Defender-Europe 20 Exercise

Over the last several years, the U.S. military has concentrated on – and made great strides toward – building the tactical readiness of service members and units. Now it is time to focus on operational and strategic readiness. Strategic readiness includes the ability of the U.S. military to dynamically project force and set the theater by mobilizing and deploying forces, sustaining them in a crisis and redeploying them when their mission is complete.

Atlantic Resolve demonstrates the U.S. military’s ability to rotate brigade-sized units and equipment overseas. As key strategic ally Poland hosts many of U.S. Army Europe rotational forces and the Atlantic Resolve headquarters, 1st Infantry Division Forward, based in Poznan, Poland. The lessons learned through these rotations will be applied on a much larger scale with exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20, the largest deployment of U.S.-based forces to Europe for an exercise in more than 25 years.

In the future, our militaries must be ready to deploy, fight and win decisively against any near-peer adversary in a joint, multi-domain, high-intensity conflict. DEFENDER-Europe 20 will build strategic readiness and operationalize the National Defense Strategy and NATO deterrence objectives by demonstrating the U.S. military’s ability to rapidly deploy a large combat-credible force and, alongside its allies and partners, quickly respond to crisis.

Exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20 is the deployment of a division-size combat-credible force from the United States to Europe, the drawing of equipment and the movement of personnel and equipment across the theater to various training areas. U.S.-based equipment will leave from ports in four states and arrive in six European countries.

DEFENDER-Europe 20 will not just build U.S. military readiness – it is a whole-of-Europe exercise that will help build the readiness of our Allies and partners to receive and enable the movement of a large force across the theater.  Whether the response is to a military crises or a humanitarian crisis – the same processes and procedures are the same and must be exercised to ensure readiness across the Alliance.

Exercises like DEFENDER-Europe 20 show that NATO allies and partners stand stronger together, the U.S. commitment to NATO is iron clad and is a prime example of our collective capabilities.

U.S. service members will then spread out across the region to participate in various annual exercises to build readiness and interoperability with our Allies and partners. These U.S. and European exercises are regularly conducted and “linked” through a shared exercise scenario, coordinated mission command, mutual sustainment and common communication environment.

Exercises in Poland include:

  • Allied Spirit XI – is a regularly occurring 7th Army Training Command’s exercise. This year Allied Spirit will include a river crossing and take place at Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area, Poland.
  • Saber Strike 20 – is a regularly occurring training event occurring every two years that prepares allies and partners to respond to regional crises and meet their own security needs by improving the security of borders and countering threats. Saber Strike will take place in Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
  • Trojan Footprint – is an annual U.S. Special Operations Command Europe-led exercise that brings together U.S., allied and partnered special operations units. The exercise will take place in Poland. 
  • Linked live exercises – integrates U.S. Army Europe’s Allied Spirit XI and parts of Saber Strike 20; and U.S. Special Operations Command Europe’s Trojan Footprint. Main activities will include a forward passage of lines, a maritime pre-positioned offload and a river crossing. Key units participating will include the Atlantic Resolve rotational units, U.S. Marines and the German-led Enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup. In addition, new technologies such as Trophy, which is an active protection system for the M1 Tank, will be tested.

DEFENDER-Europe 20 will conclude with the redeployment of U.S.-based forces and equipment. U.S. service members will clear the training areas, return prepositioned stocks, move to ports and return to home stations – fulfilling the U.S. military’s commitment to the NATO agreements.

Quick Facts:

  • 14,000 U.S. service members from the continental U.S. deploying to Poland
  • 2,000 U.S. service members based in Europe participating in events in Poland
  • 1800 wheeled vehicles at Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area
  • 630 wheeled vehicles at other training areas in Poland
  • 550 tracked vehicles at Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area
  • 250 tracked at other training areas in Poland
  • 12 Polish installations where training will occur:
    – Bemowo Piskie Training Area (BPTA)- Biedrusko Training Area
    – Bydgoszcz
    – Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area (DPTA)
    – Inowrocław Air Base
    – Mirosławiec Air Base
    – Świdwin Air Base
    – Szczecin
    – Toruń
    – Ustka Training Area
    – Wędrzyn Training Area
    – Żagań Training Area
  • 5 participating nations in linked exercises
  • 3 linked U.S. exercises:
    – Allied Spirit XI
    – Saber Strike
    – Trojan Footprint