More than 100,000 troops belonging to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will spread across Western Europe next week for military maneuvers that will coincide with a major exercise by 40,000 Warsaw Pact troops near the border of strikebound Poland.
While the programs by both the Eastern and Western Military alliances are normal happenings at this time of year, the crisis in Poland has provided an unusually anxious political backdrop.
A spokesman for NATO's Military Command headquarters in Brussels said today there is no indication that the Kremlin is seriously considering military intervention in Poland. He said Moscow will likely leave the Warsaw Pact forces to carryout maneuvers on East Germany's Baltic Coast as planned. Should the situation in Poland worsen, however, the speculation in the West is that the Soviets would use force to crush the strike.
NATO's own special maneuvers, called Autumn Forge, begin Monday 60,000 troops in the Mediterranean to small-scale simulation of soldier casualties for a field hospital unit in northern Europe.
"There is no common scenario for all the exercises, no single story line," said Lt. Col. Thomas Kallunki, a NATO spokesman. "But interestingly enough, they do all point east."
Officials from the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact countries have been invited to observe the NATO activities, Kalunki said, adding that all the exercises are purposefully staged some distance from the East-West border to avoid any possibility of provocation.
As part of the NATO plan, more than 17,000 U.S.-based soldiers and airmen will be lifted to Europe in a simulation of the sort of reinforcemment effort America's NATO allies are counting on should they ever come under Soviet attack.
The war games, stretching from Norway to Turkish Thrace, are organized to test and immprove experience and coordilnatiion between NATO forces. Gen. Bernard Rogers. NATO's supreme commander, will inaugurate the excersizes at a ceremony at Guetersloh Air Base, southwest of Hanover, West Germany. a
Other scheduled maneuvers include "Bar Frost," in Norway, during which Marines from the United States, Britain, and the Netherlands will storm ashore in a simulated wartime landing.
In the Eastern Mediterranean, the Allied Mobile Force -- a multinational brigade meant to show alliance solidairity in the face of a threat to a member nation -- will be deployed in Turkish Thrace for an exercise called "Anvil Express."
The biggest British contingent in 30 years will be participating. Thirty thousand Britons, two-thirds of them reservists, will land in Belgium or West Germany to reinforce the Rhine Army and take part in multinational maneuvers testing quick allied reinforcement of Central Europe.