The Romanian press, in reporting on the ongoing U.S. Army-led 30,000-troop, 27-nation war games codenamed DEFENDER-Europe 21, cited an American commander in the country characterizing them as “mutual intra-NATO defense.” A suggestion: NATO should publish a Militarese-English dictionary for the uninitiated.
To conduct a military exercise, or rather a veritable host of air, naval and land drills in a dozen countries bordering or near Russia is portrayed as protecting NATO. NATO as a unitary entity. To be recalled next time its secretary general and other Western officials try to pretend the military bloc really doesn’t exist, that it’s simply a loose coalition of democratic nations, much like the United Nations – all under siege by an aggressive barbarian at their respective (not collective) gates.
The mutual intra-NATO defense claim was made by Brigadier General Matthew Van Wagenen, deputy commander of U.S. Army V Corps, at a press conference where he was flanked by the commander of NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, Lieutenant General Sir Edward Smyth-Osbourne, and Romania’s Major General Tomita-Catalin Tomescu.
The Romanian general not surprisingly said the war games are designed (solely) to defend “the region and Romania.” The American general stated they were part of strategic deterrence. The word strategic has significant and can have nuclear connotations. He also stressed supposed defense of the Black Sea region. As five of the six Black Sea littoral nations are NATO members – Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey – or NATO Enhanced Opportunities Partners – Georgia and Ukraine (the West doesn’t recognize Abkhazia, except as Russian-occupied Georgian territory) – then the threat to the peace and security of NATO states there can only be Russia.
NATO’s Lieutenant General Sir Edward Smyth-Osbourne, a veteran British military officer, is cited asserting “there is undoubtedly a conflict in the region, and that this has been happening since 2014.” His reference was undoubtedly to Crimea rejoining Russia in that year. The Russian Black Sea Fleet is based at Sevastopol in that peninsula where it has been located for centuries. Prior to NATO countries backing the Ukrainian coup of the same year, the North Atlantic alliance and the U.S. regularly employed Crimea for its Sea Breeze naval exercises in the Black Sea. Like the current DEFENDER-Europe 21 war games, there was only one potential adversary they were practicing to confront.
Smyth-Osbourne went on to say: “We have a lasting commitment within the alliance towards all our allies and we will fulfill this commitment in order to support them, to discourage our opponents and if needed, to fight and defend ourselves alongside our allies.”
When someone of his background speaks of fighting his words have to be taken seriously, as he formerly served in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Northern Ireland (which his NATO biography calls Ulster).
The Romanian and Bulgarian components of the mammoth exercise are assisted by NATO’s Headquarters High Readiness Force and NATO’s Headquarters Multinational Corps South-East (there is also a NATO Headquarters Multinational Corps North-East in Poland), working in tandem to “achieve the Initial Operational Capability provided for by the memorandum concluded between the two commands of the NATO Force Structure.”
Rick Rozoff is a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. He has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. He is the manager of Stop NATO. This originally appeared at Anti-Bellum.