The Screaming Eagles have fought on battlefields from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan as this elite fighting group has circled the globe. When last the US Army's 101st Airborne was in Europe, they were with American Generals Eisenhower and Patton. Today's deployment is their first return to Europe since.
The 101st positioning represents a watershed moment in a conflict the US is not currently engaged in, the Russian-Ukraine War. And it is sending a shock wave around the world as analysts and diplomats puzzle over Washington's intentions.
The battle plan for the 101st was set back in World War II when during Operation Overlord, they helped establish the beachhead for the Normandy invasion. This light infantry division is usually the first to strike an enemy quickly and set the base from which other divisions can deploy.
Stationing the 101st Airborne in Romania, just miles from Odessa, is meant to send a message. But it is also a provocation.
The number one rule in any war is to engage the enemy. Draw close enough to the other side to bring effective force and power against them. The Americans have done just that. The Russian Army must now look over their shoulders at Romania to see what the Americans are up to.
Six months into this conflict, this latest move by the Americans seems part of a developing plan of opposition against Russia. American reaction began with diplomatic protest, grew into economic sanctions, then overt military and financial aid to Ukraine.
And now, just one step removed from a whole military confrontation. Yes, the Americans have yet to become actively engaged in this conflict. But that can change at a moment's notice. And with the current position of the 101st, it is only a few kilometers from all-out World War III.
Several writers have pointed out that we are now as close to Global Conflict as we were during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. In that Crisis, most Americans did not realize the full ramifications of what had transpired until it was over. History tells us that Secretary Khrushchev and President Kennedy quickly brought that potential conflict to a diplomatic conclusion that lasted for many years.
The two leaders acted swiftly and communicated directly to prevent any potential misunderstanding that could have unleashed nuclear Armageddon. It was a sterling example of diplomacy between the two leaders of the most powerful nations.
Today, there are no such diplomatic overtures. Discussions between Russia and the United States are essentially nil. Last week, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu called Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. It was their first conversation since May.
Although the exact substance of the phone call is confidential, specific facts stand out. First, the Russians, not the Americans, initiated the call. Second, it was a call between the two heads of the military. Not the diplomats at the State Department. Not the President or his office. And finally, this phone call indicated that the Russians were concerned. They are concerned about the genuine possibility that this conflict may spread beyond the Ukraine border.
There are rumors that much of the reason that Shoigu made the phone call was that Russia had reason to believe that Ukraine was preparing to detonate a dirty bomb. A nuclear-laced conventional weapon that would yield vast sections of Ukraine polluted with the fallout.
That may be. None of us are privy to the full extent of the phone call.
However, it should concern us that the American side is not talking. No diplomatic channels are open between the world's two most significant nuclear powers. This lack of communication is a recipe for disaster. One slip, a tiny misunderstanding, could ignite this powder keg.
Finally, you know the situation is getting out of control when war, not the economy, is Wall Street's number one topic. Last week, the country's number one banker, Jamie Dimon, indicated he's more concerned with the current geopolitical risk than a recession. Dimon was speaking at an Investment Conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Hedge Fund, said there is an "existential risk of international war."
And the drums beat louder.