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GreekReporter.comGreek newsNATO Launches Its Largest Defense Drills Since Cold War

NATO Launches Its Largest Defense Drills Since Cold War


NATO Allies set to carry out the largest defense drills since Cold War. Credit: U.S. Army Europe / public Domain

More than 90,000 troops from the US, all thirty-one NATO nations, and Sweden are set to take part in the military organization’s largest defense drills since the Cold War.

The US Navy dock landing ship Gunston Hall left port on Wednesday, January 24th, marking the first movement for the largest NATO drilling exercise in decades, reports Reuters.

The 90,000 troops will be accompanied by more than 50 ships from aircraft carriers to destroyers, and 80 fighter jets, helicopters, and drones. There will also be at least 1,100 combat vehicles including 133 tanks and 533 infantry fighting vehicles, to take part in the Steadfast Defender 2024 NATO defense drills that will go on throughout May.

Speaking to VOA News, General Christopher Cavoli, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, said: “The alliance will demonstrate its ability to reinforce the Euro-Atlantic area via trans-Atlantic movement of forces from North America.”

He added that the “Steadfast Defender 2024 will be a clear demonstration of our unity, strength and determination to protect each other, our values and the rules-based international order.”

The NATO announcement did not mention Russia specifically. However, the country is considered to be, according to a top strategic document, the most important and immediate threat to the security of the members of the alliance, as reported by Reuters.

The agency’s report states that this exercise comes at an important moment after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparked the deadliest war on European soil in more than seventy years.
The drill will rehearse NATO’s carrying out of its regional plans, the first defense plans the organization has devised in decades, detailing how it would respond to a Russian attack.

Cavoli added, “The Steadfast Defender 2024 exercise will demonstrate NATO’s ability to rapidly deploy forces from North America and other parts of the alliance to strengthen Europe’s defenses.”

He also spoke about “simulating a conflict with a near-peer adversary.”

Previous NATO Defense Drills

The last exercises of this magnitude were seen as part of the annual military exercises known as Reforger, during which, in 1988, 125,000 troops took part. There was also Trident Juncture in 2018, when roughly 50,000 military personnel participated in exercises, according to NATO.

Alliance members agreed to the plans at a summit in Vilnius, Lithuania in 2023, putting and end to a prolonged period when NATO did not see the need for establishing large-scale defense plans.

It is understood that, during the second phase of the Steadfast Defender drills, a strong emphasis will be placed on the deployment of NATO’s rapid response force in Poland, which forms the Alliance’s eastern border.

The Baltic countries are also considered to be important locations for the NATO defense drills because these nations are most at risk for possible Russian attacks.

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