On January 20, a changing of the guard occurred in the United States White House with two-term president George W. Bush being replaced by former freshman senator Barack Obama.
Bush had continued the policies of his predecessor Bill Clinton in relation to the Balkans, Iraq and Latin America - with troops and a massive military base in Kosovo, regular bombings of Iraq and a monumental expansion of military aid to Colombia - and in addition launched two wars of his own, those against Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq two years later.
Obama, so thoroughly does U.S. polity predetermine individual administrations' policies, entered office by intensifying the deadly drone missile attacks in Pakistan begun by Bush in late 2008 and announced that he was doubling the number of American troops in Afghanistan.
Already presiding over the world's largest military budget, officially 41.5% of world expenditures in 2008 and far larger with non-Defense Department spending factored in, in April the new president requested from Congress an additional $85 billion in supplemental funding for the war in Afghanistan and the occupation of Iraq.
U.S. lawmakers were more than accommodating and on July 24 Obama signed Iraq and Afghanistan War Supplemental Appropriations amounting to $106 billion.
On October 28, he signed the $680 billion 2010 National Defense Authorization Act which includes another $130 billion to fund what his administration now calls overseas contingency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
With the authorization of $106 billion in July, the last official supplemental appropriation for the wars, and $130 billion last month for Afghanistan and Iraq the combined official spending for both wars will exceed $1 trillion. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) 2009 Year Book, total international military spending for 2008 was not much more than that: $1.464 trillion.
Eight days after the authorization of the $680 billion Pentagon budget for next year, the New York Times reported that the top American military commander, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, said "he expected the Pentagon to ask Congress in the next few months for emergency financing to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," with the newspaper estimating the size of the demand to be $50 billion. 
Despite the Obama administration's pledge to the contrary, July's war supplement may not be the last one. It will simply be renamed an emergency appropriation. The first of many more to come.
Not only does one country account for the overwhelming plurality of world military expenditures, but that nation also has troops and bases on all six habitable continents (as well as a 54-year military mission in Antarctica, Operation Deep Freeze) and eleven aircraft carrier strike groups and six navy fleets that roam the world's oceans and seas at will. It is also expanding a global interceptor missile system on land, on sea, in the air and into space that will leave it invulnerable to retaliation.
Reports from the first twelve days of November indicate the global scope of the first attempt in history by one nation to achieve uncontested worldwide military power.
A survey of that period will trace recent trends across the globe with the alphabet as a compass.
Any day now Washington may announce plans to add 40,000 or more troops to the 68,000 already there.  Plans are underway to accommodate that influx.
The American military compound at and fanning out from the Bagram Air Field has been expanded from 3,993 to 5,198 acres since 2001 and is in the process of further enlargement. It already hosts some 25,000 U.S. troops and contractors and "a new parking ramp supporting the world's largest aircraft is to be completed this spring....[I]t is continuing to grow to keep up with the requirements of an escalating war and troop increases." 
Regarding non-military personnel at Bagram and elsewhere in the nation, "Contractors in Afghanistan outnumber U.S. troops there"  as they do in Iraq.
The Army Times recently reported on the main purpose of the airbase at Bagram. Last month the number of U.S. and NATO air strikes in Afghanistan was the highest since July of 2008, with 647 bombs dropped in October compared to 752 a year ago July. "The airstrike numbers don’t include strafing runs, attacks by special operations AC-130 gunships, launches of small missiles or helicopter attacks." 
A U.S. Defense Department news source reported on November 5 that Air Forces Africa commanders visited Mali and Senegal in West Africa. Vice commander Michael Callan "visited Mali's 33d Parachute Regiment, a unit that carries out operations using tactical vehicles and communication equipment provided by the U.S. Defense and State Departments." The Malian military is involved in a counterinsurgency war in the nation's north aided by Washington.
A commander of Mali's armed forces said, "Ninety-five percent of our soldiers were trained by the U.S, and we've engaged with you in exercises like Flintlock, Joint Planning and Assessment Teams and special bilateral training."  Flintlock military exercises have been held in different locations on the African continent for years, this year's being conducted by the new Africa Command (AFRICOM) for the first time. The U.S. also recently led multinational military exercises in Gabon and Uganda on both ends of the continent. 
The USS San Juan, "a fast-attack submarine," arrived in South Africa on November 4, "setting the stage for a series of first-ever, at-sea engagements with the South African Navy submarine force." 
