Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 54 Number 15, June 22, 2024 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

US/NATO War Preparations

No to NATO! Yes to Peace!

US/NATO Largest Baltic Sea Naval Exercise

The largest Baltic Sea naval exercise ever launched by the US/NATO alliance took place from June 7 to 20. Code-named BALTOPS 24, it is comprised of more than 50 ships, more than 85 aircraft, and approximately 9,000 personnel. Participating countries included Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Türkiye, the United Kingdom and the United States. The exercise was led by US Naval Forces Europe-Africa and US Sixth Fleet (NAVEUR-NAVAF/SIXTHFLT). It was command-and-controlled by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, headquartered in Oeiras, Portugal.

In addition, this year featured naval assets assigned to US Indo-Pacific Command - the first time in recent history an asset tied to the Pacific theatre has participated within the US Navy Europe area of operations. The war games include practice of amphibious landings, "multi-domain" operations (meaning air support from NATO's Allied Air Command), anti-submarine warfare, and interdiction (interception) operations.

NATO "Land Corridors"

The newspaper Kyiv Independent informed that NATO is creating a series of "land corridors" that it says "would be used to rush US troops across Europe to confront Russian forces in the event of a major conflict with Moscow". The newspaper The Telegraph said: "US troops and armour would land at one of five ports in the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Turkey or Norway from where they would travel through land corridors to NATO countries bordering Ukraine."

According to the newspaper: "These land corridors would be free of bureaucratic local restrictions which in the past have held up the movement of troops and armour, leaving them stuck at borders. Previous NATO plans only allowed for US troops to land at Rotterdam in the Netherlands, but Ukraine's experience of long-range missile attacks since the launch of the full-scale invasion has prompted a rethink. Expanding the number of ports and having multiple land corridors would mean if one was hit, others would still be available to use."

Rim of Pacific 2024 War Games, June 27 - August 1

The US-led Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) war exercises will take place in and around the Hawaiian Islands from June 27 to August 1. This is the 29th biennial RIMPAC and will involve 29 countries and more than 25,000 personnel. The US Navy boasts that this is the world's largest international maritime military exercise. Participating armed forces are coming from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Vessels involved will include three submarines, 14 land-based units and more than 150 aircraft. Aircraft will include F-35 Lightning II fighter jets (infamously deployed by Israel to bomb Gaza), P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance planes and V-22 Osprey tiltrotors, which will operate out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and Marine Corps Base Hawaii on Oahu.

Drills planned for RIMPAC 2024 include the sinking of a vessel, "multi-domain warfare in a range of scenarios from anti-submarine warfare, multi-ship surface warfare, multinational amphibious landings, and multi-axis defence of the carrier strike group against live forces," a US Navy press release states.

On June 2, the Department of National Defence announced that "[HMCS] Vancouver will depart from Esquimalt for Hawaii to take part in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2024 before proceeding to Operation HORIZON in the Indo-Pacific. HMCS Vancouver will be joined on RIMPAC 24 by HMCS Max Bernays, Motor Vessel Asterix and a shore-based contingent of approximately 300 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members."

RIMPAC is vehemently opposed by peoples around the world, who are organising various actions calling for it to be scrapped.

The Malu 'Aina Center for Non-Violent Education and Action in Hawaii issued a call to action on June 1 that stated: "RIMPAC usually involves the sinking of ships (and harm to marine life) by bombing and shelling in Hawaiian waters, onshore military beach assault landings, bombing, shelling, and troop training at the Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii Island and possibly other areas, as well as human trafficking with military troops entering tourist areas. Cancelling the RIMPAC War Games Now & Forever will be a Peace victory for all!

"If RIMPAC goes forward, extensive protests are planned. Presently protests are scheduled for Saturday, June 22, from 10:00 am till noon in Hilo on Kamehameha Ave near the Mo'oheau Bandstand, Saturday, July 6, from 10:00 am till noon at the Pohakuloa Main Gate, Saturday, July 20, from 10:00 am till noon fronting the Kamehameha Statue on Hilo Bayfront. Please pass the word! Mahalo."

Besides the dangers to the natural and social environment posed by these war exercises, Israel's participation is also a matter of concern.

Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA) argues that New Zealand's participation shows complicity in war crimes and that withdrawing would be a symbol of solidarity and show that New Zealand takes the prevention of genocide seriously, Te Ao Maori News reported on June 13. "We are calling on our government to withdraw from the exercise because of Israel's industrial-scale slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza," PSNA national chair John Minto said. "Why would we want to join with a lawless, rogue state which has demonstrated the complete suite of war crimes over the past eight months?"

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Malaysia has issued a petition that calls on the Malaysian government "to immediately withdraw from the RIMPAC 2024 military exercise to protest against the participation of the Israeli military in that exercise".

US-South Korea Large-Scale River Crossing Drills

US and South Korea troops carried out large-scale river-crossing drills from June 3 to 7 in order to boost operational abilities. The drills began at Namhan River in the city of Yeoju, southeast of Seoul not far from the border with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Yonhap news agency reported, citing the South Korean armed forces.

The exercise involved 590 troops, 243 vehicles and aircraft, including K1A2 tanks, K808 armoured vehicles and H-47D helicopters. During the drill, the US and South Korean troops said they built a 918-foot pontoon bridge in three hours, which allowed the vehicles to cross the river, reaching the exercise's destination.

In addition, South Korea held major three-day drills in May to practise defending its islands of Baengnyeongdo, Yeonpyeong and Daecheongdo in the Yellow Sea near its border with the DPRK. The drills involved simultaneous shooting and landing operations.

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