The British Army (Light Dragoons Blog News) is to deploy 1,600 troops in Jordan to take part in war games which could be preparation for a potential confrontation between Russia and NATO member countries in Eastern Europe, the Daily Telegraph has reported, citing sources.

Army sources told the paper that the exercise, which will simulate an Iraq invasion for the first time in over a decade, is not a prelude to sending ground troops to fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL), rather Exercise Shamal Storm could be seen as a practice routine to fight off any potential Russian invasion of Ukraine or Eastern Europe.

This isn t a counter-Isil exercise. If anything, this is much more about us being prepared to join the US in Ukraine than it is in Syria, a source said as cited by the Daily Telegraph, adding, This is not the sort of kind of force you expect to roll into Aleppo to take on a bunch of jihadists.

However, the British Ministry of Defence has dismissed claims made by the media that the upcoming drills are connected with preparations to go to war with Russia.

It is not an exercise about war with Russia, a Defence Ministry spokesman told RIA Novosti on Monday.

The drills are an annual event testing the army’s capability to deploy and support an armored force of up to 30,000 troops anywhere in the world, he said. London is not preparing to go to war with Russia, he concluded.

In January, around 80 military vehicles were sent from the UK, bound for the Jordanian port of Aqaba. More than 300 will be used in total. The exercise will be held in the southwestern desert area of the country, while troops from three UK divisions will be taking part.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin.(RIA Novosti / Alexei Druzhinin)

The operation will look to simulate theater entry tactics, while also setting up a field hospital and dealing with chemical and biological weapons. It will be the biggest operation since 2001, when the British Army (Light Dragoons Blog News) held a large-scale drill in 2001 called Saif Sereea in Oman.

A spokesman for the British Army (Light Dragoons Blog News) told the Daily Telegraph: The exercise will test key evolving concepts such as the air deployment of a very high readiness field hospital and the latest explosives ordnance disposal and search capabilities, all of which will enable us to be more agile in deterring threats to the UK and its interests.

The Russian government has on numerous occasions accused the West of scaremongering. In July, President Vladimir Putin told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that a potential Russian attack on NATO would be insane, adding that the alliance s defense budget is 10 times that of Moscow s.

I think that only an insane person and only in a dream can imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO. I think some countries are simply taking advantage of people s fears with regard to Russia. They just want to play the role of front-line countries that should receive some supplementary military, economic, financial or some other aid, Putin said.

Putin stated that hypothetically the US may be looking to maintain a hypothetical external threat in order to maintain its leadership of the NATO community.

On February 2, the Pentagon announced it wanted to quadruple its budget for Europe from $789 million to $3.4 billion in 2017, in order to deter Russian aggression.

The budget boost is expected to allow more US forces to be stationed in Europe and for them to take part in more training and exercise routines with local troops in Central and Eastern Europe.

“While we do not desire conflict of any kind with any of these nations and let me be clear, though they pose some similar defense challenges they are very different nations and situations we also cannot blind ourselves to the actions they appear to choose to pursue,” US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said.

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Former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev.(Reuters / Jose Luis Gonzalez)

NATO has significantly increased its military presence along Russia s borders, including in the Baltic States and Eastern Europe, since Russia s reunification with Crimea in 2014 and the outbreak of conflict in eastern Ukraine. The alliance accuses Moscow of providing support to Ukrainian rebels, who rejected the armed coup in Kiev.

In late August and September 2015, NATO conducted the biggest airborne drills in Europe since the end of the Cold War. About 5,000 soldiers from 11 NATO member states participated in the simultaneous multinational airborne operations.

Russia s national security chief Nikolay Patrushev accused Washington of trying to weaken Russia and did not exclude the US of wanting to break up the country.

The US leadership has set an objective to dominate the world. Therefore they don t need a strong Russia. On the contrary, they want to weaken our country as much as possible, the head of Russia s Security Council said in January.

He also added that NATO s expansion towards Russia s borders poses a threat to Moscow s national security.

To understand NATO s objectives, one needs to realize that NATO s leadership strictly sticks to the US agenda. Washington skillfully uses the anti-Russian stance of its eastern members to neutralize excessively independent members of the alliance (France, Germany and Italy).

