by Nathan Gain and Christina Mackenzie
Some 10 000 personnel from 13 countries today started the annual “Saber Strike” exercise which will run until 22 June 2016. The exercise is aimed at improving joint operational capabilities between the three Baltic states and Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Saber Strike has been organised since 2010 by US Army Europe. As a warm-up to the live fire, command and electronic warfare exercises which will take place in the Baltic states, the US Army 2nd Cavalry Regiment, accompanied by German, Polish and Latvian soldiers started a 2,400km “vehicle road march” on 27 May. Split into two columns, the 1,400 soldiers and 400 vehicles left Rose Barracks (Germany), headed for Tapa (Estonia). En route they will undertake two tactical river crossings, one across the Naab river near Weiden an der Oberpfalz (Germany) in the company of German soldiers on 1 June, and the other, with Polish soldiers, across the Vistula river near Torun (Poland). They will stop in a number of the towns on their way to host public displays of their equipment.
Saber Strike is one of a series of military exercises running concurrently in Eastern Europe in June. Allied forces will be testing the solidity of their eastern front in “Swift Response”, “Iron Wolf” and “Anaconda 2016”, to mention just the bigger ones.
These exercises could be seen as a dress rehearsal prior to the 27th NATO summit to be held on 8-9 July in Warsaw. Amongst the main objectives of this summit: assess the long-term implications of the crisis on NATO’s relations with Russia and consider the next steps.