NAPLES, Italy — An earthquake and flooding have displaced many civilians, and looters are exploiting the catastrophe.

The NATO forces’ objective: Help the natural-disaster victims and restore order.

The scenario is part of Cooperative Partner 2003, NATO’s annual maritime and amphibious exercise.

About 5,000 military personnel from eight NATO and six partner nations are in the Ukraine and Black Sea for the exercise, which starts Friday and ends July 5.

It’s the first time for some new NATO members to showcase their military strength, said Royal Navy Lt. Cmdr. Harvey Burwin, spokesman for Allied Forces Southern Europe in Naples.

The forces will work together to conduct various training, such as mine hunting, over three weeks until the final phase.

“The scenario is such that peace support operations are required,” Burwin said. “There is an underlying criminal activity which is looting, trying to create its own interim government.”

An amphibious force will land on a beach, set up headquarters and move into the country to quell the uprising and provide humanitarian assistance.

It’s the first time during the ninth annual exercise that troops will conduct a noncombatant evacuation. Civilian volunteers and embassy personnel will act as the injured and displaced. Troops will fly in and transport the evacuees to some of the 43 ships participating in the exercise.

“NATO forces aim to leave behind a stable interim government capable of managing its own resources,” Burwin said.

Participating NATO nations are France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. Partner nations include Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Romania and Ukraine. Participants include troops from the AFSOUTH NATO base in Naples.

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