NATO’s annual multinational armoured warfare competition, Iron Spear 2020, comes to a close today in Latvia. Launched in 2018, Iron
NATO’s annual multinational armoured warfare competition, Iron Spear 2020, comes to a close today in Latvia.
Launched in 2018, Iron Spear is a multinational cooperation and compatibility exercise for NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Latvia. Approximately 1,400 troops alongside dozens of tanks take place in the two-day tank warfare exercise.
NATO’s Baltic member-states see the increased alliance presence as a necessary response to the Russian-orchestrated annexation of Crimea and invasion of the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbass in 2014. With sizeable Russian-speaking minorities of their own, the Baltics serve as an ideal location to project the alliance’s capabilities to their Russian neighbour, and Latvia’s Iron Spear is one of many NATO exercises designed to deter aggression.
More broadly, a Russian invasion of the Baltics could pose an existential threat to NATO. There is skepticism amongst US military and diplomatic personnel that NATO would have the political will to defend the Baltic states from Russian aggression with the full force of Article V (the collective defence provision). In this way, Iron Spear and other events serve as a deterrent to Russia by using alliance troops as a human and political shield.
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