The US Army is planning to send 20,000 soldiers to Europe for its largest exercise in decades
Oct. 07, 2019
Around 20,000 US soldiers will deploy to Europe next year for the largest US Army exercise in 25 years, the US military announced Monday.
"Defender 2020 in Europe" is intended to "increase strategic readiness and interoperability by exercising the US military's ability to rapidly move a large combat force of soldiers and equipment from the continental United States to Europe, and, alongside allies and partners, quickly respond to a potential crisis," the Army said in a statement on the planned exercise.
The main exercise will be held from April to May 2020, although personnel and equipment movement will take place between February and July, and involve 37,000 troops from the US, as well as allied and partner nations in the region, US European Command revealed in a separate statement.
At least 18 countries are expected to join in the massive exercises, which will span ten different countries.
Planning for the exercise comes at a time when the US is increasingly looking at ways to maintain its edge against great power rivals, namely Russia and China, and deter possible aggression.
The US Army will also hold the "Defender 2020 in the Pacific" exercise next year, with troops focusing on fighting in disputed waterways like the South China Sea and East China Sea, Defense News reported in March, citing Gen. Robert Brown, commander of US Army Pacific.
As it does in the Pacific, the US Army already has tens of thousands of troops, as well as significant stockpiles of warfighting equipment in Europe, but the service wants to know that it can move more troops and resources into the theater of operations should a conflict demand such a response.
"Readiness is not only about having the right forces and capabilities in place throughout the theater," Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander of US Army Europe, said in a statement Monday. "It's about exercising our ability to quickly receive and integrate forces with our own and those of our allies and partners."
"This ability is critical in projecting force at a moment's notice, our readiness reassures our allies and deters potential adversaries," the general added.
The exercise in Europe will, according to Defense News, be the third largest military exercise on the continent since the Cold War. Last year, the US military joined forces with NATO allies for Trident Juncture, another huge exercise involving 50,000 troops from 31 NATO and partner countries, along with 250 aircraft, 65 vessels, and 10,000 vehicles.
It was an exercise focused on confronting a near-peer aggressor targeting a NATO ally.