From army.mil: "Sgt. Varchulik is the only American Soldier on this firing line. He's one of about two dozen soldiers from NATO partner nations taking part in a close-quarter battle course (CQB) taught by the International Special Training Centre (ISTC) in Pfullendorf, Germany.
The ISTC training was once exclusively reserved for NATO special operations forces. But the nature of recent conflicts has increased the demand for the advanced combat, survival and medical skills the center teaches. This is particularly the case among conventional U.S. forces, which may experience situations in Iraq and Afghanistan that require unconventional training."
From Russia Today: "All brigades in Russia’s North Caucasus military district are to participate in the Kavkaz-2009 military maneuvers in June 2009, according to the ITAR-TASS news agency."
From Today's Zaman: "The Combined Aerospace Operations Center (CAOC) in Larissa, Greece, will be under the rotating command of a Turkish lieutenant general and a Greek general, each serving for two years, the Turkish newspaper Akşam reported on Tuesday. This is the first time a Turkish general will be serving in Greek territory since Greece won its independence from the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century."
From Kyiv Post: "'When NATO holds a military drill in Georgia - just recently a theater of war, sparked by no one knows who - it's utter stupidity. The Alliance must promote the discussion with Russia instead of encouraging the adventurist Saakashvili,' said Schroeder." (via Georgian Daily)
From Congressional Quarterly Transcript of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates interview on CBS' 60 Minutes: "Well, I’ve been disappointed with NATO’s response to this ever since I got this job. NATO as an alliance, if you exclude the United States, has almost 2 million men under arms. Why they can’t get more than 32,000 to Afghanistan has always been a puzzle to me."
From EuroasiaNet: "Dushanbe’s ramshackle airport is the only facility in the world that is hosting NATO and Russian troops simultaneously. Both unassuming military outposts outside the capital of Tajikistan share the same single airstrip and sit quietly at the same end of the airfield."
From New York Times: "In October, NATO gave its commanders a mandate to destroy drug refineries, but many have been reluctant to do so. Not only should they take the offensive, but they should put an emphasis on arresting the chemists and other specialists operating the labs, who are difficult to replace. Some NATO nations in the Afghan coalition have placed restrictions on their troops that prevent them from participating in American-led counternarcotics operations. That’s short-sighted, given that Afghan heroin tends to end up on European streets. Until such restrictions are dropped, troops from those nations should be deployed to provide security, freeing up American and Afghan soldiers for combat linked to the opium trade."
From Atlantic Council: "But what can NATO do? History suggests that it can do a lot and rapidly. Moreover, a broad-based NATO support may be politically more palatable than any single-country relief effort in Pakistan . . ."
"To be sure, even a limited operation of two to three months would be costly. Some of the Allies involved in the post-earthquake effort complained bitterly at the time about the lack of NATO common funding for their NRF role. NATO needs to take urgent action to alleviate that problem – for now, common funding covers only the fuel of NRF air assets – but costs cannot be a show-stopper. Providing security for the NATO personnel would be another important consideration, but with careful planning and reasonable cooperation from the Pakistani military, this need not be an insuperable obstacle. (NATO personnel were generally well-received by the population in 2005-6.)
On the other hand, beyond the inherent moral value of humanitarian relief, the strategic impact of demonstrating NATO's willingness to once again extend a hand to a Muslim population that is voting with its feet against extremist domination should not be underestimated. Think about winning "hearts and minds."
NATO/U.S.-LED COALITION FORCES:
United States 683
Other nations 68
From Heritage Foundation: "When Russians talk about changing Europe’s security architecture, what they really mean is sidelining NATO. However, in the Obama Administration’s haste to reset relations with Russia, and its nonsensical enthusiasm for EU-integration, it has sent neither Moscow nor Brussels the message that NATO’s primacy is non-negotiable. In fact, it has seemingly gone out of its way to send precisely the opposite message, embracing an EU-only defense identity and craftily avoiding seeing through U.S. commitments on missile defense and NATO enlargement."