Since the 24th of March, soldiers from eight NATO states have started to arrive in North Macedonia for Exercise SWIFT RESPONSE 22; an allied airborne forces exercise, part of a wider series of exercises taking place all over eastern Europe.
1,800 Paratroopers from the UK’s 16 Air Assault Brigade have come to North Macedonia to conduct training alongside seven other NATO nations including forces from North Macedonia in four different locations around the country.
Over the coming weeks 2,700 soldiers from Albania, France, Greece, Italy, North Macedonia, Montenegro, the UK, and the USA will conduct training events including live fire training and both day and night parachute jumps. The training will demonstrate the NATO states’ ability to deploy anywhere around the world and that it’s soldiers can operate together professionally and successfully.
This annual exercise, happening this year in North Macedonia, is a key contribution to European security, delivering forces at high readiness across a range of roles, increasing capacity and complementing NATO and other European and global security arrangements.
16 Air Assault Brigade have deployed with 1,800 soldiers comprising of Paratroopers, Engineers, Artillery, Logistic Specialists, Medics, Military Intelligence, Communications specialists, Army Air Corps, RAF, Mechanics and Explosive Ordinance Disposal specialists. The Brigade deploys on exercises and operations globally with all the vehicles and equipment needed to sustain themselves which include, helicopters, both wheeled and tracked off-road personnel carriers, artillery guns, and a multitude of logistic and engineering vehicles.
The Commanding Officer of the Royal Engineer Paratroopers, Lieutenant Colonel Jack Crossley, has been in North Macedonia since 24 Mar. He has overseen the movement of the Brigade from the UK to North Macedonia. He remarked, “Moving nearly 2000 British troops and all the vehicles and equipment that comes with a brigade across Europe and into North Macedonia has been a mammoth task, which we could not have done as efficiently without the support of the Government of North Macedonia and armed forces.”
Lieutenant Colonel Jack Crossley continued, “We have had an extremely warm welcome and have now settled in, ready to begin the main exercise with soldiers from North Macedonia and six other partner nations.”