Posts tagged ‘Germany’

BALTIC-2-BLACK: UPDATE – Finland Approved for NATO Membership

UPDATE: Finland becomes newest member of NATO

Finland: Turkey’s parliament ratified Finland’s application to join NATO Thursday (March 30), clearing the way for a country with a longstanding policy of military neutrality — and an 830 mile (1,300-kilometer) border with Russia — to join the Western defense bloc.

NATO rules require all 30 member nations (soon to be 31 with Finland’s entry) to approve any new countries joining. Turkey was the last NATO member to approve Finland.  Hungary voted its approval earlier this week, March 27.

“All 30 NATO Allies have now ratified the accession protocol. And I have just spoken with President Sauli Niinistö to congratulate him on this historic occasion,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “Finland will formally join our Alliance in the coming days. Their membership will make Finland safer and NATO stronger.”

A member of the Finnish Navy High Readiness Unit, on patrol with U.S. Marines, during bilateral training on Russaro Island, Finland on August 11, 2022. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Yvonna Guyette)

NATO rules require all 30 member nations (soon to be 31 with Finland’s entry) to approve any new countries joining. Turkey was the last NATO member to approve Finland. Hungary voted its approval earlier this week. However, neighboring Sweden, which applied for NATO membership with Finland in May 2022,  “remains on the outside looking in,” as Breaking Defense put it. However, there is some belief among European sources that Sweden may still get into NATO this year, depending on the outcome of Turkey’s elections in May.

Both Turkey and Hungary are holding out on giving it the green light to Sweden despite expressing support for NATO’s expansion,” the Associated Press reported. Turkey’s government accuses Sweden of being too lenient toward groups it deems to be terrorist organizations and security threats, including militant Kurdish groups and people associated with a 2016 coup attempt.

More recently, Turkey was angered by a series of demonstrations in Sweden, including a protest by an anti-Islam activist who burned the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy.

Hungary’s government contends some Swedish politicians have made derisive statements about the condition of Hungary’s democracy and played an active role in ensuring that billions in European Union funds were frozen over alleged rule-of-law and democracy violations.

“All Allies made a historic decision last year to invite Finland and Sweden to join our Alliance,” Stoltenberg said, adding “Since then, we have seen the fastest ratification process in NATO’s modern history. All Allies agree that a rapid conclusion of the ratification process for Sweden will be in everyone’s interest. I look forward to also welcoming Sweden as a full member of the NATO family as soon as possible.”

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WHY BALTIC-TO-BLACK? Russia’s February 24, 2022 invasion of Ukraine and Moscow’s brutal continuation of that unprovoked war has rattled it neighbors in both the Baltic Sea and Black Sea regions, prompting several to increase their defense budgets, reinstate a military draft, and send military supplies including air defense artillery and armored vehicles to Ukraine. In the case of Finland and Sweden, two countries with long histories of neutrality in Europe’s hot and cold conflicts, both are seeking to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Western mutual defense bloc. Finland’s was approved March 30.

Here are other recent developments.


Germany, a NATO member, has committed to about 8 billion euros ($8.7 billion) to buy weapons and equipment for Ukraine. German will be releasing a total of about 12 billion euros ($13 billion) related to the Ukraine conflict over the next decade, according to the Aljazeera news site.

Since the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine, the United States has provided more than $32.5 billion of security assistance in the form of military hardware and ammunition.

But the United States, its partners and allies also have provided substantial training to prepare Ukrainians to make good use of the equipment that’s been supplied, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder told reporters March 30.

“Since Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in 2022, U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe and Africa and Security Assistance Group Ukraine have trained more than 7,000 members of the Ukrainian armed forces,” Ryder said. “Just this week, 65 Ukrainian air defenders completed Patriot training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and have now arrived back in Europe.”

Back in December, the Pentagon announced that the U.S. will also provide combined arms training to Ukrainian soldiers using U.S. ranges in Germany. That training has been underway, and some of it is now coming to a close.

“At the close of this month, more than 4,000 Ukrainian soldiers in two brigades — one equipped with M2 Bradleys and one equipped with Strykers — will have completed combined arms training and have returned to Ukraine,” Ryder said.


