Published On: Fri, May 10th, 2024
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Britain leads NATO war games on border with Russia amid warnings of threat | World | News

British troops are leading thrilling NATO war games on Estonia’s border with Russia as part of the alliance’s largest military drill since the Cold War.

The British Army deployed its latest Apache AH-64E attack helicopters to spearhead the exercise which also saw 180 soldiers take part in a ground assault this morning.

It is the first time the newly serviced Apache has been involved in a NATO exercise.

The live battlefield simulation comes as tensions flare between the alliance and Russia after undeclared Kremlin spies were identified in the UK, Estonia, Poland and Germany.

Speaking after the exercise, Brigadier Mark Berry, Commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, said: “The threat Russia poses is very urgent. I’m going to second guess what may or may not happen but as military personnel, our job is to be ready.

“There’s no point waiting to get ready, we must be ready now.

“What is playing out in Ukraine provides us with the lessons we need to learn.

“Our mindset is, whether this threat is today, next year or in ten years time, we must make ourselves as ready as we can be right now.”

Plucky Britons made up the lion’s share of NATO forces on Friday’s Apache and ground assault operation with 130 out of 190 coming from the B Company 3rd Battalion and the other 60 hailing from the US’s 1st squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment based out of North Carolina.

British Lieutenant Colonel David Lambert said: “This is a landmark moment. The training that you’ve witnessed today is genuinely as realistic as it gets.

“There is no artificiality in this, it’s just good training from the lowest level all the way to the top. We are ready to fight today.”

In total, the 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, the British Army’s global response force, is leading a force of more than 2,300 soldiers, sailors and aviators from four countries working together in Estonia.

The unit falls under ‘very high readiness’ which means they can deploy to anywhere in the world within five days.

Lieutenant Colonel Lambert added: “One of the greatest challenges is fighting through [hospitable weather] conditions.

“We have to be ready to fly and fight in poor conditions, day or night – and as you’ve seen this morning, Apache is ready to do that.”

The training is aimed at NATO airborne forces building their ability to respond together to crises.

Exercise Swift Response includes 13,000 troops from 17 nations carrying out six coordinated airborne operations between eight countries over the space of one week.

Armed forces personnel told the Daily Express that a decades-long focus on counter-guerrilla insurgencies was shifting to countering emerging threats such as Russia.

The show of force comes less than 24 hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin, 71, accused the “arrogant” West of risking a global conflict.

In a speech in Moscow’s Red Square to mark the Soviet victory over Germany in World War II, the warlord warned the nuclear power’s “strategic forces” are combat-ready and accused the West of stoking tensions.

The UK unveiled a £500million boost in defence funding to Ukraine in April – bringing military support to the embattled nation to £3 billion for the financial year.

Speaking to British press in Estonia, Brigadier Charles Harris said: “Our aim here, very simply, is to defend every inch of this country’s soil if required.

“And we’re doing this with Estonia, on behalf of NATO to protect our entire eastern flank.

“Living here with my family, I have come to understand what NATO and Estonia mean to each other, and we’re a very, very powerful team.”

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