Britain to join NATO military exercise to ‘reassure’ eastern European allies

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LONDON: Britain will send a battle group to take part in a major military training in October as part of a NATO package to reassure its allies in eastern Europe, the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced Monday.

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The new deployment is Britain’s largest to the region since 2008 and is one of a planned series of NATO maneuvers due to take place throughout the autumn in support of allies in eastern Europe and the Baltic states, the MoD said in a statement.

The full battle group to be sent to the NATO exercise, dubbed Exercise Black Eagle, will comprise of 1,350 personnel and more than 350 armored and other vehicles.

Britain has deployed RAF Typhoon jets to the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission, as well as participating in smaller scale army exercises across Europe, as part of a sustained commitment since Russia’s “illegal annexation” of Crimea, the ministry said.

At the end of August, light infantry troops from 1st Battalion of The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment will take part in Exercise Sabre Junction, a U.S.-led exercise involving 16 NATO and partner nations which will take place in Poland.

“It is right that NATO members and partners demonstrate our commitment to the collective security of our allies in Eastern Europe, so I am pleased to confirm our participation in these exercises,” British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said.

“In particular, the commitment of a battle group to Exercise Black Eagle shows our sustained and substantial support to NATO’s eastern border,” he added.

Britain is to hold a NATO summit in Wales scheduled for Sept. 4-5 to discuss “how to equip the alliance to respond to future threats and agree more reassurance measures.”

“The summit will be one of the most important in NATO’s history, coming at a significant moment for the Alliance as the combat mission in Afghanistan draws to a close and, as events in Ukraine and Iraq have shown, the world faces more complex threats than ever before,” the MoD noted in the statement. PNA

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