NATO will soon conduct large-scale exercises in the Baltics, with thousands of troops from more than a dozen nations set to take part in war games just 40 miles from the nearest Russian military base.
Dubbed “Hedgehog,” the drills will kick off later this week in Estonia and run until June 3, meant to simulate a Russian invasion. They will involve 15,000 troops from 14 countries—including the United States, Britain, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Norway, as well as non-NATO members Ukraine, Georgia, Sweden and Finland.
According to Major General Veiko-Vello Palm, deputy commander of the Estonian Defence Forces, the exercise will take place just 40 miles from a Russian military base, a facility hosting Moscow’s 76th Guards Air Assault Division in the border city of Pskov.
The size of the war games—among the largest in the Baltics since the fall of the USSR—their proximity to the Russian border, and the inclusion of non-NATO states are likely to escalate tensions with Moscow.
U.S. to Participate in Israeli Military Simulation of Large-Scale Attack on Iran
According to a report from Israel’s Channel 13, the US will participate in planned Israeli military exercises that will simulate a large-scale attack on Iran later this month as part of Israel’s month-long Chariots of Fire drills.
The Channel 13 report said that the US Air Force will take part in the exercises with refueling planes that will join Israeli jets as they simulate entering Iranian territory and carrying out repeated airstrikes.
The simulated attack on Iran will start on May 29 over the Mediterranean Sea. According to The Times of Israel, it marks the first the Israeli Air Force will practice a large-scale assault on Iran.
The IDF has begun closer coordination with the US and its Arab allies in the Middle East by being put under US Central Command’s (CENTCOM) area of responsibility. Israel previously was covered under US European Command since it did not have formal relations with many US allies in the Middle East.
Michael Kurilla, the new head of CENTCOM, arrived in Israel Tuesday (May 17) for his first official visit to the country. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz is headed to Washington this week to hold talks with his American counterpart, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
NATO Takes Command of U.S. Carrier Strike Group for Massive Drill
The USS Harry Truman aircraft carrier strike group and other American warships have come under the command of the NATO alliance for major military drills in the Baltic, Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas.
Dubbed “Neptune Shield 22” (NESH 22), the war games will run from May 17-31 and involve 19 NATO members, among them Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the UK and the US.
A NATO press release said several US ships will come under the control of the alliance’s Naval Striking and Support Forces command—also known as STRIKFORNATO—for the duration of the military exercises.