Tag Archives: Pentagon

Pentagon spending millions to prepare for mass civil unrest

The Pentagon is pumping millions of dollars annually into programs that set out to explore the factors responsible for creating civil unrest around the world, The Guardian reported this week.

An article by journalist Nafeez Ahmed published by the paper on Thursday this week acknowledges that the little-known United States Department of Defense program — the Minerva Research Initiative — has since 2008 partnered with universities “to improve DoD’s basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the US.”

According to the program’s website, it has recently awarded millions of dollars to be divvied up among 12 proposals from colleges that have launched projects relevant to the Pentagon’s interest, including a Cornell University study called “Tracking Critical-Mass Outbreaks in Social Contagions” as well as others involving state stability, social disequilibrium and, in one instance, “Understanding American Muslims Converts in the Contexts of Security and Society.” The funding all comes entirely from the Dept. of Defense.

“Understanding the Origin, Characteristics and Implications of Mass Political Movements,” a study out of the University of Washington, was among those selected as well. In Lowell, Massachusetts, researchers there will use $2 million from the Pentagon to study terrorist behavior.

“This research is intended to identify precisely how children get involved and how to interrupt and stop the process,” UMass Lowell Professor Mia Bloom told the Lowell Sun of her Initiative-accepted project. “The research will contrast children in terrorist groups with child soldiers and children in gangs to better understand how they are alike and how they differ.”

Jonathan Moyer of the Pardee Center for International Futures in the School of International Studies at the University of Denver told a campus publication at that school last month that a project he is involved with — one that will also now receive Pentagon funding — will “hopefully help us understand instability in middle-income countries, not just the low-income countries.”

“Trying to pull out the Tunisias and the Libyas and the Ukraines,” he told the Pardee Center, “and why they might be unstable.”

“The total funds awarded for this set of projects is expected to be around six million dollars in the first year and $17 million over three years,” the Minerva Initiative acknowledged on its website.

Writing for The Guardian, Ahmed investigated these programs further and determined that many are directly involved in mass protests and other acts of civil unrest witnessed by the world in recent years. The Cornell project, for example, will determine “the critical mass (tipping point)” of social contagians by studying their “digital traces” in the cases of “the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the 2011 Russian Duma elections, the 2012 Nigerian fuel subsidy crisis and the 2013 Gazi park protests in Turkey,” Ahmed wrote. To accomplish as much, researchers say they will examine social media conversations such as Twitter posts “to identify individuals mobilized in a social contagion and when they become mobilized.”

Another project, Ahmed added, is managed by the US Army Research Office and focuses in “large-scale movements involving more than 1,000 participants in enduring activity” across 58 countries around the globe.

The Pentagon’s overseeing of academic projects like these have raised eyebrows before, and even earned the ire of the American Anthropological Society due to its concerns with where the funding comes from.

“The Department of Defense takes seriously its role in the security of the United States, its citizens, and US allies and partners,” Dr Erin Fitzgerald, the Minerva Initiative’s director, told The Guardian. “While every security challenge does not cause conflict, and every conflict does not involve the US military, Minerva helps fund basic social science research that helps increase the Department of Defense’s understanding of what causes instability and insecurity around the world. By better understanding these conflicts and their causes beforehand, the Department of Defense can better prepare for the dynamic future security environment.”

 

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US Orders Aircraft Carrier Into Gulf Over Iraq Crisis : Pentagon

aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush

aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush

WASHINGTON – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered an aircraft carrier moved into the Gulf on Saturday, readying it in case Washington decides to pursue a military option after insurgents overwhelmed a string of Iraqi cities this week and threatened Baghdad.

“The order will provide the Commander-in-Chief additional flexibility should military options be required to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

The carrier USS George H.W. Bush, moving from the North Arabian Sea, will be accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun, the statement said. It added the ships were expected to complete their transit into the Gulf later on Saturday.

President Barack Obama said on Friday he needed several days to determine how the United States would help Iraq deal with the insurgency. But he ruled out sending U.S. troops back into combat and said any intervention would be contingent on Iraqi leaders becoming more involved.

