US Army commanders along with their counterparts from the NATO military alliance’s member and partner nations have converged in the German city of Vilseck to prepare for and strategize massive war games planned in the Black Sea region this summer.
Commanders of the US 2nd Cavalry Regiment and the 7th Army Training Command also joined the Friday gathering to plan for the Saber Guardian military exercise, which will be the largest of the 18 US-led war games in the region close to Russian territory, the US-based military journal Star & Stripes reported Saturday.
This year’s annual Saber Guardian maneuver is set be the “largest ever” conducted by the expanding NATO alliance, employing more than 25,000 troops from 23 allied and partner nations, and is due to take place from July 11 to 20.
“Once we cross the borders in [the Czech Republic] and Austria, it’s game on,” said commanding general of the 7th Army Training Command, Gen. Tony Aguto, as quoted in the report. “You have to go into this with the mindset that you’re going into a fight.”
Aguto further emphasized that “When you look at what we’re doing in Eastern Europe, we’re not just raising our own standards, we’re paving the way for the rest of NATO… I strongly believe that training is deterrence. This is training that we need to do.”
During the war games, participating forces “will conduct an air defense artillery live-fire exercise, several field training drills and live-fire exercises, multiple contested river crossings and a mass casualty exercise,” the report added.
The US Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment will travel approximately 1,700 miles from its base in Germany to the Black Sea region to test their rapid deployment capabilities.
The army’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team and 4th Infantry Division will mass at training sites in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania from bases across Europe.
Following the massive military drills, the 2nd Cavalry Regiment will cross the Black Sea to take part in yet another war game, dubbed Exercise Noble, with the NATO partner nation of Georgia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin described NATO as “an instrument of American foreign policy” in a recent interview, saying those states that join the US-led military alliance as members inevitably become US “vassals.”
“Once a country becomes a NATO member, it is hard to resist the pressures of the US. And all of a sudden, any weapons system can be placed in this country. An anti-ballistic missile system, new military bases, and if need be, new offensive systems,” Putin said.
Expressing concerns about NATO’s persisting expansion towards its borders, the Russian president added that the alliance was looking for an enemy to justify its existence.
“There is no longer an Eastern Bloc, no more Soviet Union. Therefore, why does NATO keep existing?” he asked, adding, “My impression is that in order to justify its existence, NATO has a need of an external foe, there is a constant search for the foe, or some acts of provocation to name someone as an adversary.”