Hundreds of British Army vehicles head for Poland as NATO stages biggest operation since Cold War amid Russia threat

14 February 2024, 13:06

It is the largest NATO exercise since the Cold War
It is the largest NATO exercise since the Cold War. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Hundreds of British Army vehicles will soon arrive in Poland to take part in NATO's biggest exercise since the Cold War.

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Around 600 trucks were put on two cargo vessels at Marchwood sea mounting centre, near Southampton, before they head for the Eastern European nation.

Some 1,500 soldiers will also head out to Poland in the coming days.

They will take part in NATO's Exercise Steadfast Defender, a 90,000-strong force from the alliance who will be carrying out exercises for several months.

It comes amid fears of a wider conflict with Vladimir Putin's Russia, who is considered the biggest threat to peace in the Western world as it continues its war in Ukraine.

Foxhound armoured vehicles, along with trucks and support vehicles, all belonging to the 7 Light Mechanised Brigade unit of the British Army, aka 'The Desert Rats'
Foxhound armoured vehicles, along with trucks and support vehicles, all belonging to the 7 Light Mechanised Brigade unit of the British Army, aka 'The Desert Rats'. Picture: Getty

Captain Greg Jardine, from Darlington, said: "It's an unparalleled size compared with our usual exercises.'It's an escalation in tempo in our training and that comes down to the exercise.

"We are not in a situation where we are expecting to go to war any time soon but the situation in Europe has changed."

There have been warnings from senior European and NATO officials that the West could be engaged in armed conflict against Russia in the coming decades.

Read More: Britain should 'reassess' size of its military, head of US navy says, after UK army chief's 'call up' warning

Read More: Joe Biden blasts 2024 election challenger Donald Trump, calling his Nato remarks 'dumb, shameful and un-American'

Admiral Rob Bauer said in January that although NATO and member governments are readying themselves for conflict with Vladimir Putin's regime, civilians must realise that they also have a role to play.

He told reporters that civilians would have to be mobilised in large numbers if war broke out, and governments would have to prepare for how to manage that process.

Hundreds of vehicles are on their way to Polan
Hundreds of vehicles are on their way to Polan. Picture: Alamy

Adml Bauer, the chairman of NATO's military committee, said: "We have to realise it’s not a given that we are in peace. And that’s why we [Nato forces] are preparing for a conflict with Russia.

"But the discussion is much wider. It is also the industrial base and also the people that have to understand they play a role."

Meanwhile, in Britain, the head of the British Army said that the UK military is currently too small, and that a 'citizen army' would be necessary in the event of a war with Russia.

General Sir Patrick Sanders with former Defence Secretary Ben Wallace
General Sir Patrick Sanders with former Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. Picture: Alamy

General Sir Patrick Sanders recently warned the Government of the need to "mobilise" the public if the UK goes to war.

Around half a million people in total would be needed, according to his estimations.“We need an army designed to expand rapidly to enable the first echelon, resource the second echelon, and train and equip the citizen army that must follow," Sir Patrick said on Wednesday.

He went on: “We cannot afford to make the same mistake today.”

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