Wednesday 17th of April 2024

posturing alla americana......

The US Army is cutting its force by 24,000 and restructuring to be capable of fighting the next major wars as it struggles to recruit new troops, according to a new service document titled "Army Force Structure Transformation." What's behind the overhaul?

The cuts will diminish the US Army's size from roughly 494,000 to 470,000 troops by fiscal year 2029. According to the US press, counterinsurgency jobs, which increased during Washington's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, will be slashed first.

"We [the US] are moving away from counterterrorism and counterinsurgency; we want to be postured for large-scale combat operations," US Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told reporters on February 27.

"They're once again looking to the older conventional type of warfare on the battlefields, such as what they're witnessing now in Ukraine," Michael Maloof, former senior security policy analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, told Sputnik.

"I hope we don't ever get to that. We [the US] need to be pulling our troops back. We need to be shutting down a lot of our bases because they are a magnet for tensions and for wreaking havoc around the world. They're no longer needed. You look at the Middle East. We have 35 bases surrounding Iran. They're meant to be for deterrence. But we have seen that deterrence is not working in the Middle East. And now they become prime targets. And as a consequence, they become the American Achilles heel because of exposure.”

Given that the US Army - as well as the entire Department of Defense - has changed its overall doctrine toward future wars and direct confrontations with both Russia and China, the announced restructuring effort is not surprising, according to Maloof.

"They're looking back once again to large armies fighting each other," the military expert remarked.

The army transformation also envisages improving anti-drone and air defense capabilities.

As per the document, it is planning to add:


Four additional Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC) battalions, providing a short to medium-range capability to defend against unmanned aerial systems, cruise missiles, rockets, artillery and mortars;

Nine counter-small unmanned aerial systems (C-sUAS) batteries nested within IFPC and division air defense battalions;

Four additional Maneuver Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) battalions, which counter low altitude aerial threats, including unmanned aerial systems, rotary wing aircraft, and fixed-wing aircraft.


"Taking into account the fact that technologies on the battlefield are going to be absolutely critical, I think they've learned a lot from the battle with Ukraine. That's giving them some guidance as to where to go. For example, they intend to increase their airborne defenses, drones and electronic warfare," Maloof said.

At the same time, this transformation will be done at the expense of counterinsurgency and counterterrorism, he pointed out.

"I think that if you're al-Qaida*, ISIS*, you're going to be jumping for joy because that means the army will have less special forces to deal with them," Maloof remarked.

When asked whether the overhaul was prompted by a lack of troops, he noted that "recruitment in the United States has been way down by all the services except the Marine Corps."

"Younger people are not flocking to the military," he said. "And the only way that you would ever get them into the service will be by a draft, resurrecting the draft. And the American people absolutely do not want the draft. They don't see the imperative."

The Pentagon's military doctrine suggests that the US Army will continue to fight "forever wars", he noted, adding that the Americans are fed up with them.

Moreover, despite neoconservatives' fear-mongering, many in the West don't believe that Russia would invade NATO member states.

The recent Munich Security Index 2024 shows that while in 2023 most G7 countries saw Russia as the "major threat", now it no longer tops the survey's risk bump chart for industrialized economies. In particular, the US ranked Russia fourth, seeing cyberattacks, political polarization, and China as greater threats.

"We've had 23 years of endless wars. And the American people are really fed up. Plus, now we're trying to support other people's wars at the expense of our own national security by lessening our own borders," Maloof said, referring to the ongoing migrant crisis in the US.

He warned that taking on Russia or China is unlikely to end well for the army.

"We're never going to muster enough troops to counter what Russia is capable of putting together or China or a combination of the two. It's suicidal and it's crazy. We need to be working together in this world and with healthy competition, not military competition," the former Pentagon analyst said.

"We need to acknowledge the fact that countries such as Russia and China have capabilities. And they're now, especially Russia, obviously very battle-tested. Our troops are not. They've only been involved in counterinsurgencies. And if they want large-scale wars, Russia is up to it. They have demonstrated that. And I don't know if that's the direction we want to be going into and for what purpose," he continued.

While Russia, China, Iran and other emerging economies are looking for further collaboration in Eurasia in terms of infrastructure and economic development, Washington is looking for new defense agreements and is seeking to contain both China and Russia.

"So the emphasis is, I think, it's going to probably be rethought once again, especially if there's a change of administrations. Because we cannot continue to have confrontations with the likes of other nuclear weapons powers, such as China and Russia. This is just mindless," Maloof concluded.







