With America's relationship with Russia being at post-Soviet era lows, there is yet another action taking place that is, once again, poking the "bear".
Here is the press release from the United States Army website:
Effective January 14th, 2020, the United States Forces began drawing 13000 pieces of Army prepositioned stock from four sites in three European countries for DEFENDER-Europe 20.
Here is a fact sheet outlining more details about DEFENDER-Europe 20:
Note that DEFENDER-Europe 20 will be the largest deployment of U.S. forces to Europe in more than 25 years (i.e. going back to the Soviet era). It is expected that roughly 20,000 soldiers will be deployed from the United States and partner nations in Europe will supply an additional 17,000 soldiers bringing the total to 37,000 participants. In case you were wondering and to help you put the scale of the exercise into perspective, the U.S. European Command consists of approximately 70,000 military and civilian personnel. The fact sheet also states the following:
"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. This will require the support of tens of thousands of service members and civilians in multiple nations.
U.S. service members will then spread out across the region to establish intermediate staging bases with multinational forces and participate in various annual exercises. These U.S. and European exercises are regularly conducted and not part of DEFENDER-Europe 20, but rather "linked" through a shared exercise scenario, coordinated mission command, mutual sustainment and common communication environment."
The fact sheet also states that it is necessary for the United States military to be "….ready to deploy, fight and win decisively against any near peer adversary…". In other words, Russia.
Here is an infographic showing the deployment of United States-based Army personnel to Europe:
Here is another infographic showing where United States Army personnel will be deployed to for the exercise:
In case you aren't familiar with Europe's geography, the countries represented on the infographic include (from top to bottom, right to left) Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium. Four of the nations are right on Russia's western doorstep; Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania make up the former Baltic bloc as well as Poland.
Here is the latest press release regarding DEFENDER-Europe 20 from the Army website showing that shipping of equipment for the exercise has begun:
It is expected that the joint, multinational training exercise will take place from April to May 2020 with personnel and equipment movements occurring from January through to July 2020.
If you happen to have two hours of free time, here is a video from the United States Army showing a panel discussion regarding DEFENDER-Europe 20:
Let's close with this graphic courtesy of Dr. Randal Olson. It shows the percentage of each nation's population that died during the Second World War along with the estimated number of deaths:
Can you understand why Russia might just be a bit nervous about the presence of so many fully armed "enemy" soldiers on its western frontier? When this happened in 1940, it didn't end well for tens of millions of citizens of the Soviet Union. Perhaps DEFENDER-Europe 20 would be better named if it was called OFFENDER-Europe 20 given the rationale for the exercise.
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