November 20, 2013
After the 2014 pullout from Afghanistan, NATO is set to stage huge
European war games involving 40,000 troops, about seven times the size
of the recent drills in the Baltic, with critics in the crisis-hit EU
calling it a waste of money.
The Western alliance claims this is to test the members’ capability
and teamwork, mainly for reasons of matching America’s commitment to the
alliance, as well as keeping their edge after the Afghan mission is
The exercises, set to start in 2015, will involve 40,000 troops
deployed in Spain and Portugal. NATO land forces commander U.S. Army
Lieutenant-General Frederick Hodges told Reuters that “this kind of
exercise, this sort of complexity, is going to be the norm,” so the
exercises are just the first in a series.
The major reason given by NATO is that troops need to stay sharp and
practice their interoperability, especially after Afghanistan, in times
of military inactivity.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has emphasized the
importance of Europe’s role in the alliance, in September saying that
“European nations can – and should – do more to match America’s