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NATO begins largest military exercise in over a decade

By Ryan Maass
NATO begins largest military exercise in over a decade
NATO official says Trident Juncture 2015 is the largest military exercise in over a decade. Photo courtesy of NATO.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- NATO allies and partner countries began a three-week military exercise at the Trapani Air Force Base in Italy on Monday.

The training program, called the Alliance's Trident Juncture, involves around 36,000 troops from more than 30 countries. NATO Deputy Secretary General Ambassador Alexander Vershbow notes the training program is the largest of its kind as member states escalate their military readiness.

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"Trident Juncture is the largest NATO exercise for over a decade," Vershbow said in a statement. "Trident Juncture will increase our readiness and our ability to work together, including with our partners. It will demonstrate that NATO is capable of responding to threats from any direction."

The program will continue until November 6. Despite the size of the exercise, Ambassador Vershbow notes this is not meant to stir up hostility with any country. Representatives from Russia, Colombia, and other non-NATO nations were invited to join as observers.

The exercise comes less than a week after the conclusion of the Tactical Leadership program, an earlier NATO training event for fighter pilots from NATO countries. This event allowed pilots from the United States, Spain, Greece, Italy, Poland, and the Czech Republic to act as mission commanders leading airstrike operations.

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