NATO troops to simulate invasion of Europe in biggest drill since 2002

NATO will use 45,000 troops to simulate an invasion of Europe in its biggest drill since 2002, following Russia and China’s military exercises last month

  • NATO preparing huge war games after Russia and China flexed military might
  • Trident Juncture will be largest simulations in ten years with 45,000 troops
  • Norway will see 45,000 troops 150 aircraft, 60 ships and 10,0000 vehicles used
  • Last month China and Russia staged Vostok 2018 with nearly 300,000 troops

NATO is gearing up for its largest troop simulation in more than a decade to prepare for an invasion of Europe in the wake of Russia and China’s huge show of military strength last month.

The Trident Juncture exercises in Norway, which are due to start later this month, will involve 45,000 troops, 150 aircraft, 60 ships and 10,0000 vehicles from the 29 NATO nations.

The war games, which are the biggest since 2002, will follow the massive Vostok 2018 joint military exercises between Russian and Chinese forces last month. 

Held in Siberia in eastern Russia, they involved nearly 300,000 Russian troops, which is nearly a third of the country’s one-million-strong military.  

Armoured personnel carriers from the German army bound for the Trident Juncture exercises are parked before being loaded onto ships in the port of of Emder in Emden, Germany

NATO troops take part in a massive amphibious landing during the Exercise Baltic Operations in Lithuania earlier this year

KFOR (Kosovo Force) soldiers serving in a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo stand a top of armoured vehicles

US and Polish army soldiers attend an official welcoming ceremony American troops deployed to Poland as part of NATO build-up in Eastern Europe in Zagan, Poland in January last year

Sweden and Finland, which cooperate with NATO but are not members, will also take part in the simulations.

The upcoming drills aim ‘to ensure that NATO forces are trained, able to operate together, and ready to respond to any threat from any direction’, NATO said in a statement given at a briefing at the Pentagon last Friday.

Last week, a United States envoy warned Russia it must halt its covert development of a banned cruise missile system or it will seek to destroy it before it becomes operational.

US Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said Washington remained committed to a diplomatic solution but was prepared to consider a military strike if development of the medium-range system continued.

German military vehicles are loaded onto a ship in Germany bound for the Trident Juncture war games in Norway

NATO troops conduct a massive amphibious landing during the Exercise Baltic Operations in  in Nemirseta on the Baltic sea in Lithuania June

German soldiers serving in the NATO peace keeping mission in Kosovo line up during a farewell ceremony in the town of Prizren on Thursday

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Russia has not accepted an invitation for it to send observers to the military drills, but the admiral expects them to turn up. 

Admiral James Foggo, the top US admiral in Europe said Trident Juncture, ‘will have a deterrent effect on anybody who might want to cross those borders, but one nation in particular. 

‘It’s in their interest to come and to see what we do. And they’ll learn things.

‘But you know what? I want them to be there so they can see how well we work together.’

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said there was concern about Russia’s military interference in Ukraine and Georgia, support for Syria’s Bashar Assad, and the buildup of Russia’s naval forces in the eastern Mediterranean.

Portuguese soldiers in the 2015 Trident Juncture NATO exercise. Next months war games are set to the biggest NATO exercise since 2002

NATO servicemen take part in the joint multinational military exercise Noble Partner 2018 at Vaziani training centre, outside Tbilisi

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian minister, said NATO wants to avoid a return to Cold War days

Russian, Chinese and Mongolian troops during the military exercises of Vostok 2018 in Eastern Siberia last month

He said: ‘When we have serious disagreements, when we see increased tensions, when we see more military presence close to our borders, it’s actually even more important to have dialogue.

‘At least to manage a difficult relationship, to avoid miscalculations, misunderstandings that can trigger really serious incidents or accidents and make sure that if they happen, make sure that they don’t spiral out of control.’ 

Stoltenberg said NATO wants to avoid a return to Cold War days, but noted that the alliance is deploying battle groups to its eastern members for the first time.

He also said NATO was stepping up its presence in the eastern Mediterranean and will soon hold the biggest exercise in the Norwegian Sea in a generation – Trident Juncture – involving land, air and naval forces.

Stoltenberg said he told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of NATO’s concerns about Russian aggressiveness abroad, and that they discussed Trident Juncture and Russia’s recent Vostok military exercises – their biggest in recent history.

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