BORISOV, 12 November (BelTA) – In the last three years the Belarusian army doubled the number of surprise drills involving the deployment of troops near the state border, BelTA learned from Belarusian Defense Minister Andrei Ravkov during a seminar for heads of mass media with nationwide coverage on 12 November.
The defense minister said: “In the last three years we've increased the intensity of combat exercises by more than 20% and we've doubled the number of surprise checks involving the deployment of troops near the state border.”
The defense minister noted that military activity in Europe, including in the countries Belarus borders with, had increased considerably.
In the last six years the military contingent deployed by NATO and the USA in the course of Operation Atlantic Resolve and Operation Enhanced Forward Presence in the countries Belarus borders with has increased by 13 times – from 550 people to over 7,000 people while the number of weapons and units of military hardware has been increased by five times.
The number of personnel in the NATO response force has been increased from 25,000 to 40,000 people. Plans are being implemented to reinforce the American battle group in Eastern Europe.
As of mid-October 2019 a tank battalion of the U.S. army (500 personnel, 29 Abrams tanks, and 25 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles) is deployed in Lithuania 15km away from the Belarusian border as part of the ongoing Operation Atlantic Resolve. In other words, American armored vehicles have been deployed at the Belarusian border for the first time ever.
“It is understandable it is neither aggression nor a direct military threat. But the growing military danger for Belarus is a fact,” the defense minister noted.
Apart from that, the USA continues working out ways to create and deploy major combined-arms battle groups in the Eastern Europe region. Plans have been made to practice the relevant matters during the forthcoming multinational exercise Defender Europe 2020. The exercise will take place in ten countries, including Poland and the Baltic states. The declared number of troops is close to 37,000 people, including 20,000 U.S. army personnel.
The main purpose of the exercise is to practice the relocation of an American combined-arms force to Europe and check the readiness and capabilities of the relevant European infrastructure to accommodate the reinforcements. Weapons and military hardware will be transported to the exercise areas from the USA and from forward storage areas in European countries. The exercise Defender Europe 2020 will be an intermediate step in the comprehensive evaluation of the measures being taken since 2016 to increase the so-called military mobility.
In the last five years the number of exercises staged by NATO near Belarusian borders and the number of personnel deployed during such exercises have been more than doubled. While troops are being deployed in neighboring countries, the relevant military infrastructure is getting improved. The efforts prioritize modernizing exercise areas and airfields. Legislation is passed to simplify the relocation and deployment of NATO troops within borders of the European Union.
“Military spending has also increased substantially. In the last five years military spending increased by 30% in Poland, by nearly 150% in Lithuania, and by 200% in Latvia,” Andrei Ravkov stated.
Since confrontation between the East and the West is on the rise, Belarus pursues a policy based on concrete priorities.
“At the same time we are forced to respond to more vigorous military activity in Europe, including in direct proximity to our borders. I am not talking about only symmetric answers,” the defense minister said. “We've anticipated such development of the military and political situation. This is why steps in response are taken in a routine fashion.”
According to the defense minister, Belarus' Armed Forces develop continuously. They get cutting-edge and modernized weapons and military hardware. Troops train for highly mobile warfare. The development of the air force and air defense, missile troops, special operations forces is prioritized. The country has been taking the steps for two decades.
Back in 2007 the army decided to set up units with a high degree of readiness. Immediate response forces and rapid response forces were established as a result. Such units are part of the ground forces, the air force, and the air defense.
Apart from that, measures will be taken to reinforce the state border and deploy more ground troops in the direction of Lithuania. Deployment plans of the Belarusian-Russian regional battle group will be adjusted in 2020.
The adoption of the national information security concept is a timely move. The Defense Ministry has helped prepare it and has made a number of fundamental proposals to ensure the security of information systems and hardware.