Swedish, US troops drill on remilitarized Baltic Sea island
VISBY, Sweden — Having to defend Gotland against a foreign invasion seemed such a far-fetched notion to Swedish decision-makers at the start of the century that they demilitarized the Baltic Sea island.Now, the Swedish Armed Forces are back, and they are practicing with U.S. troops not just how to defend the island with a population…
VISBY, Sweden — Having to defend Gotland against a foreign invasion seemed such a far-fetched notion to Swedish decision-makers at the start of the century that they demilitarized the Baltic Sea island.Now, the Swedish Armed Forces are back, and they are practicing with U.S. troops not just how to defend the island with a population of 58,000, but how to take it back from a foreign aggressor.U.S. Marines have conducted air drops and amphibious landings on Gotland as part of a NATO exercise in the Baltic Sea.Though the annual BALTOPS exercise isn’t held in response to a specific threat, this year’s edition comes amid heightened tensions with Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. About 7,000 military personnel and 45 ships from 14 NATO countries, as well as Sweden and Finland, took part.RELATEDHow Sweden and Finland could reshape NATO’s northern securityThe accession of Finland and Sweden, historically neutral nations, is expected to transform Europe’s security landscape for years to come. Their armed forces and geography would seriously complicate any further aggression Russia might want to try in the region, defense officials and national security experts say.Despite their non-aligned status, the two Nordic have practiced regularly with NATO countries, and their governments decided in the wake of the Ukraine war to seek full membership in the Western military alliance.“I’m feeling really prepared. I mean, we have made a big deployment on Gotland, and we will defend Gotland,” Swedish Col. Magnus Frykvall, the island’s regiment commander, said as military hardware was being deployed on the coast. “It’s a really hard task to take a defended island.”Strategically located in the middle of the southern part of the Baltic Sea, Gotland has seen foreign invasions throughout its history, the most recent one in 1808, when Russian forces briefly occupied it.US troops on Gotland beach following amphibious landing drill, part of BALTOPS annual Baltic Sea military exercise in Tofta, Gotland, Sweden on Wednesday, June, 7, 2022. (James Brooks/AP) But after the Cold War ended, Sweden felt the risk of a Russian aggression was so remote it refocused its armed forces on foreign peacekeeping operations rather than territorial defense. The Gotland regiment was closed in 2005 as Sweden downsized its military.Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014 led to a rethink, and a new regiment was established on Gotland in 2018. There are now around 400 Swedish soldiers permanently based on the island. Further reinforcements are planned following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.Nonetheless, many Gotlanders feel Sweden would not be able to defend the island on its own.“If we were to be invaded, we wouldn’t stand a chance because our defense is too small. We have a really modern and good defense, but it’s too small,” said Lars Söderdahl, a 33-year-old chef in the island’s main town, Visby.Sweden, which has stayed out of military alliances since the Napoleonic Wars, applied for NATO membership together with Finland in a historic move last month. NATO’s existing 30 members are set to discuss the issue this month. Turkey has threatened to hold up the applications over the two countries’ perceived support for Kurdish groups.Finland and Sweden have sought security assurances from the U.S. and other NATO countries during the application period.Kicking off the BALTOPS exercises last weekend in Stockholm, U.S. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it was important for the NATO allies “to show solidarity with both Finland and Sweden.”Their membership in the alliance would leave Russia in a difficult military position, with the Baltic Sea encircled by NATO members except for in Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad and the Russian city of St. Petersburg and its surrounding areas.The strategic importance of Gotland, a popular summer vacation spot for Swedes, is often viewed in relation to the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which are particularly worried about any Russian aggression following the Ukraine invasion. Gotland is about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from mainland Sweden and 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the coast of Latvia,“The thing is, from here, you make supplying and supporting the Baltic states a lot easier or a lot more difficult, depending on who is in control of the island,” Mikael Norrby, an Uppsala University academic, told The Associated Press.Coinciding with the NATO exercises, Russia’s Baltic Fleet launched its own military exercises this week. The fleet’s press service referred to the maneuvers Tuesday as a scheduled exercise focused on “various types of security tasks,” including the tracking and destruction of enemy submarines.“There are more than 20 warships and boats in the sea ranges of the Baltic Fleet, performing combat tasks both individually and as part of ship search-and-strike groups and ship strike groups,” the press service said in a statement.It added that corvettes, patrol ships, small missile carriers, anti-submarine vessels, minesweepers, and landing hovercraft were among the vessels taking part in the exercises.Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.
