U.S. and French troops have been holding joint military exercises in Romania as part of a NATO battlegroup.
The drills, taking place between February 2 and February 10, are meant to test NATO’s eastern flank defenses ahead of the one-year mark of Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
At a Black Sea training range in a port town known as Capu Midia, the drills, dubbed “Eagle Royal 23,” involved some 350 multinational battlegroup troops who practiced firing live ammunition from a U.S.-made HIMARS, a mobile, truck-mounted missile system.
The High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, have been among the artillery the U.S. has given to Ukraine and have been used to great success by Ukrainian forces against Russian weaponry.
Romania’s defense ministry said the goal of the U.S.-French drills is to test NATO’s “interoperability of artillery systems” in a fictitious Article 5 defense scenario in the alliance’s southeastern territory. The leader of the battlegroup, French General Tricand de la Goutte, echoed that this was the aim of the drills.
Article 5 of the NATO charter says an attack on one NATO nation is an attack on all, and would mandate a response. It has been invoked exactly once in the alliance’s more than 70-year history, after the 9/11 terror attack in the U.S.
NATO bolstered its presence on Europe’s eastern flank in response to Russia’s February invasion. NATO’s actions in this regard have included sending additional multinational battlegroups to alliance members Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Slovakia.
In January, NATO deployed three surveillance planes to Romania to “monitor Russian military activity” within the 30-member nations’ territory.