Robert Simmons , NATO's special representative to the South Caucasus and Central Asia - former Senior Adviser to the United States Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs on NATO - was in this South Caucasus nation earlier this month and announced that he had recruited an initial contingent of Armenian troops for the war in Afghanistan. This marks the first deployment to that nation of soldiers from the Russian-led seven-nation Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a potential counterbalance to NATO in post-Soviet space.
"Simmons expressed NATO's 'appreciation to Armenia for its strong contributions' to alliance missions, which he said began in Kosovo and will now be repeated in Afghanistan." 
In reference to his mission of pulling yet another Russian ally into the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization orbit, Simmons said, "We are continuing cooperation with the Armenian Defense Ministry. NATO assists the implementation of reforms and the development of strategically important documents." 
After participating in NATO war games off the coast of Scotland, the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole paid visits to the capitals of Finland and Estonia in the Baltic Sea. "Cole hosted a reception in Helsinki, which was joined by Adm. Mark Fitzgerald, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, U.S. Naval Forces Africa and Allied Joint Forces Command Naples.
"Immediately following the departure from Helsinki, Cole arrived in Tallinn, Estonia, a few hours later." 
The beginning of this month the guided-missile frigate USS John L. Hall with sailors of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 48 "completed a theater security cooperation (TSC) port visit to Klaipeda, Lithuania."
A U.S. Navy official stated: "We are here as part of the United States Navy's continuing presence in the Baltic Sea....We are also here to work with the Lithuanian Navy, who has been a valuable partner and our visit here is part of the ongoing relationship between our two countries and our two navies."  
On November 3 Estonian Defense Minister Jaak Aaviksoo was at the Pentagon to meet with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Associated Press reported on the occasion that he was "discussing with the United States why NATO needs plans in case his region is attacked." 
In early November three high-ranking American military officials arrived in the country. The three - U.S. Army Lieutenant General Benjamin R. Mixon, Commanding General of U.S. Army, Pacific, Vice-Admiral John M. Bird, Commander of U.S. Navy 7th Fleet, and U.S. Marine Corps Major General Randolph D. Alles, Director for Strategic Planning and Policy at the U.S. Pacific Command - engaged in discussions focusing "on interoperability, readiness in the region, security-force assistance, and bilateral approaches to maintaining regional stability." 
On November 12 the U.S.-led Tiger Shark military exercises to train Bangladeshi naval commandos ended. A press release on the operation stated: "The training demonstrates the United States government's commitment to Bangladesh and to regional security by promoting military-to-military relationships throughout Asia and the Pacific." 
The Pentagon's European Command (EUCOM) reported on November 2 that its Joint Task Force-East had completed an almost three-month series of trainings in Bulgaria and Romania which began on August 7 and included Stryker and Airborne units destined for the war in Afghanistan.  "Nearly 600 members of the Romanian Land Forces, 500 Bulgarian Land Forces, and more than 1,500 U.S. service members participated in this year's combined training." 
After U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden's visit to the country on October 22, a news source in Romania wrote of Washington's new interceptor missile plans: "A strong and modern surveillance system located in Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey could monitor three hot areas at once: the Black Sea, the Caucasus and the Caspian and relevant zones in the Middle East." 
The Obama administration signed a ten-year military treaty with the Alvaro Uribe government on September 30 which "gives American military forces access to seven Colombian army, navy and air force bases, but also to major international civilian airports in the country. In addition, U.S. personnel and defense contractors will enjoy diplomatic immunity under the agreement." 
A copy of the pact surfaced on November 4 and detailed that it "allows Washington access to civilian airports as well as military bases" and as a result "the US will have access to all international airports across the Andean nation including airports in the cities of Barranquilla, San Andres, Cartagena, Bogota, Cali, Medellin and Bucaramanga." 
In the initial phase an estimated 1,400 U.S. personnel will be assigned to the seven bases with the likelihood that the number will be increased as Washington sees fit. 
Eva Golinger observed that one of the newly acquired bases, that at Palanquero, was identified by a American Air Force document as providing the Pentagon "an opportunity for conducting full spectrum operations throughout South America...." 
Two South American nations bordering or near Colombia, Venezuela and Bolivia, were not slow to respond.
Earlier this month Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stated in his weekly radio and television address that "We cannot waste one day to fulfill our mission: to prepare for war and help the people to get ready for war,"  warning that an armed conflict with the U.S. client regime in Bogota "could extend throughout the whole continent." 
Days earlier two Venezuelan National Guard troops were killed at a checkpoint near Colombia and Caracas deployed 15,000 troops to the border.
