Expanded NATO Begins Nordic Exercises With Newly Joined Countries

(NewsReady.com) – Sweden and Finland applied to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022. The countries are now participating in military exercises with the Allied nations.

On March 3, NATO’s Nordic Response 2024 kicked up. The military drills will run through March 15. Norway is leading the exercises that will involve more than 20,000 military personnel. The service members are from 13 countries, including Sweden and Finland.

The Finnish Defence Forces released a statement saying it is the first time Finland has participated in an “exercise dedicated to the collective [defense] of different parts of the alliance.” The country sent 4,000 military personnel to join the training exercises, and Sweden sent 4,500 troops.

Nordic Response 2024 is part of the Steadfast Defender 24 exercises and is the largest of its kind since the end of the Cold War. The exercises will mostly be conducted in Norway, Finland, and Norway, and include more than 100 aircraft and 50 ships.

The exercises are especially important because of the new statuses of the countries. The commander of the Norwegian Air Operations Centre, Air Force Brigadier Tron Strand, told The Hill that the exercises are vital because they will show the Nordic nations are capable of stopping “anyone who tries to challenge [their] borders, values, and democrac[ies].”

Finland shares a border that’s more than 800 miles long with Russia. There’s a concern that Russian President Vladimir Putin might be emboldened to wage war on other Eastern European nations if he wins the war against Ukraine. Other NATO countries are also concerned about that possibility, which has led other nations, like Poland, to reinforce their borders to prevent a potential invasion.

The US Marine Corps II Marine Expeditionary Force are serving as the land component headquarters for the exercises. Approximately 2,500 Marines are participating. The fighter squadrons will fly F/A-18 Hornets and F-35B Lightning II aircraft. They will help the other nations strengthen their coordination in maritime, air, and ground domains.

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