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Latvia hosts NATO military training

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RIGA, Latvia, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Military units from Poland, the United States and the Baltic states began joint military exercises Monday at a training area in Latvia, Latvian officials said.

More than 1,700 military personnel from five NATO countries are taking part in the exercise called Sabre Strike 2011 at the Adazi Training Area until Oct. 31, RIA Novosti reported.

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It is the first time the training operation, organized by the United States, has been conducted in the Baltic states.

"The aim of the Sabre Strike 2011 drills is to practice interoperability procedures, and improve the integration of the land and air operational ability of three Baltic states and the United States with prospects of participation in the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) operation in Afghanistan and other multinational operations in the future," a statement from the Latvian Defense Ministry said.

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia each contribute troops to the 55,000 serving with the NATO ISAF contingent in Afghanistan, RIA Novosti said.

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