* With the Russian bear out of hibernation, NATO members are preparing for potential future conflicts with Moscow.
That will require an increased need for complex training among alliance nations, said Gen. Petr Pavel, chairman of NATO's military committee.
The alliance has increased its training substantially since Russia illegally annexed the Crimean Peninsula of Ukraine in 2014, he said.
"Right after the Ukrainian crisis, we adopted a program of immediate changes," he said. "There are more exercises at more levels and also bigger exercises."
Prior to the annexation, NATO's exercises focused mostly on crisis management operations. However, that "wasn't good enough to face the new challenges," Pavel--an officer within the Czech Army--told National Defense during an interview at the Halifax International Security Forum in November.
NATO training is now "much more focused on collective defense and especially in larger formations," he said.
Gen. Denis Mercier, NATO's supreme allied commander for transformation and a member of the French air force, said the alliance has gone from about 100 exercises per year to 300 since the Crimea crisis.
It has now reached the maximum number of exercises it can host per year, said Mercier, who in his role at the alliance identifies future capability requirements and is responsible for training and education programs. It isn't a matter of cost, but rather a matter of personnel and balancing various countries' military commitments around the world, he noted.
Instead of trying to host more exercises, NATO is now focused on increasing its realism, flexibility and robustness, he said. It also wants to be able to coordinate them faster.
"A big exercise requires today 18 months of planning and ... [that's too long] if we want to be more reactive," he said. The key would be to have training scenarios that could be quickly integrated with new concepts and technologies, he added.
To take better advantage of emerging equipment and systems, NATO in 2014 started a program called the Industry Involvement Initiative, or I3X, Mercier said.
Through the program, defense companies are invited to observe NATO training exercises from the planning stage all the way through execution to see if they can propose new technologies to improve them, he said.
During the Trident Juncture 2016 exercise--which took place in the fall and included 500 personnel from NATO's allied rapid reaction corps training in the United Kingdom--more than...