NATO to test ‘psychological resilience’ of civilians
Latvia’s capital Riga is set to turn into a mock battlefield for NATO troops over the next few days, the country’s military has warned.
The war games, which form part of the annual Namejs 2022 drills, are set to take place in multiple locations across the city between October 5 and 9.
“The National Armed Forces calls on the citizens to treat the ongoing military exercises with understanding. Their aim is to improve the comprehensive national defense capabilities and strengthen regional security,” the military said in a statement.
Over the past few days, authorities have repeatedly warned of the impending exercises, releasing multiple statements on the exact locations of the upcoming events. The Namejs 2022 multinational exercise, held in the country every year since 2014, involves some 8,000 service personnel, with both local forces and NATO’s Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia, NATO Force Integration Unit Latvia, and other units of the US-led alliance.
The urban training “in realistic conditions” is designed to hone the soldiers’ fighting skills, and to enhance cooperation between various units and military branches. Moreover, the exercise is important to “strengthen the psychological resilience of society,” as it shows “every citizen that we will do everything to protect the country,” the military asserted.
The continuous public warnings about the impending drills are intense, apparently, after last year’s fiasco, when similar urban military training during Namejs 2021 drills caught Riga’s residents by surprise. On that occasion, the military failed to provide a coherent warning about the training, with footage going viral of civilians getting caught in mock crossfire. A public uproar forced the military to offer an apology.
“During such drills, we only use blank cartridges, which make noise but do not pose any danger to the health and life of others. In this case, blank cartridges were also used, and this situation was a bitter misunderstanding, for which we apologize,” the ministry said at the time.