British army to take part in largest military drill since Cold War

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The British military is expected to take part in the largest war games since the Cold War. British forces will join France in “high intensity” war games to prepare for a “major conflict”. Operation Orion will take place in Champagne, France next spring.

As many as 20,000 troops from allied forces are expected to take part, the French defence ministry has said.

The exercise was reportedly brought forward as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Forces from the US, Belgium and Italy will also take part.

A spokesperson for the MoD told Express.co.uk that the UK armed forces are “constantly active, working and exercising with its NATO allies, whether at home or abroad to deter potentially hostile nations or non-state actors.”

They added: “Regular exercising improves the combat effectiveness of UK and Allied forces and demonstrates that we can deploy a credible military force. Exercising with allies is a clear communication of the capability and strength of NATO and its resolve as a defensive alliance.”

The first phase of the exercise will see troops land in France by air and sea over a three-week period with the aim of establishing a bridgehead in a fictitious country called Arnland that has been deliberately destabilised by militia backed by a hostile state called Mercury.

This phase will involve 7,000 troops, along with the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, two amphibious helicopter carriers and around 20 other surface vessels and submarines.

The second phase will simulate a direct invasion of Arnland by Mercury, which French and Allied forces will attempt to repel.

Speaking about the planned drill, General Yves Métayer – who is in charge of planning the operation for the French army – said: “We have never held an exercise of this scale and duration.”

He added: “We must prepare for the worst to avoid it happening and to attenuate the consequences”.

While the decision to hold the war games was initially made in 2020, the Russian invasion of Ukraine “accelerated” the process, french outlet Le Monde reported.

The outlet said the combat scenarios were inspired by pro-Russian operations in the Donbas since 2014 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Earlier this week, leaders of the G20 issued a declaration deploring “in the strongest terms” Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

The declaration said: “Many members expressed concern about the damage caused by the conflict on critical health infrastructure, as well as casualties in health care workers, which have disproportionately affected the most vulnerable, women and children.”

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But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, condemned the “politicisation” of the G20 meeting.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in Bali for the summit, warned it was “absolutely essential to avoid escalating the war in Ukraine”.

His comments came after an explosion in Poland, a NATO member, sparked concerns the alliance might be drawn into Russia’s war against Ukraine.

However, the missile is not now thought to have originated in Russia.

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