The Pentagon is preparing a range of options for Obama, including air strikes. Such actions would be aimed at helping Iraq counter militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

The USS George H.W. Bush is a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, the largest warships in the world, according to the U.S. Navy. The ships are powered by two nuclear reactors and can carry a crew of about 6,000 people

Pentagon to send military advisers to Ukraine

A Ukrainian Antonov-26 plane burns after it was shot down by a missile launched by pro-Russian separatists near the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on June 6, 2014.

American military advisers will soon arrive in politically fractured Ukraine in a move the Pentagon says is designed to build “defense institutions” in the country, where nationalist forces continue saber-rattling against Russia.

In preparation for the consultations, US defense officials met with Kiev authorities earlier this week to discuss ways how the two countries “could strengthen our long-term defense cooperation to help Ukraine build highly effective armed forces and defense institutions,” Pentagon spokesperson Eileen Lainez said, as quoted by Military Times.

The Pentagon considers sending its military advisers “a first step” toward helping to “shape and establish an enduring program for future US efforts to support the Ukrainian military through training, education, and assistance.”

“We are committed fully to getting the assistance to Ukraine as quickly as possible,” Lainez said.

Lainez’s statement follows President Barack Obama’s promise earlier this week that the US would provide Kiev additional military help which may include training of its law enforcement and army personnel.

The Pentagon spokeswoman asserted that Washington does not see a military solution to the Ukrainian crisis, after an armed coup forced out its president, Viktor Yanukovich, following Kiev’s decision to put on hold the association agreement with the EU over economic concerns.

“Our focus continues to be on supporting Ukraine economically and diplomatically,” Lainez said. “As the president has said, we do not see a military solution to this crisis. Throughout the review, we’re looking at items with the intent that whatever is approved will stabilize the situation in Ukraine.”

In the meantime, since March, the White House has approved more than $23 million in security assistance to Ukraine.

On June 4, Obama said that the US was providing additional $5 million aid for “the provision of body armor, night vision goggles and additional communications equipment.” The White House also said other aid for Ukraine included 300,000 ready-to-eat meals and financing for medical supplies, helmets, hand-held radios and other equipment.

Obama’s pledges to Ukraine, at the same time, came on the heel of his vows to invest $1 billion in stepping up the US military presence in Eastern Europe in order “to defend your territorial integrity”.

READ MORE: Obama pledges $1bn for more troops, military drills in E. Europe

The US President statements came amid the deteriorating political crisis in south-eastern Ukraine, where anti-Kiev protesters seek independence and where intense clashes between self-defense militia and the regime’s troops are now a part of everyday life.

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Russian planes have not entered Ukrainian airspace – Moscow

Su-27 fighter jet

Russian military aircraft have not breached any state borders, including those of Ukraine, Russia’s Defense Ministry has said. Ukraine’s acting defense minister has also retracted claims by Kiev that Russian jets “violated Ukrainian airspace seven times.”

“Russia’s means of objective airspace situation control did not record any violations of air boundaries of the states adjacent to Russia, including those of Ukraine,” Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement Saturday.

Pentagon officials quoted by US media Friday claimed that “Russian fighter jets flew into Ukrainian airspace a handful of times over the last 24 hours,” calling it “a continued provocation.” The officials were not named.

“The unfounded claims of Pentagon officials on the alleged ‘breaching of airspace of Ukraine by Russian fighter jets’ appears to have been based on rumors and speculation,” a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman told Itar-Tass on Saturday.

“Those media allegations are populist in nature, they contain no information on the time and place of the incident, as well as no data on altitude, speed and the direction of aircraft, as well as no other objective parameters,” the spokesman said.

The US sources must have “dreamed it all up,” or “a little bird told them that,” the spokesman added.

The Defense Ministry spokesman called on Pentagon officials to stop “spreading unverified ‘facts’ through the media,” saying that “it does not at all help de-escalate the situation in Ukraine.”

Instead, the US Defense Department should “use the many years’ experience of cooperation on information interchange” with the Russian side.

The Ukrainian coup-imposed acting defense minister, Mikhail Koval, on Saturday told journalists that no violations of state borders by the Russian aircraft or troops have been recorded.

