NATO to launch new European war games later this month
As the 30,000-troop, 27-nation DEFENDER-Europe 21 exercise continues through to next month in Eastern Europe, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 will begin later this month.
He specified that the exercise will “test NATO’s readiness and military mobility – with forces deploying across land and sea, all the way from North America to the Black Sea region and off the coast of Portugal.” The 9,000-troop, 22-nation drills, he added, will demonstrate to – Russia (he didn’t specify, nor did he need to) – “that NATO has the capabilities and the resolve to protect all Allies against any threat.”
NATO disclosed the exercise will be first large-scale test of its adapted Command Structure, with the involvement of two new NATO commands: Joint Support and Enabling Command based in Ulm, Germany and Joint Force Command Norfolk based in the American seaport city of that name. The first is designed to facilitate and expedite the transit of NATO military forces in Europe. Its role, its website states, “is to ensure seamless, swift, and secure movements of NATO forces through European NATO states.” One might add American military forces moving across European borders heading toward the Russian frontier.
This is in keeping with the recent decision by European Union defense ministers to include the U.S., Canada and Norway in a project to expedite the transit of troops across the European continent in compliance with NATO demands for such streamlined deployments, which, as the report phrases it, NATO “sees as vital in the event of a conflict with Russia.”
The Joint Force Command Norfolk is based at the same site as NATO’s non-European command, Allied Command Transformation (with the secondary title of NATO’s Warfare Development Command). It role – justified as is Joint Support and Enabling Command because of alleged Russian threats – is to protect Atlantic sea routes.
To put the two together, one insures the transit of U.S. troops and equipment to Western Europe, the other expedites their transit toward the Russian border.
The Steadfast Defender exercises will include naval drills with 5,000 military personnel and eighteen ships, including Britain’s recently-launched HMS Queen Elizabeth Carrier Strike Group.
A command post exercise will be held in Ulm, Germany to initiate NATO’s Joint Support and Enabling Command in its role “to coordinate the speedy movement of Allied forces and equipment across European borders.”
The Noble Jump exercise to be conducted as part of Steadfast Defender 2021 will deploy NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, since the first of the year under Turkish command. The war games will occur in Romania – a clear message to Russia – and consist of 4,000 troops from twelve nations. Other drills in the Black Sea region will be held in conjunction with it.
The following nations, eighteen NATO members and two Enhanced Opportunities Partners (and effective members) will participate: Albania, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the U.S., Finland and Sweden.
The Pentagon, NATO and the European Union have created a new Fortress Europe cordoning Russia off from the continent.