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17 September 2003

NATO Conducting Crisis Response Exercise in Irish Sea

Sept. 15-26: includes demonstration of maritime and amphibious capabilities

NATO is conducting a crisis response exercise in the Irish Sea September 15-26 to demonstrate maritime and amphibious capabilities and to evaluate a nuclear, biological and chemical response team and laboratory.

The exercise, called "Northern Light 2003," involves almost 8,500 military personnel from NATO members Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States; partner countries Sweden and Ukraine; and aspiring partner Lithuania.

Following is a NATO press release:

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NATO Update
17-Sep-2003

EXERCISE DEMONSTRATES NATO'S MARITIME AND AMPHIBIOUS CAPABILITIES

Close to 8,500 military personnel from twelve NATO nations are taking part in Northern Light 2003, a major NATO crisis response exercise in the Irish Sea from 15 to 26 September.

The exercise will test the capability of NATO member forces to respond to a crisis situation. It will also demonstrate some of the maritime and amphibious capabilities that could be deployed as part of the new NATO Response Force (NRF).

In particular, the exercise will see the first activation of a NATO maritime Higher Readiness Force Headquarters, while amphibious and land troops will be tested in a landing on the beach of Luce Bay, Scotland on 20 September.

Seven new experimental projects will also be evaluated in the course of the exercise, including a nuclear, biological and chemical response team and laboratory.

NATO member countries Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States are taking part, as well as invitee partner nation Lithuania, and partner countries Sweden and Ukraine.

The entire exercise force will comprise 50 ships and submarines, 15 fighter aircraft, numerous military helicopters and approximately 800 amphibious and land troops.

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(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)