U.S. Troops Train in Eastern Europe to Echoes of the Cold War

U.S. Troops Train in Eastern Europe to Echoes of the Cold War by Eric Schmitt - New York Times

After more than a decade spent fighting Islamic insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States Army is scrambling to relearn Cold War-era skills to confront potential threats from Russia here in Eastern Europe, territory formerly defended by the Soviet Army.

The adjustments to the new threats are wide ranging. Hundreds of desert-tan battle tanks and armored fighting vehicles must be repainted dark green to blend into European terrain. Soldiers accustomed to operating from large, secure bases in Iraq and Afghanistan must now practice using camouflage netting to disguise their positions and dispersing into smaller groups to avoid sophisticated surveillance drones that could direct rocket or missile attacks against personnel or command posts.

American troops no longer have unfettered right of way in the air or priority access on the ground, as they did across Iraqi river valleys and Afghan mountain ranges. In today’s Europe, borders count in all matters military. On a recent Friday, an American Army supply convoy rushing ammunition from Germany to Romania was held up at the Austrian border until the next Monday by restrictions on military convoys during busy summer vacation travel periods.

A 10-day exercise last month involving 25,000 American and allied forces spread across three former Warsaw Pact countries — Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria — offered a window into how a generation of senior Army commanders are rehearsing updated tactics and strategies once used to counter Soviet troops, tanks and artillery, including nighttime aerial assaults by hundreds of paratroopers. The commanders are training a younger force that has mainly faced shadowy terrorist foes in the Middle East and Southwest Asia since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001…

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