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Nato's 'Trident Juncture 2015' biggest military exercise in 13 years

Published Oct 21, 2015 09:12pm

TRAPANI: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) is launching its biggest military exercise in 13 years, mobilising 36,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen from more than 30 countries to test the alliance's ability to respond to new security threats.

Nato Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Vershbow told the opening ceremony Monday that the Trident Juncture exercise will demonstrate that Nato "can deal with everything from conventional military engagements to more subtle hybrid warfare techniques and propaganda."

Italian soldiers hold flags during a Nato military exercise at the Birgi Nato airbase in Trapani, Italy. — Reuters Italian soldiers hold flags during a Nato military exercise at the Birgi Nato airbase in Trapani, Italy. — Reuters

Vershbow said the geopolitical situation is considerably more unstable than the last time such large-scale exercises were held during the Cold War, citing Russia's annexation of Crimea, support of eastern Ukrainian separatists and attacks against moderate rebels in Syria, as well as the spread of terror groups into Libya and Syria.

"In this new world, Nato's allies and partners must be able to move quickly and act decisively," he said.

The Sicilian city Trapani will be the operational centre for the exercise that begins Wednesday and runs through early November, extending into Spain, Portugal and adjacent waters.

Military aircrafts take part in the opening ceremony of Nato's large scale exercise Trident Juncture 2015 at the Italian Air Force Base in Trapani, Sicily. —  AFP Military aircrafts take part in the opening ceremony of Nato's large scale exercise Trident Juncture 2015 at the Italian Air Force Base in Trapani, Sicily. — AFP

The exercise envisions a fictitious invasion by a large country of a small alliance member, creating a crisis with religious and ethnic dimensions, threatening energy supplies and navigational freedom with risks of terrorism and cyberattacks.

At a news conference, Vershbow denied that the fictitious aggressor was Russia.

"That is not to say that some of the challenges we are addressing and testing our forces for are not analogous to the challenges we would face were we to have a conflict with Russia," he said.

During the news conference, an activist with the "No War" pacifist movement unfurled a banner as she pressed for an explanation of the bombing of a Doctor's Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan.

A protestor shows a poster reading "Nato Must Dissolve" during a press conference following the opening ceremony of Nato’s large scale exercise Trident Juncture 2015 at the Italian Air Force Base in Trapani, Sicily. — AFP A protestor shows a poster reading "Nato Must Dissolve" during a press conference following the opening ceremony of Nato’s large scale exercise Trident Juncture 2015 at the Italian Air Force Base in Trapani, Sicily. — AFP

Pacifist groups have organized protests against the exercise, including one in Trapani on Saturday.

An Italian soldier stands guard on an armoured vehicle during the opening ceremony of Nato’s large scale exercise Trident Juncture 2015 at the Italian Air Force Base in Trapani, Sicily. — AFP An Italian soldier stands guard on an armoured vehicle during the opening ceremony of Nato’s large scale exercise Trident Juncture 2015 at the Italian Air Force Base in Trapani, Sicily. — AFP

Helicopters fly during a Nato military exercise at Raposa beach, near Setubal, Portugal. — Reuters Helicopters fly during a Nato military exercise at Raposa beach, near Setubal, Portugal. — Reuters

Nato soldiers attend a Nato military exercise at Raposa beach, near Setubal, Portugal. — Reuters Nato soldiers attend a Nato military exercise at Raposa beach, near Setubal, Portugal. — Reuters

A US navy hovercraft lands on a beach after being deployes by the USS Arlington amphibious transport dock during the Nato's Trident Juncture exercise — AFP A US navy hovercraft lands on a beach after being deployes by the USS Arlington amphibious transport dock during the Nato's Trident Juncture exercise — AFP

Nato soldiers attend a Nato military exercise at Raposa beach, near Setubal. NATO and its allies opened their largest military exercise in more than a decade on Monday, choosing the central Mediterranean to showcase strengths that face threats from Russia's growing military presence from the Baltics to Syria. — Reuters Nato soldiers attend a Nato military exercise at Raposa beach, near Setubal. NATO and its allies opened their largest military exercise in more than a decade on Monday, choosing the central Mediterranean to showcase strengths that face threats from Russia's growing military presence from the Baltics to Syria. — Reuters

Nato soldiers attend a Nato military exercise at Raposa beach, near Setubal, Portugal. — Reuters Nato soldiers attend a Nato military exercise at Raposa beach, near Setubal, Portugal. — Reuters

US navy helicopters fly over as US marines prepare to disembark from the hovercrafts deployed by the USS Arlington amphibious transport dock. — AFP US navy helicopters fly over as US marines prepare to disembark from the hovercrafts deployed by the USS Arlington amphibious transport dock. — AFP

A US Navy hovercraft approaches the beach at the beginning of the Nato Trident Juncture exercise 2015 at Raposa Media beach in Pinheiro da Cruz, south of Lisbon. — AP A US Navy hovercraft approaches the beach at the beginning of the Nato Trident Juncture exercise 2015 at Raposa Media beach in Pinheiro da Cruz, south of Lisbon. — AP

US marine armoured vehicles steers through the soft sand after getting off from a US Navy hovercraft — AP US marine armoured vehicles steers through the soft sand after getting off from a US Navy hovercraft — AP