In his November 13 address Chavez added. "Don't make a mistake, Mr. Obama, by ordering an attack against Venezuela by way of Colombia." 
On the same day his Bolivian counterpart, President Evo Morales, warned "I am convinced that where there are military bases, the social peace, the democracy and the development of the nations as well as their integration are not guaranteed. These facilities are an open provocation against the peace."
Morales also said that he failed to comprehend how the American head of state could have been awarded the Peace Nobel Price "when his country does everything to promote wars and conflicts.
"Obama must justify that award by withdrawing all the troops of his country from around the world...." 
Following up on his visit to Prague in late October, on November 5 U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden hosted Czech President Vaclav Klaus at the White House and "they mostly discussed the U.S. plan for a new missile defence architecture."
The two "also talked about the situation in Afghanistan and Iran" and "Klaus said the United States knows that it is necessary to continue with the anti-missile project in Europe." 
The next day U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Alexander Vershbow met with Czech defense officials in their nation to discuss new American missile plans for Eastern Europe, ones intended to be "stronger, smarter, and swifter" than the previous Bush administration version and to incorporate all of Europe under a NATO umbrella.
Vershbow characterized the content of the talks as having presented "some concrete ideas to begin that process of developing the Czech role in the new approach" and said that the Czech contribution could include "potential facilities here on the territory of the Czech Republic." 
On November 4 the local press announced that "A few U.S. delegations will visit the Czech Republic in November, following up on the recent visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, including an expert military team that arrives in Prague this Friday."
One of those delegations will include Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Ellen Tauscher, who "recently said the command for the managing and control of elements of the new version of anti-missile defence could be stationed in the Czech Republic."
"The USA wants to build the system in cooperation with NATO." 
Earlier this week U.S. Marines completed the two-week Immediate Response 2009 military training exercises in the South Caucasus nation of Georgia. The preceding maneuvers of the same name, those of 2008 in which over 1,000 American troops participated, ended one day before Georgia started shelling neighboring South Ossetia and killed several people including a Russian peacekeeper. 
Days after that the U.S. client regime launched an all-out invasion of South Ossetia, triggering a five-day war with Russia.
The official purpose of this year's exercises was to train Georgian troops to serve under NATO command in Afghanistan, but a Russian news source saw matters differently:
"Immediate Response was clearly designed not to fight against the Taliban or al-Qaeda.....Commander of US Army in Europe General Carter Ham visited Georgia to inspect the exercises but no one came from Afghanistan.
"Perhaps, the exercises were aimed at issuing a warning to Russia." 
As the drills were ending Alexander Shliakhturov, chief of Russia's military intelligence, said "that he did not rule out that Georgia might again use force against breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia." 
A lengthier account of Shliakhturov's concerns appeared in the Georgian media and included these quotes:
"According to our information, Georgia is still getting military aid from Ukraine, Israel and NATO. NATO countries, especially Eastern European countries, provide Georgia with arms and equipment, Israel provides Georgia with air equipment, the USA trains Georgian troops and Ukraine provides Georgia with heavy equipment, namely, tanks."
"The Russian Intelligence Service is addressing other dangers too, namely, the efforts being made by the USA and NATO to bring Georgia and Ukraine into the alliance and the new US plan to locate anti-missile systems in Europe." 
Four days later other Russian sources revealed "that the United States plans to supply weapons, including a Patriot-3 air defense system and shoulder-launched Stinger missiles, worth a total of $100 million, to Georgia." 
The next day Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov "recalled the situation in the summer of 2008 when many countries ignored Russian warnings that modern arms in Saakashvili’s hands might prompt this man to unleash military aggression." 
The chief of the Russian General Staff, General Nikolai Makarov, said "Georgia is getting large amounts of weapons supplied from abroad" and "Georgian military potential is currently higher than last August ." 
Shortly after the Pentagon wrapped up the largest joint U.S.-Indian military exercises ever, Yudh Abhyas [Preparation for War] - which featured the first deployment of new American Stryker armored combat vehicles outside of Iraq and Afghanistan - at the end of October , it was announced that "India is negotiating with the United States to acquire state of the art Javelin anti-tank missiles worth several million dollars for large-scale induction." 
Days earlier former president George W. Bush was in India and called on his host nation to join in the war in Afghanistan, urging the U.S. and India to "work together to win the war in Afghanistan." 
In early November Arabic language news sources revealed that "The US military has finished erecting an advanced radar system in Iraq to monitor the border with Iran, Syria and Turkey" and that "the radar is a preparatory measure aimed at providing the United States and its allies advanced control capabilities in event of a US military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities." 
