WASHINGTON, D.C. – While the American media and public focus on Iran, the United States military is preparing for war with Russia, according to an exclusive report by Newsweek. During the height of tensions with Iran last year, the United States conducted an unprecedented series of war games.
Over the course of five months, from May until the end of September, 93 separate military exercises were held, with forces operating continuously in, above and around 29 countries, Newsweek reported on Friday. The wargames, which practiced everything from ground platoon tactics to cyber warfare, weren’t held in the Mideast and weren’t directed at Tehran.
They were directed against Moscow—and constituted the most intense uninterrupted set of drills since the end of the Cold War, it added.
“The activity was the culmination of a buildup that began after Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014. Though American armed forces were fighting several ‘hot wars’ and engaged in crisis deployments in response to both Iran and North Korea, the shift to practicing ‘high end’ warfare tasks dominated. The focus was also undeniably anti-Russia, with the number of European games ten times the number of China-related drills held at the same time,” it continued.
In the shadow of the deteriorating European security environment, the size and scope of NATO and Russian military exercises have increased significantly—even dramatically, a NATO parliamentary committee reported in October, according to the report.
The committee worried that NATO doesn’t possess sufficient ground troops in Eastern Europe to deter Russian inference or attack. It also pointed to Moscow’s own high-profile war games, many involving scenarios that include the use of nuclear weapons in a European war, it stated.
In October last year, the United States military announced plans to hold what is said to be the largest US-led drills in Europe early next year. The US European Command (EUROCOM) announced in early October that 37,000 forces, some 20,000 American troops, will partake in Defender Europe-20 maneuvers, which is set to be held in April and May 2020.
According to the statement, the US will deploy a division headquarters, three tank brigades and thousands of other troops to the major event, which will be held across 10 European countries – mainly Germany and Poland. EUROCOM said the drills will resemble the Return of Forces to Germany, or more commonly Reforger, drills of the Cold War era, which at its peak involved some 125,000 NATO forces in 1988.
Back then, Washington focused on rapid deployment of troops to Europe in massive numbers as a key part of its preparations for potential conflict with the Soviet Union. The need for such exercises faded away as the risk of a large-scale conflict in Europe diminished after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The last Reforger was held in 1993.
The Defender Europe-20 is said to be the greatest US-led military exercise in the past 25 years. Despite having deployed a large number of troops to the Middle East, the United States has over the past years shifted its focus to “defending” Europe against what it calls “Russian aggression”.
The development comes amid heightened tensions on Russia’s western borders, following a growing military buildup by the US-led NATO alliance. The US and its allies have been deploying weapons and equipment to NATO’s eastern frontier since 2014, after the Crimean Peninsula’s reintegration with Russia in a referendum.
Russia, in response, has deployed troops and nuclear missiles on its borders and stepped up military drills in the region. Leading American political analyst and philosopher Noam Chomsky has warned that the rising tension between Russia and the United States might lead to a nuclear war that could cause the end of mankind.