NATO and its European partners this week began two major training exercises in Eastern Europe involving thousands of troops both on land and at sea.
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One of the exercises, the annual Baltic Operations drill (BALTOPS), involves approximately 4,000 U.S. and European soldiers from 14 countries near the Polish Baltic Sea port of Szczecin. The large exercise incorporates over 50 aircraft and approximately 50 ships and submarines, Voice of America reported.
The exercise, first carried out in 1972, is intended to train troops in "tracking down and fighting submarines and sea mines, the use of air defense and landing troops as well as defense against navy vessels,'' BALTOPS spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Jacek Kwiatkowski was quoted as saying.
Participating countries include Britain, France, Germany, the U.S., Belgium, Estonia, Finland, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Latvia, Norway, Sweden and host nation Poland.
The second exercise is taking place in Romania where 2,000 soldiers, 1,000 assistance personnel and 500 vehicles from 11 NATO member states are taking part in a drill designed to test the force's rapid deployment ability.