Britain ‘preparing for NATO-Russia conflict in Eastern Europe’

A major British army exercise to practice an Iraq invasion-scale operation with US forces in Jordan is in preparation for a possible confrontation with Russia in Eastern Europe.
© AFP/Scanpix

Sources told the UK Telegraph newspaper that Exercise Shamal Storm, which involves 1,600 British troops, is a dry run for one day having to send a large armoured force of British troops to Eastern Europe if there was ever a Russian confrontation with NATO.

“This isn’t a counter-ISIL exercise. If anything, this is much more about us being prepared to join the US in Ukraine than it is in Syria," one source told the newspaper. “This is not the sort of kind of force you expect to roll into Aleppo to take on a bunch of jihadists.”

The logistics war game will aim to ensure that the British Army can dispatch a 30,000-strong force to a crisis zone anywhere in the world.

The exercise comes after US commanders said they were concerned that UK defence cuts would mean Britain was no longer be able to send a division-strength force of troops to join an allied operation as it did during the Iraq campaign in 2003.

Over 300 British military vehicles are being shipped to Jordan, where logistics, medical, intelligence and bomb disposal experts will practise supporting a British military expedition.

“The annual exercise in Jordan presents the British Army with a challenging environment in which to assure its combat readiness to deploy and support an armoured force of up to 30,000 troops anywhere in the world,” said a British army spokesman.

“The exercise will test key evolving concepts such as the air deployment of a very high readiness field hospital and the latest explosives ordnance disposal and search capabilities, all of which will enable us to be more agile in deterring threats to the UK and its interests.”

The move comes after Russian media has been flooded with articles in which the senior Russian officials openly explain how they will attack and occupy the Baltic countries.

It also comes after a study published by the Rand Corporation last week showed that Russian forces could occupy the Baltic States within three days in case of an attack, with current NATO forces inadequate to meet the threat.

US President Barack Obama's administration recently announced it would quadruple its military budget to €3 billion for Central and Eastern Europe, including the Baltic States, to deter possible Russian aggression.

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