“Four [Russian] transport airplanes Il-76 were flying along our state border but they did not cross the borderline,” Koval was quoted as saying by Interfax-Ukraine.

Ukrainian army soldiers check vehicles on a road not far from the border between Ukraine and Russia, in the Kharkiv region of eastern Ukraine

The “peak of activity” of the Russian Armed Forces conducting military exercises near the Ukrainian border was recorded on April 24-25, he said. The closest that the Russian troops came to the Ukrainian border was 2-3 kilometers, Koval said.

According to the Ukrainian official, the Russian drills were meant to discourage Kiev from continuing with the so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in three southeastern regions of Ukraine. However, he added, the military operation continues “although its pace is not high.”

Koval’s statements, made during the Saturday briefing, apparently contradicted the allegations earlier made by the Kiev government against Russia.

“Russian military aircraft today at night crossed and violated Ukrainian airspace seven times. The only reason is to provoke Ukraine… and to accuse Ukraine of waging war against Russia,” the coup-imposed Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk claimed during his visit to the Italian capital, Rome. Yatsenyuk, who had previously made similar unfounded allegations of “Russian tanks in Crimea” and nuclear weapons in Iran,” was speaking to reporters in English.

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BBC News – Ukraine : Pentagon says Russian jets violated airspace

Armed pro-Russia groups remain in control of seized buildings in eastern Ukraine

The US says Russian military aircraft have entered Ukrainian airspace several times in the past 24 hours, amid rising tension in the east of the country.

A Pentagon spokesman told the BBC on Friday that the incidents had happened mainly near the border with Russia, but gave no further details.

Earlier, pro-Russian separatists seized a bus carrying international military observers, Ukrainian officials said.

Talks were under way to secure their release near the town of Sloviansk.

Russia has tens of thousands of troops deployed along its side of the border with Ukraine as pro-Moscow separatists continue to occupy official buildings in a dozen eastern towns, defying the government in Kiev.

Also on Friday, US President Barack Obama and European leaders threatened to impose new sanctions on Russia, saying it has failed to implement an agreement to defuse the crisis in Ukraine.

Russia has accused the West of wanting to “seize” Ukraine.

In a statement from the Pentagon, Col Steven Warren repeated US calls to take “immediate steps to de-escalate the situation”.

He said the US had told Russian officials that US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel wanted to speak to his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu, but there had been no response so far.

Mr Hagel described Russian activity along the Ukrainian border as “dangerously destabilising” and “very provocative”.

via BBC News – Ukraine crisis: Pentagon says Russian jets violated airspace.

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US sends 600 troops to Eastern Europe, warship USS Taylor enters Black Sea

U.S. Navy frigate USS Taylor sets sail in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Black Sea in Istanbul April 22, 2014

US frigate USS Taylor (FFG 50) has entered the Black Sea, according to the US Navy, as the Pentagon announces plans to dispatch some 600 troops to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia for military exercises.

The US claims the ship’s entry is “to promote peace and stability in the region.”

“The US Navy routinely operates ships in the Black Sea consistent with the Montreux Convention and International Law. Taylor’s mission is to reassure NATO allies of the US Navy’s commitment to strengthen and improve interoperability while working toward mutual goals in the region,” read a US Navy statement released on Tuesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has previously stated that the US has been violating the Montreux Convention which restricts the number of US vessels operating in the Black Sea and sets a time limit of 21 days for each one.

At the beginning of February, the USS Taylor was initially posted in the Black Sea. However, damages to the warship’s propeller assembly after running aground in the Black Sea caused a spike in tensions between the US and Russia after it caused the ship to exceed the time allotted to its stay by 11 days.

US soldiers of the Airborne Division

US troops heading to Baltics

The 600 troops are to be sent to Poland and the Baltic states in the coming days in order to offer support to NATO allies which have expressed concern following Crimea’s accession to Russia, the Pentagon stated on Tuesday.

“I’m told they’re infantry level – infantry training exercises,” said Pentagon press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby in a press briefing given on Tuesday. However, he added that he couldn’t provide specifics.

Kirby pointed out that the bilateral exercises were a supplement to the standard military exercises which the countries undertake together and were because of current events in Ukraine.

