Biggest-ever joint military exercise dubbed Anakonda 2018 will be held in Poland in summer 2018. These maneuvers promise to become the most ambitious since the end of the Cold War. Since 2006 Anaconda is conducted on the territory of Poland every two years under the direction of operational command of the Polish Armed Forces.
Poland’s minister of defense Antoni Macierewicz said that the main purpose of Anaconda 2018 exercise will be testing NATO countries’ capabilities to protect the eastern flank of the alliance. He added that due to the complex geopolitical situation on the eastern flank of NATO, this exercise should be deterrent and demonstrate alliance’s might.
Exercise tasks will involve responding to the emerging military threats, including conventional and hybrid warfare. The scenario of maneuvers presupposes preemptive strikes and preventive actions on the eastern flank.
The number of US troops in Europe has been increasing for almost two years. Currently, NATO soldiers form four major NATO battle groups in Poland and in the Baltic States. Their total number is about 15,000 soldiers and 3,500 military vehicles. At least 10 US military bases were built and the exact number of soldiers is unknown.
According to sources in NATO, about 100,000 troops will take part in Anaconda 2018 maneuvers, including 20,000 from Poland. Troops from several NATO countries and five partner countries will participate in the drill. 5,000 vehicles, 150 aircraft and helicopters, 45 warships will be used in the exercise.
Minister of national defense Antoni Macierewicz stressed that during the exercise troops of Territorial Defense Force will be deployed for the second time, and they will permanently join the Polish Armed Forces as a separate branch.
“We have large number of troops in the Baltic States and Poland, as well as in the Black Sea region, and the probability of an incident can be quite high because of human or technical error. We hope that such an unintended incident will not turn into a conflict,” said General Petr Pavel, chairman of the NATO Military Committee. He stressed that the US Army has deployed a lot of soldiers, including the National Guard, and a significant amount of military equipment. “In other words, the whole US Army will be involved in the Anaconda exercises. We have already made the conclusions about logistics, interoperability and command structures in the international environment,” he added.
“Having large-scale NATO forces in the Baltic States and Poland, as well as the lack of transparency – we see serious preparation for a great war,” said in an interview US Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. “US Army is determined to participate,” Gen. Mark Milley added.
“No one should question the US involvement in peace and security in Europe,” said in turn Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe.
Anaconda 2018 is the most important exercise of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland with the participation of national contingents from more than half of NATO and partner countries. “This year a joint drill is aimed to ensure security in a transparent manner,” said General Marek Tomaszycki.
Anaconda 2018 will be held in summer with the participation of seven main international command structures and troops of four components: land, air, sea and special forces. 100,000 troops will participate in maneuvers, including about 20,000 soldiers from Poland and 5,000 pieces of military equipment, 150 aircraft, 45 warships.
First published in neon24.pl translated in English by Wiktor Kovalski
From Trade War to Strait War: China Warn U.S. Stop Stretching its Muscles in the Contested Waters
Up till now, no one distinguishes the actual explanations behind the hostile faces. If a trade war isn’t the exact cause, the rise of China, the Hong Kong and the South China Sea questions added further fuel to the fire.
War of words or trade war no one knows as the dust has not settled yet. When the dust settles, the practical ins and outs for the aggressive faces will appear. Peter Navarro, the US Director of Trade and Industrial policy, said Chinese wish to get Trump to the so the called bargaining table and let them keep having their will with the US. Whereas Wang Yi (王毅), China’s foreign minister, said, the US never desires to negotiate, and we still don’t know if they wish to transact over many issues or not?
More convincingly, the leading cause of the degraded relation isn’t just the trade war, America is trying to keep its universal notion fixed, for which the US considered China is a direct threat. To undermine Chinese strength, the US deliberately interfering in Chinese domestic affairs, recently in Hong Kong, and the South China Sea. China considers such actions a direct threat to China’s sovereignty and taking all possible measures to counterweight such moves. Such US actions are not just undermining Chinese strength but also pose a significant danger to regional stability and harmony. In the international arena, if power is essential for self-survival under the so-called anarchistic system, in the same vein undermining someone’s strength can be detrimental for both states, as China and the US are now not only economically abundant but also possess more sophisticated weapons then ever before.
As trade war favour China up to some scope, Trump Administration is looking for alternatives to overwhelm China of fortifying their universalism notion. The recent intervention in Hong Kong, the Human Rights and Democracy act by supporting the pro-democracy movement there, and more freedom of Navigation in the South China sea, Trump still losing all his strategies against China. To some degree, the dyadic relationship trapped in the cross-fire, the US aggressive actions against China, and the lenient Chinese response against the US dazed the rest of the world.