Blackwater founder seeks to privatize Afghan war despite mercs getting butt kicked in Yemen


Upon departing as commander of US Forces Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson recently said that America's military strategy, revised a year ago under the Trump administration, is working.

At the same time, Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater [currently known as Academi], apparently doesn't share that view and intends to renew his offer to his friend, President Donald Trump, to replace US military forces with Private Military Contractors, or PMCs.

Despite the differences, and any similarities, the military solutions for peace in Afghanistan offered by Nicholson and Prince are both delusional.

In saying that the latest US military strategy is working, Nicholson believes the current military solution is having the effect of "advancing us towards reconciliation" with the Afghan Taliban.

"I believe the South Asia Strategy is the right approach," Nicholson said during a brief teleconference with reporters at the Pentagon before the link was disrupted.

"And now we see that approach delivering progress on reconciliation that we had not seen previously. And I think that was because we clearly communicated to the enemy they could not wait us out."

While Nicholson believes that the military strategy of using troops to train and assist the Afghan military is going to work, he failed to point out that the US at one point had some 100,000 combat troops there and still couldn't defeat the Taliban. Today, there are no more than 10,000 soldiers who are not in a combat role but are there to train the Afghan military.

Nicholson's assessment comes despite the fact that the Taliban today has control over more than 50 percent of the country and has little trouble launching attacks on government buildings in the Afghan capital Kabul.

When the US attacked Afghanistan in October 2001 because the Taliban, in control of the country at the time, refused to turn over Osama bin Laden who launched a terrorist attack on the US the previous month, the Taliban were virtually eliminated from the country.

Only after the US diverted its attention to attacking Iraq in March 2003, the Taliban began to return to the country from neighboring Pakistan which not only harbored the insurgent group but actually created it under the auspices of its own military and intelligence, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

Even though the US war in Afghanistan is in its 17th year, Trump is sticking with his strategy that he implemented a year ago although privately he is expressing increasing frustration with the results.

Prince, whose sister is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, believes it's time to renew his offer of PMCs and privatize the war in Afghanistan.

"I know he's frustrated," Prince said referring to the Trump's outlook on the progress of defeating the Taliban militarily in Afghanistan. "He gave the Pentagon what they wanted…And they haven't delivered."

Prince said that Trump's advisers who oppose his plan are portraying "as rosy a picture as they can" of the fighting on the ground and that "peace is around the corner" in efforts to enter discussions with the Taliban. They "over-emphasize the fluff and flare of these so-called peace talks."

Prince admits he hasn't spoken yet to the president to renew the request. While Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo oppose Prince's plan, the current military strategy may not show results until at least next summer, if then, something which may prompt Trump to consider Prince's offer.

However, National Security Advisor John Bolton has been strangely silent on Prince's proposal. In coming days, Prince said he intended to launch a media campaign to convince the president to favorably consider his plan of action.

Prince's notion that his PMCs will get the job done where the military couldn't is equally unrealistic. Prince's Blackwater PMCs have been operating out of the United Arab Emirates since 2011. His mercenaries hail from such countries as Australia, Chile, Columbia, El Salvador, Panama and South Africa.

They originally were hired to provide training and defense inside the UAE since its own forces are incapable of doing so. In 2012, the mercenaries, nicknamed mercs, were deployed to fight pirates off the coast of Somalia. Then in 2015, reports began to surface that Prince's mercs were launching attacks inside Yemen.

It was part of an effort by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to undertake a more aggressive military strategy in the region. This more aggressive effort is part of an initiative by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, nicknamed MbZ, who is the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE's armed forces. He united with the Saudis, particularly its current crown prince and defense minister, Mohammed bins Salman Al Saud, to undertake this military strategy.

While it was thought at the time that Prince no longer was dealing with the emirates, more recent reports suggest otherwise. In 2016, Yemeni Army spokesman Brig. Gen. Sharaf Ghalib Luqman pointed out hat the Saudi-led coalition was hiring contractors, among them were 400 from the US private security firm Blackwater.

"Erik Prince is back,said David Isenberg, a researcher and writer on US military and international security issues, in a 2017 article.

"He's not only pitching colonial capitalism in DC, but huckstering ex-SF led armies of sepoys to wrest Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya and perhaps, if he is ever able to influence likeminded hawks in the Trump administration, even Iran back from the infidels," he said.

In Yemen, the war effort continues with logistical and intelligence support from the US. Yet, it hasn't been going so well and has created a major humanitarian disaster for all the civilians the militaries of the Saudis and UAE have killed.