The largest-ever joint American-Israeli military exercises, the two-week Juniper Cobra 10, ended on November 3. They concentrated on live-fire missile interception exercises described by many observers as a test run for the new continent-wide NATO missile shield planned for Europe. 
Over 2,000 troops from the two nations and 17 U.S. warships participated in the war games to create "the infrastructure that would be necessary in the event that the Obama administration decides to deploy US systems here in the event of a conflict." 
The top military commander of United States European Command and of NATO, Admiral James Stavridis, paid a three-day call to Israel for the occasion and met with "Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, the Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Gantz and several other commanders." 
On November 1 American arms manufacturer Raytheon Company announced that it had secured contracts worth $100 million for a joint interceptor missile program of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and the Israel Missile Defense Organization.
The Pentagon's European Command has over 100 troops stationed in Israel's Negev Desert manning an advanced missile radar site there.
The South Korean Yonhap News Agency reported on November 1 that "The US and South Korea have completed joint action plans for responding to a regime collapse and other internal emergency situations in North Korea...." 
Citing an unidentified South Korean official, the report contains these details:
"South Korea and the US had long worked on Concept Plan 5029, to prepare for a regime collapse and other internal emergencies in North Korea.
“Since its inauguration last year, the [South Korean President] Lee Myung-bak government has pushed to convert the concept plan into an operational plan and it was recently completed.
"If the South Korea-US combined forces intervene in North Korea's internal instabilities, the South Korean military will assume the leading role in consideration of neighboring countries, while the US military will be responsible for the removal of the North's nuclear facilities and weapons." 
On the final day of last month Washington expressed its satisfaction at South Korea redeploying troops to Afghanistan shortly after Pentagon chief Robert Gates' visit to Seoul and the South Korean defense ministry on October 22.
"Washington supports and welcomes South Korea's plans to deploy troops to Afghanistan...the U.S. Department of State said." 
This month began with former U.S. president Bill Clinton arriving in the capital of Kosovo for the unveiling of a gaudy 11-foot gold-sprayed bronze statue of himself on November 1. 
He was being hailed by the breakaway entity's nominal prime minister, former Kosovo Liberation Army chieftain Hashim Thaci, for his role in launching the 78-day NATO air war against Yugoslavia in March of 1999. That sustained bombing campaign, Operation Allied Force, inaugurated the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as an active war-making machine and issued in the ten-year war cycle that continues to this day with no indication of it ever abating.
A Russian commentary of the following day put the ceremony in perspective:
"Over the course of the 10-week conflict, NATO aircraft flew over 38,000 combat missions; even the German Luftwaffe had its first taste of combat over the skies of Yugoslavia since having its wings clipped in World War II.
"The ensuing 78-day aerial bombardment campaign, which grew continuously more aggressive and reckless, spared little infrastructure: factories, bridges, roads and power stations were all bombed with deadly accuracy. As a result, thousands of innocent civilians suffered great deprivation on both sides of the battle.
"In perhaps the worst public relations disaster for NATO during the conflict, five US 'smart' bombs severely damaged the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, killing three Chinese journalists. NATO officials, in an effort to cool Chinese outrage, blamed the error on outdated maps. Chinese officials rejected both the apologies and explanations." 
Over the past year the nine-year-long U.S. and NATO war in Afghanistan has been extended into Pakistan, the so-called AfPak theater of operations.
On November 4 the U.S. launched its latest drone missile attack into North Waziristan, killing two Pakistanis.
"According to independent reports, since August 2008 alone, around 70 cross-border predator strikes carried out by American drones have resulted in the death of 687 Pakistani civilians." 
The Nation, a Pakistani daily newspaper, reported on November 12 that the massive increase in NATO convoys crossing the country en route to Afghanistan are overwhelming the country's highways and that "Pakistani authorities are simply helpless in checking truckloads of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) forces badly damaging the Indus Highway, the repair of which would cost billions of rupees to the national exchequer....NATO trucks and trailers have not been [held accountable] even once for the repair and maintenance work, while cracks are developing on the Indus Highway after every three to four months due to overloading...." 
A local news sources wrote on November 9 that "The US has deployed a new expeditionary force in the Persian Gulf - the first time a permanent self-sustaining US naval force has been set up in the region.
"The newly established Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 5 will serve in the area of responsibility of the US Navy 5th Fleet Combined Task Force (CTF) 51 in Manama, Bahrain," where the entire U.S. Fifth Fleet is based. 
