The U.S. Army is set to kick off its largest military readiness exercise in at least 25 years this month.
The Washington Times reported Saturday that roughly 20,000 U.S. troops will soon be headed to Europe as part of a massive training exercise known as Defender-Europe 20. According to Stars and Stripes, the U.S.-led operation “will involve large-scale combat drills and test the military’s ability to rapidly move large numbers of forces across the Atlantic Ocean.”
The exercise, set to wrap up by July, will also involve “about 17,000 troops from 18 other NATO countries,” according to the Times.
Five-phase training operation
The U.S. Army first announced the Defender-Europe 20 exercise late last fall. According to an October report from the Army News Service, the operation is set to be conducted in five phases, the first of which will involve the deployment of troops from five separate Army divisions, as well as 11 National Guard units and seven Army Reserve units.
After arriving in Europe at specific staging points, receiving equipment, and drawing upon stockpiles, the troops will fan out to 10 participating nations across Europe as part of training exercises that will reportedly include a mock invasion of the Republic of Georgia. The Army News Service report went on to describe later phases of the operation:
The third phase has a division command post exercise that will have units spread out across the continent. It will also involve a Joint Warfighting Assessment to test multi-domain operations as well as capabilities being pursued by Army Futures Command.
Soldiers will then conduct a river crossing in the fourth phase, as well as forward passage of lines and a maritime prepositioned force off-load mission. The fifth phase will consolidate Army forces and redeploy them.
“A defensive exercise”
According to the Times, the planned operation has some drawing comparisons to the Cold War, but NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has promised that “Defender Europe is not directed against any particular country.”
“NATO is a defensive alliance and this is a defensive exercise — as the name suggests,” Stoltenberg insisted, according to EuroNews. “We do not seek confrontation with Russia, but the fact is that Russia’s recent activities have reduced stability and security, increased unpredictability, and changed the security environment.”
The NATO leader went on to laud the operation for showing the United States’ strong “commitment to NATO and to the freedom and security of Europe.”
“Russia has every right to feel secure within its borders, but so do our member states,” Stoltenberg said.
Keeping America safe
The Army News Service’s October 2019 report said the massive exercise is just the start of a new series of training measures that will alternate between the European and Pacific theaters each year “to rehearse large movements to both regions.”
“We are starting it with a bang,” Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander of U.S. Army Europe, said of the measure, according to the Army News Service.
Indeed, this operation, led by the strongest military in the world, shows that the U.S. is still as ready as ever to take on threats to itself and its allies. As commander-in-chief, President Donald Trump has made clear that he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Americans safe — and that’s good news for us all.