Tanks and More Tanks

Germany and Britain have delivered the first consignment of battle tanks to Ukraine – providing much-needed ground support as Russian forces intensify attacks in the east of the country, according to Aljazeera. The Leopard and Challenger tanks were promised to Kyiv earlier this year and arrived on March 27 in time for an expected spring offensive by Ukraine’s forces.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told journalists that Berlin provided “very modern” Leopard battle tanks to Kyiv with the defense ministry later saying 18 were delivered.

In London, Britain’s government said Ukrainian crews – who have been training to use the Challenger 2 – are now ready to deploy to the front line. The training began shortly after London announced in January it would send 14 of the tanks to Ukraine. The crews learned how to command, drive and “effectively identify and engage targets” the defense ministry said in  statement.

Meanwhile, Spain — another NATO member — said it will send six German-made 2A4 Leopard tanks to Ukraine in early April.

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No to F-16s, But Yes on MiG-29s

Top U.S. defense officials told Congress this week that the U.S. would not be providing aircraft—neither manned nor unmanned—to Ukraine anytime soon.

Kyiv has repeatedly asked for F-16 fighters and MQ-9 drones, the Biden administration has declined to do so, arguing the systems would be of limited use to Ukraine in the current phase of its fight against Russia’s invasion, according to Air & Space Forces magazine. Instead, U.S. officials say Ukraine has more pressing needs such as air defense, armor and artillery. They also contend that Russia’s own capable air defense systems would limit the utility and employment of manned aircraft.

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off on a mission at dawn from Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Feb. 11, 2014. ( U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sergeant Gary J. Rihn)

“That air domain is a very hostile airspace because of the capability that the Russians have for air defense,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 28.

But Slovakia is sending Soviet Era fighter aircraft to Ukraine, according to Defense News. Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger announced his country will deliver 13 out-of-commission Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine as part of Bratislava’s support to the nation’s struggle against the Russian invasion. “Promises must be kept,” Heger said in a March 17 tweet,, adding that Slovakia’s military aid was designed to help Ukraine defend itself and “entire Europe against Russia.”

The latest move comes one day after Polish President Andrzej Duda declared his country will supply the first four MiG-29 jets to Ukraine soon  with more aircraft to be delivered in the future, Defense News reported.

MiG-29 fighter jet. (Photo by Artem Katranzhi from Bakashikha, Russia via wikipedia)

The Polish Air Force has between 11 and 19 MiG-29s in its fleet, according to the president. Duda said Poland’s military will replace the Soviet-made fighters with FA-50 aircraft the country’s Ministry of National Defense ordered from South Korea last September.

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Ukraine Black Sea Grain Deal Renewed, For Now

A deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukrainian grain was renewed March 18, for at least 60 days, Reuters reported — although the extension is only half the intended period — after Russia warned any further extension beyond mid-May would depend on the removal of some Western sanctions.

The pact was brokered with Russia and Ukraine by the United Nations and Turkey in July and renewed for a further 120 days in November. The aim was to combat a global food crisis that was fueled in part by Russia’s Feb. 24, 2022, invasion of Ukraine and Black Sea blockade.

(Black Sea region map Norman Einstein via wikipedia)

The deal, which will allow for the continued exportation of crucial grain supplies from Ukraine, had been due to expire on Saturday evening. The shipments from Ukraine are an essential part of the food supply for countries stretching from North Africa to the Middle East to South Asia, CBS reported. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest grain exporters, and normally supplies around 45 million tons of grain, according to the U.N.

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BALTIC-2-BLACK is an occasional 4GWAR posting on the rising tensions between Russia and the West in the regions of the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, where former Russian satellite nations — now members of NATO — border Russian territory. Both NATO, and the United States in particular, have stepped up their presence in the region since Russia began throwing its weight around after annexing Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014. Since then, some Nordic countries have been boosting defense budgets even restoring a military draft as Russian aircraft and naval vessels have acted more aggressively in the region.

March 30, 2023 at 11:59 pm 1 comment

FRIDAY FOTO (June 12, 2015)

Dealing with Gravity.

