U.K. armed forces lead NATO exercise in Baltic states

By Ryan Maass  |  Nov. 10, 2015 at 11:54 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- U.K. armed forces are leading a NATO land training exercise in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in an effort to support military strength in the region.

The exercise, known as Arrcade Fusion, brings in around 1,400 troops from 18 NATO countries. For the training event, the U.K has committed 800 troops in addition to 350 Army logistics vehicles. The exercise aims to enhance the responsive capabilities of NATO's new Rapid Reaction Force, set to become operational in 2016.

The U.K.'s participation in Arrcade Fusion marks another example of British military training in Eastern Europe, which NATO has given more attention since Russia has become more politically active in the area with Moscow's annexation of Crimea and support for militant separatists in eastern Ukraine.

"This exercise underlines our commitment to the sovereignty of the democratic nations of Eastern Europe," U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said in a statement. "It builds on our decision to deploy RAF jets and company sized units to the Baltic region. It will also provide crucial training to ensure the effectiveness of the new Rapid Reaction Force when it launches next year."

Fallon announced additional military training support for Ukrainian forces in early October, with British troops limited to non-combat roles. U.K. Armed Forces also committed their armored battle group in NATO Exercise Dragon in October, which took place in Poland, and involved 800 ground troops and 130 military vehicles.

Arrcade Fusion is set to run through November.

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