Wednesday, January 24, 2018

War Preparations: Europe, Russia, U.S., N Korea, China

Estonia To Issue 'How To Prepare For War' Leaflets To 1.3 Million Citizens

As the world marches closer to war, countries in Europe are rushing to educate and prepare their civilian populations for military conflict with Russia.
Last week, for the first time since World War II, Sweden’s government announced that it would soon distribute some 4.7 million civil defense brochures to its citizens, warning them about the onset of war.
In the latest installment of war preparations, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that the government of Estonia is preparing to send some 1.3 million civil defense brochures to its citizens, with instructions of what do in the event of a significant crisis or war, said Brig. Gen. Martin Herem of the Estonian Defence Forces in an interview with Postimees.

“When it will be published, I do not know. But work is in progress,” said Brig. Gen. Herem. According to the Postimees, the Ministry of the interior is currently “coordinating work on the brochure.”

Estonia, a former Soviet republic that borders Russia, is now a member of NATO, meaning the United States and Europe are obligated by treaties to defend it. When analyst and policymakers war game scenarios between the United States and Russia, they usually point to the Estonia–Russia border as the highest probable area of where conflict in Europe could breakout besides Ukraine.

The largest Baltic state, Lithuania, in late 2016 issued a 75-page “how to survive another Russian occupation” manual for its citizens called; “Prepare to survive emergencies and war.”

All three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, & Lithuania) have been invaded and occupied by Russia in the past. However, the Baltic states are now under NATO control, which has made Russian aggression into Europe somewhat complicated, because it would trigger war.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Air Force deployed a squadron of F-16s to Estonia to strengthen air defenses in the region.

Twelve F-16s and nearly 300 Airmen from the 180th Fighter Wing, Ohio Air National Guard, deployed Jan. 14, 2018, as the 112th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron to Amari Air Base, Estonia, as part of a theater security package. Approximately 75 Airmen from the 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, will support the 112th EFS for this mission as well, according to U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa.

Last week, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reported that B-52 bombers of the U.S. Air Force took part in an exercise in Estonian airspace. “Cooperation practice with heavy bombers are a good opportunity to practice massive air strikes against ground targets,” said the acting chief of the Estonian Air Force, Col. Riivo Valge.

War preparations in Europe appear to be in the final stages. European governments are now conditioning their civilian populations with manuals of what to expect in a wartime environment. Throughout history, this type of pre-conditioning usually occurs right before a major military operation. 

Across Europe, military assets are positioned across the land pointing at Russia. The writing is on the wall; war is pending.

Near North Korean Border, Russian Marines Begin Grenade Launcher and Sniper Fire Drills

Russia’s navy in the Pacific Ocean has sent its marines to practice their sniper skills in a live-fire drill, including grenade launchers, near the country’s short border with North Korea.

As part of the Pacific Fleet’s training, Russian naval infantry servicemen in the country’s east were sent onto the snowy Bamburovo training range in the Primorye region—the country’s only territory to border both China and North Korea—to practice combat in the adverse conditions.

The Russian Pacific Fleet endured an unprecedented uptick in service hours over last year, spending four times longer on duty at sea than initially planned. Deployments around Primorye were the chief reason for this, as Russian forces near the small border with the rogue North Korean regime have gone on drills on land, sea and in the air, in recent months.

Russian marines in Primorye have already practiced amphibious landingin November, and this is the second ground-based warfare drill to follow it. Troops were split into two groups—snipers and grenadiers—and tasked with taking down targets of varying difficulty, while covering one another, according to a statement by the Ministry of Defense. 

“In low temperature conditions, the servicemen are perfecting wintertime camouflage habits, techniques of covert deployment, preparing reserve firing positions and covering one another while moving position.”

The ministry highlighted that the drill was designed to closely resemble actual combat conditions based on experience of warfare in Syria. It did not say how many troops were involved in the exercise.

US stealth bombers in Guam appear to be readying for a tactical nuclear strike on North Korea

  • The US recently sent nuclear bombers to North Korea that can carry tactical nukes that would be perfect for taking out Kim Jong Un.
  • Some have suggested that a quick tactical nuclear strike on North Korea could cripple the country’s nuclear infrastructure with few casualties.
  • Recent reports have suggested President Donald Trump considering a strike on North Korea, but some experts and politicians think the idea of a tactical nuclear strike is a recipe for disaster.
The US has been quietly amassing firepower in the Pacific during a lull in tensions with North Korea, but recent developments on an under-the-radar nuclear weapon suggest preparation for a potential tactical nuclear strike.
The US recently sent B-2 stealth bombers to Guam, where they joined B-1 and B-52s, the other bombers in the US’s fleet.
While the B-2 and B-52 are known as the air leg of the US’s nuclear triad, as they carry nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missiles, a smaller nuclear weapon that has undergone some upgrades may lend itself to a strike on North Korea.

