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Poland Leads NATO Military Exercises

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Polish Army soldiers carry flags of some of the countries participating in the Anaconda-16 military exercise, during the opening ceremony, in Warsaw, Poland, Monday, June 6, 2016.
Polish Army soldiers carry flags of some of the countries participating in the Anaconda-16 military exercise, during the opening ceremony, in Warsaw, Poland, Monday, June 6, 2016.

More than 20 North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO member states, began a large military training exercise Tuesday.

The exercise is part of efforts by the alliance to show interest in central and eastern European countries. Many of those countries are concerned about Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

The Russian government condemned the NATO operation early Tuesday. Russian officials said the exercises do not help to build a feeling of trust and security in Europe.

Tensions between Russia and the West are higher than they have been since the end of the Soviet Union. Though Russia opposes NATO expansion into the former soviet states, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that “the Cold War is history, and we want it to stay that way.”

Testing on the eastern side of NATO

Poland is leading the 10-day long exercises, which NATO officials are calling Anakonda-16. They will involve 31,000 troops, 3,000 vehicles, 105 aircraft and 12 Navy ships.

A total of 24 nations are taking part, according to the U.S. Army.

“The Anakonda military exercise is an exercise which aims to test the capabilities of the alliance member states to defend the territory of the eastern flank of the alliance,” said Poland’s defense minister, Antoni Macierewicz.

The NATO forces will practice a night-time attack by helicopters, bridge-building operations and air defense. Other training includes a chemical decontamination exercise and safely removing a large number of injured individuals.

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Mark Milley says the U.S. has a “single purpose” in the operation. That goal is to “demonstrate that we are shoulder-to-shoulder with the Polish people,” he said. “We are shoulder-to-shoulder with the Polish army and we are shoulder-to-shoulder with NATO, to ensure that all of the countries of NATO remain free and independent.”

I’m Ashley Thompson.

This story was published on VOANews.com. Jim Dresbach adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section and visit our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

flankn. the side of something

capabilities - n. abilities

practice – v. doing something again and again so that you become better at it

decontamination – adj. of or related to removal of dirty or dangerous substances

shoulder-to-shoulder -- n. standing next to or beside in support

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