PARIS — More than 75,000 troops will take part later this month in the biggest joint military maneuvers ever staged by France and West Germany, officers from both countries said on Wednesday.
The war games, called "Bold Sparrow," will mark the first time that units based in France have crossed into West Germany in force for training.
About 20,000 men from France's Rapid Action Force, backed by airplanes, helicopters and armored vehicles, will join about 55,000 West Germans from the 2nd Army Corps, based in Ulm.
Gen. Paul Lardry, commander of the force, said the exercises are intended to show France's solidarity with West Germany and prove the force's ability to move long distances.
Lardry and Lt. Gen. Werner Lange, commander of the 2nd Army Corps, spoke at a news conference at the force's Paris headquarters.
Experts say the exercises will mark a new step in the military rapprochement between France and Germany, who have fought three major wars in the last 120 years.
Chancellor Helmut Kohl has proposed a joint brigade, but the idea has been stalled by differences between the two countries in their nuclear arms policy and attitude toward the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance.
France has its own nuclear strike force, but West Germany is banned from having atomic weapons. France left NATO's integrated military structure in 1966, while West Germany is a full member.
Both generals stressed that the exercises are a bilateral matter and not organized with NATO.
Kohl and French President Francois Mitterrand will visit the maneuvers, which take place Sept. 17-27 in southern West Germany, around Stuttgart.