U.S. Army commanders are “scrambling” to re-learn cold war era tactics for a potential conflict with Russia after a nearly 20 year lull, The New York Times reports.
The U.S. joined three other NATO nations in 2016 in sending thousands more permanently stationed troops along the eastern flank of NATO territory, and has begun holding regular military exercises in the region. Tensions along the eastern flank have skyrocketed after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, seized territory from Georgia, and as the country continues to support an active insurgency in Eastern Ukraine.
Russia’s conventional military threat differs starkly from the combat environments of Iraq and Afghanistan, which nearly an entire generation of U.S. military personnel have experienced multiple times over. And the military exercises are reportedly exposing a steep learning curve for some U.S. officers.
“Soldiers accustomed to operating from large, secure bases in Iraq and Afghanistan must now practice using camouflage netting to disguise their positions and dispersing into smaller groups to avoid sophisticated surveillance drones that could direct rocket or missile attacks against personnel or command posts,” reported TheNYT.
The military exercises come as some U.S. generals fear Russia will use its quadrennial large military exercise in September along NATO’s eastern flank to permanently station tens of thousands more troops in the region. Commander of U.S. special operations command Gen. Raymond Thomas recently said, “the great concern is they’re not going to leave, and that’s not paranoia.”
Commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe Lt. Gen. Frederick B. Hodges similarly said, “I am very interested in what goes in and what comes out.”
The Russian unit participating in the exercise is reportedly named after a famed Soviet military unit famous for battling Hitler’s armies in World War II and eventually occupying Berlin — the First Guards Tank Army. The miltary unit reportedly “represents the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union that so much offensive power has been concentrated in a single command.”
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