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Bridget Johnson

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April 22, 2014 - 6:57 pm

The Pentagon announced today that a company of paratroopers arrives in Poland on Wednesday to begin exercises, underscoring the department’s assertion that “Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has renewed our resolve to strengthening NATO’s defense plans and capabilities, and to demonstrate our continued commitment to collective defense in reinforcing our NATO allies in Central and Eastern Europe.”

Defense Department press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said the paratroopers come from the U.S. Army Europe’s 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Airborne, based in Vicenza, Italy.

“This new exercise is the first in a series of expanded U.S. land force training activities in Poland and the Baltic region that are scheduled to take place for the next few months and beyond. Additional companies from the 173rd will move in the coming days to Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia for similar exercises,” Kirby said.

The company-sized contingents will number about 150 soldiers each, which could vary according to the exercise, he added, but will “roughly” total 600 personnel for the four countries.

“And what we’re after here is a persistent presence, a persistent rotational presence in these exercises,” Kirby continued. “So, we’re going to start, the troops will be in place in all four countries, probably by the end of this weekend, maybe Monday. As we get into all four countries, the exercises will last about a month or so. But then we will rotate fresh troops in for more exercises.”

“How far this will go? I can’t give you a specific, you know, deadline or timeline on it, but we’re looking at trying to keep this rotational presence persistent throughout the rest of this year. But beyond that, it could go beyond the end of this year. We just don’t know. We’re just going to have to see how it goes.”

Kirby acknowledged that the exercises — “real infantry training…that’s not insignificant” — could expand to other countries in the region.

“And we’re in discussions with our NATO allies and partners right now. It very well could, but right now it’s going to start with those four countries,” he said, adding that “these particular exercises were additive” since the Ukraine crisis came to a head and the U.S. sought ways “to reassure our allies and partners.”

“I think the message is to the people of Poland and Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, that the United States takes seriously our obligations under article 5 of the NATO alliance, even though these aren’t NATO exercises. It’s a very tangible representation of our commitment to our security obligations in Europe, and the message is to the people of those countries and to the alliance that we do take it seriously. And we encourage our NATO partners to likewise look for opportunities of their own to do this same kind of thing for one another. And I think if there’s a message to Moscow, it is the same exact message that we take our obligations very, very seriously on the continent of Europe.”

Kirby stressed that the Pentagon is under no obligation to inform Russia of the exercises.

He said the exercises swung into motion after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “was pretty clear with the military leadership that he wanted to look for a wide range of opportunities through which we could continue to reassure our partners in Europe.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) noted today, though, that the administration thumbed its nose at Poland long ago.

“We should have set up a deal where our energy over time could be supplied to them to eliminate over time their reliance. We should take them into NATO,” McCain said on Don Imus’ show when asked about how to handle Ukraine. “We should restore the missile defense systems that we canceled in the Czech Republic and Poland.”

“There’s a broad variety of things that we can do… What we do is wag our finger at [Russia] and then they do it and then we wag our finger at them again. The United States of America has lost credibility and that credibility has affected all over — all over the world and it really is — it’s the worst I’ve ever seen.”

The Navy is moving another warship, USS Taylor, to the Black Sea in the coming days. Kirby said today that there have been no more Russian warplane flyovers of the USS Donald Cook since the incident two weeks ago.

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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Top Rated Comments   
We spend a billion dollars for our provocateurs and agent to overthrow the elected government.

We send the CIA director there. We say we believe in self determination of nations....except for Russians in Crimea....home of the Black Sea Fleet.

Rather than confronting the Russkis, we should unite with them against the common enemy......ISLAMIC IMPERIALISM...
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Western propaganda outlets talk about how Russia is the Hitleresque expansionary power but fail to notice that it’s actually the EU and NATO that has been the expansionary power that Russia appears to be reacting to.

Anyone with even rudimentary intelligence knows that if your country is under American or Western European influence, it will be subject to nothing more than a desire of other countries to trade with you. But if the Russians come into your country, it appears that they are going to carve chunks out of it and threaten to take the whole country on a flimsy pretense, at least if Georgia (2008) and Ukraine are any guide.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yep. 150 to each country, but 200 to only one state, Nevada. With those numbers, you wonder who the administration considers the real enemy.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (33)
All Comments   (33)
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I have to confess that I am a neo-conservative. I remember when the US was training it's army with wooden rifles. The US is headed for that situation again. The military should never be allowed to sink to that level. People who remember those days are still around and should be a factor in "diplomatic" decisions.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...a Company."

Send the entire 82nd, you Farking amateur...
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Tick, tick, tick,...
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why does the reborn Rome Empire need United States troops to defend it?

I think a name change is in order. Like pink panty Empire, or Adam and Steve Empire.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
The whitewashing of Putin on these pages is very educational. I thank each and every Paulian, Libertarian, Progressive and miscellaneous ostriches to remind us of how fickle people truly are, and how common sense deserts most minds as quickly as porn stars lose their clothing.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Putin obviously remembers things our state department chooses to forget. Sometmes...MOST of the TIME..... I think the US State Department be renamed. It's pro UN.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank you, Larry! My thoughts exactly.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Name That Nation

"Hypocrisy is a tribute vice pays to virtue." -La Rochefoucauld (1630-1680)

An armed, foreign force invades a territory. It massacres, through murder and disease, 90% of the indigenous residents. It establishes a new, national state. It declares all surrounding territories for thousands of miles around under its hegemony. It expands its own landmass by one-third through taking half the landmass of its neighbor.

One hundred sixty years later, whilst interfering economically, militarily, politically, and socially in numerous, other, defenseless countries around the world, it excoriates another nation for protecting territory geographically and historically in its national sphere of interest. Can you name that nation (www.nationonfire.com)?
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sure you're not quoting LaRouche the douche?
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Without having looked at your link, I'm going to guess that your material came from one of Zinn's "history" books and that the country in question is the USA. I'll post this now, then come back after I've looked at your link.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, that was a relief. It wasn't a rant against the USA after all. It was essentially just an echo of Chamberlain's words when he threw Czechoslovakia to the German wolves in 1938, except that you were substituting Ukraine for Czechoslovakia.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't know why good and patriotic Americans should fight Obama's wars that he has no intention of winning.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
1: Formerly, U.S. troops on the Korean DMZ referred to themselves as "speed bumps". Staked goats were used as tiger bait in India.
2: Light infantry companies against heavy armor??
3: Spares them time and the ROE of af _ _ apistan...
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ummm... wrong countries, morons. Why not send them to Argentina?
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is the modern equivalent of the French and the British reinforcing their guarantees to the Poles after Munich. Let's hope it works out a little better for us (and the Poles and the Baltic states) than it did 75-odd years ago.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
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