In Digest, Europe - East

Czechs plan multiple protests of U.S. Army’s ‘Operation Dragoon Ride’

Sputnik News, March 28, 2015 (see reports below)

U.S. Army 'Operation Dragoon Ride' across E. Europe in March 2015, photo by Ints Kalnins, Rueters

U.S. Army ‘Operation Dragoon Ride’ across E. Europe in March 2015, photo by Ints Kalnins, Rueters

A series of protests are planned this week by Czech activists, as opposition mounts to the US army convoy set to reach Czech borders on Sunday, the penultimate destination on its 1,800 kilometer military move through eastern Europe.

Prague’s Wenceslas Square is set to witness a demonstration planned for Saturday afternoon, organized by the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia [KSCM], the third largest party in the Czech Republic’s Lower House of Parliament. Also involved in the demonstration are civic groups including the “No to the Bases” initiative, which campaigns against the establishment of a permanent US military base in the Czech Republic, and the “Movement for Direct Democracy.”

A protest held on Thursday in the town of Vyskov by local members of the KSCM and the community group “Alternativa Zdola” had 327 attendees confirmed on Facebook, while Ceske Noviny reports that more protests are planned for Sunday, with one to be held at Prague’s Jiraskovo Square, and another near the Vltavska metro station. A blockade of the US convoy is planned in the town of Harrachov, through which the US army plans to travel after crossing the Polish border on Sunday.

The ten day long “Operation Dragoon Ride” began March 21 in Estonia and over the following week traveled through Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The convoys are due to reach their final destination in the Bavarian town of Vilseck, Germany, on April 1. The Czech government has allowed the parade to enter the country.

The parade marks a departure from usual military policy, by which such convoys are typically transported by rail and was devised by commander, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, US army commander in Europe. The intention to show NATO military capabilities follows an increase in military exercises undertaken by the US and NATO around Russia’s western borders since the Crimea voted to join the Russian Federation a year ago.

As well as around 400 army personnel and about 120 vehicles including Stryker combat units, the US army is keen to use social media as a means of demonstrating its military strength. In one of a series of videos posted to Youtube by the US army over the course of the operation, Hodges told viewers that he is very proud to “be a part of the longest move in Europe since World War Two,” while Friday’s post from Poland demonstrated a flyby of A-10 Thunderbolt II attack planes.

Tanks? No tanx! Rally of hundreds in Prague on March 28, 2015:


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