NATO paratroopers over Hagshult, Sweden (Press photo: Amanda Gahm/Försvarsmakten)

About 800 NATO paratroopers were dropped over Southern Sweden and secured the reserve airbase of Hagshult on Tuesday 7 May. The exercise is historic, as it marks the first of its kind since Sweden became a full NATO member exactly two months earlier.

Also historic: while normally practising against a made-up enemy, at least in name, all spokespeople clearly said the goal of the operation was to practice taking the base back after a Russian invasion. Of course, the latter has not happened since the last conflict of 1809 in which Sweden lost Finland to Russia.

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The Swedish operation was executed by troops from the US Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade, complemented by units from Spain, Italy and Hungary. The airdrop was part of Steadfast Defender, NATO’s current bigger exercise in the Baltics.

After simulating taking control of Hagshult Reserve Base, the war game scenario called for Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to transport the troops of the 173rd Airborne Brigade further inland to practice ground combat at the Swedish Armed Forces Ground Combat School area in Kvarn. | © 2024 Marcel Burger, Press photo of the airdrop on Hagshult by Amanda Gahm/Försvarsmakten