“The United States takes seriously our obligations under Article 5 of the NATO alliance, even though these aren’t NATO exercises,” Kirby said. “It’s a very tangible representation of our commitment to our security obligations in Europe.”

Last Friday, Poland’s Defense Minister, Tomasz Siemoniak, said that this week Poland and the United States would be announcing the dispatch of ground forces to Poland take part in a two-week land-forces exercise. Some 150 soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team based in Vicenza, Italy are to begin the exercises in Wednesday after which similar exercises will follow in the Baltics.

US troops will rotate in and out of all four countries. “We’re looking at trying to keep this rotational presence persistent throughout the rest of this year,” Kirby stated, adding that exercises could potentially expand into other countries.

The measures are being taken as part of a stepped-up effort announced last week by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in order to reassure NATO allied states.

Relations between Russia and the West became strained after an armed coup in February deposed President Viktor Yanukovich following months of protests. Moscow considers the events to have been orchestrated by the EU and the US and does not recognize the post-coup authorities as legitimate.

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Pentagon: Russian fighter jet repeatedly flew over US destroyer in Black Sea

Su-24 aircraft

The Pentagon said a Russian fighter jet made multiple close-range passes near an American navy destroyer. The warship was deployed in the Black Sea as Russian military monitored NATO’s systematic build-up of naval forces in the region.

The fighter appeared to be unarmed, US military said, calling the move “provocative and unprofessional”.

“This provocative and unprofessional Russian action is inconsistent with their national protocols and previous agreements on the professional interaction between our militaries,” said Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

Pentagon defined the jet as a Russian Su-24 aircraft, or Fencer, which made 12 passes at low altitude near the USS Donald Cook that, at the time, was conducting a patrol in international waters in the western Black Sea, Reuters reported.

Earlier, a military official told AP that on April, 12, a Russian aircraft flew repeatedly within 1,000 yards of the USS Donald Cook at about 500 feet above sea level for over 90 minutes.

According to the official, the destroyer’s crew made several attempts to radio the Russian warplane requesting the reason for the manoeuvre. They then reportedly issued warnings to remain at a safe distance, however, there was no response from the Russian pilot.

A view of the destroyer USS Donald Cook is seen after it arrived at the Black Sea port of Constanta April 14, 2014.

Pentagon confirmed the fighter jet was not armed with any aerial bombs.

USS Donald Cook, a destroyer equipped with the powerful Aegis missile defense system, entered Black Sea on April, 10.

The US Defense Department claimed the ship’s mission was “to reassure NATO allies and Black Sea partners” following the events in Ukraine.

On Monday, the USS Donald Cook entered waters of Romania.

Last week the Russian military considered the USS Donald Cook manoeuvre part of a systematic build-up of naval forces and accused NATO of violating the Montreux Convention on naval movements in the Black Sea.

“What we are seeing is that for the first time since 2008, NATO is creating a naval battle group outside Russian borders,” a Russian military source told Interfax news agency.

According to the treaty, warships from non-Black Sea states can only stay in the basin for up to 21 days consecutively. USS Taylor spent 11 more than that in the region in February and March.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry expressed “bemusement” over the move.

“Turkey [which administers the treaty] did not inform us about the overstay. We have expressed our concern to the Turkish and US side in a verbal note,” said a statement on the ministry website.

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‘US uses mercenaries where it wants its hands clean’

http://rt.com/op-edge/mercenaries-us-operate-ukraine-532/

As the US says there is “no confirmation” that American mercenaries are operating in Ukraine, Iraq war veteran Michael Prysner told RT that private US armies have been covertly operating globally wherever there is “dirty work” needs to be done.

RT: Could US contractors indeed be operating in Ukraine?

Michael Prysner: Well, of course they could. There is no law in the world that the Pentagon recognizes or will follow for its own soldiers let alone its dirty little secret with its corporate hitmen it had.

I do know that mercenaries of this type, especially that have gone out of Blackwater, have been illegally operating in countries all around the world. We can assume that wherever there is dirty work to be done, where the US wants its hands clean and be able to say it has no connection to it, we can expect that private mercenaries could be there. Because it is part of a shift in US strategy over the last decade or more towards special operations on one hand and the private military contractors on the other.

