ABOARD AMPHIBIOUS WARSHIP USS ARLINGTON — BALTOPS 2017, now in its 45th year as an annual naval exercise, took place during the first two weeks of June in a Baltic Sea region that continues to be tense with Russia’s continued assertiveness, which became apparent with the violent annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Read More
THE PENTAGON — Fifty ships set sail in the Baltic Sea this week for the annual NATO exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS), with this year’s event including a larger aviation component and a larger adversary “red force” in the hopes of creating a realistic scenario for high-end warfare in Europe, the Navy’s 6th Fleet commander told reporters today. Read More
After years of debate and increased involvement in the training and logistical support of Syrian rebel forces, the U.S. government authorized the CIA to begin directly arming opponents of the Bashar al Assad regime. Casualties from Syria’s civil war already number at least 93,000 according to some sources, and millions of Syrians are now refugees or internally displaced.
Meanwhile, the United States now confirms that Syria used chemical weapons in a number of instances, at a small scale that many fear may escalate. Chemical-weapons use provided rhetorical justification to this policy decision, but is not the entire reality of the matter. Internal pressure and Free Syrian Army leadership’s refusal to participate in a new round of negotiations at Geneva without U.S. weapons played a major role. Unfortunately for the United States and the administration, neither the known particulars of the U.S. plan, nor the concept of providing arms to rebel forces generally, appears likely to turn the war’s tide or secure lasting U.S. influence in Syria. Read More