For the PMCs, the effort similarly has been a disaster, since their forces have been dealt numerous serious defeats in Yemen.

It raises the question of what the PMCs can do in Afghanistan if they are getting their butts kicked now in Yemen?

Unstated is the fact that despite the US military presence in Afghanistan, there also are PMCs working with them. One intelligence official told me that the ratio of PMCs to US soldiers in Afghanistan is better than five to one.

If that is the case, and PMCs already are fighting at some five times the strength of the US forces already in Afghanistan, what convincing information can Prince convey to Trump to get him to substitute his PMCs for the US military?

Trump's frustration suggests that inevitably he will need to face the fact that any military solution to halt the war in Afghanistan isn't going to work and that it is long past time to get the countries of the region together, with the US present, to come up with a lasting political solution.







lloyd's dream....

Testimony given to the US Congress by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is evidence that Washington clearly has plans for direct NATO involvement in a conflict with Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed on Friday.

During a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday, Austin said that “if Ukraine falls, I genuinely believe NATO will be fighting Russia.”

Lavrov was asked about Austin’s remarks during an interview at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Türkiye.

“He simply made a Freudian slip to reveal what they [the US] had in mind,” the Russian diplomat said. “They used to say they can’t allow Ukraine to lose, because Russia won’t be satisfied and would attack the Baltic states, Poland, [and] Finland next. It turns out, according to Mr. Austin’s frank words, that everything is exactly the opposite. We do not and cannot have such plans, but the Americans do.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has already commented on Austin’s remarks, wondering if they were a direct threat to Russia or an attempt to generate excuses for Ukraine. 

“Either way, it’s madness,” she said. “But now everyone sees that Washington is the aggressor.”

According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Austin’s testimony proved that “NATO regards Ukraine as its own territory,” which proves that Russia’s military operation is “absolutely justified and correct.”

Austin’s testimony was part of a push by the White House to get congressional approval for a $95 billion foreign aid bill, which includes more than $60 billion in funding for Kiev. The US and its allies have already sent Ukraine over $200 billion in military, economic, and financial aid for the conflict against Russia – disregarding Moscow’s warnings and objections, while insisting they are not directly involved.

The idea that Moscow will not stop with Kiev and move to attack the Baltic states or Poland next is the latest talking point of the US administration. Previously it has tried to sell the indefinite funding of Kiev by claiming Ukraine is defeating Russia on a fraction of the US military budget, and that most of the money would end up going to the American military industry anyway.



No French combat troops will be sent to Ukraine, the country's foreign minister Stephane Sejourne told state broadcaster Radio France Inter on Friday. The clarification comes after several NATO members had reacted adversely to remarks by president Emmanuel Macron that the US-led military bloc could entertain such a possibility in the future.

Paris would not risk a direct conflict, Sejourne said when asked to comment on Macron’s remarks. “Everything we do is to avoid war” between Russia and NATO, the minister said, adding that the French government did not want to increase the level of anxiety among its citizens.

A survey published on Thursday by the French newspaper Le Figaro showed that the vast majority of the French population disapproved of the president’s comments on a potential troop deployment to Ukraine.

“The French will not die for Ukraine,” Sejourne said. He also stated that a framework set by Macron envisaged “preventing Russia from winning without waging a war against Russia.” Earlier, the French president called on fellow NATO members to hurry up and increase their arms and ammunition deliveries to Kiev to presumably ensure Moscow’s “defeat.”

The foreign minister still maintained that Macron’s comments on a potential troop deployment was the right thing to do since they contributed to “strategic ambiguity”and allowed France to be “on the right side of history.” The fact that Macron excluded “nothing” when it came to the aid for Kiev allowed Paris to “send a very clear message to Russia, that we will not give up the fight [for] the Ukrainians.”

On Monday, Macron insisted that the West should stop at nothing to prevent Russia from gaining the upper hand in the Ukraine conflict. “There’s no consensus today to send, in an official manner, troops on the ground,” he said. “In terms of dynamics, we cannot exclude anything. We will do everything necessary to prevent Russia from winning this war.”

His comments prompted France’s major NATO nations, including the US, the UK, Spain, Italy and Germany, to state that they had no such plans as of yet. Some smaller members of the bloc – namely the Baltic states Estonia and Lithuania – appeared to back the French leader by saying that such a move could not be ruled out.