A French brigadier-general will be appointed a deputy commander of a British Army (Light Dragoons Blog News) division for the first time, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The move is part of an exchange programme aimed at strengthening ties between the two nations.

The as-yet-unnamed officer, who starts in April, will command the 1st (UK) Division when its commanding officer is on leave, MoD officials confirmed.

As part of the exchange, the British officer colonel Nick Nottingham will take up a similar role in the French army.

An army spokeswoman said: These and the 17-plus posts that are exchanged between the French and British armies demonstrate the long-term commitment to providing security at home and abroad.

The French officer will be one of two deputy divisional commanders. The appointment will be made in accordance with a 2010 treaty that aimed to foster closer military ties between France and the UK.

An army source told the Telegraph1 that the French soldier was unlikely to command British soldiers in the field on a foreign deployment in the near future.

The agreement was signed by the then French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and David Cameron. It provides for the sharing and pooling of materials and equipment, including the building of joint military facilities, mutual access to each country s defence markets, and industrial and technological cooperation.
2

Last year, an American brigadier-general was appointed to the deputy command of the 3rd (UK) Division. Speaking at the time, Michael Tarsa said it was an honour to be given the role.

There were about 60 French officers deployed across the whole of the British armed forces, including the 17 in the army, according to the Telegraph.

One senior officer said: Whenever you deal with the Americans, because of their size, they are always the elephant and we are always the mouse. No matter how courteous they are, it s very clear who is in charge.

We ve found working with the French, that they are a similar size to us, we ve both had empires and we just seem to understand each other. It turns out the language barrier isn t as important as we thought. It s all about distance and scale.

References

  1. ^ told the Telegraph (www.telegraph.co.uk)
  2. ^ Nicolas Sarkozy (www.theguardian.com)

By Staff Reporter

S ecret files published for the first time have revealed that the British Army (Light Dragoons Blog News) claimed all of the New Lodge Six killings, four days after police discovered a car allegedly belonging to loyalist assassins in North Belfast.

Archived records accessed by Ciar n MacAirt at Kew National Archives and published for the first time on the 43rd anniversary of the massacre on Wednesday, show the then Prime Minister Edward Heath had initialled and dated a document claiming the shootings on February 9, 1973, four days after eight bullet casings were found in an abandoned vehicle close to Tennent Street police station.

The New Lodge Six massacre in 1973 began with the assassination of two teenagers outside Lynch s Bar on the New Lodge Road in what appeared to be a random sectarian killing. A few minutes later four other people were shot close to the junction of Edlingham Street and New Lodge Road.

The British Army (Light Dragoons Blog News) have always maintained that they were involved in a shoot-out with Provisional IRA gunmen, however dozens of civilian eyewitness claimed the victims were unarmed and posed no threat.

In the documents published by Mr MacAirt, whose father witnessed the New Lodge shootings, a file belonging to the Prime Minister s office reads: On Saturday 3 Feb the major violence took place in the New Lodge Road area where between 2345 and 0300 hrs 4 Feb an estimated 189 rounds were fired at SF Security Forces who returned 168 rounds and claimed seven hits, six of the hits have been confirmed as bodies are sic in the RVH Royal Victoria Hospital. Five of the six were known to the SF as members if sic the Provisional IRA or Fianna and there is an unconfirmed report of the involvement of the sixth.

The document appears to be in direct contrast to a police inquest, which in March 1975 still claimed that the first two killings had been a sectarian drive-by shooting.

On Wednesday night, over 100 people attended a rally held beside a permanent memorial to the men on the New Lodge Road.

John Loughran, whose uncle was one of those killed, said that the families would continue to seek answers.

The memorial is about remembering those that died but it s also about keeping up the profile of the families who are still seeking acknowledgement, he said. Families have legitimate questions about the death of their loved ones. The Stormont House Agreement did not live up to our hopes, while the disclosure element of the Fresh Start deal is still preventing disclosure.

No-one is asking for the state secrets but under accountability families have every right to as much information that is held on their loved ones.

A spokesperson for Relatives for Justice added: The marking of the anniversary of the New Lodge Six killings is very important for the families, for their community and for wider society. It is an opportunity to acknowledge the humanity of the egregious violence of that night.