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Oct. 23, 2014
Notes from the Pentagon

B-52s buzz over Europe, and Swedes hunt for Russian sub
Large-scale NATO war games underway in Europe this week include the deployment of B-52 nuclear-capable bombers, as non-NATO member Sweden hunts for a Russian mini-submarine in its territorial waters.

U.S. Strategic Command said an unspecified number of bombers would conduct two long-range flights simulating conventional attacks as part of the NATO war games involving more than 20 warships and several submarines and aircraft in the Mediterannean. The games are called Noble Justification.

Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, said in a statement that the B-52 flights demonstrate a “flexible and always-ready force to respond to a variety of threats and situations.”

NATO leaders requested the bombers for the war games, which include 13,000 troops in Europe and the Mediterranean.

They are practicing “command, control and employment of simulated conventional weapons” attacks in cooperation with Spanish naval forces in what is known as the Maritime NATO Response Force.

NATO approved the force during a summit in Wales last month as a response to Russian aggression.

Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon strategic affairs policymaker, said Strategic Command’s deployment of bombers is a step in the right direction but should be used to demonstrate NATO’s tactical nuclear weapons simulation, in addition to conventional arms practice.

“The Russians are openly making various types of nuclear threats,” Mr. Schneider said. “Under these circumstances, an extended deterrence message is necessary.”

The alliance has stepped up exercises amid heightened tensions over Russia’s military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and ongoing subversion in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian military’s activities have unsettled many NATO allies, especially in Eastern Europe.

“It exercises a high-density, high-threat scenario in which NATO responds to a threat to its integrity, and the sovereignty, of its member states,” Royal Navy Vice Adm. Peter Hudson, NATO’s maritime commander, said in a statement.

No specifics of the scenario for Oct. 13-26 exercises have been disclosed. NATO said the war games are practice for response to “crisis situations anywhere in the world, at short notice.”

Meanwhile, Swedish naval forces on Wednesday continued the hunt for a Russian submarine among the scores of islands that make up the Stockholm archipelago near the capital.

The hunt began Oct. 16 after Swedish intelligence intercepted a message from the submarine to a Russian base at the Baltic Sea port of Kaliningrad. A Swedish military official described the vessel as a mini-sub of the type used by Spetsnaz, or Russian special operations forces, for electronic spying and human agent insertion and extraction.

Sweden’s supreme military commander, Gen. Sverker Goranson, told reporters on Tuesday: “Our aim now is to force whatever it is up to the surface with armed force, if necessary,” the Swedish news outlet The Local reported.

Several Swedish ships are searching for the sub, which was sighted briefly before it disappeared.

Andrew Marshall, longtime director of the Pentagon’s future warfare strategy center known as the Office of Net Assessment, will step down in January.

“For over four decades, Andy Marshall has been one of the United States’ leading national security thinkers, anticipating future threats and realizing opportunities that others often missed,” Rep. J. Randy Forbes, Virginia Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on sea power and projection forces, said in a statement on the retirement. “Through the strategists he mentored and advanced, Dr. Marshall’s legacy of analytical rigor and strategic foresight will continue for decades to come.”

Mr. Forbes urged the Net Assessment shop to maintain its role as a leader of strategic innovation and thinking without Mr. Marshall, who turned 93 last month.

The planned retirement was first reported by Defense News. A Pentagon spokeswoman said she had no announcement to make on Mr. Marshall’s status.

Considered a gifted strategic thinker, Mr. Marshall was dubbed the Pentagon’s “Yoda,” after the “Star Wars” Jedi master. He created the office in 1973 under the Office of the Secretary of Defense and achieved the remarkable bureaucratic feat of remaining its only director through a succession of Democratic and Republican administrations.

In 2011, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta was asked by Inside the Ring about rumors that Mr. Marshall would be replaced. “Andy Marshall? No, he’s an institution,” Mr. Panetta said.

Mr. Marshall had admirers and detractors, and was influential in changing Pentagon and U.S. military bureaucratic thinking on several strategic issues, notably China.

During the 1990s, Mr. Marshall used annual U.S. war games to coax the Navy into adopting a more realistic posture on the growing threat from China’s military, which had been downplayed by pro-China advocates in government and in academia.