Exercise “Saber Strike 2017” – NATO’s most recent wargame – wrapped up Friday. Here’s how the US army described the event:
Saber Strike is a long-standing U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise that helps facilitate cooperation amongst the U.S., Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and allied and partner nations.
This year’s key exercise objective will be training and exercising the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence, or eFP, battle groups with a focus on promoting interoperability with allies and regional partners and improving joint operational capability in a variety of missions.
The exercise will take place in multiple locations throughout Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland May 28-June 24.
Running simultaneously was another exercise, “Baltic Ops 2017” which ended June 16th and involved 55 aircraft, 50 ships and 4,000 troops from 14 nations.
The games were certainly a big deal in the Baltic States. The Latvian capital Riga looked like it was under military occupation. The author, who happened to be in Riga last weekend, snapped these pictures of Norwegian soldiers on the streets:
Go easy on the McFlurries, girls – gotta stay fit for combat!
Personal property rights went by the wayside too, as tanks and APCs rolled across the countryside, driving right through private farms and fields, firing automatic weapons just feet away from residential houses. Via Sputnik:
[An] indignant Latvian man posted evidence of another ugly incident involving NATO troops, presumably training in the ongoing BALTOPS-2017 exercises. In an angry post on his Facebook page, Kristaps Ozlins, the owner of a piece of land in rural Latvia, described his shock when NATO troops and military equipment suddenly showed up on his territory uninvited and started shooting.
The videos are accompanied by an appeal, which reads: “Dear people, what would you say if, without any warning, a column of military hardware showed up on your land? And after a while started a shootout? Is this war? No, this is NATO training! That’s what I call a stressful Monday! Can it really be the case that it’s not necessary to agree such things with landowners?”
The games were partly meant to rehearse NATO’s ability to defend the so-called Suwalki Gap from an attack by Russia – the narrow border shared by Poland and Lithuania bounded by Russian Kaliningrad to the West and Belarus to the East.
Never mind that it is hardly possible to stage an invasion from tiny Kaliningrad and that Belarus is not part of Russia. I wonder if they teach geography at the US Army War College?
Another training objective is supposedly the defense of the Baltic States themselves from a Russian invasion. The only problem with that – Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the top U.S. army commander in Europe, admitted last year that the Baltics were militarily indefensible in the event of a Russian attack. From The Telegraph:
“Russia could conquer the Baltic states quicker than we could get there to defend them,” Gen Hodges said.
He said he agreed with military analysts that Russia could capture the three Baltic capitals in 36 to 60 hours, and that Nato could not mobilise its forces quickly enough to prevent their fall.
Crucially, he said that heavy military equipment such as tanks could not be moved fast enough from western Europe to the alliance’s eastern flank.
Accepting the Baltics into NATO was a political move that actually hinders the alliance with a massive strategic liability – three small, hard to defend countries which to top it off, do everything possible to ruin their relations with Russia.
This naturally begs the question: why exactly is NATO training for a fight it cannot win, against a threat which is not even real?
It is pure theater, designed to both play up the Russian “threat” so Washington can keep its Euro vassals in line, and to placate the intensely Russophobic Poles and Balts that their perceived security needs are being met.
All of this while Western Europe suffers ISIS-inspired attacks on its civilian population on practically a daily basis, and the US air force is bombing government troops fighting ISIS in Syria.
Western so-called leaders certainly have their priorities in order.