On Thursday, at the Drawsko Land Forces Training Center, the head of the Polish Ministry of National Defence inaugurated the Polish-US DEFENDER Europe 20 Plus exercise in which participates nearly 6,000 Polish and US soldiers and around 2,000 pieces of equipment: tanks, combat vehicles, artillery, missile sets and aviation are being used. Exercise will last until June 18 this year. During the visit, Minister Mariusz Błaszczak watched a joint training – US – Polish division-size river crossing – the main tactical episode initially planned as part of the main exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20 Allied Spirit XI linked exercise. River crossing with the participation of armored and airborne troops is exercised by soldiers.
The drills are smaller in scope than previously planned, with plans initially including the deployment of 20,000 US troops to Europe from the United States to join another 9,000 US troops already stationed in Europe, plus troops from over a dozen other NATO and partner countries, for a total of 37,000 troops. The exercises were initially intended to stretch out across Germany, Poland and the Baltic countries bordering Russia. Berlin withdrew from the games in March, with the Pentagon’s European Command following suit shortly thereafter. The drills include some 4,000 US combat troops and 2,000 Polish army personnel, along with 100 main battle tanks, 230 armoured vehicles, artillery and aviation.
The main training force from the Polish Armed Forces is the 12th Mechanized Brigade from Szczecin, as well as soldiers from the 6th Airborne Brigade from Krakow, 9th Braniewo Cavalry Brigade, as well as from the 2nd Engineering Regiment, 2nd Sapper Regiment and the 5th Engineering Regiment. The exercise will also take part in the aviation component represented by F-16 aircraft, Mi-24 helicopters, 10 aircraft. On the US side, approximately 4,000 soldiers from the Advanced Command of the 1st Cavalry Division, 2nd Brigade Combat Group, 3rd Infantry Division and the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 7th Army Training Command and 21st Command Theater Support and the Joint Multinational Readiness Center participate in the exercise.
DEFENDER-Europe 20 Plus is a modification of the initially planned exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20 – the largest for 25 years, division size forces in full combat readiness deployment from the United States to Europe. The main goal of DEFENDER-Europe 20 before and after modification is to increase preparedness for crisis situations by checking not only the ability of the US army to quickly move large numbers of US soldiers and equipment, but also checking the readiness of host countries to accept them. The exercise, which will last until June 19, also increase the security of the eastern flank and serve to develop procedures for the use of troops against new challenges of modern battlefield and deter the potential aggressor.