In Poland and the Baltic States the command-staff phase of the “ANAKONDA-2018” NATO military exercises, which will last until December 6th, started on November 26th. The beginning of the exercises was preceded by the military computer situational game held on October 17th-19th with the participation of the operative command of the Polish army, the joint command of NATO, and the HQ of the Multinational Corps Northeast. During the game procedures of transferring responsibility for military operations from national command structures to structures of the alliance were coordinated.
This was preceded by the November 7th-16th LIVEX army exercises on the territory of Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and also in the water areas of the Baltic Sea, including the organisation of a crossing through the Vistula, the training of combat aircraft based on highways, and liberating a ship seized by the enemy near the port of Gdynia in the presence of weapons of mass destruction. Actions were alsotested during an attack on sea vessels using blister agents. According to the narrative of the exercises, a poisonous gas was sprayed from the air over the Polish trawler “Dabie”.
A number of episodes of “ANAKONDA”were organised in the Polish cities of Bialystok, Chełm and Wielbark. In Bialystok, which adjoins to Belarus, the compulsory resettlement of the civilian population from a zone of military operations was for the first time practiced. Such tactics were applied in 1941 by the Wehrmacht for the purpose of hiding a concentration of troops on the Soviet borders. On the official website of NATO it was reported that in the “ANAKONDA-2018” exercises about 12,500 servicemen took part in Poland and about 5000 servicemen in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; 5,000 units of military equipment, 45 ships and 150 planes and helicopters were involved.
According to the official narrative of NATO, the task of the exercises was the verification of the “interoperability of the Polish Armed Forces with participating troops from 10 NATO allies: Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Turkey, and the United States”. The exercises were led by the Commander of Polish Armed Forces Operational Command Major General Tomasz Piotrowski.
Key training events during “ANAKONDA”, as was reported on the website of NATO, were river crossings and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) defence, military medicine, and live-firings by Polish and US troops.
It is noteworthy that there is a difference between the large number of military equipment involved during the exercises and the rather small number of military personnel (12,500 in Poland and 5,000 in the Baltic States). Perhaps such figures are given in order to avoid the need to invite foreign observers to the exercises (if the number of military personnel participating in manoeuvres exceeds 13,000, then it is necessary to invite observers from neighbouring countries).
Russian websites, referencing the opinion of experts, estimate the total number of NATO troops participating in exercises at 100,000 people, which is certainly closer to the real number of troops. It is enough to glance at the map of the range of “ANAKONDA-2018”to understand that during these exercises the encirclement and subsequent concentric offensive on the “Kaliningrad Special Region” of Russia, including the deflection of a possible counterstrike from Belarus, is being rehearsed. The ultimate goal is the capture of Kaliningrad.
During the exercises the interaction of military governing bodies with civil bodies and separate elements of NATO command structures was practiced. According to the Polish“Rzeczpospolita“ publication, after difficult negotiations with the US military, an agreement was reached whereby they consented to allow 450“militiamen” from non-governmental militarised organisations – armed with models of small arms – to participate in the exercises.
The resettlement of the civilian population from the zone of military operations in urban conditions is caused, as we can assume, by the development of modern urban warfare tactics – city warfare. On the website of the American Modern War Institute at Vest Point a special subsection was created titled “Urban Warfare Project” where dozens of articles devoted to features of the “Urban Battlefield” were published. Thus,“prepare the Army for Future Urban Battlefield” is the title of an articlepublished in the spring of 2018 by the military intelligence officer in the US Army Reserve John Amble, who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Major John Spencer, who was a participant of two wars in Iraq. They refer to Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley, who considers that “the American Army is probably going to be fighting in urban areas”.
The regime of increased secrecy and the unwillingness of the American military to allow the Polish militiamen to participate in exercises, most likely, isconnected to NATO’s development of the modern military concept of “Multi-Domain Battle”, i.e., simultaneous military operations in five “domains” – on land, at sea, in the air, in space, and in cyberspace. Details of this preparation are kept secret.
The new tactics of the American infantry, “Networked Swarming”, which allows individual units to conduct autonomous combat operations without the use of electronic devices in the presence of a potential enemy’s powerful electronic warfare, were with high probability also worked out during the exercises.
This tactic is based on so-called stigmergy, i.e., the developed in advance decentralised actions of sabotage and assault groups, including in urban combat. Multi-domain stigmergy allows to create self-organising fighting“swarms” that function without electronic messages.
It is precisely the development of modern tactics of urban warfare, as we are supposed to believe, that explain why there is a practical absence of any reports about how the “ANAKONDA-2018” exercises are actually held, in contrast to the widely covered in the European media “Trident Juncture 2018” exercises, which took place on the territory of Norway and showed a level of coherence between the various national contingents of NATO that wasn’t that high.
Immediately after the “Trident Juncture 2018” exercises had ended on November 15th, the instructor of the Military Academy in West Point Major Travis Onischuk published an angryarticle on the website of Modern War Institute in which he severely criticised the methods and customs present in the American army. “Our ground combat forces are not ready for the harsh realities of combat against a near-peer adversary,” wrote Onischuk. “Our enjoyment of air supremacy and uncontested control of the electromagnetic spectrum—and the unlikelihood that either will continue in a major combat scenario have been well documented”.
In 2014, in his resonant article “From Estonia to Azerbaijan: American Strategy After Ukraine”, he explained the reasons for such unpreparedness:
“If the United States chooses to confront Russia with a military component, it must be on a stable perimeter and on as broad a front as possible to extend Russian resources and decrease the probability of Russian attack at any one point out of fear of retaliation elsewhere,” wrote Friedman wrote. “The ideal mechanism for such a strategy would be NATO, which contains almost all of the critical countries save Azerbaijan and Georgia.”
And Friedman then predicts the scenario of the “ANAKONDA-2018”exercises: “The Baltic salient, 145 kilometers (90 miles) from St. Petersburg in Estonia, would be a target for Russian destabilisation”.
Four years have passed since George Friedman wrote this article, and during this time the US and NATO have made significant progress in the creation of military infrastructure and supply bases adjacent to Russia’s borders.
In 2018 NATO planned to stage 106 joint simultaneous drills in several operational directions of the European theatre of military operations. In addition, 180 more national drills are staged in alliance member countries. Moreover, the scenario of “ANAKONDA-2018” offensive operations aimed at capturing Kaliningrad assume the possibility of using nuclear weapons.