As you know, now unprecedented exercises of the US Armed Forces and NATO Defender Europe 2020 are already underway. In fact, this is just a version of the light Reforger Cold War exercises, conducted from 1969 to 1993, on the operational transfer of troops from the US to Europe. But the coronavirus stood in their way. And not only on their way.
"Defenders of Europe" from Russia, which does not threaten Europe
The Defender Europe 2020 exercises have the goal of working out the operational transfer of one US Army (Ground Forces) compound from the continental United States (CONUS in its military jargon, Continental US) to strengthen the grouping of US forces in Europe. At the Reformer exercises, everything was, of course, much larger. Times were different. Then more than 40 warehouses were built in Germany and Benelux, code-named POMCUS, with equipment sets reserved for divisions and brigades. And it was possible to transfer troops, who immediately received sets of equipment, on BTA aircraft and on the passenger sides of military personnel. And do not drag dozens of huge convoys across the ocean, which in addition would become the legitimate target of our nuclear submarines and regiments of long-range bombers (in the zone of their reach). In total, by the 80s in the event of war, units and formations of 3 army corps were intended to be transferred according to the scheme for obtaining equipment with POMKUS: 5 heavy (armored and mechanized) divisions and 4 different brigades plus a Canadian mechanized division. In 1988, the scale of the Reformer exercises reached its peak, the number of reinforced troops deployed from the United States alone reached 125. Of course, the High Command of the Warsaw Treaty Organization Armed Forces reacted to this military activity accordingly. Of course, there was nothing in this idea with warehouses and the transfer of light - in the USSR Armed Forces it was known. And for some time now, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation also have double-based warehouses, where equipment is stored for sets of not mobilized brigades and divisions, but for personnel of formations that are being transferred to threatened directions from the depths of the country.
During the 90s and early 2000s, the former POMKUS warehouses were disbanded, outdated equipment of the type tanks The M60 went into remelting, and more modernly, it went into Iraq during the Iraq war, where a lot remained. By the mid-2010s, the US Air Force group in Europe had narrowed down to an armored cavalry regiment (an infantry brigade combat group on the Striker armored personnel carrier) in Germany, an airborne brigade in Italy (the same one whose military defeated three Humvees several years ago at landing exercises due to lack of professionalism and headache) and supporting units and units.
After the well-known events in Syria and Ukraine in 2013-2014. in the USA, it was decided to strengthen the group in Europe with a rotated armored brigade, which was "spread" in 8 NATO countries. In addition, it was later decided to recreate an analogue of the POMKUS warehouses, the so-called Army Prepositioned Stores (APS) in the Benelux, for a set of equipment 1 armored brigade, and then for 1 infantry "Striker" (but not in Benelux, but farther from Russia). But these warehouses are still under construction, although partially there is equipment there. From there, they must partially take equipment for units arriving lightly. But the bulk of the troops will arrive across the ocean with convoys of transports. And the process of transportation and deployment of the contingent of almost 20 thousand people. should take 2 months, the actions of troops on the ground will be much less long, and then 2 months on the way back. To talk about the practical value of such a transfer in a crisis pre-war real situation is simply ridiculous (well, besides the fact that the transfer experience itself is useful, of course). The enemy, that is, Russia, will have time to deploy all the armed forces in wartime states in such a time, not to transfer reinforcements from peacetime forces. But this is not about that.
Asymmetric warfare of a coronavirus
But then suddenly the coronavirus COVID-19 got into the coherent plans of the United States Defense Ministry and other NATO countries. To begin with, he struck at Italy, probably one of the most disorderly countries of the "old NATO". That is, those 16 countries that made up the alliance before the various states began to recruit into it, the first thing after joining NATO was to reduce their armies to “below the minimum” level and destroy everything that is possible. Italy at the moment confidently broke into second place in terms of the number of infected and the number of victims, too. You can talk about the reasons for this for a long time, but this does not apply to the topic of this article.