In the international arena, the US, instead of a trade war, now moving its muscles in the contested water in the South China Sea. The issue became more exposed when the US Defense Secretary Mark Esper concluded his Asian tour aimed to build a coalition against China in the South China Sea. Esper tour came amid annoying stiffnesses in the South China Sea, with China deploying its new aircraft carrier while warning the US against “moving its muscles” in the disputed waters. Recently both the states have increased their navy and used evermore armada, weapons and military assets in regional contested water.
As the US navy increased its freedom of navigation operations in the disputed water lately, the tension between the two power intensified. A few months ago, China, for the first time deployed domestically, builds aircraft called Type 001A to the disputed water through Taiwan strait. Responding to China’s action, the US deployed the USS Gabrielle Giffords littoral combat ship stationed in Singapore’s Changi naval base. Such action-reaction spiral is the leading cause of their fragile relationship. Chinese officials claimed that the deployment of new aircraft means to allows the crew to become familiar with water, where it will often sail in the future. In the same vein, the US officials claimed that deploying any combat ship to the South China Sea is not that we are opposing China. We all believe and stand for international rules and laws and want China should abide by them as well.
The possibility of a hot war between China and the US is inevitable, as argued by the legendary diplomat Kissinger. Pointing towards China and the US, he said that the two most powerful economies could spill over into a military conflict. He argued that the trade war is not the leading cause of hostility. The chief objective he mentioned is Honk Kong recently and the South China Sea. The devasted world war 1st was broke out because of the minor issue. Today, US-China hostile relation is because of a small issue but now the weapons are more potent than ever before he described.
The dyadic relationship between the US and China is getting shoddier day-by-day. The Chinese side has extended hands for peaceful resolution of the issues; being a dominant state, the US is always looking at the world more radically. Recently the US passed two bills into laws, supporting the pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong, and imposed sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials alleged responsible for the human rights violation.
In response, the Chinese government suspended the US military and ships from visiting Hong Kong and spanked sanctions on some US-based non-governmental organisations believed for alleged spaying and encouraging Hong-Kong anti-government protest. Beijing also warns Washington to correct their mistakes and stop interfering in Chinese domestic affairs. Beijing correspondingly said, they would take all measures against any actors, who are allegedly interfering in China’s internal affairs.
The competition between the two significant power poses a great threat to regional stability. Since 2017 the US interference in the South China Sea increased than ever before. Till now, the US dispatched almost two or three destroyers to the contested water and enhanced their routine based freedom of navigation. Beijing warns such actions repeatedly and called the US to stop such illegal activities in the contested water; although the US never responded to Beijing. Probably such actions reactions would spill over into a hot war. For a reason, we know that, as long as there are potent nations with devastating weapons, conflict is inevitable.
Why Sri Lanka needs a “National Securitism” oriented National Security Policy?
“National Security” was one of the main discussion points in the propaganda campaigns of all major contenders of the Presidential election. War-time Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapakshe, was elected as the 7th president of the country, stressing the security gap. The Easter Sunday attack brought attention to the security of the country that appeared as religious fundamentalism and extremism again after a decade of the end of the 30 years brutal war. Many have pointed this as a failure of the government and accused of dismantling the military intelligence service. Even the report of the select committee of parliament on the Easter Sunday attack (21st April 2019) has accused the President, former Secretary Defence as the Director of SIS and IGP as failed in fulfilling duties. “……. the PSC observes that the President failed on numerous occasions to give leadership and also actively undermined government and system including having ad-hoc NSC meetings and leaving key individuals from meetings…….”.
And regarding Defense Secretary and others, PSC noted as “that whilst the greatest responsibility remains with the Director SIS, others too failed in their duties. Within the security and intelligence apparatus, the Secretary MOD, IGP, CNI and DMI failed in their responsibilities. All were informed of the intelligence information before the Easter Sunday attacks but failed to take necessary steps to mitigate or prevent it…” However, now former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and IGP Pujith Jayasundara were arrested for further investigations. The victims are not pleased with the solutions tabled by the government, which created a trust deficit between the government and citizens.
Meanwhile, the country is in an alarming debt trap with China and a drastic economic downturn. India’s interest over strategic infrastructures such as Mattala Airport, newly open Jaffna International airport and Trincomalee harbor is becoming a challenge to the sovereignty and peace of the country. Also, other threats (apart from interest over infrastructure) coming from India is crucial, and that has historically proven. South India seems to be the key customer of Jaffna International Airport, and at the same time, the Southern Province of India is one of the primary breeding grounds for ISIS as well as for the LTTE. Thus the potential of the airport to be a floodgate for Islamic extremists and LTTE is high if the immigration is not carefully monitored.
