John Vandiver

Russian prime minister calls US plans for breaking Kaliningrad air defenses ‘idiotic’

A U.S. general’s comments about a plan to break through Russian air defenses in the military exclave of Kaliningrad if necessary were dismissed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as “idiotic,” Russia’s Tass news agency has reported.

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US holds rare talks with rebel leader in Libya in hopes of brokering peace deal

U.S. diplomats and military officials met this week with a Libyan militia leader whose offensive on Tripoli earlier this year forced American troops out of the country, but who is now seen as key to ending the country’s eight-year-old civil war.

US airstrike kills Islamic State fighters in Libya

A U.S. airstrike has killed eight Islamic State fighters in southwestern Libya, marking the first such attack by American forces in the country this year, U.S. Africa Command said Friday.

New AFRICOM chief in Niger to assess security in volatile western Africa

U.S. Africa Command’s Gen. Stephen Townsend met with American troops in Niger on Thursday during a visit to assess security in the West Africa region, which is grappling to counter several Islamic militant groups.

Military launches massive sea drill in warfighting test

The U.S. military has ordered dozens of ships to sea in a massive stress test to determine if reserve transport vessels — crucial for mobilizing large numbers of troops and forces in a conflict — are up to the job.

New NATO command in Germany will move troops and tanks to hot spots

A new NATO command focused on speeding up the movement of allied troops and tanks around Europe has reached “initial operating capability,” the alliance said.

Virtual training ground in the works as Army pushes ahead with cyberwarfare plan

The U.S. Army is adding more cyber defense teams and intensifying the training required of its high-tech operators to better equip them to take on 21st-century adversaries, the head of U.S. Cyber Command said.

Morocco arms up in another weapons deal with US, this one worth about $1 billion

A deal that still requires Congressional approval calls for the sale of $776 million anti-armor TOW missiles and various supporting elements to bolster Morocco’s ground defenses, as well as $209 million in bombs to arm its F-16s.

In Africa, military faces limited options when it comes to speedy care of injured

Cutting alert times for rescue aircraft and mobile surgical teams could boost survival rates for U.S. military personnel deployed to remote locations in Africa, where low-quality hospitals and long travel times pose a risk for troops, a new study said.

Poll: In a Russia-US conflict, Europeans favor neutrality over America

When people were asked who their country should side with in the event of conflict between the U.S. and Russia, majorities in all but one country said it would be best to not pick sides.

Survey finds American support strong for NATO, mixed on overseas bases

U.S. backing of NATO is at an all-time high, but there is less support for basing troops in Europe than in the Pacific or Middle East, according to a survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Report urges greater intel-sharing with allies about unconventional Russian attacks

The U.S. should start by declassifying intelligence for public release more quickly to counter denials from Moscow, particularly related to destabilizing disinformation campaigns, the report said.

Army ranges in Europe need upgrades to meet more demanding marksmanship standards

The U.S. Army expects to know soon what changes must be made at ranges in Europe to meet new, more demanding marksmanship training requirements for soldiers, service officials said.

Court allows reservists’ housing allowance case against Army to proceed

The reservists said they lawfully received dual housing allowances — one for their homes of record and one for off-base housing they were ordered to live in while in Europe. The dual allowance payments ended once the soldiers were accused of receiving payments fraudulently.

Home team Lithuanian troops triumph in world ground force competition

Three Lithuanian units swept the top spots in this year’s International Best Squad Competition, outperforming 13 other teams that included a U.S. Army contingent, officials said Friday.

Soldier is first to achieve perfect score on new Army fitness test

Maj. Timothy Cox, who serves with the 22nd Chemical Battalion at Fort Bliss, scored a 600 on the Army Combat Fitness Test.

Army readies tougher tests for grading soldier shooting skills

The Army is revamping small-arms training with tougher marksmanship tests designed to better prepare troops — whether cook or infantryman — to shoot straight while under duress.

