Brunssum, The Netherlands
– In October and November, an array of exercises unfold at NATO’s Eastern Flank, mostly conducted by the Multinational NATO Battlegroups stationed in the Baltic States and Poland. This year, they are inter-connected under an umbrella of enhanced Vigilance Activities labelled EASTERN SHIELD.
The idea is to underline NATO’s founding principle that an attack on one NATO country is considered an attack on the whole Alliance and, in parallel, demonstrate the advanced capabilities of Alliance forces. The Russian war with Ukraine proves more than, at any time after the Cold War, the significance of the cohesion of NATO Allies, their will to deter any aggression against them, and defend freedom and democracy against any potential adversary.
The aim of EASTERN SHIELD, and the exercises connected to it therefore, is to demonstrate NATO’s ability to deliver credible collective defence and counter any hostile destabilising activities. NATO’s core responsibility remains to ensure that the Alliance’s territory and population remain safe.
All NATO activities at the Alliance’s Eastern Flank are legitimate, defensive, proportionate and fully transparent. Through this, they aim to build trust, avoid misperception, and accurately convey the Alliance’s defensive intent.
In this context, Exercise DECISIVE LANCER was completed in Estonia last week. Exercise THUNDERSTORM has already commenced in Lithuania, and exercises DETONATORS in Latvia, ANACONDA in Poland and IRON WOLF II, again in Lithuania, are about to start in the coming days. Other exercises and activities will follow. For instance, enhanced Vigilance Activity NEPTUNE STRIKE, conducted by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), based at Oeiras, Portugal, will demonstrate NATO’s capabilities to – among others – project air power from Carrier Strike Groups operating in the North Sea and the Mediterranean to NATO’s Eastern Flank.