Two American servicemen were killed in a mine attack in Mindanao in late September, the first official deaths in the U.S.-assisted counterinsurgency war against not only the Abu Sayyaf Group but also the Moro National Liberation Front and the New People's Army.
Filipino senators "called for the abrogation of the [Visiting Forces Agreement], saying the US Seabees killed in the explosion weren't supposed to be there, as...the presence of the alleged land mine constitutes the area as a war zone." 
Pentagon chief Robert Gates insisted earlier in the month "that some 600 US counter-terrorism troops will remain in the southern Philippines...." 
An opponent of the active American military involvement in the country said that "the US military has established its permanent presence in the Philippines through the auspices of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). Many of the US soldiers are currently deployed in Mindanao under the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines headquartered in Zamboanga City." 
On November 12 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Manila after the Philippine Senate recently passed a nonbinding resolution calling on the government to renegotiate the 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement, "which enables U.S. forces to train and assist Philippine troops" and "vowed...to continue American military support." 
Before departing for the Philippines Clinton hosted Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski in Washington "to discuss the new anti-missile shield plan." 
On the same day, November 2, U.S. Air Force personnel transferred five C-130 Hercules military cargo planes from the Ramstein Air Base in Germany to the Powidz Air Base in Poland.
A U.S. Air Force website offered these details: "Prepping Polish aircrews and maintainers for the transition to the larger Lockheed-Martin built Hercules has been accomplished with a blend of English language and specialty knowledge training at bases in Texas and Arkansas and through a type of work mentorship exchange between U.S. and Polish air force personnel...."
A Polish air force officer revealed the purpose of the U.S. transfer in stating "The main task for the C-130s is to support our contingency operations in Afghanistan, Chad, Africa and everywhere Polish troops and supplies are needed." 
After NATO defense chiefs, including the U.S.'s Gates, met in Slovakia late last month and U.S. Vice President Biden visited Poland at about the same time, Warsaw announced that it was deploying 600 more troops to Afghanistan, bringing the nation's total toward the 3,000 mark.
Sweden's Chief of Defense Staff General Sverker Goranson was in Washington, D.C. in early November and was interviewed by Defense News.
His nation, which has for decades presented itself as neutral, has 500 troops serving under NATO command in Afghanistan - Sweden and Finland are in charge of four northern provinces for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force - and five Swedish soldiers were injured in a roadside bomb explosion on November 11, two them seriously.
Goranson's comments demonstrate how far from anything resembling neutrality Sweden has recently strayed:
"The transformation we are conducting is a huge turnaround, and as I told Adm. [Michael] Mullen [U.S. Joint Chiefs chairman], we know where we are going....The major shift is globalization and the fact that most of the things we are dealing with aren't necessarily about national boundaries.
"What turned Sweden around is not focusing on national defense, but being a part of this globalized world and solving issues together, because wherever conflicts are, whether in the Balkans or Afghanistan...."
When asked about the potential for a showdown in the Arctic Circle with Russia, he spoke about starting "discussions between the United States, Norway, Denmark and Canada [all NATO members] about what are the borders....As part of the Nordic Battle Group, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark are already sharing the operational picture in the air and on the sea, and that can be extended to the High North."
Lastly, the Swedish visitor, whose meetings included one with the U.S.'s top military commander, acknowledged: "We had a defense resolution in 1996 that said the Swedish armed forces should be completely NATO-interoperable, which is the standard we have worked to accordingly, to make sure that wherever we go, as we did to Afghanistan." 
The government of Yemen is waging military operations against Shiite rebels in the north of the country and neighboring Saudi Arabia started launching air strikes against them earlier this month.
On November 10 Yemen's official news agency, Saba, announced that the U.S. has signed a military cooperation agreement with the nation.
The news agency also quoted Brigadier General Jeffrey Smith, the commander of the U.S. 5th Signal Command, "as renewing Washington's support for Yemen's unity, security and stability." 
One account of the agreement was provided under the headline "Yemen, US sign military deal to fight rebels." 
As the rebels are Shiite Muslims, Washington is exploiting the conflict to recruit Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations against Iran.
Yemen, on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, lies directly across from Djibouti where the Pentagon maintains its only permanent base in Africa, Camp Lemonier, and from Somalia, which U.S. warships periodically shell from the Indian Ocean.
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. Associated Press, November 2, 2009
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. Israel: Forging NATO Missile Shield, Rehearsing War With Iran, Stop NATO, November 5, 2009
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