RT: If this is the case, why would the Kiev government need to deploy them?

MP: The new government in Ukraine is very unpopular in large parts of the country and the uprisings that we are seeing all over are threatening the new rule of this semi-fascist government that is willing to sell off the entire country to the West.

So the crashing against these popular uprisings is all this new power has to be able to maintain its power. The US and the EU very much want to secure the results of their operation to bring Ukraine into their sphere of influence. Neo-cons like John Kerry and John McCain of course have already been pushing for arming these, largely dominated by right wing forces who have taken control, and of course we know them to be wanting to favor even with direct military intervention.

But direct military intervention creates all types of risks and problems for the administration. So short of a direct military intervention, they’ll be able to exert the military force that they want with just a different type of a situation where they can revoke themselves from the responsibility.

RT: Should the authorities in Kiev and people in Ukraine be worried that a mercenary force is let lose in their country?

MP: Absolutely. First of all it is important to point out – where did these mercenaries come from? It is estimated 150 of these mercenaries are operating in Ukraine. These aren’t 150 regular soldiers, people who served in the US or other foreign militaries, just as rank and file soldiers like myself and then got their contracts end up.

These are soldiers who are coming out of the special operations forces of the US military and other militaries. Those who are highly trained in ambushes, in sabotage, in psychological operations. Really the most unique troops in the world are the once that are recruited up to these very lucrative positions at private sector. And not only do they come from these sectors of the military, but those who are in mercenary forces are known to be a very rare breed of ultra-violent individuals.

Myself, when I was in Iraq in 2003-2004, regular army soldiers hated the mercenaries that were there because they were known to be so reckless, just driving around, shooting people at random and really angering the population against them and everyone else who was there. And the history speaks for itself. Massacres like Nisour Square, situations where they used excessive force in response to an attack, situations where they were straight up sitting there murdering people that were just walking down the street. This is the conduct of the people there. Absolutely anyone who is in their area of operations should be very concerned.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9iIWj96qgo&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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​Software problems will set back F-35 joint strike fighter another year – report

Delivery of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will be more than a year behind schedule due to ongoing software problems, according to a US government report. The delay marks the latest snag in the ongoing saga of the world’s most expensive aircraft.

According to a new Government Accountability Office report, the F-35’s mission management system software needs a vast debugging effort to meet the plane’s various requirements.

“Challenges in development and testing of mission systems software continued through 2013, due largely to delays in software delivery, limited capability in the software when delivered, and the need to fix problems and retest multiple software versions,” the GAO auditors wrote.

“The Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) predicts delivery of warfighting capabilities could be delayed by as much as 13 months. Delays of this magnitude will likely limit the warfighting capabilities that are delivered to support the military services’ initial operational capabilities—the first of which is scheduled for July 2015—and at this time it is not clear what those specific capabilities will be because testing is still ongoing.”

The GAO said the plane needs eight million new lines of software code to overcome the current functionary glitches.

The report added that only 13 percent of the Block 2B segment of software had been tested as of last January. The target for this prime operational component of the plane was 27 percent.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon‘s chief weapons tester, Michael Gilmore, provided an in-depth report to Congress on the F-35’s technical features, emphasizing what he calls the “unacceptable” characteristics of the aircraft’s Block 2B software, according to a draft obtained by Reuters in January.

“Initial results with the new increment of Block 2B software indicate deficiencies still exist in fusion, radar, electronic warfare, navigation, electro-optical target system, distributed aperture system, helmet-mounted display system, and datalink,” Gilmore’s report said.

Due to the high number of technical problems, the 2B software overhaul would not be finished until November 2015 – 13 months later than originally planned, the report predicted. This scenario would delay release to the F-35 fleet until July 2016, a year after the Marine Corps anticipated having “initial operating capability” with its version of the joint strike fighter.

The all-in-one plane, designed for a host of potential missions, is to have similar versions for the US Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.

GAO auditors questioned whether the US government can still afford the F-35 program. Plans are for the purchase of 2,457 planes for the US military by 2037. Development and acquisition costs are estimated to be about $400 billion.