In Italy, even the chief of staff of the Ground Forces of the country, Lieutenant General Salvatore Farina, turned out to be among those infected with the coronavirus (in our media, for some reason he is often called the chief of the general staff of the Italian Armed Forces - no, this is not so). It soon became clear that there were infected COVID-19 at the headquarters of the alliance in Brussels, and it all started with one of the employees who had a “successful” vacation in Northern Italy. However, the same lovers of leisure and shopping in Italy, unfortunately, have also come to us in order. It also became known that among the infected countries during the leadership meeting of the Alliance’s countries participating in the Defender exercises, there was also Polish Lieutenant General Yaroslav Mika, who holds the post of commander in chief of the country's Armed Forces. In Poland there is a supreme commander in chief, that is, a president, there is a minister of defense, there is a chief of the general staff, and there is a commander in chief, who, incidentally, has his own headquarters, in general, everything is very confusing. The commander of American forces in Europe is also suspected - he is in quarantine, and the others present are also under suspicion.
Teachings canceled or reduced
At first, the leadership of NATO and the United States stated that the epidemic would not affect NATO's combat training plans. However, it soon became clear that the infection spreading from Italy to Europe needed to be addressed. The Cold Responce 2020 exercises in Norway were the first to suffer. The Finns, who planned to send their small contingent there, refused after the COVID-19 infected was found among the servicemen of the brigade from where it was planned to send the unit for the exercises. The whole team, away from sin, was put in quarantine. And two days ago, they canceled the rest of these exercises - by decision of the Norwegian authorities. It was caused by the fact that an infected military man was found there, more than 20 suspects were quarantined. Moreover, this happened on the 6th, and why they waited so much if they wanted to cancel, it is not clear. The exercises were supposed to last until the end of this decade of March, with up to 15 thousand participants, mainly from Norway, as well as from the USA (1500 people) and another 8 countries. Now the "guests" will go home. Perhaps after serving in quarantine.
Next came the turn of Defender Europe. It was decided to curtail the exercises to cope with the spread of COVID-19. "After a thorough analysis of the current activities of the Defender Europe 2020 exercises and in the light of the current outbreak of coronavirus, we will change these exercises by reducing the number of participants from the United States," the EUCOM press release, that is, the U.S. European Command, said. "The activities related to the exercises will be adjusted accordingly, and we will work closely with allies and partners to achieve our highest priority training goals." However, it has not yet been reported how many troops and from which formations will not participate in these exercises. "As we work on agreements with our allies and partners, we will provide additional updates," the release said.
Probably, the Americans themselves have not yet decided how to make the bench more beautiful and to what extent. We should not forget that the exercises are propaganda in nature: it is unlikely that in the USA they really think of “reasoning” or even “scaring” Russia with one division, transported back and forth for a third of the year, but at the same time, at the same time, instructing their European allies supporting in them the belief that "the master remembers, will not forget, and will help, if that." And the Pentagon with the White House would really not want to lose this beneficial effect.
“We take the outbreak of coronavirus seriously and are confident that by making this important decision we will continue to contribute to preventing the further spread of the virus while maximizing our efforts to advance our alliance and partnerships and to enhance our comprehensive preparedness to resolve any crisis or contingencies, "
- says the release of EUCOM.
In general, it is still unknown, what if they suddenly decide to deploy ships and planes over the ocean completely, and those who have already been brought back, observing quarantine measures.
Plan "Stop the wheels!"
Also, the US Department of Defense imposed serious restrictions on travel of the military and their families around the world. Starting March 13, all units, individual military and members of their families will not move to or from countries with a high prevalence of the disease within 60 days. These are the ones on which the so-called third level warning. Now it is China, Italy and South Korea. True, the Americans are unlikely to travel individually or even more so to units, well, except perhaps for military delegations and the attaché of the embassy, but in Italy there are several American bases, the 173rd airborne brigade and a number of other units are deployed, and in South Korea, the contingent is one of the largest outside the United States. That is, all official movements or on vacation are prohibited for 2 months (although Trump introduced a ban for a month, but the military were reinsured). In addition, for two months, family members of military personnel and civilian personnel will be prohibited from traveling to places with a stable transmission of the disease, indicated by warning level 2, which currently includes Japan, Bahrain and the United Kingdom. Surely this list in the coming days will be replenished by Germany, Spain, and France, confidently set off in pursuit of the Italians who came off.
