1-16: U.S. Troops to Poland

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece from CNN.]

[Wars Cause PTSD. Whether tomorrow, a decade from now, or 30 years down the line, the war experience today will torture a soldier’s mind. It is not necessary to argue, debate, or fight about our reason(s) for going to war; it is the act of war that attacks the psyche. End the wars, end the suffering.]

If you have never heard of Zagan, Poland or can’t point to its location on a map, your geography IQ is about to rise a few points. Without disregarding all the political haranguing about US-Russian relations, we now have “boots on the ground” to back up the talk. As of Thursday of last week, 4000 soldiers (an armor brigade) from the 4th Infantry Division deployed to Zagan in a conspicuous show of force to our Cold War foe.

This should trouble us—it does me—for many reasons, highest among them being the real possibility of U.S. forces deployed and fighting in three quite separate and distinct theaters of operation: Afghanistan, the South China Sea, and eastern Europe, not to mention other hot spots such as Syria and Yemen. Disaster looms … for us and for the world.

With regard to Poland Laura Smith-Spark and Atika Shubert filed this report.

Poland welcomes thousands of US troops in NATO show of force

Zagan, Poland (CNN) Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo welcomed US troops to her country at a formal ceremony Saturday, saying it was a “great day” that would help ensure Poland’s security.

Some 4,000 US soldiers have been deployed as part of troop rotations to Europe that the Pentagon has said are intended to bolster ties with NATO allies and send a clear message to Russia.

Not surprisingly,

Russia has criticized the continuous deployments as a threat to Russian security.

“It’s a great day today when we can welcome, here in Zagan, American soldiers who represent the best, the greatest army in the world,” Szydlo said at the ceremony in the snowy western town of Zagan.

Speaking after the Polish leader, Paul Jones, the US ambassador to Poland, said the troops arriving in Poland were “America’s most capable force,” embodying an “iron-clad commitment” to defend NATO allies.

Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said the US troops would help ensure “freedom, independence and peace in Europe and the whole world” and that Poland was proud of “joint efforts that guarantee the security of Europe and of the eastern flanks of NATO.”

American soldiers “stand united on Polish soil to deter and defend,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy McGuire, deputy commander of US Land Forces in Europe. He added that the troops’ arrival was a “concrete sign of the continued US commitment to the defense of Poland and the NATO alliance.”

The 3rd Armored Combat Brigade Team of the 4th Infantry Division “is a highly capable and ready force with the best equipment, leadership, and training of any combat force in the world,” he said.

To maintain combat readiness, the soldiers will conduct “realistic exercises” with allies in locations across Poland and Europe, McGuire added.

… just as the Chinese and U.S. navies “conduct ‘realistic exercises’ half a globe away.

The deployment will serve as part of a rotation of American military assets in the region and is part of an effort to demonstrate the US commitment to European allies in the wake of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intervention in Ukraine, according to Lt. Gen. Tim Ray, deputy commander of US European Command.

“Military Assets”

I hate that term, because, since that rat, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, popularized it during the Vietnam War, military brass and politicians have used it to include personnel. Just as corporations are not people, soldiers, sailors, and airmen/women are not objects. Assets don’t bleed, brothers and sisters do. Assets don’t suffer, mothers and fathers do. Assets don’t die, sons and daughters do.

Russia’s Predictable Reply

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on a conference call Thursday that Russia’s response was a natural reaction to an increase in military strength by a neighbor.

“We see it as a threat to us. This is an action that threatens our interests, our security; moreover, this is a third nation (apart from Russia and Poland) that is increasing its military presence near our borders in Europe, and it’s not even a European nation.

“One thousand or 10,000 — we’re talking about the increase of military presence. There’s nothing to add.”…

I will be anxious to hear of American chicken hawks’ response(s) in the coming days over this recent, troubling development. I will be more anxious to learn what “official Government sources” have to say … and do. Whose voice will be loudest and most convincing, Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense? Which branch will carry the most weight in global policy and decision making, Executive or Legislative?

If there were ever a time for enlightened diplomacy, the time is now.

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.

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