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The US Air Force just landed in Poland, very quietly, accounting for a missile defense roll-out with little announcement in the local press. Military staff failed to arrive on schedule to boost the local economy. Reportedly, only ten Air Force officials landed. “Yeah, but they came with 10 F-16s fighter planes,” said one Polish-American security official.
Of course, the US Airforce isn’t storming Poland while their citizens continue to be denied Visas to the Land of Opportunity. The Poles, after all, are NATO allies serving in the War on Terror through a decade of two wars.
Besides the 10 F-16s and some 250 support staff expected in the town of Łask, the towns of Krzesiny and Powidz have also signed up to support the Yanks, welcoming a boost to the local economy. What are Poles expecting in addition to the F-16 fighter-planes and happy-go-lucky Americans? The Lockheed C-130 Hercules cargo plane to be stationed East – close to Russia.
After all, it is Russia that vocally disagreed with the need for a missile defense shield in NATO Poland. And despite Polish petitions to install missile defense, and despite US promises to add the valuable deterrent, the US has sided with Russia, drawing stinging criticism from Polish President Komorowski in August of 2012.
But the US is not concerned with drawing flattery from its NATO allies; its concern, as always, is preparing against the worst case scenario – here in Poland, even in 2012 - a Russian invasion.
In 2011, Russia staged aggressive wargames in neighboring Lithuania in tandum with strong rebukes to the Polish minority. It called for the abolishment of the Polish language teaching in the country. The wargames simulated an invasion. The Polish minority in Lithuania has pressed its cause. It is important to remember that for Russia, Eastern Europe is just another satellite state at least as much as Georgia (which it recently invaded in 2008) or Afghanistan (1979-1988). Boasting a population of some 40 million, Poland, separated from Russia by Ukraine and Belarus, might believe that it’s not counted as an extension of the Soviet states – especially as it is a loyal and productive NATO member. Perhaps Poles forget they share a border with Russia, playing host to the naval port of Kalingrad.
Since August of 2012, Visa-free travel between Russia’s Kalingrad Oblast and it’s EU neighbors has been offered. Polish residents on the Baltic Seaboard as far as Gdask may take advantage of the liberties; and Russians may travel a few kilometers into Poland.
Maybe that’s why the Americans reneged the missile defense shield – too close to Russia to secure.
Whatever the case, as this picture suggests, the Airforce sure is here now. Pay close attention, the plane marked ‘Polish Air Force’ is the Hercules C-130 cargo plane predicted to land by the Polish Press in July. The Hercules, a descendant of the famous C-54 which in 1949 broke the Soviet blockade of Berlin, serves as a gruesome reminder of the backbreaking potential of a rugged cargo-plane in Eastern Europe. In addition to paratroopers, the turboprop military transport can fulfill wildfire fighting duties as well as reconnaissance. It’s ideal for insulting the enemy; and serves as a sobering reminder that the US can invade Russia with far greater finesse than Russia may ever invade Europe.
The US Congress last week passed legislation against Russians suspected in the torture of Andrei Magnitsky. Russia promised offense, taking issue with American legislators who keep prisoners locked away in GITMO Cuba as subjects of terror. In the time being, a botched arms deal to the tune of some 4 billion with normally compliant Syria preceded the ousting of General Nikolai Makarov for corruption charges, dumping valuable military assets without recouping their value. Which, all in all, signals that Russian officials are dealing with having to tighten their belts and conserve cash. After all, that is what the Magnitsky legislation calls for: asset redistribution.
In the last couple of weeks, we have seen botched Russian arms deals in Syria, corruption rattling top Russian brass, American legislators declaring war on suspicious Russians, and the Air Force showing off its plan of attack – a CARGO plane. Then Thanksgiving and the day after that when the Polish Press announced that the Congress building nearly averted a 4 ton TNT attack; that LGBTA websites across the land have been hacked and that Gays and Lesbians should change their passwords; and that Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk proposes to arrange a State Tribunal for the twin brother of fallen President Lech Kaczyński for suspicions of corruption. Mr. Kaczyński served as his brother’s Prime Minister and is still a leading candidate against Tusk power in Poland. This is despite an ostentatious grieving period that has seen the former Prime Minister concoct conspiracy after conspiracy to atone for the death of his brother and some 90 serving senior cabinet ministers in a Tupolev 154 in Smolensk, Russia, on April 10 of 2010.
Whatever will happen next?