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Trojan Footprint 18 exercise brings 2,000 special operations troops to Baltics

BC, Tallinn, 11.06.2018.Print version

– Trojan Footprint 18, an exercise of special operations forces involving 13 nations that ended in the outgoing week, brought 2,000 special operations personnel to the Baltic countries.

"Trojan Footprint allowed us to put the interoperability skills of special operations units from different countries to a test both in a situation of hybrid war as well as under conditions of a real armed conflict," the chief of the Estonian Special Operations Command, Col. Riho Uhtegi, said according to military spokespeople in Tallinn.

"While we have been able to test the interoperability skills of special operations units at different missions and multinational exercises, the challenge in this present exercise was specifically the compatibility of command elements and seeing to logistics. Today we can say that we can manage that part as well. Of course there are areas where we can improve cooperation, and training exercises indeed are meant for finding out bottlenecks."

Trojan Footprint 18 was conducted in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. According to the scenario of the exercise, a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of some NATO member states was committed. Special forces of NATO and partner nations responded resolutely and moved into the operation area to support the member states and provide a decisive response to the violation of sovereignty. Within the framework of the exercise a multinational command element was established that was tasked with providing necessary conditions for the action of special operations forces of NATO and partner nations in the operation area and their subsequent integration with conventional units.

Trojan Footprint 18 was conducted as part of three simultaneously held military exercises: the Flaming Sword exercise staged by Lithuania, Saber Strike led by U.S. Army Europe, and the Baltops exercise of the U.S. Navy, which entailed integrated conventional and special operations forces rehearsing cooperation in a common operation area. The exercise took place on the ground, in the air and in the Baltic Sea over a two-week span.

The war games involved the rapid deployment of special operators into the Baltics and Poland for a crisis-response mission. U.S. warplanes also took part, including F-16s and a B-1 bomber that conducted its first-ever live drop in Estonia, the U.S. military community's news website Stars and Stripes reported.

It said that the main aim was to deploy without attracting attention and to set up command structures capable of leading allies in the early stages of a crisis. Unlike conventional military drills that involve distinguished visitor days and heavy media coverage, the SOCEUR (Special Operations Command Europe) exercise was designed to test the ability of commandos to operate under the radar.

Forces from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, the U.K and the U.S. took part in this year's edition of Trojan Footprint, a special operations forces exercise conducted every two years.

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