2 million meals, endless trucks, dirty laundry: Nato exercises big in every way

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Tens of thousands of troops and vehicles are participating in the two-week Trident Juncture drill.
Around 50,000 troops from 31 countries - Nato's 29 member states plus Sweden and Finland - will take part in the manoeuvres. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

OSLO (AFP) - Nato's biggest military exercises since the end of the Cold War, dubbed Trident Juncture 18, take place in Norway from Oct 25 to Nov 7 in what will be a massive display of strength.

Show of force

Around 50,000 troops from 31 countries - Nato's 29 member states plus Sweden and Finland - will take part in the manoeuvres. They are organised in central Norway for the land exercises, in the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea for the maritime operations, and in Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish airspace.

That is about 10,000 more soldiers than in the Strong Resolve exercises in Poland in 2002, which brought together Alliance members and 11 partner states.

It involves 20,000 land forces, as well as 24,000 navy personnel including US Marines, 3,500 air force personnel, around 1,000 logistics specialists and 1,300 personnel from a range of Nato Commands.

No fewer than 10,000 vehicles will take part in the manoeuvres. Lined up end-to-end, the queue would measure 92 km, according to the Norwegian army.

Some 250 aircraft and 65 ships will also be involved, including the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman.

The top five contributing nations are the United States, Germany, Norway, Britain and Sweden, in that order.

Logistical headache

Housing, feeding and supporting so many troops requires considerable logistics.

The Norwegian army has installed 35,000 extra beds. Some 1.8 million meals and 4.6 million bottles of water will be handed out, and almost 676 tonnes of dirty laundry will have to be washed.

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg, illustrating the multinational nature of the exercises, said German tanks had been transported to Norway aboard a Danish vessel, fuelled up by Belgians, loaded by Dutch and Polish troops on to trucks and trains under the supervision of US troops, with the logistical assistance of Bulgarians.

And finally, proving that it's not always easy to be fully prepared, the Dutch army forgot to buy warm clothing for its 1,000 soldiers taking part in the exercises, Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported.

It was too late to issue a tender offer for the necessary items, so the army instead gave each soldier a little sum to buy their own.

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