Over 20 warships, 35 aircraft take part in NATO's Formidable Shield
Deputy Commander of STRIKFORNATO says the participants will train on countering a broad range of missiles, including supersonic missiles.
NATO’s 2023 Formidable Shield drills will see the participation of more than 20 warships and submarines, in addition to HIMARS and National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System NASAMS, UK Rear Admiral and Deputy Commander of STRIKFORNATO James Morley said on Thursday.
“We brought together more than 20 ships and submarines, 35 aircraft, and 8 ground-based units, including US Marine Corps HIMARS and Norwegian advanced surface-to-air missile system,” Morley said during a virtual briefing.
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The rear admiral added that the participants will train on countering a broad range of subsonic, supersonic, and ballistic missiles.
“Formidable Shield combines routine tactical training with the most offensive and defensive live missile-fire events that you will see anywhere in the world,” he said.
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The drills will enable the coalition's air, ground, and naval units to improve integration of combat readiness, he added, noting that the conflict in Ukraine does not affect the exercises that reveal the mutual aim of the NATO army to defend the members' territories.
The exercise, which is happening between May 8 and 26, will show "the strength and unmatched cohesion of our trans-Atlantic Alliance lies in our mutual commitment to one another and to the deterrence and defence of the Euro-Atlantic area," he said.
“Formidable Shield is the premier IAMD and live-fire rehearsal in the European theatre and highlights STRIKFORNATO’s proficiency in seamlessly integrating Allied and Partner maritime and air forces into combined operations,” he concluded.
13 NATO allied and partner counties, including approximately 4,000 personnel from across the alliance, will take part in the biennial exercise.
On his part, Officer Commanding Station Operations at Royal Air Force Lossiemouth, Wing Commander Tim McAuley, considered that the exercise is "an excellent example of the UK taking a leading role in the development of IAMD with our NATO Allies."
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“I am delighted that RAF Lossiemouth, is at the centre of this exercise helping to protect our people and counter a growing threat,” he concluded.
But his sentiment on UK's "leading role" does not completely resonate with earlier statements made by NATO officials, especially when it comes to the coalition's spearhead forces.
In February, British media said NATO military leaders considered that the UK armed forces will be unable to assume command of the alliance's rapid response force this year due to a lack of military resources.
Germany will hand over command of NATO's rapid reaction force to the United Kingdom in late 2023. However, the alliance has asked Berlin to continue leading the bloc's force for another year because London is unable to provide the required 5,000 soldiers, according to the media outlets.
The United Kingdom is now in its most vulnerable position since World War II, because the British army is the smallest it has been in four centuries, and the navy is less than half what it was during the 1982 Falklands War, it added, citing officials from Britian's Defense Ministry.
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The chairman of the UK Parliament's Defense Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood, told a different British media outlet in late January that the UK army was "in a dire state" despite two decades of multi-billion dollar investments.
The UK's Defense Secretary, Ben Wallace, also confirmed then that the UK army had "fallen behind its peer group" and needed investments. Despite this fact, Ellwood stated that the UK, already involved in the Ukraine conflict, needed to "face Russia directly rather than leaving Ukraine to do all the work."