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Defence & Arms Last Updated: May 14, 2022 - 9:58:39 AM


The Hub of War – Rhineland-Palatinate
By German Foreign Policy,12/5/22
May 13, 2022 - 11:44:42 AM

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The training of Ukrainian troops has begun in Rhineland-Palatinate. That German state is considered the hub for US wars in the Middle East and for NATO operations targeting Russia.

 

The training of Ukrainian soldiers on the Self-Propelled Howitzer-2000 has begun in Germany. As was reported, the first Ukrainian soldiers already arrived in Germany on Tuesday. Yesterday, they began their training program at the Bundeswehr’s artillery school in Idar-Oberstein (Rhineland-Palatinate). Since some time, that German state has developed into the hub for military support for Ukraine – with deliveries of combat equipment to Poland via the US airbase Ramstein. NATO’s Air Allied Command, which directs alliance aerial operations in eastern and southeastern Europe, is also headquartered at the airbase. These operations include air patrol missions of also German combat jets in the Baltics and at the Black Sea. According to the Minister of the Interior of Rhineland-Palatinate, Roger Lewintz (SPD), that state, which shelters also various other US bases, will receive an “enormous boost in significance,” as the hub, no longer for US wars in the Arab world, but for NATO’s operations against Russia.

Ramstein Airbase

The core element of the US and NATO military infrastructure in Rhineland-Palatinate, and the command center for current NATO aerial operations in eastern and southeastern regions of the alliance, is the US airbase at Ramstein, in the vicinity of Kaiserslautern, the largest US Air Force base outside the territory of the United States. The base houses the headquarters of the US Air Force for Europe and Africa, which commands the operations of the US Air Force on both continents. On the other hand, the 86th Air Base Squadron of the US Armed Forces is also stationed there. Ramstein is the central hub for transporting US troops and combat equipment, not only to Europe, but also for example, to the Middle East, including reinforcements for the wars in that region. Currently, the airbase is believed to be used for transferring US military equipment for Ukraine to Poland, from where it will be forwarded to the Ukrainian armed forces. It has been reported that US arms deliveries to the militias in Syria were also transferred through Ramstein.[1] A satellite relay station is operated at the airbase, to allow US drones to be steered on missions in the Middle East as well as in Africa, resulting in innumerable civilian casualties.[2]

NATO Operations in the East

The Ramstein Air Base not only houses the headquarters of the US Air Force in Europe and Africa, but also the NATO allied Air Command, which coordinates the alliance’s aerial and special operations as well as its joint missile defense systems. One of its responsibilities, for example, is commanding aerial surveillance, which NATO has been conducting in the Baltics since 2004. This was enhanced in 2014 and expanded to include the southeastern region of the alliance. Currently the Joint Force Air Component (JFAC), specially set up within the Allied Air Command is conducting NATO’s aerial operations near the borders of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. In addition to the air surveillance that has long been routine and now again amplified, supplementary combat jets from NATO countries are now conducting Air Patrol missions – some taking off from their home bases and thus dependent on in-flight refueling. According to information from Ramstein, around 30 allied surveillance fighter jets are in the air at any one time between Estonia and Bulgaria, including Eurofighters from the German Air Force.[3] Even defense systems, such as the Patriot Air Defense, which the Bundeswehr recently redeployed to Slovakia, are under Ramstein’s control.[4]

The Kaiserslautern Military Community

The US Ramstein airbase is an element in a regional US military conglomerate, that includes housing areas in Kaiserslautern, the military hospital in Landstuhl, and the Miesau Army Depot. The latter is considered the largest US munitions depot outside the United States. It is a component within a system of US warehouses in Western Europe, where combat equipment is kept ready for a military conflict with Russia, that can used, if needed, to equip US troops flown in on their way to the East European front.[5] Landstuhl is the largest US military hospital outside the United States, where US soldiers have been and are treated for serious wounds received in wars in the Middle East and Asia. Currently in neighboring Weilerbach, a new US military hospital, costing more than a billion US dollars, is being built to replace the one in Landstuhl. Its construction will be directly connected to the US Ramstein airbase. All soldiers, as well as employees of US military installations in and around Kaiserslautern – along with their families – are sometimes referred to as the Kaiserslautern Military Community. With its more than 50,000 members, it is the largest community of its kind in the world.

Fighter Jets and Nuclear Bombs

Further to the northwest, already in the Eifel, but still in Rhineland-Palatinate, lies the Spangdahlem airbase, another important US Air Force base. Alongside the F-16 fighter planes already stationed there, numerous additional US aircraft have arrived over the past few weeks, to reinforce operations in the eastern and southeastern regions of the alliance: F-35A fighter jets, EA-18G Growler fighter jets, specialized in electronic warfare, as well as KC-135 tanker aircraft. The latter are currently deployed to refuel those US combat aircraft that take off from Spangdahlem to fly patrol missions in Eastern and Southeastern Europe. To the northeast of Spangdahlem, also in Rhineland-Palatinate’s Eifel region, US nuclear bombs are warehoused at the Büchel airbase, which are to be flown, within the framework of the so-called nuclear sharing, when needed, to their targets by German fighter jets. In the next few years, the airbase will be expanded at a cost of more than a quarter of a billion euros. Beginning in 2026, the Tornado fighter jets stationed there will be replaced by US F-35 fighter jets. Recently, the debate about the threat of a nuclear war, has again placed Büchel into the spotlight.

Self-Propelled Howitzers for Ukraine

The US Army base Baumholder is another element of the US military infrastructure in Rhineland-Palatinate. It is due to be expanded. The US budget for 2023 alone, provides for US $200 million for this purpose. Not only is the construction of a new housing area planned for stationing additional US soldiers, but also special forces training grounds; a unit of Navy Seals could, therefore, be stationed in Baumholder in the future.[6] Usually, US forces in Baumholder carry out their training at the local military training grounds, administered by the Bundeswehr. Just recently, it was announced that Ukrainian soldiers are also expected to be training at this facility. It involves their initiation in how to use the Self-Propelled Howitzer–2000, of which Berlin has agreed to deliver seven – and The Hague, another 5 – to Kiev. It was reported that the training program began yesterday, Wednesday. An initial phase of training will take place in the Bundeswehr’s artillery school, in nearby Idar-Oberstein.[7] Given the fact that normally 5 soldiers are needed to operate a Self-Propelled Howitzer, at least 60 Ukrainian military personnel, along with technicians and interpreters are expected. Around 40 days have been planned for the training period, perhaps fewer.

[1] Michael Weißenborn: „Sag nichts, frag nicht“. stuttgarter-nachrichten.de 13.09.2017.

[2] See also 17 Years "War on Terror".

[3] Allies Stand Together to Bolster NATO’s Eastern Flank. ac.nato.int 10.05.2022.

[4] See also Waffenstellerkonferenz in Ramstein.

[5] See also Vom Frontstaat zur Transitzone (II).

[6] Christian Altmayer: US-Militär: Was die Investitionen für Spangdahlem und Baumholder bedeuten. swr.de 05.04.2022.

[7] Ukrainische Soldaten zur Ausbildung in Rheinland-Pfalz angekommen. swr.de 11.05.2022.


Source:Ocnus.net 2022

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