To remain on schedule for 2037, the Pentagon must “steeply” increase spending on the program over the next five years, the GAO said, to the tune of $12.6 billion per year for the next 23 years for only research and acquisition costs. Pentagon brass has called the $1 trillion estimated operation and maintenance costs “unaffordable,” the GAO reported.

In response to the GAO findings, the F-35 program’s head, Maj. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, said in a statement that “software continues to remain our number one technical risk on the program, and we have instituted disciplined systems engineering processes to address the complexity of writing, testing and integrating software.”

The report, released Monday, detailed only the latest problems with what some have dubbed “the jet that ate the Pentagon,” plagued with chronic cost overruns and delayed deliveries.

The Lockheed Martin fighter jet’s price tag is estimated to end up costing US taxpayers more than $1 trillion, factoring in maintenance expenses. Though, the Pentagon said in August that the program’s estimated cost was “slashed” to a trim $857 billion.

Critics of the plane’s many functions say it’s too loaded down to be any more capable than the older, less-expensive F-16 fighter jet, which the F-35 is to replace along with F/A-18s, and A-10s.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, which started in 2001, is 70 percent over initial cost estimates and years behind schedule. Despite its fantastic price tag, the F-35 has even failed to generate the number of jobs its proponents had originally promised to Congress.

In January, the Center for International Policy said Lockheed had “greatly exaggerated” its claim that the F-35 program will sustain 125,000 American jobs in 46 US states in an effort to win support for the program.

In addition to the US, Lockheed is making F-35 versions for Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and Turkey. Israel and Japan have placed orders for the fighter jet. South Korea ordered 40 joint strike fighters on Monday – the same day as the release of the GAO report.

Despite the myriad problems in the F-35’s development, the first trans-Atlantic flight of an F-35 fighter jet is set for July, as the plane will take part in two international air shows near London, Reuters reported.

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US, UK military to stage NATO exercises in Ukraine

Ukraine will play host, but the US military will call the shots, in an upcoming military exercise called Rapid Trident that will bring together some 1,300 international forces in Ukraine for a long-planned exercise.

Although the United States canceled Atlas Vision 2014, which was scheduled to take place in July in the northeastern Russian city of Chelyabinsk, the Pentagon says it will go ahead with plans for a multinational military exercise this summer in Ukraine.

Rapid Trident 2014 is designed to “promote regional stability and security, strengthen partnership capacity and foster trust while improving interoperability between the land forces of Ukraine, and NATO and partner nations,” according to the US forces in Europe website.

The Pentagon refused to provide information on the number of US forces expected to participate in the maneuvers.

US Army spokesman Col. Steven Warren said Rapid Trident is the only Ukraine military exercise the United States plans to participate in this year. The exercise is intended to help the Ukrainian military improve its troops and weapons operability with NATO forces.

Last year’s Rapid Trident, which focused on “airborne and air-mobile infantry operations,” according to a report on the Rapid Trident website, brought together 17 NATO countries for joint exercises.

According to Rapid Trident’s Facebook page, last year’s exercises involved “more than 800 pieces of weaponry and about 170 military and combat vehicles… In addition, 4 Mi -8 helicopters, a military transport aircraft An- 26 of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and a German transport aircraft C- 160 were involved to work out airborne operations and elements of evacuation of the wounded from the field of battle.”

However, given the level of hysteria that has been generated by the Ukrainian crisis, Rapid Trident 2014 will take place under entirely different circumstances than last year’s event.

The Pentagon has already dispatched 12 warplanes and hundreds of troops to Poland following the Crimean referendum on Sunday that witnessed an overwhelming majority of residents voting in favor of joining Russia.

Last week, the US military announced that the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush and its group would remain in the Mediterranean Sea for a few more days than planned “to reassure US allies” over the Ukraine crisis.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, together with the Prime Minister of Crimea and the mayor of Sevastopol, signed an agreement in Moscow for Crimea and Sevastopol to join the Russian Federation.

In addition to US and UK troops, Rapid Trident 2014 will include units from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, Georgia, Germany, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Ukraine.

Rapid Trident military exercises have been held annually on the territory of Ukraine for a number of years.

Ukraine has a partner relationship with NATO but is not officially a member.

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