Sweden launches major military exercise with international allies
Sweden has launched its largest military training exercise in a quarter of a century. According to the country’s Defence ministry, more than 26,000 soldiers from 13 countries are taking part in the Aurora 2023 exercise, which began on Monday.
Until 11 May, land forces, air forces and navies, including many NATO members, will carry out manoeuvres in preparation for a “hypothetical attack by a foreign power”. The exercise will take place mainly in the south of the country and on the island of Gotland, in the Baltic Sea. The last time training on this scale took place in the region was in 1989.
“These are important manoeuvres for Sweden’s defensive capability,” chief of the defence staff General Micael Bydén told Swedish public radio on Monday.
Troops will practise increased preparedness, mobilisation and large coordinated attacks on the ground, in the air and at sea. They will use training and shooting ranges as well as private land. Major military transports on the roads will affect traffic, low-flying helicopters and fighter jets will cause unexpected noise, and military staff will be more visible than usual.
At the same time, Sweden is finalising its NATO membership. The process is expected to be complete by the time of the alliance’s summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on 11 and 12 July. The participants in Aurora 2023 include several NATO members, with troops from the US, UK, Denmark, Norway, Estonia, Lavtia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Austria, Germany, Poland and France. Troops are also involved from Finland, which joined NATO earlier this month.
A Swedish airforce Jas 39 Gripen E jet fighter flies over Gotland in the Baltic sea, 11 May 2022 © PHOTO HENRIK MONTGOMERY / TT NEWS AGENCY / AFP