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.
The reason behind the exercise comes back to building readiness, and reassuring European allies that the US can cross the Atlantic in its time of need. Bernabe made clear readiness was the point of Defender Europe 20 and detailed its dual purpose to verify that Europe can handle such a large force movement. Moving forces to Europe is relatively straightforward, however, moving those forces from coastal countries to Central and Eastern Europe is the wider test. In doing so Defender Europe 20 will not only boost the US’s and Europe’s ability to move masses of forces but also reassure the continent that if needed the US can make the trip.
In total more than 20,000 pieces of equipment will be moved to continental Europe. The arrival of British Forces and equipment in Antwerp, just one of the dropping points in the build up to the exercise, will allow for convoys to travel across the continent to preposition equipment and other resources. The convoys will travel a total of approximately 4,000 kilometers to stage for the exercise proper. The focus of the purely defensive exercise is to practice the rapid deployment of large-scale forces across the Atlantic into Europe where they are then supported by participating Allied and Partner nations. Exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20 is the largest deployment of U.S.-based forces to Europe for an exercise in the more than 25 years.