SWIETOSZOW, Poland - Over 2,000 troops are taking part in the first exercise of NATO's new rapid response force, intended to advertise its readiness to Russia and reassure east European members spooked by the Kremlin's actions in Ukraine.
It is especially meant to show NATO's ability to counter the "hybrid warfare" seen in Ukraine -- the use of shadowy tactics like the deployment of so-called "little green men", troops without clear insignia, and militias rather than regular armies.
Deafened by jetfighters, helicopters, tanks and explosions, politicians, NATO officials and journalists watched on Thursday as soldiers from nine countries showcased the abilities of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF).
Opening with a single sniper shot to a dummy's head, the simulated scenario allowed for an hour-long display of live firepower of the VJTF, formed in response to what NATO described as emerging security challenges posed by Russia.
Taking place between June 9-19 at in Swietoszow, western Poland, exercise "Noble Jump" is relatively small-scale and transparent in character. But it is likely to put further strain on the tense relations between Moscow and the West.
"This exercise we have witnessed today is an expression that we are delivering on the promises we made together at the last summit of NATO," the alliance's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on Thursday.