Son of former LA Dodger Steve Sax killed in California Osprey crash
LOS ANGELES — Former Los Angeles Dodgers player Steve Sax has issued a statement saying that his 33-year-old son who had always dreamed of being a pilot was among five U.S. Marines killed during a training flight crash earlier this week in the California desert.Capt. John J. Sax was among the aircrew of an Osprey…
LOS ANGELES — Former Los Angeles Dodgers player Steve Sax has issued a statement saying that his 33-year-old son who had always dreamed of being a pilot was among five U.S. Marines killed during a training flight crash earlier this week in the California desert.Capt. John J. Sax was among the aircrew of an Osprey tiltrotor aircraft that went down during training in a remote area in Imperial County, about 115 miles (185 kilometers) east of San Diego and about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Yuma, Arizona.Capt. John J. Sax (Marine Corps) “It is with complete devastation that I announce that my precious son, Johnny was one of the five US Marines that perished on Wednesday, June 8, in the Osprey Military crash near San Diego,” Steve Sax said in a statement published Saturday by CBSLA-TV.“For those of you that knew Johnny, you saw his huge smile, bright light, his love for his family, the Marines, the joy of flying airplanes and defending our country! He was my hero and the best man I know, there was no better person to defend our country.”The former Dodger said his son had wanted to be a pilot since he was young and would talk about the types of planes that were flying overhead while playing in the outfield in Little League baseball.“There was never any doubt from a young age that Johnny would be a pilot and his passion was to fly!” the statement said. “This loss will change my life forever and is a loss to not only the Marines but this world!”Steve Sax played in the Major Leagues from 1981 to 1994, winning two world championships during his seven years as a second-baseman with the Dodgers. Fans, Major League Baseball and the team offered condolences on social media.“The Los Angeles Dodgers are saddened to hear about the passing of Steve Sax’s son, John, and the five Marines who lost their lives in this week’s tragic helicopter accident. Our thoughts and condolences go out to their families and friends,” the Dodgers said in a tweet Saturday.John J. Sax is survived by his wife, Amber, who is pregnant with their second child, and their 20-month-old daughter, said Dodgers spokesperson Steve Brener.Sax, of Placer, California, was one of two pilots killed in the crash, along with Capt. Nicholas P. Losapio, 31, of Rockingham, New Hampshire.Also killed were three tiltrotor crew chiefs: Cpl. Nathan E. Carlson, 21, of Winnebago, Illinois; Cpl. Seth D. Rasmuson, 21, of Johnson, Wyoming; and Lance Cpl. Evan A. Strickland, 19, of Valencia, New Mexico.The Marines were based at Camp Pendleton and assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 364 of Marine Aircraft Group 39, part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing headquartered at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.The Osprey, a hybrid airplane and helicopter, flew in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but has been criticized by some as unsafe. It is designed to take off like a helicopter, rotate its propellers to a horizontal position and cruise like an airplane.The cause of the crash was under investigation.
Brookings places retired Marine general on leave amid FBI probe
The prestigious Brookings Institution placed its president, retired four-star Marine Gen. John Allen, on administrative leave Wednesday amid a federal investigation into Allen’s foreign lobbying.Brookings’ announcement came a day after The Associated Press reported on new court filings that show the FBI recently seized Allen’s electronic data as part of an investigation into his role…
The prestigious Brookings Institution placed its president, retired four-star Marine Gen. John Allen, on administrative leave Wednesday amid a federal investigation into Allen’s foreign lobbying.Brookings’ announcement came a day after The Associated Press reported on new court filings that show the FBI recently seized Allen’s electronic data as part of an investigation into his role in an illegal foreign lobbying campaign on behalf of the wealthy Persian Gulf nation of Qatar.An FBI agent said in an affidavit in support of a search warrant there was “substantial evidence” that Allen had knowingly broken a foreign lobbying law. Allen had made false statements and withheld “incriminating” documents, the FBI agent’s affidavit said.Allen has not been charged with any crimes and previously denied any wrongdoing.Brookings told staffers Wednesday that the institute itself is not under federal investigation. The think tank’s executive vice president, Ted Gayer, will serve as acting president.“Brookings has strong policies in place to prohibit donors from directing research activities,” the email said. “We have every confidence in the Brookings team’s ability to remain focused on delivering quality, independence, and impact.”The federal investigation involving Allen has already ensnared Richard G. Olson, a former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan who pleaded guilty to federal charges last week, and Imaad Zuberi, a prolific political donor now serving a 12-year prison sentence on corruption charges. Several members of Congress have been interviewed as part of the investigation.The new court filings detail Allen’s behind-the scenes efforts to help Qatar influence U.S. policy in 2017 when a diplomatic crisis erupted between the gas-rich Persian Gulf monarchy and its neighbors.Allen’s alleged work for Qatar involved traveling to Qatar and met with the country’s top officials to offer them advice on how to influence U.S. policy, as well as promoting Qatar’s point of view to top White House officials and members of Congress, the FBI’s affidavit says.Brookings is one of the most prestigious think thanks in the U.S.Allen, who was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution prior to becoming president in late 2017, used his official email account at the think tank for some of his Qatar-related communications, the affidavit says.Qatar has long been one of Brookings’ biggest financial backers, though the institution says it has recently stopped taking Qatari funding.