US marines and Portuguese Fuzileiros work together to secure the area before disembarking the hovercrafts deployed by the USS Arlington amphibious transport dock. — AFP US marines and Portuguese Fuzileiros work together to secure the area before disembarking the hovercrafts deployed by the USS Arlington amphibious transport dock. — AFP

US marines disembark their armoured vehicles from the hovercrafts deployed by the USS Arlington amphibious transport dock during the Nato's Trident Juncture exercise. — AFP US marines disembark their armoured vehicles from the hovercrafts deployed by the USS Arlington amphibious transport dock during the Nato's Trident Juncture exercise. — AFP

US marines push a Humvee stuck on the sand as they disembark from the hovercrafts deployed by the USS Arlington amphibious transport dock. — AFP US marines push a Humvee stuck on the sand as they disembark from the hovercrafts deployed by the USS Arlington amphibious transport dock. — AFP

US marines try to free an armoured vehicle from the sand after it sunk while getting off a US Navy hovercraft after landing at the beach. — AP US marines try to free an armoured vehicle from the sand after it sunk while getting off a US Navy hovercraft after landing at the beach. — AP

US marines sit onboard an armoured vehicle after disembarking the hovercrafts deployed by the USS Arlington amphibious transport dock. — AFP US marines sit onboard an armoured vehicle after disembarking the hovercrafts deployed by the USS Arlington amphibious transport dock. — AFP

A Nato soldier wears a logo during the opening ceremony of Nato Trident Juncture exercise 2015, in Trapani, Italy. — AP A Nato soldier wears a logo during the opening ceremony of Nato Trident Juncture exercise 2015, in Trapani, Italy. — AP

An Italian soldier is silhouetted during a Nato military exercise at the Birgi Nato Airbase in Trapani, Italy. — Reuters An Italian soldier is silhouetted during a Nato military exercise at the Birgi Nato Airbase in Trapani, Italy. — Reuters

A Tornado jet fighter flies following the opening ceremony of Nato Trident Juncture exercise 2015, in Trapani, Italy. — AP A Tornado jet fighter flies following the opening ceremony of Nato Trident Juncture exercise 2015, in Trapani, Italy. — AP

Helicopters fly during a Nato military exercise at the Birgi Nato airbase in Trapani, Italy. — Reuters Helicopters fly during a Nato military exercise at the Birgi Nato airbase in Trapani, Italy. — Reuters

Military planes fly in formation during a Nato military exercise at the Birgi Nato Airbase in Trapani, Italy. — Reuters Military planes fly in formation during a Nato military exercise at the Birgi Nato Airbase in Trapani, Italy. — Reuters

An Italian helicopter flies during a Nato military exercise at the Birgi Nato Airbase in Trapani, Italy. — Reuters An Italian helicopter flies during a Nato military exercise at the Birgi Nato Airbase in Trapani, Italy. — Reuters

Soldiers perform a rescue exercise during the opening ceremony of Nato’s large scale exercise Trident Juncture 2015 at the Italian Air Force Base in Trapani, Sicily. — AFP Soldiers perform a rescue exercise during the opening ceremony of Nato’s large scale exercise Trident Juncture 2015 at the Italian Air Force Base in Trapani, Sicily. — AFP

Nato soldiers attend a Nato military exercise at Birgi Nato airbase in Trapani, Italy. — Reuters Nato soldiers attend a Nato military exercise at Birgi Nato airbase in Trapani, Italy. — Reuters

A military plane lands during a Nato military exercise at the Birgi Nato Airbase in Trapani, Italy. — Reuters A military plane lands during a Nato military exercise at the Birgi Nato Airbase in Trapani, Italy. — Reuters

A soldier is airdropped from an Italian air force AB212 helicopter during the Nato Trident Juncture exercise 2015, in Trapani, Italy. — AP A soldier is airdropped from an Italian air force AB212 helicopter during the Nato Trident Juncture exercise 2015, in Trapani, Italy. — AP

An F-16 jet fighter, foreground, is parked on the tarmac during the opening ceremony of Nato Trident Juncture exercise 2015, in Trapani, Italy. — AP An F-16 jet fighter, foreground, is parked on the tarmac during the opening ceremony of Nato Trident Juncture exercise 2015, in Trapani, Italy. — AP

Soldiers attend the opening ceremony of Nato’s large scale exercise Trident Juncture 2015 at the Italian Air Force Base in Trapani, Sicily. — AFP Soldiers attend the opening ceremony of Nato’s large scale exercise Trident Juncture 2015 at the Italian Air Force Base in Trapani, Sicily. — AFP

Soldiers exercise at Birgi airbase following the opening ceremony of Nato Trident Juncture exercise 2015, in Trapani, Italy. — AP Soldiers exercise at Birgi airbase following the opening ceremony of Nato Trident Juncture exercise 2015, in Trapani, Italy. — AP

Soldiers stand near aircrafts during the opening ceremony of Nato’s large scale exercise Trident Juncture 2015 at the Italian Air Force Base in Trapani, Sicily. — AFP Soldiers stand near aircrafts during the opening ceremony of Nato’s large scale exercise Trident Juncture 2015 at the Italian Air Force Base in Trapani, Sicily. — AFP

Italian soldiers hold flags during a Nato military exercise at the Birgi Nato Airbase in Trapani, Italy. — Reuters Italian soldiers hold flags during a Nato military exercise at the Birgi Nato Airbase in Trapani, Italy. — Reuters