U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Markus Rauchenberger

U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Markus Rauchenberger

U.S. Army Sergeant Samantha Melanson of the 15th Engineer Battalion, rappels from a 55-foot tower during an air assault course at the Joint Multinational Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany.

Before you can rappel down a rope from a hovering helicopter, you have to learn how to do it from a stationary 55-foot tower. Even that is no piece of cake, as the photo below illustrates.

U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Markus Rauchenberger

U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Markus Rauchenberger

The course is being conducted through the 7th Army Combined Arms Training Center by a mobile training team from Fort Bragg, North Carolina and marks the first time the air assault course has been held at the newly built and renovated air assault facilities at Grafenwoehr.

To see more photos, click here.

June 12, 2015 at 2:15 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (April 3, 2015)

Send in the Cavalry.

(U.S. Army photo by  Staff Sgt. Opal Vaughn

(.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Opal Vaughn

U.S. soldiers in Stryker armored vehicles arrive at Smardan Training Area in Romania last month for a multi-national exercise known as Saber Junction 15. These soldiers are assigned to 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment.

The first phase of Saber Junction 15, which runs for the entire month of April, will include a deployment readiness exercise and airborne operations into Romania. The exercise will then move to the Army’s Hohenfels Training Area in southeastern Germany.

Saber Junction 15, includes nearly 5,000 troops from 17 nations that are NATO allies and partners: Albania, Armenia, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Great Britain, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Sweden and, of course, the United States. 

The exercise will test offensive, defensive and stability operations while promoting interoperability among participants. The exercise is part of a wider overseas project, Operation Atlantic Resolve, which seeks reassure NATO allies and partner nations of America’s dedication to peace and stability in the region, while sending a message to Moscow, saying Russia’s aggressive behavior in Eastern Europe will not go unchallenged

April 3, 2015 at 1:23 am Leave a comment

4GWAR Blog News: 2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for the 4GWAR blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 210,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 4 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a (very) small country in Europe!

Last year 4GWAR was thrilled to receive more than 134,000 visits. This year’s visits totaled 209,970.

Most of those views came from the United States (84,926). In descending order, the top 10 foreign viewing countries were. 1. Britain (8,645); 2. Canada (7,008); 3. India (4,568); 4. Germany (4,082); 5. Australia (3,292); 6. France (3,271); 7. Brazil (2,288); 8. Poland (2,192); 9. Russia (1,984); 10. Pakistan, (1,795).

Indonesia was close behind at 1,769 views. The African country with the biggest viewership was South Africa with 840. Three of the five most viewed 4GWAR posts were about Africa.

Thanks to all who visited 4GWAR in 2012, we hope to see more of you in 2013!

January 2, 2013 at 11:24 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (October 19, 2012)

Saber Junction

U.S. Army photo by Markus Rauchenberger

Aaah, autumn in Bavaria: the crisp air, the colorful foliage, the rumble of a U.S. Army cavalry column.

This convoy of vehicles, led by an Army Stryker vehicle, is entering the village of Schalkenthan, near Grafenwoehr, Germany, during Saber Junction 2012. The multinational exercise involves U.S. troops and 1,800 NATO and non-NATO personnel from 18 nations including Germany, Bulgaria, Italy, Moldova, Sweden, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Britain.

If you click on the image to enlarge it, you will see the grenade launching tubes to the left of the soldier in the top hatch of the Stryker, as well as the heavy machine gun just above the grenade launchers.

In addition to developing interoperability of communications networks and systems, the exercise seeks to overcome language barriers and promote cultural understanding.

The huge training and manuever area — 1,300 square miles — exposes the Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment (2CR) to the real-life challenges of civilian traffic, civilian authorities and civilians on the battlefield, in addition to the real-world experience of working as a coalition.

Saber Junction is the largest exercise of its kind in Europe since 1989. And before the exercise concludes on Oct. 30, it will see the use of jets, helicopters, Main Battle Tanks, Infantry Fighting Vehicles, Strykers and more than 200 wheeled vehicles and 90 tracked vehicles.

The 2nd Cavalry will have to deal not only with a mock insurgency but also force-on-force action against a conventional opponent. Army officials want to incorporate the lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan with scenarios U.S. troops my face in 10 or 15 years.

