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Joint military exercises begin this week

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CASTEAU, Belgium -- More than a quarter million troops from NATO nations this week launch a major series of wargames to be conducted over two months from Norway to Turkey.

Gen. Bernard W. Rogers, supreme allied commander of Europe, will signal the official start of the annual series of exercises, called 'Autumn Forge,' at a ceremony in Naples, Italy, on Thursday.

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Officials at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe said between 250,000 and 300,000 troops will be involved in the 1982 exercises.

Highlighting them once more is 'Reforger' -- return of forces to Germany -- a U.S. strategic reinforcement exercise demonstrating U.S. readiness to rush to Europe's assistance in case of a crisis.

The 24 exercises in Autumn Forge are aimed at improving combat effectiveness and crisis management capabilities in Allied Command Europe, and demonstrating solidarity and preparedness.

More than 19,000 U.S. troops are being ferried to Europe by plane from the United States, while the U.S. Navy is shipping some 28,000 tons of equipment across the Atlantic.

Reforger will be accompanied by an air support exercise, called 'Crested Cap,' involving 36 F15s from Eglin Air Force base in Florida and 12 A10s from Myrtle Beach base in South Carolina.

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Another major maneuver is 'Cold Fire,' a combined land and air force exercise in the central NATO region from Sept. 9 to 24, in which six nations are taking part -- Belgium, Britain, Canada, Holland, West Germany and the United States.

Aircraft from these nations will carry out extensive flying operations in concert with a major field training exercise, called 'Carbine Fortress,' to improve combat effectiveness though joint operations.

The main exercise activities of Carbine Fortress will take place from Sept. 13 to 23 in the area of Wurzburg, West Germany, involving an estimated 70,000 maneuver troops from the United States, Germany, Canada, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and Denmark.

Another field training exercise, 'Bold Guard,' will take place in Denmark and Germany from Sept. 1 to Oct. 5, with exercise play on the Zealand group of islands and in Schleswig-Holstein Sept. 20-24.

Danish, German, American, British and Dutch forces will participate - 47,000 men, nearly 1,500 tracked vehicles and over 8,000 wheeled vehicles and some 200 helicopters.

Bold Guard will be linked to a maritime exercise, 'Northern Wedding' in which 10 nations will take part from Sept. 6 to 17.

The exercise will involve more than 160 ships, 250 aircraft and about 5,000 ground force personnel from the United States, Britain, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Norway and Portugal.

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