Saturday, 14 January 2017
Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz's departure will come in the middle of the presidential ceremony - classified as a national special security event - and while thousands of his troops are deployed to help protect the nation's capital during an inauguration he has spent months helping to plan.
As is customary, Schwartz, like other presidential appointees, submitted a letter of resignation to give the new administration a clean start. He had done so before, but the Obama administration twice declined to accept it.
A person close to the transition said transition officials wanted to keep Schwartz in the job for continuity, but the Army pushed to replace him.
When Schwartz steps down on Inauguration Day, he will be replaced in the interim by Brig. Gen. William J. Walker, the commander of the D.C. Army National Guard's land component.
It would be interesting to know why the Army wanted him gone as he’s been at the post since being appointed by Pres. George W. Bush in 2008. What ever it is it seemed to be serious enough to accept his resignation immediately when Trump takes office.
Friday, 13 January 2017
Vilnius (AFP) - A senior NATO official on Friday called Washington's deployment of an armoured brigade to Poland and other eastern allies a "proportionate and measured" response to Russian military activity near the region.
"Through the so-called Atlantic Resolve operation there is US armour coming back to Europe and it is a response to what Russia has been doing," NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller told the Baltic news agency BNS.
US troops and tanks began streaming into Poland Thursday as part of one of the largest deployments of US forces in Europe since the Cold War, an operation that Russia angrily branded a security "threat".
"I do want to emphasis that it is proportionate and measured," Gottemoeller said of the deployment of some "3,500 personnel, 87 tanks and 144 Bradley fighting vehicles."
"This is an important step, but it is meant for deterrence and defence," she added.
The Atlantic Resolve mission will see US soldiers and heavy equipment also deployed in NATO partners Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary on a rotational basis.
Last year Moscow deployed nuclear-capable Iskander missiles into its Kaliningrad outpost and has frequent military drills in the Baltic region rattled neighbouring NATO members Poland and Lithuania.
Gottemoeller said she saw "legitimate possibilities for future dialogue" between NATO and Russia, but insisted the Western alliance needed to be very "clear-eyed" about reducing risks on its eastern flank.
"We want to reduce risks so that we do not have a possibility of a crisis emerging that could possibly escalate into conflict," the NATO official told BNS speaking on the sidelines of an informal security policy summit in Lithuania.
Last summer, NATO leaders endorsed plans to rotate troops into Poland and the three Baltic states to reassure them they would not be left in the lurch if Russia was tempted to repeat its Ukraine intervention.
The former top US general in Europe told AFP on Friday that dialogue with Russia was "inevitable" after President-elect Donald Trump takes office, but recommended taking small steps.
"What we need to do is begin a series of dialogues and address small incremental things that we see as mutually beneficial," said retired general Philip Breedlove, who was also attending the security conference in the resort town of Trakai on the outskirts of the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.
"If we have success... then we move on to something a little more challenging," Breedlove said.
Thursday, 12 January 2017
A senior member of Premier Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party vowed this week to use “all tools at its disposal” to crack down on the 86-year-old billionaire’s network of charities and accused it of “serving global capitalists” and backing “political correctness over national governments.”
The official, Szilard Nemeth, said on Thursday that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s election victory had created an opportunity to target groups including those that fight for civil rights and against corruption. Another party official, however, backed away from that position.
“We’re not going to sweep out anybody,” Janos Lazar, the minister in charge of Orban’s office, told reporters in Budapest on Thursday. Still, he said foreign organizations’ books would be audited because “every Hungarian has a right to know who wants to influence them” from abroad.
Wednesday, 11 January 2017
On the 11th of January the Russian Landing Ship Korolev (130) was spotted heading southbound back into the Mediterranean. The Korolev is part of the 12th Surface ship Division, 128th Surface ship Brigade, 71st Order of the Red Star Landing Ship Brigade (Baltiysk) of the Baltic Fleet.