The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's ambitious military exercise, held on its vital Mediterranean flank, reached a climax on Friday (8 October).
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's ambitious military exercise, held on its vital Mediterranean flank, reached a climax on Friday (8 October). Hundreds of Unites States and Italian marines stormed ashore in a simulated amphibious attack on the north-west coast of Italy.
SYNOPSIS: The assault, part of a massive military exercise code-named "Display Determination" took place on a deserted beach about 70 kilometres (44 miles) north of Rome. Senior NATO officers said the move was designed to show the alliance could reinforce its southern flank rapidly when necessary, using conventional fife-power to stave off an enemy threat without resorting to nuclear weapons.
The strategy behind the exercise assumed an invasion of northern Italy as if from Yugoslavia. It coincided with reported western military fears about possible Soviet intervention in Yugoslavia when President Josip Broz Tito dies. Such intervention would make Italy a front line NATO state, and there have been reports recently of growing concern in the alliance at the increasing power of the Italian Communist Party, and its possible effect on NATO strategy.
During the exercise most NATO officials refused to comment on the Italian political situation. However, General Alexander Haio NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe, did say he believed Italy's continued participation in the alliance was ???ispensible. This assault was designed to establish a beach-head on the Italian coast, and open a supply route northwards to allied troops, dug in across the advance path of the enemy -- a role played by British Royal Marine Commandos.
The American and Italian marines were landed form amphibious craft of flown in by helicopter from three aircraft carriers. They were supported by armoured vehicles and other equipment. Meanwhile, General Haig, who repeated warnings of what he called "a relentless growth in Soviet military might", said the exercise was not merely intended in show how good NATO was. The NATO supreme commander said it was designed as a way of discovering how good NATO must become.
The exercise is one of whole series of manoeuvres which takes place annually to test NATO defence. The results are analysed to find the most vulnerable points particularly those on the flanks of the alliance. The southern flank is often regarded as the weakest of all. For not only do NATO strategists view the growing popularity of the Italian communists with concern, but NATO members Greece and Turkey have often quarrelled causing further fears about the unity of the alliance.