Moscow reacted to Macron’s words by warning that such a move on the part of NATO would make a direct conflict between Russia and the US-led bloc inevitable. On Thursday, Macron said he still stood by his “thought-through and measured” remarks.





















costing more....

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US armed services are spending more money than they are permitted to do by law in their efforts to maintain and continue to operate many weapons systems, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned in a report.

"The GAO looked at DOD [the Department of Defense]'s Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 sustainment reviews, and found that seven out of 16 weapon systems had sustainment cost growth above the thresholds identified in law," the report said on Thursday.

The GAO recommended that the Defense Department address the issue, the report stated.


"The Department of Defense spends billions of dollars a year to operate and maintain its weapon systems. These "sustainment" costs - such as for repair parts or personnel - account for about 70% of a weapon system's total cost, the GAO said.


The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment serves as the principal staff assistant and advisor to the senior secretary of defense in monitoring these procedures, but its guidance does not provide the necessary clarity to ensure the consistent presentation of cost estimate information, the report noted.







killing people....

The number mentioned by US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin seems to exceed casualty figures previously released by Palestinian health ministry in Gaza

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin testifies during a hearing before House Armed Services Committee in Washington, DC, on 29 February 2024 (Alex Wong/AFP)

By MEE staff

During a congressional hearing on Thursday in Washington, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said that since 7 October, over 25,000 Palestinian women and children have been killed by Israel in the war on Gaza.

The statement came as an answer to a question from Congressman Ro Khanna in a hearing called, “A Review of Defense Secretary Austin’s Unannounced Absense”, by the House Armed Services Committee.

The hearing focused on the extended delay in Austin informing both legislators and President Joe Biden of his whereabouts after being admitted to hospital for treatment of prostate cancer in December. 

"About how many Palestinian women and children have been killed by Israel since October 7th?” Khanna asked.

“It’s over 25,000,” Austin responded.

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Khanna then quoted UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk, saying that any transfer of any weapons or ammunition to Israel violates international law and asked Austin how many transfers of precision-guided munitions the US had sent to Israel since the beginning of the war.

“I don’t have that number at my fingertips,” Austin began, when he was cut off by Khanna saying, “It’s about 21,000 precision-guided munitions.”

In response to a question regarding the measures Israel is implementing to safeguard civilians, Austin said that “based upon the results and the significant loss of life, there’s more that should be done”.

The number mentioned by the US defence secretary seems to greatly exceed the casualty figures previously released by the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza.

The overall death count has just surpassed 30,000, while at least 7,000 are still missing, according to the health ministry.

Although a detailed breakdown has not been provided, the health ministry has indicated in recent weeks that approximately 70 percent of the fatalities are women and children.


Based on Austin’s comments, it appears that over 80 percent of the casualties in Gaza are women and children.

Deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said in a statement: “The Secretary’s answer was citing an estimate from the Hamas-controlled health ministry that more than 25,000 total Palestinians have been killed in Gaza. We cannot independently verify these Gaza casualty figures.” 

This comes on Thursday when the Palestinian health ministry reported that an attack by Israeli forces on an aid convoy in Gaza City’s al-Rasheed Street resulted in at least 104 Palestinian deaths and injuries to hundreds more, describing the event as a “massacre”.

In Gaza City, residents had assembled in search of food, as Israeli forces had entirely blocked access to aid in the area.

Non-governmental organisations and United Nations experts have expressed concerns over a potential famine in northern Gaza, with incidents of starvation reported, affecting individuals of all ages, including infants. At least two infants have died from starvation.

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thank you biden.....

Russian soldier thanks Biden for sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine
Washington has given too few tanks to Kiev, prompting Moscow’s forces to hunt them down to get bonus payments, the serviceman has said...


The Russian troops have seemingly recorded a video, where one of them mockingly thanked US President Joe Biden for supplying Kiev with Abrams tanks and giving Moscow’s forces an opportunity to earn some extra money by destroying them. Footage came amid reports about several such US-made heavy armor pieces being destroyed in less than a week.

A short clip that surfaced on social media featured an apparent Russian serviceman wearing full military gear, a helmet and a mask. “We, Russian warriors express our sincere gratitude to you for the Abrams tanks that the US is supplying to Ukraine," the soldier can be heard saying on the video, addressing the American president in English.

The man then goes on to explain that Russian troops are offered bonuses for each destroyed piece of Western equipment and asks Biden “to send more” Abrams tanks, as those that did arrive in Ukraine “are very few” and the Russian forces have to spend a lot of time just hunting down for them.