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Thousands of troops and equipment: NATO forces practice crossing Vistula River in Poland

Thousands of troops and equipment: NATO forces practice crossing Vistula River in Poland NATO forces practice crossing Vistula River in Poland (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

Certain units of the Polish army and NATO countries are conducting a crossing operation over the Vistula River. Over 3,500 military personnel and a thousand pieces of equipment are involved in these maneuvers, according to PolskeRadio24.

Forces stationed on the banks of the Vistula will conduct the river crossing as part of the Steadfast Defender-24 and Dragon-24 exercises.

The training of soldiers from Poland and NATO member countries represents the largest maneuvers of this kind to take place within the North Atlantic Alliance in recent years.

As units from nine countries navigate the Vistula River, they will be observed by Presidents Andrzej Duda and Gitanas Nauseda, as well as Polish Defense Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz.

"Specially equipped ferry crossings will be used for crossing the river near Kwidzyn, and aviation will provide security for the transported weaponry," the statement said.

General Marek Sokolowski, who is leading the exercises, explained how the operation will unfold.

According to him, there are three axes: Polish, French, and British-German. Various types of equipment in different configurations are being transported on the ferries, which have been coordinated engineering-wise.

Creating challenging conditions

According to Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, General Cezary Wisniewski, March was chosen for the operation to deliberately complicate conditions.

"These exercises are not randomly scheduled in March. We wanted to create certain challenges for our sappers and engineering troops because crossing in the middle of summer is much easier, but the point is not to make it easy, but to train well in the most difficult conditions," he added.

The general emphasized that the idea behind the training is to swiftly deploy troops in case of a crisis phase.

NATO training

In the first half of 2024, NATO is conducting a series of exercises under the overall code name Steadfast Defender-24. Poland will be one of the host countries, accommodating a significant number of troops and equipment from allies on its territory. As part of Steadfast Defender-24, Polish national exercises with the participation of armed forces from other countries, named Dragon-24, will take place.

Additionally, maritime exercises of NATO countries under the name Dynamic Manta began in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Sicily on the morning of February 26. The exercises serve as a platform for testing and strengthening the Alliance's crisis response capabilities.

On February 9, aviation exercises involving the United States and allies commenced in the Pacific Ocean, with over 80 aircraft participating. Guam served as the center for these exercises, which lasted until February 23rd. During the exercises, allied forces participated in medical evacuation drills and personnel and cargo drops.

Yesterday, March 4, large-scale military exercises of NATO countries named Nordic Response 24 began in northern Finland, Sweden, and Norway, lasting until March 15. They are being led by Norway.