Like in the maritime domain, also on land and in the air NATO’s efforts to train their forces to deter and protect continue even in times of the Corona pandemic. ‘Spring Storm’ is an annual Estonian training exercise, first conducted in 2003. It tests the interoperability of the Estonian Defence Forces with NATO troops. For this year’s exercise, soldiers on the ground received support from Danish F-16 fighter jets and American B-1 strategic bombers. The B-1s flew to the Baltic Sea all the way from their home base in South Dakota in US. The exercise started end of April and will be concluded on 08 May.
As another tool to support the fight against COVID-19, the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) now offers Strategic Aeromedical Evacuation Services (STRAT AE) to NATO nations, partners and other NATO bodies or nations in support of Allied operations. This is a proactive response to the needs of Allies and partner nations during these difficult times. The STRAT AE is designed for the transport of stable patients under medical supervision by fixed wing aircraft from operational theatres or overseas duty stations to home country or to a safe place where appropriate medical care is available. Upon a nation’s request, NSPA can provide suitable options within a week. In the current COVID-19 context, several nations have already shown interest in this new capability.
An example of bi-lateral cooperation in the crises is the United States’ financial support to Afghanistan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, after the country requested assistance through NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC). Among other means, 15.6 million US Dollars will be allocated to support surveillance, laboratories improvements, case-management, infection prevention and control, community engagement, and technical assistance. The EADRCC is NATO’s principal disaster response mechanism.
Keep observing the physical distancing and hand hygiene rules and stay safe!