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Cooperative Banners

2000 saw the largest NATO Partnership for Peace exercise conducted in Norway in May and June 2000. About 5,000 people from the land, naval, and air forces, and civilian organisations of 16 countries took part in the Cooperative Banners 2000 exercise. The sixteen nations which participated in Cooperative Banners 2000 were Azerbaijan, Belgium, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden, United States and Uzbekistan. Each brought its own training ideas and capabilities to the operation. More than 20 vessels, and over 50 aircraft, as well as 11 companies were involved in the three multinational battalions.

This military exercise involving 16 NATO and Partner countries was conducted in Denmark and southern Norway (29 May-10 June 2000). The purpose of Cooperative Banners 2000 was to train naval, land and air forces in planning and conducting out-of-area peace support operations. Troops would thus practice naval operations in United Nations peacekeeping operations led by NATO. The main objective of Cooperative Banners 2000 was to train soldiers in basic humanitarian and peacekeeping skills, which were tested in a four-day live training exercise (LIVEX). During LIVEX, maritime forces patrolled the coast, while land forces deployed from Camp Evjemoen to conduct local peace support operations, such as intercepting arms convoys. Air forces provided protection and information to the land and maritime forces.

At Camp Evjemoen, 400 Norwegian soldiers acted as role players. Their mission was to create "incidents" for the exercise, such as a bombing a local soccer game and smuggling weapons in from the coast. The role players added high levels of stress to the exercise and made the training scenarios as real as possible for soldiers.

With their field packs, camouflage uniforms and weapons, the 116-member elite Italian military unit was ready for anything except, perhaps, map reading. The heavily armed Alpini, as Italy's elite alpine corps is called, hit the ground in neutral Sweden instead of landing in NATO-member Norway, where they were supposed to join the Cooperative Banners exercise. It was not clear why their Airbus passenger plane mistakenly landed in southern Sweden's Kristianstad instead of Kristiansand, which is in southern Norway. The soldiers did not know they were in Sweden until immigration officials pointed out the navigational error. There are just a couple of letters - but 250 miles - separating the two cities.

Of the 4,500 Cooperative Banners participants, 132 were from 1st Battalion, 125th Infantry, Michigan Army National Guard. The 125th was the only U.S. Army or Army Guard unit to participate.

Cooperative Banners 2000 was led under NATO's Commander Joint Command North based in Stavanger, Norway, and was part of a series of exercises held under the same name. Cooperative Banners was formed under Partnership for Peace, a NATO initiative that seeks to increase security in Europe through joint peacekeeping, humanitarian and search and rescue operations. The ability to conduct military operations together is of vital importance to NATO and Partner countries. In one of the last phases of the exercise, lessons learned were to be noted so that inter-operability may be improved in future operations. The last one took place in 1997 at Camp Evjemoenand was the first Cooperative Banners exercise.

The Baltic countries took part in the PfP exercise "Cooperative Banners" held in Sweden and Norway in May-June 1997. Norway subsidised participation by the Baltic countries to the extent of NOK 1 million.

Patrol Squadron Eight [VP-8] participated in 27 multinational exercises; including detachments to South Africa, Spain, Crete, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Iceland, and NATO's Partnership for Peace exercises Cooperative Banners and BALTOPS 97.

In 1999 the Finnish government decided that its air force should participate in Baltic Link 2000. Previously Finland had been monitoring PfP exercises by maning positions in comand post exercises like Cooperative Chance and Cooperative Banners. According to the "Planning And Review Process" (PARP 3) Finland will increase its participation in PfP activities. Starting this year with two aircraft, the number will be up to eight in the year 2006.

In 1997, members of the Michigan Guard participated in Baltic Challenge, a similar exercise conducted in the Baltic countries of Latvia (1996), Estonia (1997) and Lithuania (1998). In 1999, Michigan hosted the training at Camp Grayling (Partner Challenge). In 2000, the Baltic countries and Michigan were invited to participate in Cooperative Banners.

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