It was very good to see, after my post last week, that a few newspapers ran feature articles on British military operations in Mali, highlighting the tremendous work of the Light Dragoons on their lengthy desert patrols. However, this is not the only major military deployment that is happening in May this year. The British army is also participating in one of the largest NATO exercises in Europe since the Cold War. Stretching from the Baltic to the Balkans, the coordinated deployment of nearly 30,000 multinational troops is a meaningful statement to President Putin that he cannot intimidate his neighbours.
The British capability, which includes parachute and infantry companies, complements the Enhanced Forward Presence stationed in Poland and the Baltic States. The UK Battle Group in Estonia that includes challenger tanks and AS90 self propelled guns, is incredibly popular and yet the British newspapers provide little coverage of what our troops are doing to reassure our friends and prevent conflict.
Perhaps the most meaningful contribution is in Albania, a NATO Member since 2009. The strategic port of Durres is host to important sustainment operations with 104 British logistics support brigade heavily involved in developing the systems and processes. It is not quite on the same scale as the Reinforcement in Germany exercises which involved up to 50,000 British troops in the 1980s, but it is still a significant measure of military capability. Hopefully, we will see a bit more about this in the national media before the exercise ends on 2nd June.