Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NATO to flex military muscle

NATO to flex military muscle

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Dutch soldiers depart with a KDC-10 tank and transport device from Eindhoven Airport in the Netherlands on Friday to participate in the NATO exercise Trident Juncture. AFP

NATO to flex military muscle

SOME 50,000 troops will kick off NATO’s biggest military exercises since the Cold War on Thursday in Norway, a massive show of force that has already rankled neighbouring Russia.

Trident Juncture 18, which runs until November 7, is aimed at training the Alliance to mobilise quickly to defend an ally under attack.

The head of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command, US Navy Admiral James Foggo, said the exercise was intended to “show NATO is capable to defend against any adversary. Not a particular country, anyone.”

Russia, which carried out its biggest ever military exercises in September in the Far East, has not been officially identified as the intended adversary, but it is on everyone’s minds after the 2014 Ukraine crisis.

“Russia doesn’t represent a direct military threat to Norway,” Norwegian Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen told media.

“But in a security situation as complicated as we have today, an incident elsewhere could very well heighten tensions in the North and we want to prepare the Alliance in order to avoid any unfortunate incidents,” he added.

The exercises come after President Donald Trump has repeatedly complained that other NATO members do not contribute enough money to the 69-year-old alliance, although Defense Secretary Jim Mattis reassured allies of America’s “iron-clad” commitment earlier this month.

While the exercises will take place at a respectful distance from Norway’s 198km border with Russia in the Arctic, Moscow has expressed anger over the manoeuvres.

Russia was already touchy over the fact that the US and Britain have been increasing their troop presence in the Scandinavian country to acclimatise them to combat in the chilly Arctic.

And tensions between Moscow and Washington have flared in recent days after Trump announced he was abandoning a Cold War-era nuclear treaty, a move which Russia warned could cripple global security.

When at full strength, 700 US Marines will be on rotation on Norwegian soil.

“The main NATO countries are increasing their military presence in the region, near Russia’s borders,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, slamming “the sabre-rattling”.

“Such irresponsible actions are bound to lead to a destabilisation of the political situation in the North, to heighten tensions,” she said, vowing Moscow would “take the necessary retaliatory measures to ensure its security.”

Under President Vladimir Putin, the Russian army has already beefed up considerably in the Arctic.

Military air bases have been built or refurbished, and new radar and anti-aircraft missile systems have been installed.

In addition, the backbone of the Russian navy, the Northern Fleet, is due to receive five new warships, five support vessels, and 15 aircraft by the end of the year, according to Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Military ‘choreography’

“Russia’s military strength has pretty much returned to what it was during the Cold War,” said Francois Heibsbourg of France’s Foundation for Strategic Research.

“In a way, NATO is also in the process of returning to what it was.”

“It’s a pretty mechanical engagement,” a “return to a kind of choreography”, he said. But Trident Juncture 18 is “in no way destabilising,” he added.

The exercises, involving NATO’s 29 members plus Sweden and Finland, are nonetheless imposing, with substantial means deployed. The 50,000 troops will be backed by 10,000 vehicles, 250 aircraft and 60 ships, including a US aircraft carrier.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • ‘On the offensive’: Cambodia to load up on loans to stimulate economy

    As the dust settles on the economy, Cambodia comes to grips with what needs to be done to turn the economy around, starting with a big shopping list for credit ‘We are going on the offensive,” Vongsey Vissoth, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Families told to register for cash handouts

    The government has called on poor families to apply to commune authorities for evaluation to receive financial support during the Covid-19 crisis. A $300 million budget has been planned for implementation within a year. Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Visoth said this

  • Crumbling prices, rent ruffle condo segment

    The prolonged decline in international arrivals to Cambodia intensified by renewed Covid-19 fears has driven down condominium sales prices and rental rates in Phnom Penh, a research report said. CBRE Cambodia, the local affiliate of US commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group

  • Over $3M in traffic fines collected in two months

    Traffic police officers collected over $3 million in fines throughout the Kingdom during the past two months when officers strictly enforced the law in accordance with a May sub-decree, officials said. As incentives, law enforcement officers received between 200,000 and two million riel ($50 to $500) each. The figures

  • More than 10,000 workers suspended

    More than 10,000 workers at 18 factories in Svay Rieng province have been suspended because of Covid-19, said provincial deputy governor Ros Pharith. Home to 11 special economic zones, Pharith said Svay Rieng has not been spared as the pandemic takes a toll on the global economy. “There

  • Nod given for school exams

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport announced that State-run higher educational institutions can hold examinations to end the academic year, while private schools can organise grade 9 and grade 12 examinations at their premises for two days. However, private institutions have to take measures to prevent