The US military has announced that it is planning to send 20,000 soldiers to Europe for the largest US Army exercise in 25 years, codenamed ‘Defender 2020’.
This season has already seen the largest military exercises in the lands of existing, emerging and declining superpowers, whereby, ‘Tsentr 2019’ had the biggest armies participating from every country in the region including India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Belarus, China, on Russian soil and the largest parade in Tiananmen Square in China on their National Day, on October 1st, where the largest contingent of Chinese army ground troops participated along with their nuclear tipped ICBMs.
Now, the Defender 2020 in Europe (Defender-Europe 20) will involve a total of nearly 40,000 troops from the US and its allies and partners in the region and will, at least in part, focus on exercising the US military’s ability to surge forces into the theater to respond to a crisis alongside allies and partners. The Army is also planning a similar exercise in the Pacific as the service looks at what is needed to confront not only Russia but also China.
The main exercise will be held from April to May 2020, although personnel and equipment movement will commence in February. “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.
At least 18 countries are expected to join in the massive exercises, which will span ten different countries. The exercise in Europe are said to 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.
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.
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.
Edited for SCF by Mark Frank. Additional reporting by Ryan Pickrell