Chairman of Joint Chiefs: Only a Matter of Time Before NATO Military Advisers in Ukraine

NATO Logo (Credit: Wikimedia, public domain)

The United States Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arguably the #1 slot in the American military save the commander in chief, has announced that it's "only a matter of time" before NATO military advisers are sent to Ukraine. 


What could possibly go wrong?

Gen. Charles Brown, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says it is only a matter of time before NATO military trainers are sent to Ukraine, according to a report in the New York Times.

It comes as Ukraine battles to hold the line against Russian offensives in Ukraine's northeast such as the city of Kharkiv as well as in the east and south – and just weeks after the U.S. agreed to send an extra $60 billion in aid to the war-torn country.

Ukrainian officials have asked their U.S. and NATO counterparts to help train 150,000 new recruits closer to the front line for faster deployment, the New York Times reports. 

Maybe it's just me, but when did Ukraine become NATO's problem? Ukraine isn't a NATO member. The NATO nations have no treaty obligations here. Making it a NATO problem brings with it the possibility of some unpleasant consequences — like, say, a larger war that explodes across Europe, a war that Europe is ill-equipped to fight.

However, the move to deploy trainers could draw the U.S. and Europe more directly into Russia’s war with Ukraine. U.S. leaders have said they will not put U.S. troops on the ground in Ukraine and have urged NATO allies not to do so either.

Brown said that such a move now would put NATO trainers at risk and would most likely mean deciding whether to use precious air defenses to protect the trainers — instead of critical Ukrainian infrastructure near the battlefield, the New York Times reports. 

An attack on trainers could force the U.S. to honor its NATO obligations under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, thereby dragging it into war.


If only there were some historical precedent we could look at, to determine if there are any possible ways this whole thing could result in a much larger commitment of troops, with the possibility of a wider war breaking out.

Oh, wait:

As the situation continued to deteriorate, Kennedy sent two key advisers, economist Walt W. Rostow and former army chief of staff Maxwell Taylor, to Vietnam in the fall of 1961 to assess conditions. The two concluded that the South Vietnamese government was losing the war with the Viet Cong and had neither the will nor the ability to turn the tide on its own. They recommended a greatly expanded program of military assistance, including such items as helicopters and armoured personnel carriers, and an ambitious plan to place American advisers and technical experts at all levels and in all agencies of the Vietnamese government and military. They also recommended the introduction of a limited number of U.S. combat troops, a measure the Joint Chiefs of Staff had been urging as well.

Granted, Vietnam did not explode into a wider regional conflict. Still, it did result in the United States leaving ignominiously and then selling our former South Vietnamese allies down the river, leaving the southern nation wide open for a Communist takeover.


It isn't easy to see why this should become a NATO exercise.

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If the various European nations, NATO members or not, are worried about Russian expansionism, then they are free to send troops, materials, weapons, and munitions, whatever they please, to Ukraine. But involving NATO opens up a whole new can of worms; the Chairman of the Joint Cheifs said it is "only a matter of time" before NATO advisers are sent to Ukraine, but leaves unsaid the possibility — I'd say a strong possibility — that sooner or later one of those advisers will be wounded or killed, or will be put in a position where they wound or kill a Russian soldier.

Then, if NATO is officially involved, it may well be Katy-bar-the-door.

Granted, Russia is a dying giant. Vladimir Putin is overseeing a country that is a gas station with some nuclear weapons. Their population is falling off a demographic cliff, their economy is falling apart, and in all these months, Ukraine has been beating them to a standstill. 

But nobody should want to see an open conflict between Russia (and possibly China) and NATO.


NATO may well be an alliance that has become obsolete. NATO was formed to keep "the Germans down and the Russians out." It's a post-WW2 alliance of nations that don't share the same interests and allies that they did in 1949.

In 1848, the British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston said:

We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.

Maybe we should be listening to him.


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