by Rick Rozoff
June 18, 2011
As the West’s war against Libya has entered its
fourth month and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has flown more than
11,000 missions, including 4,300 strike sorties, over the small nation, the
world’s only military bloc is already integrating lessons learned from the
conflict into its international model of military intervention based on
earlier wars in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq.
What NATO refers to as 'Operation Unified Protector' has provided the
Alliance the framework in which to continue recruiting:
Partnership for Peace adjuncts like
Sweden and Malta
Istanbul Cooperation Initiative
affiliates Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates
Mediterranean Dialogue partnership
members Jordan and Morocco,
...into the bloc’s worldwide war-fighting
Sweden, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates also
have military personnel assigned to NATO’s International Security Assistance
Force in the nearly ten-year-long war in Afghanistan.
In the first case, troops from the Scandinavian
nation has been engaged in their first combat role, killing and being
killed, in two centuries in Afghanistan and has provided eight warplanes for
the attack on Libya, with marine forces to soon follow.
The military conflicts waged and other interventions conducted by the United
States and its NATO allies over the past twelve years, in and against,
... have contributed to the American military budget more than doubling in the
past decade and U.S. arms exports almost quintupling in the same period.
The Pentagon and NATO are currently concluding the Sea Breeze 2011 naval
exercise in the Black Sea off the coast of Ukraine, near the headquarters of
the Russian Black Sea Fleet based in Sebastopol.
and host nation Ukraine
All but Algeria and Moldova are Troop
Contributing Nations for NATO's Afghan war.
The once-annual maneuvers resumed again last
year after the Ukrainian parliament banned them in 2009. This year's
exercise was arranged on the initiative of chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs
of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen.
Last year's Sea Breeze drills, the largest in
the Black Sea, included 20 naval vessels, 13 aircraft and more than 1,600
military personnel from the U.S., Azerbaijan, Austria, Belgium, Denmark,
Georgia, Germany, Greece, Moldova, Sweden, Turkey and Ukraine.
This year the guided missile cruiser USS Monterey joined the exercise.
warship is the first deployed to the Mediterranean, and now the Black Sea
for the Pentagon's Phased Adaptive Approach interceptor missile program, one
which in upcoming years will include at least 40 Standard Missile-3
interceptors in Poland and Romania and on Aegis class destroyers and
cruisers in the Mediterranean, Black and Baltic Seas.
Upgraded versions of the missile, the Block IB,
Block IIA and Block IIB, are seen by Russian political analysts and military
commanders as threats to Russia's long-range missiles and as such to the
nation's strategic potential.
As former Indian diplomat M K Bhadrakumar wrote in a recent column:
“Without doubt, the U.S. is stepping up
pressure on Russia's Black Sea fleet. The US's provocation is taking
place against the backdrop of the turmoil in Syria.
Russia is stubbornly
blocking U.S. attempts to drum up a case for Libya-style intervention in
Syria. Moscow understands that a major reason for the U.S. to push for
regime change in Syria is to get the Russian naval base in that country
“The Syrian base is the only toehold Russia has in the Mediterranean
region. The Black Sea Fleet counts on the Syrian base for sustaining any
effective Mediterranean presence by the Russian navy.
establishment of U.S. military bases in Romania and the appearance of the
U.S. warship in the Black Sea region, the arc of encirclement is
USS Monterey, whose presence in the Black Sea
has been criticized as a violation of the 1936 Montreux Convention, will
return to the Mediterranean where the U.S.'s newest nuclear supercarrier,
USS George H.W. Bush, and its carrier strike group with 9,000 service
members and an air wing of 70 aircraft is also present, having recently
visited U.S. Naval Forces Europe/Africa and Sixth Fleet headquarters in
Naples, Italy, due north of Libya.
Last week the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan engaged in a certification
exercise with its French counterpart FS Tonnerre in the Mediterranean.
The U.S. Navy website stated that the
"will provide Tonnerre with additional
flexibility during their support to NATO-led Operation Unified
Protector," the codename for the Alliance's war against Libya.
The USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group includes
an estimated 2,000 Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary
Unit and dozens of warplanes and attack and other helicopters, and is poised
for action in Libya and, if the pattern holds, Syria.
The U.S. and NATO allies and partners,
...conducted the Phoenix Express 2011 maritime
exercise in the Eastern and Central Mediterranean from June 1-15, which
included maneuvers in support of the U.S.'s global Proliferation Security
Also earlier this month NATO held this year's Northern Viking air and naval
exercise, the latest in a series of biennial drills under that name, in
Iceland with 450 NATO military members from the U.S., Denmark, Iceland,
Italy and Norway.
