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151020trje01 400151020trje02 250 151020trje03 250NATO Allies and partner nations kicked off the Alliance's Trident Juncture live military exercise on Monday (19 October 2015) during an opening ceremony at the Trapani air force base in Italy, launching three weeks of intensive training involving 36,000 troops from more than 30 nations across Italy, Spain and Portugal.

"Trident Juncture is the largest NATO exercise for over a decade," said Deputy Secretary General Ambassador Alexander Vershbow. "Trident Juncture will increase our readiness and our ability to work together, including with our partners. It will demonstrate that NATO is capable of responding to threats from any direction."

Ambassador Vershbow stressed that the exercise also showed the Alliance’s commitment to transparency and predictability. "We seek confrontation with no one. That is why we have invited observers from around the world, from as far away as Colombia and Russia."

The Deputy Secretary General was joined by Italian Undersecretary of State for Defence, Gioacchino Alfano and Ambassadors from the North Atlantic Council at the ceremony which included a fly-by of Allied fighter, heavy lift and surveillance aircraft as well as helicopters. The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee General Petr Pavel, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT) General Denis Mercier and Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General Philip Breedlove also attended.

General Mercier, as the 'Officer scheduling the Exercise' is responsible for determining the aims of Trident Juncture 15, resourcing and planning it. In his own words, "Trident Juncture 15 is a major strategic exercise which is incredibly ambitious in its scale and its expectations: Ambitious in scale by emphasizing the Alliance’s collective determination to ensure the peace and security of the Euro-Atlantic region. A simple look to the numbers of the capabilities deployed, emphasizes the high commitment of Allies and Partners. TRJE 15 is also ambitious in its expectations. It sets the new norm, with a highly qualitative exercise using new and evolving concepts, advanced technology, cutting edge military capabilities, and the world’s most modern land, sea and air forces."

Trident Juncture will continue until November 6. The exercise will also certify next year's NATO Response Force headquarters and the functions of the new very-high readiness Spearhead Force.