NATO war games simulate Afghanistan-style fighting
ANDRAVIDA, Greece, Nov 16, 2006 (AFP) - Around 1,000 NATO troops and experts are holding a two-week operation in Greece to test tactics and electronic devices for fighting terrorists in conflict zones such as Afghanistan, a senior alliance official said on Thursday.
The exercises have been focussing on "the kind of situation we can find in Afghanistan," NATO assistant secretary-general Marshall Billingsley said during a media presentation at the Greek airbase of Andravida, in the northwest of the Peloponnese. Troops from 12 member states of the alliance have acted out scenarios including ones resembling the situation in Afghanistan, where NATO troops are faced with a Taliban insurgency. "The scenarios we worked on were not linked to any specific groups... but the Taliban and Al-Qaeda have to be a major focus," Billingsley said. Dubbed "Spartan Hammer 2006", the trial which began on November 2 is the alliance’s first test of a new system of real-time communication and coordination methods between forces on land, sea, air and space. The operations include scenarios involving tasks such as locating suicide bombers and makeshift explosives, and outwitting devices that jam global positioning systems. The operations involve a total of 52 aircraft and nine warships, in addition to land-based air defence systems, satellite jammers, bomb squads and special forces units. The participating countries are Britain, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the United States. They are using Greek airbases in Andravida and five other Greek sites plus military facilities in Italy and France for Spartan Hammer, which will end on Saturday.