. Clive Johnstone, told the defense analysis group IHS Janes that NATO has observed “a level of Russian capability that we haven’t seen before,” according to The Washington Post. IHS James reported that Russia has recently commissioned two new types of submarines and are also modernizing several older vessels.

For almost two years here at The Daily Buzz we’ve been calling on Obama, and our federally elected officials to take substantive, proactive, military steps to thwart Moscow’s global aggression.  Thus far, Obama’s response has been nowhere near sufficient.