By Manlio Dinucci
Published in the Italian web newspaper, Il Manifesto, March 3. Translation by John Catalinotto.
The United States has raised the coronavirus (COVID-19) alert for Italy to level 3 (“avoid nonessential travel”), bringing it to 4 (“do not travel”) for [the northern regions of] Lombardy and Veneto — the same as for China. American Airlines and Delta Air Lines suspended all flights between New York and Milan. U.S. citizens going to Germany, Poland and other European countries, at alert level 2, must “take increased precautions.”
However, one category of U.S. citizens is exempted from these rules: the 20,000 soldiers beginning to arrive from the United States in European ports and airports for the Defender Europe 20 exercise, the largest U.S. troop deployment in Europe in the last 25 years. Including those already present, about 30,000 U.S. troops will participate in April and May, flanked by 7,000 troops from 17 NATO member and partner countries, including Italy.
The first armored unit arrived from the port of Savannah, Ga., to that of Bremerhaven in Germany. Altogether 20,000 pieces of military equipment arrived from the USA in six European ports (in Belgium, Holland, Germany, Latvia, Estonia). Another 13,000 pieces are supplied by the U.S. Army in Europe from prepositioned depots, mainly in Germany, Holland and Belgium. These operations, reports the U.S. Army in Europe, “require the participation of tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians from many nations.”
At the same time, the bulk of the contingent of 20,000 soldiers arrives from the U.S. in seven European airports. Among these are 6,000 National Guard coming from 15 states: Arizona, Florida, Montana, New York, Virginia and others.
At the beginning of the exercise in April, reports the U.S. Army in Europe, the 30,000 U.S. soldiers “will spread through the European region” to “protect Europe from any potential threat,” with clear reference to the “Russian threat.”
Gen. Tod Wolters — who commands the United States forces in Europe and at the same time those of NATO as Allied Supreme Commander in Europe — assures everyone that “the European Union, NATO and the European Command of the United States have worked together to improve the infrastructure.” This will allow military convoys to move quickly along 2,500 miles of transit routes.
Tens of thousands of soldiers will cross borders to conduct exercises in 10 countries. In Poland, 16,000 U.S. soldiers will arrive in 12 training areas with about 2,500 vehicles. U.S. paratroopers of the 173rd Brigade stationed in Veneto and Italians in the Lightning Brigade stationed in Tuscany will go to Latvia for a joint launch exercise.
Defender Europe 20 is being conducted to “increase the ability to rapidly deploy a large combat force from the United States to Europe.” It is therefore carried out with timescales and procedures that make it virtually impossible to subject tens of thousands of soldiers to COVID-19 health regulations and prevent them from coming into contact with the inhabitants during rest periods.
In addition, the U.S. Army in the Europe Rock Band will hold a series of free concerts in Germany, Poland and Lithuania that will attract large audiences.
The 30,000 U.S. soldiers, who “will spread through the European region,” are in fact exempted from the preventive COVID-19 regulations that apply to civilians. The assurance given by the U.S. Army in Europe that “we are monitoring the Coronavirus [COVID-19]” and that “our forces are in good health” is enough.
At the same time, the environmental impact of a military exercise of this magnitude is ignored. U.S. Abrams tanks will participate, weighing 70 tons, with depleted uranium shells. Each tank consumes 400 liters of fuel per 100 km, producing heavy pollution to deliver maximum power.
In this situation, what are EU and national authorities doing, what is the World Health Organization doing? They put the mask on over their eyes, as well as over their mouth and nose.