Norway has been invaded - by Norwegian troops. The "hone team" are playing the part?
Norway has been invaded - by Norwegian troops. The "hone team" are playing the part of invaders in a large-scale exercise for NATO forces. Four thousand Norwegian troops, with air and artillery support as well as amphibious landing facilities, "invaded" Northern Norway before dawn on Monday (September 18).
The sparsely populated region is regarded as a vulnerable flank for NATO. The exercise, which is taking place just before preparatory talks for the East-West conference on European security, has aroused Soviet interest. Soviet ships have been shadowing NATO vessels, and a regular serial survey is also being kept up.
The NATO forces include a special section - nicknamed the Fire Brigade - which totals 5,000 troops from Britain, Canada, Belgium, West Germany Italy, Luxembourg, and the United States. In all twelve countries are taking part, involving 64,000 men, 700 planes and 300 warships.
SYNOPSIS: The world's latest battle-spot is the cold, little-inhabited Northern region of Norway. But though there's plenty of shooting there has been no killing -- for this is a mock battle to test NATO defences. The NATO troops are faced with an invasion force which is being played by Norwegian soldiers.
NATO forces include four thousand Norwegians, as well as troops from eleven other countries. In all 64,000 men are involved. They're backed up by 700 planes, and out at sea 300 warships are involved. The exercise has been codenamed: "Strong Express".
And while top NATO observers closely check progress, they know that their Soviet counterparts are squally interested. Soviet ships and submarines have been shadowing the NATO vessels, and there have been regular Russian aerial surveys of the exercise zone.
The area of Norway chose for the exercise is regarded as NATO's weak flank. The most battles are taking place within two hundred miles of the Soviet border. The battleground covers over two thousand square miles. It's a rugged terrain, varying from jagged mountain peaks with permanent snow to steep-sided river valleys and lowlands where it never seems to stop raining. The whole operation has struck many observers not only by its size but by the significance of its timing. They see it as a show of strength prior to preparatory talks for the forthcoming conference between the Soviet bloc and the West on European security.
The operation began with the attackers driving the defenders back in several places over a fifty-mile front. It developed to be quite a battle, even though the bullets are blanks.