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[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Monday, June 25, 2018

FATIMA WATCH: Poking the bear: US Air Force builds in Russia’s backyard

FATIMA WATCH: Poking the bear: US Air Force builds in Russia’s backyard

As the U.S. Defense Department expands its presence in Europe, the Air Force has quietly ramped up investments that would enable it to deploy to allied bases in Eastern Europe and operate close to Russia’s western flank.



The Trump administration wants to spend $828 million in 2019 to build up military infrastructure in Europe as part of an ongoing initiative to deter Russian aggression and reinforce allies. Almost half of that construction funding would go toward U.S. Air Force projects.
The request would more than double military construction funding under the European Deterrence Initiative, or EDI, from the 2018 request — when not so long ago, the U.S. military was shrinking its Cold War-era footprint in Europe.
As the EDI request grew to $6.5 billion from $4.8 billion in 2018, military construction in the EDI request leaped from $338 million in 2018, while pre-positioning funds jumped from $2.2 billion to $3.2 billion.
Of that, the Air Force would spend $368.6 million to pre-position equipment and $363.8 million for military construction. While that’s roughly on par with what was spent in fiscal 2018, it’s a huge jump from FY17, when the Air Force got only $31.2 million in pre-positioning funds and $85.4 million for military construction.
The idea is that if Russia invaded a European nation — for example, Latvia — the U.S. Air Force would be able to quickly respond, supported by basic airfields to reload, refuel and repair damage.
Senior Airman Bradley Asbury, an F-16 Fighting Falcon mechanic assigned to the 180th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard, launches an aircraft for a training mission at Kecskemet Air Base, Hungary. (Senior Master Sgt. Beth Holliker/Air National Guard)
Senior Airman Bradley Asbury, an F-16 Fighting Falcon mechanic assigned to the 180th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard, launches an aircraft for a training mission at Kecskemet Air Base, Hungary. (Senior Master Sgt. Beth Holliker/Air National Guard)
To do this, the U.S. is placing pre-positioned Air Force basing assets in original NATO nations, like Germany and the United Kingdom, and making significant airfield improvements in Eastern Bloc countries and beyond.
To be clear, the U.S. is not looking at building up new major bases in former Soviet bloc countries, but it’s making improvements to existing infrastructure to ensure it supports U.S.-specific requirements.
“It makes it easier to reinforce [allies] in a crisis,” said Mark Cancian, a retired Marine Corps officer and senior international security adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The munitions, the taxiways and refueling points makes it much easier to move in there in an emergency.”
U.S. European Command chief Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti acknowledged as much in congressional testimony in March. The FY18 and FY19 budget requests, he said, would “enable the rapid reception of fourth- and fifth-generation fighters, close-air support, bombers and air mobility aircraft in a contingency.”
On Russia’s doorstep, the 2018 budget funded refueling infrastructure and a tactical fighter aircraft parking apron and taxiway at Amari Air Base, in Estonia, so it can support the A-10, F-15, F-16, F-22 and F-35 aircraft. The 2019 budget request asks for $16 million more for U.S. Special Operations Command training and operations facilities at Amari.
At Kecskemet Air Base, in Hungary, $56 million in 2018 dollars is paying for fuel storage, taxiway construction and other improvements to accommodate the F-15, A-10 and C-5 transport aircraft.
The 2019 request would build a munitions storage facility at Malacky Air Base, in Slovakia, where 2018 dollars are expanding the tactical fighter aircraft parking apron to accommodate the A-10 and F-15.
The Air Force also wants $13.8 million in FY19 for taxiway construction at Rygge, Norway.

SOURCE