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Major Arctic military exercise canceled over coronavirus fears

Norwegian authorities have canceled the remaining portion of a large scale Arctic exercises dubbed Cold Response over coronavirus fears, U.S. European Command announced Wednesday.

“The decision is a precautionary measure in response to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 and to protect the health and safety of all participants and local population,” EUCOM said. COVID-19 is the official name for the illness.

“The health of our force continues to be a top priority and we are committed to maintaining mission readiness,” EUCOM said.

Cold Response kicked off in Norway on March 9 and was slated to run through March 18. The exercise included roughly 15,000 troops from the U.S., Norway and eight other allied countries.

Roughly 1,500 U.S. troops were scheduled to participate in the Arctic exercise from all four service branches.

Stars and Stripes reported on March 6 that nearly two dozen soldiers in Norway for the Cold Response exercise were being held in quarantine over COVID-19 fears.

Officials from EUCOM did not immediately respond to requests for information about the status of those troops.

The cancellation of the remainder of the exercise is the latest in a string of U.S. and joint training events that have been canceled or scaled back as a result of COVID-19.

On March 5, EUCOM announced that it was canceling the remaining portion of a joint missile defense exercise in Israel known as Juniper Cobra over COVID-19.

Military leaders have decided to reduce the purview of the multinational exercise African Lion that’s scheduled for this month amid outbreak of coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

The exercise, the largest one organized by U.S. Army Africa, is slated to kick off on March 23 and involve more than 9,000 troops from more than a dozen countries, including Morocco, Tunisia, and the United Kingdom.

U.S. Army Africa commander Maj. Gen. Roger Cloutier Jr. told reporters in February that 4,000 U.S. service members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps would participate in exercise.

“We are working closely with our Norwegian Allies to manage the safe and orderly transition of our personnel,” EUCOM said.

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