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Ukraine Crisis – Military Flash Drive Thinking

Politics / Eastern Europe Apr 12, 2014 - 02:16 PM GMT

By: Andrew_McKillop


Infinite Caution or Disk Drive Memory Lapse?

US media including all major newspapers reported that American military planners considered using US Air Force planes, possibly under Nato insignia to drop “non lethal supplies”, including food rations to outnumbered and under-equipped Ukrainian troops facing superior Russian forces across the eastern border. But Pentagon chiefs settled instead for a less-conspicuous operation: They chose road haulage from Germany of meals-ready-to-eat, or MREs, and other “non lethal supplies” in commercial trucks with no military insignia. US defense officials disclosed that non-food items included night-vision goggles, fuel, tyres and body armor, adding that Kiev's government has asked the US for small arms and ammunition, including 5,000  5.56mm M16 assault rifles.

US editorialists went on to describe the Obama administration's dilemma. It set itself the goal of showcasing support for Ukraine's new leaders, despite their unelected Flash Mob rise to power. That was the first political neuron pulse from the Administration. It used Cold War-vintage, automatic plug-in programmed response to Threat From The East. Almost instantly after that, however, US policy makers feared that airdropped “non lethal supplies”, to Kiev's armed forces could or would embolden them to act more aggressively - giving Russia the pretext to seize more Ukrainian territory and roll further westward. Framed and set in ROM-type geopolitical memory of the Cold War Era, the West has a constant need to protect its eastern borders. It has already lost Crimea, so caution is needed but open military conflict between Nato and Russia is now possible. Send the assault rifles!

Massively quoted by world media, Nato's Supreme Allied Commander, US general Breedlove this week submitted his highly-cautious escalation program, using Nato forces to move up to the front line now stretching from Ukraine to the Baltic states. Outgoing Nato civilian chief, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said on April 10th that Russia's troops were "not training, but ready for combat. We have seen the satellite images, day after day."  Rasmussen added that military offers so far announced by the U.K., Denmark, France, Portugal, Italy and Germany are aimed at bolstering Nato's air-defense patrols over the Baltic states and that proposed measures will include air, naval and land army assets.

Again showing that fire-and-forget Cold War-era neurons are still alive and firing, the UK chief of Nato's crisis operations centre, Brigadier Gary Deakin firstly said in interview that "Threat is capability and intent”, adding that “Undoubtedly there is capability here," but: "We are unsure of the Russian intent”.  Brig. Deakin was also quoted by media as saying Crimea “needs to be supported”, and with “no land bridge” to Crimea this means that Russian naval movements around Crimea are expected to be significant. Military history shows that naval setpiece battles are one of the most traditional of all paths to escalation between major military powers.

The Time Machine

As we know from neurology,  the human brain's OS or operating system features axon-neuron connections, the axon of one neuron connecting with the dendrite of another neuron in a tiny chemical soup called a synapse. When enough signals arrive at the brain, the synapse soup builds beyond a critical size and the neuron converts chemicals in and around the synapse into one big electric pulse which it fires down its axons. This thought pulse is then converted to chemicals at the receptor neurons' synapses, and the brain's OS cycle continues.  To be sure the brain has several billion neurons and if each of them was the size of a thimble, the human brain would be the size of a large suburban house. To economize space and improve brain performance, neurons never fire continuous signals. They send a single pulse, then reset, or for military strategists we can say “fire and forget”. 

Totally unlike a computer with its fixed HDD, mobile RAM and increasingly flexible ROM, but much more like external flash drives, neurologists say the human brain's OS mostly works in “cascade mode”, much faster than any structured-architecture computer. The brain for example also uses an impressive number of different chemicals in synapse on-off sequences – recent research shows the brain's synapses even use so-called Junk DNA.

Basically the human brain fires-and-forgets, then moves on. However, using a flash drive reset – Cold War Era images are antique folk memories for any persons below about 40 years age – the brain can cycle this Junk Memory though its OS. For how long is the question.

Flash drives are cheap and expendable, 4 Giga drives able in text-only format to store several encyclopedias, are now even found with used soft drink and beer cans in the gutter. Naval setpiece battles, such as the 1905 Russian-Japanese Tsushima battle may be forgotten by most, but Nato strategists have that precious-to-them flash drive to hand. Unfortunately of course, their 1945 flash drive has plenty stored on the first use of atomic weapons, by the US, making a Crimean naval battle in 2014 either unlikely to start, or very short if it does start.

The big question is which of the flash drives do you plug in, last?  Cascading the thought of Western military strategists faced with the problem of how to punish Russia – militarily – their recourse to junk memory flash drives is obligatory. And we can fear the probable results.

Visible Assurance- Preventing Escalation

Clearly showing a schizoid choice of flash drive thinking, Nato military chief Breedlove has been quoted this week saying that Nato is now obliged to and will reassure “most exposed” east European member countries of the EU, while it also prevents escalation with Russia. This is confusing to common mortals, made more so by several members of the Nato military and civilian hierarchy also saying that Russia's annexation of Crimea cannot stand and must be “rolled back”.

General Breedlove has for example said the US could temporarily position small units of up to 200 troops each from the Italy-based 173rd Infantry Division in eastern EU frontline states, especially  Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Pentagon officials have been quoted saying these frontline states could be the theater for mobilizing the US 1st Brigade -1st Cavalry Division, presently based in Texas and designated as the principal US reaction force for Nato emergencies. They also say these are “deliberate small steps”  to reduce the risk that Moscow will treat them as provocation and respond by seizing a strip of Ukrainian territory linking the Crimean peninsula to Russia.

Nato and American military strategists and planners claim this action by Moscow is likely and may be imminent.
The escalation flash drives are to hand, and regularly plugged in and out – along with others – which for EU28 countries mainly feature the economic crisis module. Building up “non provocative” military assets, in theory at least, means that diplomatic, political and economic sanctions against Russia should increase. David Cameron of the UK, for example, called Russia's annexation of Crimea “a war crime”. In that case, massive sanctions are necessary, before military action which is also necessary, takes their place. Flash drive logic. Fire and forget!

The EU's large trade and economic interdependence with Russia, led by Germany and featuring about 30% - 33% of Europe's oil and gas supply makes for problems when interposing and flushing the economic and military flash drives through the political mindset. Simply cascading the contradictory and incompatible impulses, EU political leaders have made a point of creating and maintaining confusion on their real intentions – if they have them.

The real degree and interest of Washington in the Ukraine-Crimea-East Europe issue is also unsure, and some European analysts already cry “foul” on US intentions. They for example cite the mostly symbolic, but potential benefit for the US in exporting small amounts of LNG to Europe and a possible short-term fillip to the declining world value of the US dollar, that military escalation may bring.

Assuring EU states on the frontline with Russia is uber-Cold War, so we are obliged to conclude the more-antique flash drives are getting plenty of plug-in time. Our best hope is that like any flash drive, when its data is unplugged it instantly become unavailable, enable normal thinking to dominate.

By Andrew McKillop


Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012

Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

© 2014 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisor.

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