Stuttgart’s Ins Blaue a tasty haven from summer heat

The temperature was over 90 degrees outside, and it felt even worse in our stuffy Stuttgart home where we reside without air conditioning like the natives. On dog days like these, it’s best to head out for dinner — preferably someplace green and lush.

europe quick trips

Heidesee lake offers swimming, waterslides in a bucolic setting northwest of Stuttgart

Germany’s hottest summer on record has meant more family trips to the local swimming pool than years past, but repeated dips in familiar water can get old.

AFRICOM’S new boss to face threats in Somalia and beyond

Next week Gen. Stephen J. Townsend will make his first trip to East Africa, where the U.S. faces a complicated security situation in places like Somalia.

US looks to Greece for more military rotations in Mediterranean

The United States wants to increase troop rotations into Greece and gain more access to bases that can facilitate missions stretching from the eastern Mediterranean into the Black Sea and Balkans, America’s top diplomat in Athens said.

Turkey hints at pulling access to Incirlik and Kurecik if US acts over Russian weapons purchase

If Washington slaps sanctions on Turkey over its acquisition of a Russian air defense system, U.S. use of two strategically vital bases could be at risk, the country’s foreign minister suggested.

EUCOM says no deal yet on Stuttgart firing range noise dispute

A week after Army officials here said the U.S. military had agreed to shoulder the entire $1.2 million added to the bill for a noise reduction project at a Stuttgart area firing range, U.S. European Command is saying not so fast.

Pentagon reconsiders plan to relocate key US intelligence hub within Britain

A U.S. intelligence gathering hub at RAF Molesworth, one of several American bases that had been slated for closure, could stay where it is as the Pentagon reconsiders a plan to move the center to a different site.

Army command in Germany warns personnel of potential FaceApp privacy risks

U.S. military officials in Europe have issued a “cyber alert” warning that a photo filter application owned by a Russia-based company could pose a security risk.

Air Force sends F-35s, F-15s to Europe in combat readiness test

The U.S. Air Force sent a group of fighters and transport aircraft to Poland, Lithuania and Estonia Tuesday in a test of the service's ability to quickly deploy air power overseas, the military said.

Proposed law calls on Pentagon to consider more troops, surveillance in Baltic region

The Baltic region has long been an area of concern for the U.S. military in Europe, and U.S. military and Western security analysts have warned that NATO allies may be outgunned by Russia in the Baltics.

Turkey takes shipment of Russian S-400 missile defense system despite US warnings

The first shipment of a sophisticated Russian missile defense system arrived in Turkey on Friday, as the prospect of U.S. sanctions looms over the NATO ally.

Supplements containing steroids found at Moody Air Force Base exchange

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service said 5 Star Nutrition has blocked the sale of the products, “Alpha Shredded” and “Trenatestin,” on military installations.

Army bill jumps by $1.2 million for noise reduction at Stuttgart area range

The U.S. Army has agreed to pay an additional $1.2 million to cover the costs of a project to lower noise levels at a suburban Stuttgart firing range, where frustrated locals have long complained about the crackle of gunfire.

In a first, Chinese military deploys for medical drill with German forces in Europe

The Chinese army for the first time has deployed armored medical vehicles and personnel to Europe to conduct training with the German military, marking a groundbreaking foray into NATO territory.

US drones make temporary move to Black Sea region

The shift south for a group of MQ-9 Reapers was prompted by construction at their main operating base in northwest Poland, U.S. Air Forces in Europe said.

New commander will oversee Marines from the Arctic to Africa

Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Hermesmann will lead a mission that involves everything from countering Russia in the High North to improving the combat skills of allies involved in counterterrorism fights in Africa.

Ukraine seeks weapons through Pentagon foreign sales program for first time

America’s top diplomat in Ukraine said the U.S. is in the process of reviewing the request. While the West has offered various forms of support to Ukraine’s military since 2014, the U.S. only recently began providing lethal military gear.

NATO, Russia talks yield no progress as demise of key missile ban looms

High level talks between the U.S.-led NATO alliance and Russian officials Friday failed to produce a solution in a dispute over a new Russian missile system that is putting at risk a Cold War-era arms control treaty.

US Africa Command provided backup during deadly attack in Niger

The U.S. military provided surveillance support and helped with the evacuation of Niger forces during a battle with suspected Islamic militants last week, AFRICOM said.