The recruitment of civilian personnel to US bases and facilities in these countries is also prohibited. And existing staff will be checked for virus and quarantine. In emergency cases, flights to these countries of levels 2 and 3 are still possible, but only by US Air Force BTA aircraft or by civilian flights performing charter flights under separate contracts with the Pentagon.
The Pentagon has also published updated guidance on protecting the health of troops (forces), requiring screening for the virus and 14-day self-monitoring at home upon return for all US Defense personnel who traveled from or through level 2 or 3 countries. This scheme is introduced until the end of the 60-day period, and then it will be seen whether it will be changed or extended. "The main priority of the Ministry of Defense remains the protection and well-being of our people," said the statement by Minister of Defense Esper. “I remain confident in our ability to protect our troops, civilians and families,” he said.
It was also decided to temporarily stop the work of initial military training courses for recruits (what our army calls KMB, the course of a young soldier), and the advanced military training system for recruits, apparently to bring less virus from a citizen to units. This was announced by the press secretary of the US Army’s Initial Military Training Center on Thursday. She clarified that those who are already studying at various courses, starting from the beginning and ending with courses for warrant officers (in our opinion, warrant officers and warrant officers) and courses for young officers, will continue their studies, but they will not have graduation ceremonies.
In addition, one Pentagon senior official said that any military or civil servants who develop a fever, cough, or shortness of breath should immediately inform their subordinates. The military was also recommended to "keep as far as possible" from each other, pay attention to coughing and so on. It’s interesting how to keep the distance from each other in the army, where, as you know, the ranks go?
At the same time, persons retiring or leaving the Armed Forces after the contract expires or for other reasons will be exempted from the travel ban, and also “those who travel within the framework of the authorized department issued by the state department” will be exempted. But these individuals will be subject to new travel audit protocols and a possible quarantine scheme for civilians, not military.
These steps were taken after President Donald Trump announced a travel ban for visitors from most European countries, with the exception of UK citizens and Americans returning home. The final group will undergo “appropriate screenings” to determine if they have become infected. In a national appeal from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening, Trump said that these steps are designed to “significantly reduce the threat to our citizens” from the pandemic. "Smart actions today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow," the president said.
“Each community faces different risks, and it’s very important for you to follow the recommendations of your local officials who work closely with our federal health experts.”
The United States Department of Defense also signed a contract with pharmaceutical giant Gilead to provide the military with the drug for testing on the military with remdesivir, and for free. This antiviral drug, along with other antiviral drugs, is currently being tested in China. In the US, they are trying to treat a volunteer evacuated from the "plague liner" in Japan (Diamond Princess). The manufacturer claims that the drug can be effective against COVID-19, although it was developed against Ebola. It is noted that “Middle East respiratory syndrome” and “SARS” were treated with SARS, and they were also caused by coronaviruses.
It is also reported that in stores at military bases on the territory of the United States have already seen a massive purchase of various goods and medicines and the fact that these stores began to "clamp" the goods, holding them in warehouses to increase the rush demand. In general, some say that war, that the plague, that the coronavirus, that the mother is native. And this, unfortunately, is an international phenomenon.
It is worth noting that Trump himself and Vice President Pence will not be checked for coronavirus (according to the press release), although Trump and Pence had lunch and generally stood next to the infected Brazilian official, who, by the way, had already infected his president Bolsonara. But the “Washington elders”, including the strong grandfather of Trump, even leading some strange speeches, and ending with his rival Biden, who falls into insanity, and many others, including democratically irremovable 40-year-old senators, should beware: coronavirus first of all, it mows the older age group, those over 70. But, probably, the White House just doesn’t want to take the dirty linen out of the hut yet and will check the head of state and his deputy anyway. Well, not to the same extent they are stupid not to understand such things! This is not a fundamental treaty in the field of strategic stability with the Russians, which the Americans successfully mumble and, as a result, and profound, primarily on their own head. This is your own health, it is more expensive!