North Macedonia: US leads exercise in NATO's newest member

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British communications officers take part in the Swift Response 22 military exercise at the Krivolak army training polygon in the central part of North Macedonia, on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Hundreds of NATO soldiers have presented on Thursday airborne operations followed by parachuting, helicopters and ground activities to the top country's officials and diplomats, as allied airborne forces exercise "Swift Response 22" has entered in its final phase at the military polygon "Krivolak" in North Macedonia. The exercise, that includes about 4,600 soldiers from Albania, France, Greece, Italy, North Macedonia, Montenegro, the UK, and the U.S., was to demonstrate the NATO states' ability to deploy anywhere around the world and that it's soldiers can operate together professionally and successfully. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

KRIVOLAK – U.S. troops joined forces from Britain, France, Italy and allied countries in the region Thursday in a military exercise held in NATO’s newest member, North Macedonia, aimed at displaying deployment readiness along the alliance’s eastern borders.

Nearly 10,000 soldiers from 19 nations are taking part in NATO’s planned “Swift Response” exercises as Russia's war in Ukraine continues for a 12th week. The exercises are being held in five separate locations, spanning from Norway to North Macedonia, military officials said.

“I think it’s a fantastic demonstration of what we can do as an alliance and our ability to project combat power if asked to do so and how quickly we can do it,” Maj. Gen. Peter B. Andrysiak, U.S. Army Deputy Commanding General for Europe and Africa, told reporters after an hourlong display in North Macedonia.

Over the past 10 days, about 4,600 soldiers from Albania, France, Greece, Italy, North Macedonia, Montenegro, the U.K., and the U.S. have taken part in the exercises, which have included parachute jumps at several locations around the country.

North Macedonia formally joined NATO in March 2020. The small Balkan country of 1.8 million people has an active military of about 8,000 personnel.

___ Konstantin Testorides reported from Skopje, North Macedonia.