Quiet, But Obvious American Troops In Europe — ‘It’s Kind Of Stupid That We Can’t Just Be Honest About What We’re Doing’ (And A Back-Pat — Our 4,000th Post)

March 17, 2022

Late-afternoon/early-evening here this Thursday in California’s Central Valley (DST makes it hard to tell which is which) — overcast this morning, but slowly, eventually brightened into a sunshine-sparkled day. Chance maybe some rain tomorrow and Saturday, but don’ expect much as the drought’s got a near-strangle hold on our weather.

Meanwhile in Ukraine, the Russian army is getting whipped despite the horrid, war-crime destruction of civilian areas — per the Guardian‘s live blog less than half-an-hour ago:

Russia is being forced to divert “large numbers” of troops to defend its supply lines rather than continuing its attacks in Ukraine, British defence intelligence analysts believe.
The UK ministry of defence recently released its latest intelligence report, saying that logistical problems continue to beset Russia’s faltering invasion of Ukraine.

UK defence attache AVM Mick Smeath said: “Logistical problems continue to beset Russia’s faltering invasion of Ukraine. Reluctance to manoeuvre cross-country, lack of control of the air and limited bridging capabilities are preventing Russia from effectively resupplying their forward troops with even basic essentials such as food and fuel. Incessant Ukrainian counterattacks are forcing Russia to divert large number of troops to defend their own supply lines. This is severely limiting Russia’s offensive potential.”

As the invasion — or ‘special military operation‘ — goes whacked along with Vlad Putin trying to play catch-up bomb-the-shit-out-them scenario as his army goes to pieces. Of course, the horror is for Ukraine.
In the midst of the now three-week-old script, US forces have been moving, even pre-invasion and are apparently set to respond, but to what?

Mystery of the out-in-the-open US military deployment:

Ominous and foreboding details on an enterprise operating on the DownLow — via Task&Purpose this afternoon:

Since announcing the deployment of thousands of U.S. troops to Europe in support of NATO allies, there has been little to no information available about what troops are actually doing there.
Even some within the military seem confused by the lack of transparency.

“We’re not in Afghanistan, we’re not in this position where there should be such operational oversight of what we’re doing,” a defense official in Europe told Task & Purpose.
“It’s kind of stupid that we can’t just be honest about what we’re doing.”

At the beginning of February, service members from the 82nd Airborne Division, 101st Airborne Division, and 18th Airborne Corps headquarters were sent to Europe as a deterrent to Russia, which was massing troops at Ukraine’s border at the time.
Other units already in Europe, including an Army infantry battalion task force, a battalion of AH-64 Apache helicopters, and F-35 Joint Strike Fighters were repositioned on the continent.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, an armored brigade combat team and sustainment brigade within the 3rd Infantry Division were ordered into Europe, and some units, like an armored brigade with the 1st Infantry Division, had their Europe rotation extended to remain in the area.

The Pentagon and White House have been emphatic that those U.S. troops would not be fighting in Ukraine, and instead are there in defense of NATO allies and will be conducting training exercises with military partners.

Military exercises in Europe are typically covered extensively, complete with regular press releases, photos, and videos.
Information about troops in Europe today is much more limited.

But this of course is not a routine military exercise; it’s a deployment in the face of what could become “the most devastating conflict on the continent since World War II,” as Vox put it.
It’s a war which has already resulted in millions of refugees and hundreds of civilian deaths in Ukraine.
And while American service members are preparing for the worst and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of military equipment is being sent to Ukraine, information about what U.S. troops are doing in Europe has been scarce.

The defense official in Europe told Task & Purpose that from “the beginning of the operation” with the 82nd Airborne Division and 18th Airborne Corps specifically, there was “a misunderstanding of who has release authority” on details about what soldiers were doing.
Since then, the official said the 82nd and 18th Airborne Corps have “had to adhere with this very strict messaging embargo kind of thing” which was so difficult to navigate that it got to the point where the units “stopped requesting to even communicate.”

And apparently, the whole thing really has become a closed mouth affair weird in the face of normal:

And while reporters were invited to cover the deployment of troops from Fort Bragg and Fort Stewart, the access essentially ended there. The administration has not allowed media embeds with troops in Europe — something available during past military exercises in Europe — despite requests from the Pentagon Press Association, Military Reporters and Editors Association, with support from the White House Correspondents Association.

“By allowing reporters and photographers to show what life is like for U.S. troops on the ground, in the air, and at sea, the Pentagon will allow the American public to understand the responsibilities and sacrifices that both service members and their families make,” the Military Reporters and Editors letter said.

The White House did not respond to questions about media access to troops on the ground in Europe.

Entering the fourth week of the invasion, the flow of information — or lack thereof from the Pentagon — hasn’t changed much.
One Army commander in Europe told Task & Purpose that they have to get Pentagon approval before posting anything, including photos, on their unit’s official social media sites, something they don’t typically have to do.
While the commander said they understood there’s “not a lot of room for error right now,” they also said it would be better to have “a deliberate information strategy” that allowed the military to be “a part of it at all levels.”

As one Army official who spoke on condition of anonymity pointed out, the U.S. military is “pathologically conservative with messaging,” while “our adversaries have no qualms about [it].”

The defense official in Europe echoed that, saying there seems to be a fear that “any communication could insite additional violence” or push other countries to come to Russia’s aid in its invasion of Ukraine.
But given that the deployment of troops to Europe was announced as a deterrent to Russia, the official said it would make sense to communicate that forces like the 82nd Airborne and 18th Airborne Corps were there — especially considering both units’ histories in Europe during World War II.
“Americans … have a right to know what their military is doing,” the official said, “and I don’t think we’re being forthcoming.”

Yet like all the rest of this shit, we don’t have an end game. Putin goes cuckoo for cocoa puffs and blows our shit away and starts a nuclear WWIII — who’s/what’s to say?

Another day and here we are once again…

Writing of which — this is the blog’s 4,000th post. Next month, ‘Compatible Creatures‘ will be 15-years-old. I might do a special of some sort, especially since when we arrived on the InterWebs we were in the throes of another ugly, horrid and dumb-ass war in which the invader was supposed to be met with tossed-flowers from an appreciative, loving population.
Yeah, right.
This time, though, we’re trying hard to be the good guys.

(Illustration out front: MC Escher’s ‘Old Olive Tree, Corsica‘ (1934). and found here)

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