Meanwhile, proposals coming from USA such as Status of Forces Agreement-SOFA, Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement – ACSA and now with the Millennium Challenge Cooperation- MCC. None of these agreements is completely evil, and the theory of conspiracy is not directly applicable for any of them. All pros and cons are visible if terms and conditions are prudently appraised. Practically, implementations of SOFA and ACSA are challenging to Sri Lanka as the power of negotiation with the USA is limited. The MCC is an important initiative addressing two of the crucial issues of the country; transport development and digitalizing land titles. Both are identified as key parameters of poverty reduction and human development initiatives of the government. However, the security concern is with the proposing GIS and CCTV monitoring systems which has the potential of accessing personal information of individuals. The closure or termination is also problematic to the country. Sri Lanka has no potentials to terminate the agreement, if a case, the grant will be converted to a loan and has to repay the grant, interest, earnings as well as assets. In case of a breach, the country will be financially trapped with USA and consequences will be similar or worse than the cancellation of the Colombo Port City project of China. Sri Lanka will be another significant case study digitalising to Djibouti of how massive investments go wrong for the hosting country and becoming a regional facilitator for Military bases. The results would be terrible if the SOFA has signed with no reviews.
Cyber is another source of threat which has capabilities of disabling vital websites and networks for the stability of the nation. Further, it has the potential to paralyze the economy by stealing and destroying classified information via hacking relevant data-banks. Illicit drugs and small arms are other two challenges which identified by Hon Maithreepala Sirisena His Excellency, the President of Sri Lanka as critical threats to peace and security. Climate change, modern slavery, corruptions, poverty, piracy, lack of identity, IUU fishing issue, racism, separatism, ethnic unrest, misinformation and unregulated social media networks are some of the other critical challenges to the present national security.
In this context, national security should be the prime duty of the President and also the government. Overall, it is proven that the lapses of the current policies are the foundation of the discussed coercions. Unclearness of national purpose, values and interests are also foremost roots. The National Security Policy, which defines the national purpose, values, interests, threats and challenges would be a pathway.
What is the National Security Policy?
The “National Security Policy” is considered as the “Grand Policy” where skills of soldiers, civilians and politicians merge to ensure the stability of the territory. In other terms, NSP can be characterized as the integration of military, foreign and domestic policies to coordinate its economic, political, social and military capabilities in preventing actual and potential external and internal adversaries. Thus, the NSP should be aligned with all ministerial portfolios to achieve the ultimate national purpose, values and interests of the island. The ministries related to defence, foreign affairs, economic and finance, socio-cultural, environmental and technologies and information should respectively convey their policies and strategies to reach the ultimate goal of NSP.
However, what type of Security Policy does Sri Lanka need is questionable? Defence and security theorists are coming up with the number of them and amongst them “National Securitism” oriented policy would be appropriate for Sri Lanka.
“National Securitism” oriented Security Policy for Sri Lanka?
“National Securitism” is for the states which practice democracy and continually using the law of emergency to resort conflicts. The characteristics of a democratic regime appear to exist and practically the civilian leader (political) of the country, the President controls over the tri forces and police. The rule of law is supreme, and the political leader directs military and civilians with the instructions of the constitution.
As the national purpose and interest of the island appreciate democratic “National Security State”, the National Security Policy should in line with the same. Thus, the NSP of Sri Lanka should not just a state of emergency to meet threats to the democratic process. It is a permanent policy with timely amendments, which combine civil and military establishments to safeguard the national security of the county in general. Further, the policy consists of the tools to stricter the control Political, Economic, Social, Technologies, Ecology and Military arms (PESTEM) during the exceptional state of emergency. Roles of civilian, military and police forces should blend to bring democratic approaches (human rights) to the mandatory military exercises in political conflicts. The NSP mandate to fill the gap between investment requirement for national developments and threats arising (internally and externally) due to the same. The military involvement in economic and social development projects also all other social welfare activities necessary to appreciate. Aligning with other policies in a democratic and political process such as defence, foreign, economic and finance, technology and information is necessary to ensure the democratic values of the nation. Line policies and strategies as mentioned above, should be interconnected and NSP should derive all of them. More importantly, defence, foreign and economic policies should interconnect as well as the strategies to ensure the success of the NSP. For example, National Defence Policy which is already compiled by the Ministry of Defence, should connect to the foreign policy of the country. If two policies interconnected, Sri Lanka capable of exercising foreign policy for the use of military, in the form of technical assistance, training, arms supply, sharing intelligence and also the military industry activities. Intelligence sharing through proper channels would be a more exceptional solution to mitigate threats coming from other territories which fires the home. Such as Islamic fundamentalism which exported from Saudi Arabia and fuelled by the fundamentalists living in South India and Sri Lankan.
Further, national securitism would bring up the approach of human rights to the national security of the country, which may ensure the practice of ordinary jurisdiction. In the context, NSP would be an excellent initiative for Sri Lanka to answer the Geneva Human Rights Council. However, NSP of Sri Lanka if it is under the ideology of securitism, will function the military and civilian establishments as moral censors to the government warring potential activities destabilizing the peaceful political arena of the country.
