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NATO flexes its muscle at ‘San Gregorio’

Friday, November 6, 2015

Number: 4665

The Chief of the Army Staff attended the event

The Chief of the Army Staff attended the event (Photo: Ángel G.Tejedor/DECET)

Several countries took part in the exercise

Several countries took part in the exercise (Photo: Ángel G.Tejedor/DECET)

The ‘Casas Altas’ training ground

The ‘Casas Altas’ training ground (Photo: Ángel G.Tejedor/DECET)

The spearhead of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), which Spain will lead in 2016, organised a show of strength on 4 November at the “San Gregorio” Training Centre, in Zaragoza. The event was attended by prominent representatives of civilian and military institutions, notably NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Spanish Minister of Defence Pedro Morenés, as well as 150 journalists from 30 countries.

Guests to the event followed a four-phased attack against enemy positions dug in at the “Casas Altas” urban warfare training ground from the “Cerro del Pájaro” observatory. Units from Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Spain, the US, Italy, Poland and Romania took part in the simulated attack.

The equipment used included Hellfire missiles; Black Hawk, Apache, Tiger and Mi-171 helicopters; F-18 and Alca fighter jets; the B-52 strategic bomber; Light Gun howitzers; Leopard, Leopardo and Abrams tanks; Centaur, Pandur and APC Sisu XA-188 vehicles; and the Keiler mine clearing vehicle.

The demonstration ended with the jump of 500 parachutists from the US 82nd Airborne Division, one of the main actors of Operation Overlord on D-Day in Normandy during World War II, alongside a section of the Spanish Parachute Brigade. They had all flown for over 10 hours from the 82nd Airborne’s base at Fort Bragg in order to jump in three waves in the skies of “San Gregorio”.

The event came to a close with a meeting with the troops during which journalists could interview the participating soldiers, who were also greeted by the dignitaries in attendance. Amongst them was the Chief of the Army Staff, Army General Jaime Domínguez Buj, because the bulk of the forces Spain is contributing to the VJTF come from the Army.