24 August 2017   Leave a comment

The number of US active-duty military personnel stationed abroad has dropped below 200,000 for the first time in 60 years.  In 1967, the US had over 1.2 million soldiers stationed abroad–half of them in Vietnam.  About 15% of US soldiers are stationed abroad and the top five countries in which they are based are Japan (38,818), Germany (34,602), South Korea (24,189), Italy (12,088) and Afghanistan (9,023). Only Afghanistan is experiencing active conflict.  The pullback reflects the decision by President Obama to pull back from commitments abroad.  It remains to be seen if President Trump will reverse this trend.

Russia has sent nuclear-capable bombers over the Korean peninsula as US and South Korean forces are conducting military exercises in the region.  Russia has been outspoken in its opposition to the use of force on the peninsula but it is difficult to interpret the message the Russians are trying to send.  The bombers entered the South Korean air identification zone which is considered rude but does not violate international law.  It is unlikely that Russia would come to the defense of North Korea if it were attacked.  But Russia continues to demonstrate its military power in both Europe and Asia.  I doubt that many are unaware of Russian military strength in both regions.

Russian TU-95 bomber

 

US Secretary of Defense Mattis has indicated that he will recommend to President Trump that the US should supply Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons.  Such a policy would change current US policy which is to restrict aid to non-lethal supplies such as medicine and transport.  Giving Ukraine lethal defensive weapons, such as anti-tank weaponry, would allow Kyiv to fight the Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine more effectively.  It would also raise the stakes for Russia in Ukraine and increase the level of violence in the country.  The move would also deepen the US commitment to Ukraine and Russia would take the move as a significant challenge.  President Trump has resisted such a move in the past, so it remains to be seen whether he will act in such a provocative way toward Russia.

Posted August 24, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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