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NATO to conduct largest exercise since end of Cold War

23rd January 2024 - 17:18 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London


During exercise Steadfast Defender 24 soldiers will rehearse how US troops could reinforce European allies in countries bordering Russia and the alliance’s eastern flank. (Photo: NATO)

NATO has announced the launch of its largest exercise in decades in a move that Russia has viewed as an “irrevocable return” of Cold War era positions.

NATO announced last week that it would be launching its largest exercise since the Cold War named Steadfast Defender 24 and involving 90,000 troops.

The exercise was set out to practice the deployment of US troops to support European allies in nations along the eastern flank of the alliance in the event of a potential conflict with a “near-peer” adversary like Russia. Around 90,000 troops will participate in the exercise which will take place from February to May 2024. 

While the alliance refrained from explicitly naming Russia in its announcement, its foremost strategic document clearly designates Russia as the primary and direct threat to the security of NATO member states.

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Steadfast Defender has been designed to permit the 31-nation alliance to “demonstrate its ability to reinforce the Euro-Atlantic area via transatlantic movement of forces from North America”, US General Christopher Cavoli, supreme allied commander of NATO, said during the 18 January NATO Chiefs of Defence press conference.

The exercise will be launched in Norfolk, Virginia, with the deployment of forces to continental Europe. The activity will be comprised of a series of exercises that will continue throughout SACEUR’s Area of Responsibility throughout the first half of 2024, NATO noted.

Russia deputy foreign minister Alexander Grushko said the scale of the exercise marked an “irrevocable return” of the alliance to Cold War schemes. Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

The last equivalent large-scale NATO exercises were REFORGER in 1988, with 125,000 participants, and Exercise Trident Juncture 2018, with 50,000 contributing military personnel.

The Shephard News Team


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