British Army soldiers are taking part in a US-led exercise which will mark the biggest deployment of multinational troops on a training mission to Europe for decades.
Exercise Defender Europe 21 will demonstrate the UK’s leading role in NATO and our commitment to the security of our Allies.
More than 30,000 personnel from 27 nations will conduct coordinated operations across more than 30 training areas in a dozen countries.
The UK will be playing a leading role with the exercise acting as validation of the ability of NATO to deploy large-scale troops and equipment in defence of the Euro-Atlantic area and will test the UK Armed Forces’ ability to integrate with Allies as part of a wider force.
Brigadier Jo Chestnutt, Commander 104th Logistic Support Brigade, is the British Army’s most senior officer involved and said there were numerous key exercises underpinning Defender 21.
“We’ve got infantry from 3rd Battalion The Rifles involved in Exercise Noble Jump, in Romania, a company group from 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment taking part in Exercise Swift Response, as well as soldiers from the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps involved in the Defender Command Post Exercise, a planning exercise spread between Germany and Romania,” he said.
“Specifically for 104 Brigade, we’re the theatre sustainment brigade, able to position ourselves to be able to deliver material through with and in support of other partner nations. We’re embedded in 21 Theater Sustainment Command’s tactical headquarters.
“We’ve also got troops positioned in Albania and their responsibility, with forces also in Croatia and Slovenia, is to ensure the logistic enabling of all the equipment needed into the southern Balkan regions for exercising troops.”
Brigadier Chestnutt said the British Army was a “first choice ally” for partner nations with Exercise Defender a perfect opportunity to test the integration of multinational troops in a combined setting.
He said: “In line with the recent publication of the Defence Command Paper British Armed Forces are ever ready and postured around the world, globally ready to respond to any threats that emerge.
“There are three reasons why our participation in these kinds of large-scale exercises is so vitally important: Firstly, it reinforces our unity and our bond; Secondly, it proves we’re combat ready and able to test those circuits and understand exactly what it means to be positioned forward and to get access to the southern European theatre whenever that time of need comes; Lastly, and most probably the most important, it’s about showing a willingness to our partners and less about systems and processes, but more towards friendships and bonds which are forged now, but matter when the time comes.”
All British Army personnel involved have taken COVID-related safety measures when deploying out of the UK and will also ensure the same measures when returning home, including adhering to the necessary isolation periods.