U.S. spreads war threat, expands military base in Sicily
The Sicilian military base has been
transformed into one of the largest centers on the planet for the command and
control of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). From spy to killer drones, what
does Sigonella represent today?
Trump and Putin — they can’t be serious, can they? Are
we really back in the years of the U.S.-USSR Cold War? It’s hard to answer, but
the “game” between the two sides in effect relaunched the arms race, especially
the nuclear one, cancelling with a swipe of an eraser the hard-won treaties
prohibiting the presence of atomic missiles in the heart of Europe. Now no day
passes without U.S. spy aircraft making provocations on the western borders of
Russia, in the Crimea and Black Sea or with the very secret sorties of drones
in the skies of Ukraine and the Donbass.
In words, the Italian government calls for détente and
it certainly does not intend to undermine relations with the Russia-based gas
and oil transnationals; however, Italy plays a key role in supporting the
dangerous war operations of its close ally, the U.S. It does so by offering a
launch platform for the new large patrol aircraft — the U.S. Navy P-8A
“Poseidon” or the “Global Hawk,” UAVs which, with their sophisticated
equipment, monitor every square millimeter of the Russian homeland.
For the Pentagon, the “platform” has a code name: The
Hub of the Med, i.e., the large Sigonella air and sea station located just a
stone’s throw (5 miles) from the city of Catania, where, according to the
Rome-Washington agreements, a large portion of the base is reserved for the
exclusive use of U.S. armed forces.
For some time now, Sigonella has been the permanent
home of an air force to track the movement of Russian ships and submarines in
the Mediterranean and of air and land units located in Syria. In recent weeks,
the Hub of the Med has seen very intense activity of drones, fighters,
helicopters and the “P8A-Poseidon” surveillance aircraft. In the waters of the
lower Tyrrhenian Sea, the Ionian Sea and the central Mediterranean, an
extensive NATO exercise is currently underway, simulating the hunting of
“enemy” nuclear submarines. (Dynamic Manta 2019, Feb. 26-March 7)
A cancer in metastasis
These war games turn Sicily into a giant death camp,
confirming what has long been claimed by the peace activists of the island:
Sigonella in reality is a cancer in metastasis that spreads bases and garrisons
everywhere and militarizes society.
The U.S. and NATO exercises from the naval station
spread to its affiliate centers in Sicily: the U.S. operations center in
Pachino; Niscemi (satellite telecommunications facilities and MUOS [Mobile User
Objective System] terminal); Augusta (port of supply of weapons and diesel fuel
for war units and nuclear submarines); the airports of Catania-Fontanarossa,
Trapani-Birgi, Pantelleria and Lampedusa; the polygons of Piazza Armerina and
Punta Bianca (Agrigento), etc.
Sigonella is all this and more. The base now houses 34
strategic commands with more than 5,000 U.S. troops; as for importance, “NAS
Sigonella hosts the U.S. Navy’s second largest security command after the one
based at naval support activity Bahrain,” the Pentagon explains.
(tinyurl.com/yy3kz97n) The geographical area of operation is considerable —
from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean, from the African continent to
Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South-East Asia.
Since the bloody conflict in Vietnam [ended in 1975],
there has been no war scenario in which the Sigonella hub has not played a
central role: against Gadhafi’s Libya in the 1980s; in Lebanon in 1982; the
first and second Gulf wars; the Allied bombings on Kosovo and Serbia in 1999
and those on Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria in the 21st century; the U.S.
campaigns in the sub-Saharan regions and in the Horn of Africa; the final
liquidation of the Libyan regime in 2011; and today’s repeated raids in
Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, with the use of the notorious killer drones.
In the period between August and December 2016 alone,
during the offensive against the pro-ISIS [Islamic State group (IS)] militias
present in the city of Sirte, the U.S. carried out as many as 495 missile
attacks, 60 percent of them thanks to the Reaper drones — that for the most
part took off from Sicily.
In recent years the Sicilian base has been transformed
into one of the largest centers on the planet for the command and control of
UAVs that have relentlessly changed the very concept of war, automating and
dehumanizing it more and more. The spy and killer drones of the U.S. Navy and
Air Force operate in Sigonella, as well as the UAS SATCOM [unmanned aircraft
system satellite communications] Relay Pads and Facility for satellite telecommunications
and the operations of all the pilotless CIA and Pentagon aircraft in every
corner of the world.
