NEW REPORT: US Military Personnel Have Entered a "War Time" Posture
On February 25, about 36 hours after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, staff working at the National Guard Bureau — the federal headquarters of the US Army and Air National Guard in Arlington, VA — received a message:
“Team! If you have military personnel going in the building today they can and should wear OCPs,” wrote a Lieutenant Colonel, adding that the policy change had been handed down by an unspecified “XO,” or “executive officer.”
“OCPs” are the standard combat uniforms military personnel typically wear while on duty at any base or post. But at the National Guard Bureau, staff had been wearing “Class B” dress uniforms two days a week, Monday and Friday. Now, suddenly — as of February 25 — it’s combat uniforms every day until further notice.
This may seem mundane to a layman, but small policy shifts within the oblique world of military bureaucracy can be deceptively significant. As a person who works at the Bureau explained to me, “We’ve worn OCP uniforms daily when we’re in a ‘War Time’ posture” — such as during periods of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. “It’s always been policy to wear ACU/OCP (combat uniforms) as daily wear whenever we have Soldiers forward deployed in a “combat environment,”’ the person said.
That’s a slightly worrisome omen, at least if you worry about the implications of the US military being in a “combat environment” with Russia. Which is the country that possesses the world’s largest arsenal of nuclear weapons, as you may have heard.
Two people within the Bureau independently said the policy change was directly related to the invasion; it also coincided with the activation of over 7,000 additional US troops, some of which have mobilized throughout Eastern Europe as part of the NATO “Rapid Response Force.” This is the first time in history that the “Rapid Response Force” has ever been deployed — and little has been publicly divulged about what it’s doing.
When asked for comment, a Public Affairs Officer at the National Guard Bureau denied that the policy change had any meaning: “To the best of my knowledge there’s no correlation at all between the recent adjustment in uniform policy and anything happening outside the country.”
However, I’ve been assured that’s bogus. And if you’d prefer to avoid World War III, it’s probably worth being cognizant of these incremental escalations into a war-like footing. Because they keep adding up.
Just last night, there was high drama when the Polish government suddenly reversed course and declared its willingness to send fighter jets to Ukraine — despite having previously denied it would do so. The catch: it would use the US as an intermediary, naturally. I reported on the suspicious ambiguities of the proposed European fighter jet scheme around a week ago and noted that the danger seemed to lie in the ambiguity itself — this constant inability to figure out what exactly is going on, particularly as every subsequent development is trending in the direction of more and more escalation. And wouldn’t you know it, the jet situation just got even more ambiguous, with the Pentagon apparently questioning whether the new Polish plan is “tenable” — even though Secretary of State Blinken said on Sunday that the US was giving the “green light” for a jet transfer. It’s a big red flag that no one can seem to provide a straight answer on what’s really happening with this new potential frontier in NATO/Russia combat.
As previously noted, I’m in Poland right now; I will try to get more insight if I can. The Polish plan as stated tracks with what I’ve heard from some ordinary Poles over the past few days — several told me they want more aggressive action taken against Russia, but are wary about Poland itself taking that action, because it could make them a target. So they’d rather just have the US do it on their behalf. A woman even told me that she wants the US to send a Special Ops squad to assassinate Putin, and thereby forcibly dissolve the Russian state, which she regards as the only real solution to the conflict — otherwise Putin will inevitably invade Poland. And this lady was a nice urban liberal by Polish standards!
So yeah, I don’t want to unduly alarm anyone, but nothing I’ve seen or heard thus far has been cause for optimism.
UPDATE 3/9/22: Army Times reporter Davis Winkie posted an email indicating that the policy was rescinded this week, on the very day I called up the National Guard Bureau and was told the policy had no significance.