January 5, 2016: The U.S. Army has had to make some bold moves to comply with a 2012 order (from Congress) to cut its strength 21 percent (120,000 troops) by 2018. At that point the army will have 450,000 personnel. While the army tried to avoid cutting combat units excessively, 13 combat brigades were disbanded and some were reduced to battalion sized task forces or just headquarters (to be revived as a brigade in wartime using reservists). Some brigades were converted from Stryker units to infantry and some lost one of their three combat battalions. Other brigades gained a battalion and some additional support troops and equipment. The point of it all was to make the most of a bad situation and reorganize so that each unit was best (or better) suited to its future assignments. Most combat brigades are organized and train for eventual deployment in a certain region. They might, as often happens, be sent elsewhere. But in the meantime they have a focus for their organization and training. Continue reading
Vladimir Putin and his American apologists like to blame NATO’s post-Cold War expansion for his territorial conquests, which ignores that the alliance refused in 2008 to let Georgia and Ukraine even begin the process of joining. Those are the two countries the Russian has since carved up, and the question now is whether Russia’s expansionism will slap Western leaders out of their self-defense slumbers.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen sounded the alarm last week in a visit to Washington. “I see Crimea as an element in a greater pattern” of Russian strategy, he told an audience at the Brookings Institution. Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, he said, is “a wake-up call” that “must be followed by increased European investment in defense.” He might have included the U.S.