Why Germany turned its back on parallel coalitions in Strait of Hormuz
Germany recently announced it will not join the French-led mission in the Strait of Hormuz. This is while, not long ago, Berlin’s lack of support for Paris’s position on “the brain death of NATO” became a hot issue.
Berlin’s stance against Paris reinforces the assumption that maybe Germany, on the eve of Brexit, is trying to prevent France to become the dominant power in Europe. The assumption is largely reasonable, provided one does not forget that Germany, in a parallel action, benefits from the cooperation with France to challenge U.S. supremacy and show of power by the EU.
Britain, from innovation to treason
Where did the idea of creating a European mission in the Strait of Hormuz come from and what countries were involved in it?
What today is known as the French initiative to secure the Persian Gulf was first proposed by Britain in response to the Iranian seizure of the Stena Impero ship in July.
This issue is related to the time before the premiership of Boris Johnson, who follows U.S. President Donald Trump in his extremist policies.
At the time, Jeremy Hunt was serving as the British foreign secretary. Hunt preferred to offer a plan that did not directly involve the EU, NATO and, above all, the United States, in the light of Britain’s ultimate intention to realize Brexit. Instead, Hunt created a far weaker coalition with the participation of the European countries like Norway, which were not a member of the EU.
The initiative was approved by France and Germany at the beginning because these three countries, as European parties to JCPOA, did not intend to join U.S.-led maritime coalition. The countries did not want to endanger the nuclear deal by assisting the maximum pressure campaign against Iran.
But the plan changed when Johnson took office. Johnson, who was determined to carry out Brexit, did not mind to question the European coalitions and preferred to compete with France and Germany by joining U.S.-led maritime coalition in the Strait of Hormuz.
The European coalition: From idea to implementation
On November 24, France’s Defense Minister Florence Parly announced that a French naval base in Abu Dhabi will serve as the headquarters for a European-led mission to protect Persian Gulf.
Although her announcement formalized the UAE as the headquarters of European-led mission, the decision had been anticipated much earlier and was stated in the August reports.
It was reported that Italy, Spain, Norway, Belgium and Sweden were expected to accompany France, while the Netherlands was not sure to join the European-led naval mission or the U.S.-led coalition. On November 25, the Dutch government formally announced its decision to accompany its European partners. Therefore, the Netherlands will contribute a ship to the French-led naval mission in the Strait of Hormuz for a six-month period starting in January 2020.
However, for some European countries participating in any extraterritorial mission depends on the approval of the parliament. This issue has become a challenge for Berlin in accompanying Paris.
Germany constrained by law
From the earliest days when the U.S. was inviting states to create a maritime coalition in the Persian Gulf region, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas opposed the move and insisted on the need to follow diplomacy to reduce tensions in order to preserve the JCPOA.
Germany, like France, was also looking for a European initiative, but what is important now is that Berlin has apparently broken its promise and left Paris halfway.
But does the decision by Germany ruin the future of the European coalition?
It should be said that, despite refusing to join the coalition, Berlin still politically supports it. What prevents Berlin from joining the coalition is the country’s constitution.
In fact, Germany has set a precondition for its support of the plan. Germany says the French-led initiative must turn into an “EU mission”. In the current context, the initial core of the plan is still based on the British model, which limits the coalition to the will of the European countries, regardless of direct dependence on the EU and NATO.
According to the German law, the country is only allowed to participate in a foreign mission if that mission is defensible from the perspective of a “system based on mutual collective security” within the framework the EU, NATO and the UN. Therefore, participation in the coalition proposed by France is not justified from the perspective of the German law.
On the other hand, Berlin’s reason for refusing to join the U.S.-led maritime coalition was not just to preserve the Iran nuclear deal. Legal restraint was also a matter.
Unlike France and Britain, sending forces outside Germany has to be done with the consent of parliament, and almost all German parties are opposed to joining a U.S. mission against Iran.
The fight over establishing security in the Strait of Hormuz represents a small part of the NATO disputes. Currently, there are two parallel coalitions in the Persian Gulf. Iran has approved none of the coalitions, and Germany has not participated in any of them.
At the beginning the U.S. expected 60 countries to join the coalition which was launched under the command of a headquarters in Bahrain in November. At the present time, just Britain, Australia, Albania, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have joined the U.S.-led coalition.
The European coalition has also failed at the outset due to legal obstacles in certain countries in Europe.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Parly affirmed European and U.S. coordination in parallel missions in the Strait of Hormuz. At the same time, Parly accused Washington of being indifferent to what happened in the Middle East in the summer, including the incidents of Fujairah port and Oman Sea, as well as downing of a U.S. drone.
The comments by Parly, in addition to what French President Emmanuel Macron had recently said about NATO’s brain death, further fuels the domestic crisis within NATO.
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