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High end NATO military exercise in Latvia and Poland from November 2-9

French Gral. Michel Yakovleff

French Gral. Michel Yakovleff

NATO plans a major exercise in eastern Europe in November. Exercise “Steadfast Jazz” in Latvia and Poland from November 2-9 shows the 28-nation alliance refocusing on its core task of defending Europe.

NATO is proficient in counter-insurgency, but if NATO were ever called on to defend an alliance member, “we have to be prepared for the more high end of military operations,” says NATO’s military commander, U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, in a news conference speaking at NATO headquarters at Brunssum in the Netherlands on Wednesday.

 

The exercise calls for NATO forces to oust an invader. Breedlove denied it was aimed at repelling a hypothetical Russian invasion.

 

The exercise, designed to test its rapid response force, will involve about 6,000 NATO military personnel from about 20 allied and partner countries to take place in a live-fire exercise in Poland, the largest of its kind organized by NATO since 2006, NATO officials say.

 

The exercise will also involve a “sizeable cyber threat,” said French Major-General Michel Yakovleff, deputy chief of staff for plans at Brunssum, with nations coming under a staged cyber attack.

U.S.-Russian relations are going through a chilly patch over Moscow’s decision in August to grant temporary asylum to former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden and over the Syrian civil war, although both sides struck a deal last Saturday to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.

Europe and Russia are vying for influence in eastern European countries such as Ukraine, which will send an amphibious company to take part in the NATO exercise.

 

Russia and Belarus plan a joint military exercise, known as Zapad, this month.

 

NATO commanders prefer to stress cooperation with Russia and invited Russian military officers to visit ‘Exercise Steadfast Jazz’ as observers.

 

Gral. Breedlove also said NATO and Russia would hold a joint exercise later this month to practice working together on tracking and responding to an aircraft hijacked by “terrorists”. The alliance also plans a joint submarine search and rescue exercise with Russia in 2014, he said.