The B-61, a tactical nuclear gravity bomb that the B-2 can carry 16 of, has been modified in recent years to increase its accuracy and ability to hit underground targets, though that version has not yet been deployed.
Not only will the B-61’s new modification make it ideal for destroying dug-in bunkers, the kind in which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might hide during a conflict, but it has an adjustable nuclear yield that could limit harmful radioactive fallout after a nuclear attack.
Though the US has plenty of nuclear weapons that can easily hit North Korea from land, air, or sea, they’re predominantly large ones meant to deter countries like Russia or China.
2017 paper in MIT’s International Security journal suggested that recent advances in guidance systems and nuclear weapons could allow the US to destroy all of North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure while causing 100 or so deaths, versus 2 million to 3 million deaths on both sides of the 38th parallel without them.

US May Be Preparing Preemptive Strike Against North Korean Nuclear Sites

The B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber, the two planes comprising the "air leg" of the US' nuclear triad, have both been deployed to the Korean Peninsula. Furthermore, Business Insider reported that the B-2s may soon be equipped with modified B-61 nuclear bombs.
The B-61 thermonuclear gravity bomb has been the US' low yield strategic and tactical nuclear bomb of choice since the 1960s. Its compact design was recently modified to increase its penetrative potential so that it can better strike at underground targets — where most of North Korea's nuclear arsenal is believed to be.

The new B-61 also can be adjusted to greatly reduce nuclear fallout after a strike. One major point of contention behind an American nuclear strike would be the untold ruin it would bring on North Korean civilians for generations to come. Geopolitical analysts have sought a way for Washington to have its cake and eat it too: to demolish North Korea's nuclear sites without damaging anything but those nuclear sites.

White House reports from earlier in January claimed that Trump was considering a "bloody nose" strike against Pyongyang's nuclear sites. When asked about this possibility, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that "we have to recognize that the threat is growing and that if North Korea does not choose the pathway of engagement, discussion, negotiation then they themselves will trigger an option.

Another Trump lieutenant, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, made a rare public appearance for a panel hosted by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) on Tuesday. When North Korea was inevitably brought up, Pompeo refused to rule out the possibility of an American preemptive strike against Pyongyang — although he insisted that diplomacy remained the US' first choice.

"This is a threat to the whole world," Pompeo said of the North Korean nuclear program.

Pentagon Denies Chinese Warship Drove U.S. Destroyer from S. China Sea

The Pentagon on Tuesday denied Chinese Defense Ministry claims that one of its naval vessels drove a U.S. destroyer out of the South China Sea during a freedom of navigation operation last week.

"No one runs a navy ship out of anywhere," a senior defense official told the Washington Free Beacon. "This whole notion that we got run off is not true."

The official was responding to a statement issued by Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian who said the USS Hopper was confronted during the passage near Scarborough Shoal, in the Spratly Islands, by the PLA navy missile destroyer Huangshan that took action to "drive it away."
The senior official said the Chinese hailed the Hopper by radio but there was never any instance when the Hopper changed course.

The guided missile destroyer was conducting what Navy officials call an "innocent passage" operation designed to ensure that international waters such as the South China Sea remain open.
The operation was the 13th Navy warship operation in the South China Sea since 2015. China has built up some 3,200 acres of new islands in the sea and has begun building military installations, including missile batteries, on some of the islands.
Last October, the same Chinese destroyer, the Huangshan, confronted the destroyer USS Chafee near the Paracel Islands in the northern part of the sea. Two JB-11 aircraft and one helicopter also were used to warn the Chafee.
Mattis is expected to visit China in the next several months, Japan's Kyodo news agency reportedJan. 16.

"It is time to stop the ambiguity at all levels and speak clearly—the PRC does not have a legal claim of sovereignty over these artificial islands and other features in the South China Sea. As such the U.S. Navy should be steaming inside 12 nautical miles of every feature in the sea."

Both the Chinese Defense and Foreign Ministries, however, denounced the Jan. 17 passage by the Hopper as a violation of China's sovereignty.
Wu, the defense spokesman, used harsher language than his Foreign Ministry counterpart, accusing the United States of causing trouble.

The spokesman said the United States sent vessels "illegally" around China's islands and reefs on multiple occasions. The operations endangered the safety of both vessels and personnel, he added.
The Hopper's passage also threatened China's sovereignty and security, harmed regional peace and stability, and acted against the development of stable relations between the United States and China and their two militaries.
"We hope that the United States will respect China's sovereignty, respect the efforts made by the countries within the region, and not cause trouble out of nothing or make waves," Wu told the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Wu said the Chinese military would continue to defend the islands and intensify patrols by ships and aircraft.

Scarborough Shoal is among the more strategic locations in the sea. China is planning a major buildup of forces on the island that is located about 150 miles from the Philippines coast.

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