Lawmakers want Army to set up program to experiment with electrical tactical vehicle operations
Oshkosh Defense debuted a hybrid electric version of its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle in a virtual event on Jan. 25, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Oshkosh Defense)WASHINGTON — House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Subcommittee lawmakers want the U.S. Army to establish and run a pilot program examining how electric tactical vehicles might operate in…
Oshkosh Defense debuted a hybrid electric version of its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle in a virtual event on Jan. 25, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Oshkosh Defense)WASHINGTON — House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Subcommittee lawmakers want the U.S. Army to establish and run a pilot program examining how electric tactical vehicles might operate in the field.In the Army’s climate strategy released earlier this year, the service laid out a goal to field hybrid electric tactical vehicles by 2035 and all-electric vehicles by 2050. But with that pledge comes a complicated logistics tail for maintaining and recharging them on the battlefield.The Army also approved a tactical and combat vehicle electrification, or TaCV-E, initial capabilities document in December 2021 that “informs the transition to advancing electrification capabilities and operational requirements generation for the ground vehicles fleet,” according to the subcommittee’s fiscal 2023 authorization mark.The subcommittee members are “interested if electrification in the near term is achievable for tactical ground vehicles given the evident operational benefits associated with reduced vehicle thermal and noise signature, increased dash speed and reduction in liquid fuel requirements.”RELATEDBy prototyping and experimenting with TaCV-E, the military could gain a better understanding of what is needed to operate and to inform planning and potential issues, the mark states.The subcommittee said there is “considerable and apparent” value for the service to enter into Cooperative Research and Development Agreements, also known as CRADAs, with industry partners.And the Army should establish a pilot program at one of the combat training centers, like the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, to experiment and demonstrate “integrated electrification capabilities” to include electric vehicles, mobile fleet charging systems and exportable power generation during operational training exercises, the subcommittee suggests.Should the language make it into the final FY23 authorization bill, the Army secretary would be required to provide by Jan. 15 a report to the HASC on whether a pilot program would be feasible and what the effort would cost.As Defense News first reported, the Army is preparing its first-ever operational energy strategy, which is expected by the end of the year. In the strategy, the Army would map out how it manages and distributes power in operations across the battlefield.The Army is already working with industry in a number of ways, including assessing capabilities at exercises stateside such as the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment.The service is assessing the possibility of fielding a hybrid electric version of several of its vehicles, including the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle.Oshkosh, the JLTV’s manufacturer, unveiled earlier this yea, a hybrid version of the vehicle, but the Army does not have a stated requirement for the capability yet. And the service plans in FY23 to decide whether it will pursue a hybrid Bradley.The most likely candidate to become an all-electric tactical vehicle is the Electric Light Reconnaissance Vehicle. The Army has looked at a variety of options through demonstrations, but has yet to fund the effort.Last year, Army Futures Command’s Applications Laboratory picked companies to participate in a cohort to develop ways to power electric vehicles in austere, remote locations.A separate mark of the FY23 authorization bill would require the Pentagon to set up a pilot program for transitioning entire non-tactical vehicle fleets at certain installations to electric power.The HASC’s readiness subcommittee wants the secretary of each military department to select an installation for the pilot and submit a plan to make all non-tactical vehicles at that location electric-powered by 2025.Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College.