To learn more about Saber Junction click here. For more photos, click here.

To see a brief Army video outlining the exercise’s scope, click here.

October 19, 2012 at 12:55 am Leave a comment

AFRICA: Libya Puts Spotlight on AFRICOM

Puting the Combat in Combatant Command

A U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier jump jet returns to USS Kearsarge for fuel and ammunition resupply while conducting air strikes in support of Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn, the U.S. Africa Command task force established to support the international response to the unrest in Libya (Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Michael S. Lockett)

The allied intervention in the Libyan revolt/civil war has turned the spotlight on one the United States’ newest and least understood military organizations: U.S. Africa Command, known as AFRICOM.

AFRICOM has spent years of trying to allay the fears of African political leaders, pundits and peace advocates who suspect the command is either a secret strike force for American imperialism to grab the continent’s natural resources, or the 21st Century version of Gunboat Diplomacy. But we wonder if AFRICOM’s stated message of supporting peace and stability has been undermined at all by the command’s involvement in Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn.

The United Nations-Security Council-authorized and Arab League-backed operation – ostensibly to implement a No Fly Zone over Libya and protect civilians from attacks by strongman Muammar Qaddafi’s military – has included multiple missile and aircraft strikes against Qaddafi’s air defense system and armored columns menacing rebel strongholds.

While that has sparked an outcry from peace activists, lawmakers and human rights advocates in the U.S. and Europe, we’re waiting to see how this plays with folks in Africa. Three African nations currently on the Security Council – South Africa, Nigeria and Gabon – all voted in favor of U.N. Resolution 1973, which in effect calls for the No Fly Zone. While no Security Council members voted against the resolution, Brazil, Russia, India, China and Germany abstained from voting.

Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, has condemned the U.N. military action as well as the anti-Qaddafi rebels. But opposition parties in his country call his position hypocritical in light of his own lengthy autocratic rule and long-time friendly relationship with Qaddafi, according to local papers via the website. Museveni has penned a lengthy piece on his relationship with Qaddafi in Foreign Policy.

The African Union – which opposes the military intervention – called a meeting today (March 25) in Addis Ababa, Ehiopia to try and broker a truce  invited representatives from the Qaddafi government and the rebel faction, as well as the U.N. Security Council, the European Union and neighboring Arab countries. But the rebels say they won’t negotiate with Qaddafi’s regime

At least one prominent African political leader, Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda – a country that is no stranger to bloodshed – has spoken out in favor of the U.N. military action. In an opinion piece, Kagame says when his country was wracked by ethnic strife in 1994 during which nearly one million people died, the international community was slow to respond – “failing to intervene to prevent a state killing its own people.”

“Given the overriding mandate of Operation Odyssey Dawn to protect Libyan civilians from state-sponsored attacks, Rwanda can only stand in support of it,” Kagame wrote.

Although the African Union was also slow to respond to the Libyan crisis, the Rwandan leader faulted the international community for not including the African group in the decision-making process even though the Arab League was consulted.

“African Union support for Operation Odyssey Dawn would have acted as a further deterrent to other African leaders who might be tempted to target their own people with violence,” Kagame concluded.

Meanwhile, NATO – which is taking over command of the Libyan intervention – said Canadian Lt. Gen. Charlie Bouchard will be running Odyssey Dawn. That should be a relief for AFRICOM and its new commander, Army Gen. Carter Ham, who in the early days of the air war over Libya was the public face of U.S. forces in the operation. AFRICOM’s area of responsibility includes every African country except Egypt, which is overseen by Central Command.

The newest of the six regional combatant commands, AFRICOM was created by the second President George Bush in 2007 to coordinate humanitarian relief operations and train local militaries – all as a stabilizing force on the continent. The military training is aimed at professionalizing local armed forces so they protect rather than oppress their citizens, and equipping them to handle transnational threats like al Qaeda or other terrorist groups.

But no African government, save Liberia, would allow AFRICOM’s headquarters within its borders. AFRICOM continues to be based at Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany and has no permanent armed force in Africa or anywhere else for that matter. Half of its 1,200 personnel are civilians.

March 25, 2011 at 6:10 pm Leave a comment


June 2023


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