On April 18 U.S. Air Forces in Europe began the largest air exercise in the history of Bulgaria, no doubt in that of the Balkans as a whole, when 24-32 American F-16 fighter jets and 500 airmen joined Bulgarian counterparts for the opening of the almost month-long Thracian Star 2012.
Described by the Sofia News Agency as “the most large-scale military aviation drills of their type,” they include both squadrons of the U.S. 31st Fighter Wing based at the Aviano Air Base in Italy and the air forces of Bulgaria and Romania. Continue reading →
This is Part I of our three-part one-of-a-kind interview series with author and researcher Paul Thompson. For additional background information please visit the complete 9/11 Timeline Investigative Project at HistoryCommons.Org and Richard Clarke’s interview by John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski at SecrecyKills.Com.
In the post-Cold War era and especially after 2001 the Pentagon has been steadily shifting emphasis, and moving troops and equipment, from bases in Germany and Italy to Eastern Europe in its drive to the east and the south.
That process was preceded and augmented by the absorption of former Eastern Bloc nations into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization beginning in 1999. In one of the first nations in that category, Poland, the initial contingent of what will be over 100 U.S. troops arrived in the town of Morag this week, as near as 35 miles from Russian territory, as part of a Status of Forces Agreement between Washington and the host country ratified this February.
Last month news reports confirmed that the United States is to station interceptor missiles in Bulgaria and Romania as an extension of the Pentagon’s European (and international) missile shield project. Details are still forthcoming, but what is all but certain is that the missiles are to be land-based versions of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System with Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) medium-range anti-ballistic missiles, though there is already speculation that even more advanced deployments are planned.
Until last month discussions of U.S. missile shield plans to replace the earlier one of basing ground-based midcourse missiles in Poland and an accompanying X-band missile radar facility in the Czech Republic centered on the Baltic and Eastern Mediterranean Seas and on Israel and the Persian Gulf, with Turkey and the South Caucasus expected to be the next links.
“U.S. efforts in Romania and Bulgaria are part of a global redeployment strategy started in the early years of the Bush administration to shift U.S. forces out of Germany and move them eastward.”
“The number of US military men at the two bases is not going to be large, but who can say that it will not be doubled, tripped or quadrupled in the future? Furthermore, the appearance of NATO bases on the Black Sea coast will come as an addition to the US military [deployments] in the Baltic region. As a result, Russia will find itself trapped.”
“[T]he new land, sea and airbases along the Black Sea will provide much improved contingency access for deployments into Central Asia, parts of the Middle East and Southwest Asia.”