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Military Exercise Defender Europe-20 Is Cancelled. What Does It Mean To The Baltic States?

Military Exercise Defender Europe-20 Is Cancelled.  What Does It Mean To The Baltic States?
French Air Contingent, NATO Baltic Air-policing
Image by Ministry of National Defence Republic of Lithuania

The US, with NATO, routinely conducts military exercises all over Europe, especially since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 — exercises Russia inevitably condemns as destabilizing. The Defender Europe-20 exercise had just begun garnering increased attention in Western media when it was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A whole suite of linked exercises have also been scrubbed along with Defender Europe-20, including Dynamic Front, Saber Strike, and Swift Response. Although the exercise as planned will not occur, what we do know about it can already tell us much about the US commitment to Baltic defense, as well as the defense policy dilemma which continues to afflict NATO in the Baltic Sea region.

Early details of the exercise itself reveal that Defender Europe-20 would have been directed by the Department of the Army and led by US Army Europe (USAREUR). Its purpose was both to practice and demonstrate the US Army’s ability rapidly to deploy an entire division — not just from the continental United States to Europe through Dutch ports, but also further across Europe to Poland and the Baltic countries. Although USAREUR had been practicing and demonstrating the ability to deploy and rotate brigades on a continental scale over the past few years, relocating an entire division involves a substantially higher level of difficulty and marks a major distinction from US military operations in Iraq, which have been only brigade size…

To read more visit Foreign Policy Research Institute.

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