BONN, West Germany -- NATO and Warsaw Pact forces are on the move again in Europe in large-scale annual training exercises that will test the combat skills of one-third of a million troops.
The rival fall maneuvers began Monday as nearly 58,000 British troops began crossing the English Channelto join NATO's 'Autumn Forge' exercise and a 60,000-strong East bloc force opened its 'Shield 84' war games in Czechoslovakia.
The opposing displays of military might opened just two days after Europeans marked the 44th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, which divided their continent.
Each military exercise will be watched by official observers from the opposing alliance as a 'confidence-building measure' in an East-West political climate that has rarely been as frosty.
The growing peace movement in West Germany, which has committed 55,000 troops to Autumn Forge, has promised mass demonstrations against the seven-week NATO maneuvers, which will involve more than 250,000 troops in 24 separate land, sea and air maneuvers from the Norwegian coast to the Black Sea.
In one segment called 'Reforger,' 17,000 U.S. troops will be flown from the United States to augment NATO forces. The 'Lionheart 84' phase will draw 131,000 troops from five nations to northern Germany for the most ambitious British-led war game since the end of World War II.
NATO command at Mons, Belgium, said the games would feature 4,000 tactical air sorties with the key ground action in the low countries and West Germany, which shares a long border with the East bloc.
Greece is partly boycotting the NATO naval maneuvers because of its territorial squabble with Turkey, while France and Spain traditionally decline to participate in the combined exercises.
Romania, the Warsaw Pact's military maverick, is believed to be participating in 'Shield 84' at command and general staff levels, while sticking to its policy of not letting troops participate.
Czechoslovak Defense Minister Martin Dzur, quoted by his official news agency CTK, called the Warsaw Pact maneuvers especially important because 'U.S.-led imperialist forces have launched a campaign against socialism.'