The facility allows the transmission of data necessary
for the flight and attack plans of the new war systems, operating as a “twin
station” for the German site of Ramstein and the large airfield of Creech in
By the summer of 2019, the sophisticated NATO command,
control and intelligence system AGS (Alliance Ground Surveillance), the most
expensive program in the history of the Atlantic Alliance, will also be
operational in Sigonella. The AGS will consist of fixed, mobile and
transportable ground stations for planning and operational support of missions,
plus an aerial component with five latest-generation Global Hawk surveillance
The role assumed in the nuclear supremacy programs of
the U.S. is also decisive. Secretly, without the Italian government ever having
considered it necessary to inform Parliament and public opinion, in 2018 the
Joint Tactical Ground Station (JTAGS), the satellite reception and transmission
station of the “early warning” system for identifying the launch of ballistic
theater missiles with nuclear, chemical, biological or conventional warheads,
came into operation in Sigonella.
Anything but defensive
It is a kind of protective shield that is anything but
defensive. Thanks to the “preventive” control of any possible “enemy” missile
operation, it becomes possible to unleash the first nuclear strike, avoiding or
limiting the retaliation of the enemy and therefore the dangers of the
so-called “mutual assured destruction” that up to now has prevented a worldwide
Moreover, in May 2001, one of the 15 ground stations
of the Global HF System, the high-frequency communications system created by
the U.S. Air Force to integrate the network of the Strategic Air Command and
ensure control over all aircraft and warships, was transferred to the Sicilian
base. One of the most important aspects of the GHF system is the transmission
of military orders that have absolute priority, first of all SkyKing messages
that include nuclear attack codes.
The European Union and the border control agencies
have also focused on Sigonella to strengthen their activities to control and
combat migration in the Mediterranean. In fact, the units and aircraft with and
without pilots used within the Eunavfor Med [European Union Naval Force
Mediterranean] air and sea force (Operation Sophia) were located at the
Sicilian base. Since September 2013, the Sicilian airport also provided
technical and operational support to the various Frontex assets coming from
some EU countries (Operation Triton).
The Italian Air Force has also actively contributed to
the transformation of Sigonella into a strategic base for the new total war on
migrants and migrations. In particular, the 61st Flying Group, equipped with
MQ-1C “Predator” drones, was set up here with the aim of “consolidating and
strengthening the national security system for surveillance activities in the
Mediterranean area.” For a year now, the 41st Antisubmarine Warfare Wing of
Sigonella has also had its own new ultra-technological weapon system — the all-weather
maritime patrol aircraft P-72A, which the strategists hope to use soon to
support the all-round projections of the Italian armed forces.
Finally, in the Sicilian station, the Carabinieri
Helicopter Squadron “Cacciatori di Sicilia” was set up with a wide range of
functions: “anti-terrorism, the search for Cosa Nostra absconders, the
prevention and repression of crimes, aid in the rescue of public disasters,
All these interventions reproduce that new condition
of hot peace, that is, the “transfer of responsibilities from the civil sector
to the military institutions,” widely described by the German researcher
Jacqueline Andres Carlo in a recent essay on “The Hub of The Med. A reading of
the U.S. military geography in Sicily” (Sicilia Punto L publisher).
“Operations other than war, but which in fact are real
new forms and actions of war under the command of the Italian, EU, U.S. and
NATO armed forces,” explains Andres Carlo. “Just as the advancement of the war
against irregular immigration up to the measures taken against maritime
terrorism has had as a further consequence the subjection of the entire
Mediterranean to the policies of security and almost absolute surveillance of
Sigonella stands as an emblem of modern doctrines on
conflicts: global, all-encompassing, all-inclusive, where the “enemy” is
everywhere and can be anyone. Where the spaces of expression, freedom and
political practicability of the citizens themselves are reduced to zero and the
planet accelerates its crazy race toward the abyss and the annihilation of all
forms of life.
The author is an Italian peace researcher and
award-winning journalist. The original article was first published under the
title “Da Sigonella in poi” in Mosaico di Pace, nr. April 4. Workers World
Managing Editor John Catalinotto translated the article, which exposes the
aggressive intent of the U.S. military in Europe and the world.