The United States European Command website cited
the Norwegian detachment commander saying,
"exercises like [Northern Viking 2011]
allowed the pilots to prepare for real-world scenarios, like
Odyssey Dawn," the name for the Western military campaign in Libya from
This week NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh
Rasmussen visited Britain and Spain, meeting with Prime Minister David
Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague in the first country and Prime
Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez and Defence
Minister Carme Chacon in the second.
While in London Rasmussen focused on the wars in Libyan and Afghanistan,
both under NATO command, and promoted the implementation of the European
wing of the U.S. international interceptor missile system.
Perhaps in part responding to the dressing down NATO member states had
recently received by the person Rasmussen truly, if unofficially, has to
account to - U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates - he boasted:
"NATO is more needed and wanted than ever,
from Afghanistan to Kosovo, from the coast of Somalia to Libya. We are
busier than ever before."
In Spain he addressed the nation's upper house
of parliament in a speech titled "NATO and the Mediterranean: the changes
ahead" and, according to the bloc's website, emphasized,
"NATO’s changing role in the Mediterranean,
particularly focusing on Operation Unified Protector and NATO’s future
role in the region."
He also pledged that,
"we can help the Arab Spring well and truly
Libya and Syria, tomorrow Algeria and Lebanon,
come to mind as the objects of NATO's false solicitude, and Egypt and
Tunisia too, as Rasmussen has already mentioned, in regard to NATO training
their militaries and rebuilding their command structures in accordance with
Alliance standards, as is being done in Iraq.
The war against Libya, NATO's first armed conflict in the Mediterranean and
on the African continent, is solidifying control of the Mediterranean
already established by the ongoing
Operation Active Endeavor surveillance
and interdiction mission launched in 2001 under NATO's Article 5 collective
military assistance provision.
While Rasmussen was in Britain, Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitri Rogozin
said that the Atlantic Alliance,
"is being drawn into a ground operation,"
and asserted "The war in Libya means... the beginning of its expansion
Two days before, the U.S. and NATO completed
Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2011, which included 20 ships from eleven
European nations and the flagship of the Mediterranean-based U.S. Sixth
Fleet, USS Mount Whitney, other American warships and Commander, Carrier
Strike Group 8.
Concurrently in the Baltic Sea, the 11-day Amber Hope 2011 exercise was
launched in Lithuania on June 13 with the participation of 2,000 military
personnel from NATO members,
Former Soviet republics and Partnership for
...are attending as observers.
The second phase of the exercise will begin on June 19 and, according to the
Lithuanian Defense Ministry,
"troops will follow an established scenario
based on lessons learnt by Lithuanian and foreign states in Afghanistan,
Iraq and off the Somali coast," in the last case an allusion to NATO's
ongoing Operation Ocean Shield.
The bloc has also airlifted thousands of Ugandan
and Burundian troops into Somalia for fighting in the capital of Mogadishu.
Earlier this week NATO also held a conference with the defense chiefs of 60
member and partner states in Belgrade, Serbia, which was bombed repeatedly
by NATO warplanes 12 years ago, also focusing on the bloc's current
three-month-long war in Libya.
The Strategic Military Partner Conference was addressed by, inter alia,
French General Stephane Abrial, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander for
Transformation based in Norfolk, Virginia, who said:
"I'm convinced that the operation in Libya
will be successful," though conceding that the hostilities may be
prolonged well into the future in his opening statement.
Black Sea Rotational Force, a Special
Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, followed military training exercises
in Romania with a two-week exercise in Bulgaria on June 13 with troops from
the host nation and, for the first time, Serbia on one of the four air and
infantry bases in the country the Pentagon has moved into since 2006.
earlier training in Romania was at one of another four bases acquired in
The local press reported that most of the U.S. Marines involved arrived at
the Novo Selo Range "straight from Afghanistan" on Hercules-C-130 transport
Lieutenant Colonel Nelson Cardella of the U.S. Marine Corps said of the
"Our troops will be trained to improve the
interoperability of our staffs” for the Afghan and future wars.
Bulgaria's Standart News announced that,
"next year the Black Sea Rotational Force
exercise will take place in Serbia."
The mission of the Black Sea Rotational Force,
formed last year, is to integrate the armed forces of twelve nations in the
Balkans, Black Sea region and Caucasus,
...through NATO for deployment to Afghanistan
and other war zones and post-conflict situations.
Each of the wars the U.S. and its NATO allies have waged since 1999 has
gained the Pentagon and the Alliance new military bases and expeditionary
contingents in subjugated and adjoining nations in Southeastern Europe, the
Eastern Mediterranean and Persian Gulf, and South and Central Asia.
Just as the Yugoslav, Afghan and Iraqi wars contributed to developing a
U.S.-led NATO international military intervention capability for use against
Libya today, so the Libyan experience is being employed for future