Largest exercise since Cold War: 90,000 NATO troops to simulate Russian attack
NATO military (Photo by EPA/Robert Ghement)

NATO is launching its largest exercises since the Cold War, simulating how U.S. forces can reinforce European allies in countries bordering Russia and on the alliance's eastern flank in the event of a conflict with Russia. The alliance's top commander, Chris Cavoli, revealed this information, quoting him via Reuters.

Approximately 90,000 military personnel are expected to participate in the Steadfast Defender 2024 exercises, which will run until May.

The training, involving personnel deployment to Europe and on-site drills, will include forces from NATO countries and Sweden.

"The Steadfast Defender 2024 exercises will demonstrate NATO's ability to rapidly deploy forces from North America and other parts of the alliance to strengthen the defense of Europe," he stated.

Cavoli mentioned that the exercises will involve:

→ Over 50 ships, from aircraft carriers to destroyers;
→ Over 80 fighter jets, helicopters, and drones;
→ At least 1,100 combat vehicles (including 133 tanks and 533 infantry fighting vehicles).

The alliance's supreme commander emphasized that these exercises will practice the execution of NATO's regional plans and the first defensive plans developed by the alliance in the past decade, detailing its response to a potential Russian attack.

According to Cavoli, the second part of the Steadfast Defender exercises will particularly focus on the deployment of NATO's rapid reaction forces in Poland on the alliance's eastern flank.

Other key locations for the exercises, as per the alliance's supreme commander, include the Baltic countries, considered most vulnerable to a potential Russian attack, Germany – the center of reinforcement arrival – and peripheral alliance countries such as Norway and Romania.

According to NATO, the last exercises of a similar scale were Reforger in 1988 during the Cold War, with 125,000 participants, and Trident Juncture in 2018 with 50,000 participants.

Військові навчання під проводом НАТО Trident Juncture в Норвегії (Фото: EPA/OLE MARTIN WOLD)
NATO-led Trident Juncture military exercise in Norway (Photo: EPA/OLE MARTIN WOLD)

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