Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 50 Number 13, April 11, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

No to Britain's Warmongering International Role in the Face of the Pandemic

Provocative Ongoing NATO Military Exercises in Europe

In the face of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, while the rest of the world is working to arrest the virus and stabilise the dangerous situation at hand, it is a provocation against all humanity that the NATO members continue to engage in aggressive military exercises.

Throughout the spring and summer, numerous military exercises had been planned under the umbrella of US Defender Europe 2020. Defender Europe 2020 is a US-led multinational exercise and is the largest deployment of US-based forces to Europe in more than 25 years with 20,000 soldiers deployed directly from the US to Europe. Deployment of US based forces to Europe for these exercises began in February. The British NATO Defender official website confirmed Britain's continued warmongering role in these aggressive military war games, which include approximately 2,600 British service personnel. Declared to be "the biggest of its kind since the Cold War", the exercises are provocatively aimed against Russia after Brexit. It "clearly demonstrates the UK's commitment to NATO and shows that whilst the UK is leaving the EU, it is not leaving Europe and remains utterly committed to its security".

While the US military announced on March 16 that these exercises were being scaled back, with some elements outright cancelled in light of the pandemic, still many of the exercises continue. The purpose of these exercises, according to the US military, is to build "strategic readiness by deploying a combat credible force to Europe in support of NATO and US National Defence Strategy" and to test the ability of the US military to "move seamlessly from country to country", mobilising its forces and equipment from the US and other military bases in Europe and around the world.

Even with the interruption of some of the planned exercises, the US military's European Command (EUCOM) declared on March 17: "This effort has exercised the Army's ability to co-ordinate large scale movements with Allies and partners. Since January, the Army deployed approximately 6,000 soldiers from the United States to Europe including a division headquarters and an armoured brigade combat team. It has moved approximately 9,000 vehicles and pieces of equipment from the US military's Army Prepositioned Stocks and approximately 3,000 pieces of equipment via sea from the United States. And, in coordination with Allies and partners, it also completed movement of soldiers and equipment from multiple ports to training areas in Germany and Poland."

Defender Europe 2020 was a huge logistics of war exercise. For example, 14 air and seaports in eight European countries were used to stage incoming equipment. Another 13,000 pieces of equipment were to be drawn from the Army Prepositioned Stocks in north-west Europe and deployed across 18 countries for training. The exercises were to test the capabilities of European infrastructure - roads, bridges, train routing etc. The British Army has moved large numbers of troops and heavy equipment, such as the retooled US Abrams battle tanks and US Bradley fighting vehicles into Belgium and from West to East and into the Netherlands and across mainland Europe into Poland. As well as transporting and servicing Apache attack helicopters and Chinook helicopters right across Europe, it demonstrates that the British army's new role as one of welcoming, transporting and servicing the US army and its equipment and soldiers in Europe.

The US is now returning troops deployed for Defender Europe 2020 back home "to protect them" from COVID-19, while NATO is carrying out smaller-scaled military exercises, all of it aimed at containing Russian "aggression".

An example of these reduced exercises is one being carried out in the Black Sea in Russia's backyard to provoke Russia. Since March 24, Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) along with the Romanian Navy and Air Force are carrying out mine-sweeping and other operations. This NATO formation includes the warships ITS Fasan (Italy), HMCS Fredericton (Canada), TCG Salihreis (Turkey), ROS Regina Maria (Romania) and BGS Verni (Bulgaria). One of the exercises conducted this past week had the SNMG2 missile frigates providing "protection" for NATO ships while Romanian Air Force MiG-21 jets simulated attacks on the ships.

It is unconscionable that, while the whole humanity is united in trying to face the pandemic together and to find solutions, the US, Britain and their NATO allies continue to spend billions on military exercises and war games. Enlightened humanity on the other hand demands that we put an end to militarism, war and aggressive military alliances such as NATO.

Dismantle NATO and Bring British Troops Home!


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