NATO acting up: Alliance looking for people to portray ‘Russians’ during war drills

NATO acting up: Alliance looking for people to portray ‘Russians’ during war drills
NATO is offering jobs to Russian-speaking actors ready to play civilians in the alliance’s military drills, according to a job advertisement on the official website for the city of Berlin.

The ad was posted on March 22 by the German recruitment agency Optronic HR GmbH, which specializes in enlisting extras for military exercises conducted by NATO and the US Armed Forces. 

Pictures and data on the organization's website suggest it previously looked for extras primarily for NATO military maneuvers within the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), during which it was necessary to create conditions close to those of Afghanistan.

In the current job offer description, the group says it’s seeking actors to represent Russian-speaking “Civilians on the Battlefield,” such as farmers or shopkeepers, in unspecified conflict regions. The actors are needed for the upcoming exercises at the American training base in Hohenfels, Bavaria, set to start on April 28 and run through May 15.

The description states that the engagement of Russian-speaking actors will provide a “realistic practice scenario and therefore ideal preparation for upcoming deployment of the soldiers to conflict regions.” It does not give any further details on the regions the actors will represent.

Our objective is to familiarize soldiers with the language, religion, customs and morals of foreign cultures in different countries. This approach develops the basis for successful exercises in a challenging environment and therefore ideal training results,” Optronic HR GmbH states on its website.

The ad also says some 10 “villages,” consisting of about 10-30 houses, will be built for the war games, and applicants are expected to stay there for three weeks to create conditions for the US military “as close as possible to the real ones.” Some 30 to 100 extras are required for each village, indicating the approximate scale of the exercise.

Apart from Russian-speaking applicants, the group says it’s also considering participants with good language skills in Polish and Czech, as well as good English and German skills to communicate with the organizers.

The actors are banned from leaving the territory of the training base during the drills, as well as from using mobile phones and other gadgets “for security reasons.” They are also banned from consuming alcohol. 

The ad even states the actors will be provided with special vests with infrared sensors for the military to calculate how many civilians “suffered” during the “fighting.”

Although it’s not stated what potential conflict the NATO troops will be drilling for, the alliance has repeatedly voiced concerns over what it dubbed “Russian aggression,” following Russia’s reunification with Crimea and its alleged role in the eastern Ukrainian crisis. NATO has been actively taking measures to “deter” Moscow, mostly involving militarizing Eastern Europe.

Following the decision by the bloc’s leaders last summer to place four multinational battalions in the Baltics, the alliance has been deploying extra troops and military assets to the region on a monthly basis, as well as conducting military drills near Russian borders.

Last month, NATO member nations also agreed to increase the alliance’s presence in the Black Sea. The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) this week said it will deploy four Typhoon fighter aircraft to Romania to carry out patrols of the Black Sea area.

Meanwhile, apart from deploying troops to the region, the US has lately been actively setting up global anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems in Europe and on warships patrolling Russia’s borders, including sites in Alaska, Romania, and Poland. These, Russia recently said, are creating the potential for NATO to launch an overwhelming surprise nuclear strike on Russia, compromising its nuclear deterrence capabilities.

READ MORE: Airborne troops, Mi-28s & fleet: Massive military drills kick off in Crimea 

Russia has been increasingly unhappy with NATO’s buildup on its borders, which it views a threat to its national security, and has been taking measures to strengthen its borders in response. Most recently, the Russian military held large-scale exercises involving several airborne units as well as the air force and a part of the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea.

On March 30, Russia and NATO will hold the NRC – a NATO-Russia Council at ambassadorial level at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels. Apart from other topics, NATO-Russia relations and ways to prevent incidents between the armed forces of the two are expected to be among the subjects up for discussion, according to Russian media reports.