U.S. Troops Hone Cold War Skills

cold war

By Debbie Gregory.

In light of increasing threats from Eastern Europe, the United States Army is focused on relearning Cold War-era skills to confront potential Russian threats.

The adjustments include re-camouflaging vehicles to blend into the terrain, dispersing into smaller groups to avoid sophisticated surveillance drones and the use of netting to hide troop positions.

Senior Army commanders are rehearsing updated tactics and strategies that had been previously used to counter Soviet troops when the Berlin Wall was still standing, although the U.S. Army’s presence in Europe is a far cry from the height of the Cold War, when 300,000 soldiers were stationed there, versus 30,000 soldiers.

Russia’s hybrid warfare combines conventional military might with the ability to manipulate events using a mix of subterfuge, cyber-attacks and information warfare. The U.S. and NATO allies recently positioned some 4,500 soldiers in the three Baltic States and Poland as a deterrent to Russian aggression.

American intelligence is closely watching Russian operations in Crimea, eastern Ukraine, and Syria.

The colonels who will more than likely be the next generation of Army generals have spent the bulk of their careers battling Al Qaeda or ISIS.

Col. Clair A. Gill, a 1994 West Point graduate who commands the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Drum, N.Y. was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division when Russia was still considered a threat. An accomplished Black Hawk helicopter pilot, Col. Gill spent most of his career battling Islamic militants. He has acknowledged that it took a while to adjust to preparing to fight more conventional battles.

Col. Gills’ West Point classmate, Col. Patrick Ellis, studied Russian to learn the language of his potential adversary. After the Sept. 11 attacks, Colonel Ellis was deployed multiple times to Afghanistan with specialized Army Ranger units.

Now Colonel Ellis commands the Second Cavalry Regiment in Europe.

“We know when we wake up every morning who the threat is,” Colonel Ellis said. “We’re very focused on the Russian threat.”

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President Trump Planning Biggest Fleet Expansion Since Cold War

The USS Zumwalt at Bath Iron Works.

By Debbie Gregory.

With the new president’s blessing, the Navy is proposing the biggest shipbuilding boom since the end of the Cold War to meet threats from a resurgent Russia and saber-rattling China.

The Navy’s 355-ship proposal surpasses the number that President Trump had promoted on the campaign trail, providing a potential boost to shipyards that have struggled because budget caps that have limited money funding for ships.

The Navy currently has 274 deployable battle force ships

The Navy’s revised Force Structure Assessment calls for adding another 47 ships including an aircraft carrier built in Virginia, 16 large surface warships built in Maine and Mississippi, and 18 attack submarines built in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Virginia. It also calls for more amphibious assault ships, expeditionary transfer docks and support ships.

A larger fleet would be better for both the sailors, who’d enjoy shorter deployments, and for the ships, which would have more down time for maintenance.

Many defense analysts agree that military capabilities have been degraded in recent years, especially when it comes to warships, aircraft and tanks.

The key is finding a way to increase Navy shipbuilding to achieve defense and economic gains “in a fiscally responsible way that does not pass the bill along to our children,” said Sen. Angus King of Maine, a member of the Armed Services Committee.

“You never have enough money to buy a perfect defense,” said Lawrence J. Korb, a retired naval officer and former assistant defense secretary under President Ronald Reagan “You have to make trade-offs.”

Stock prices for General Dynamics, which owns Bath Iron Works, Electric Boat and NASSCO, and Huntington Ingalls, which owns major shipyards in Virginia and in Mississippi, have seen stock prices slowly trend upward.

“To the generic military shipbuilder, it’s a bull market right now,” said Ronald Epstein, an analyst at Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch division.

In Bath, the 6,000 shipbuilders aren’t going to count their eggs before they hatch.

“A lot of people are hopeful that it’ll happen,” said Rich Nolan, president of the shipyard’s largest union. “But they’re taking a wait-and-see approach. They’ve heard it before and then seen it not come to fruition.”

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