Italian, Spanish and Romanian Soldiers discuss tactics while conducting reconnaissance training during Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 in Romania.
Italian, Spanish and Romanian Soldiers discuss tactics while conducting reconnaissance training during Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 in Romania.

NATO’s Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 is Underway

NATO’s largest military exercise since 2018, Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021, has begun with a maritime operation off Portugal, a logistics exercise in southern Germany and a rapid reaction exercise in central Romania. Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021, which is designed to improve the Alliance’s defensive capabilities, includes over 9,000 air, land, maritime and special operations forces from more than 20 Allies and partners training together. Steadfast Defender 2021 officially began on May 12 and ends June 22 in Romania.

US Army First Lieutenant Katie Tenefrancia, platoon leader for the 3rd Platoon ‘C’ 25th Cavalry, is interviewed by Corporal Sebastian Drakeford, assigned to Allied Joint Force Command Naples, during Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 in Romania.
US Army First Lieutenant Katie Tenefrancia, platoon leader for the 3rd Platoon ‘C’ 25th Cavalry, is interviewed by Corporal Sebastian Drakeford, assigned to Allied Joint Force Command Naples, during Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 in Romania. (Photo by NATO – Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe )

The exercise took around two years to plan; Lieutenant Colonel James Scott serves as the officer with primary responsibility of organising the multi-phase exercise. “The overall focus is on NATO’s capability to conduct reinforcement across the Alliance. The span of the exercise is broad, ranging from the training of the new Joint Force Command in Norfolk, the Joint Support and Enabling Command in Germany, and the delivery of the Very High Readiness Task Force Land Component into Romania on a deployment exercise. Exercise planning during the ongoing pandemic has been very challenging but serves to demonstrate NATO’s flexibility and adaptability,” said Scott.

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Turkish Land Forces 66th Mechanised Infantry Brigade crossed the Turkish-Bulgarian Hamzabeyli border during their land deployment to Cincu, Romania to take part in Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 on May 11, 2021.
Turkish Land Forces 66th Mechanised Infantry Brigade crossed the Turkish-Bulgarian Hamzabeyli border during their land deployment to Cincu, Romania to take part in Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 on May 11, 2021. (Photo by NATO – Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe )

“Steadfast Defender 2021 is the first in a new series of long-planned NATO exercises to ensure that our forces are trained, able to operate together and ready to respond to any threat from any direction. This exercise will demonstrate the value of North America and Europe working together to keep our nations safe in a more challenging security environment,” said Captain Jason Salata, exercise spokesperson.

Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021
An Italian Soldier assigned to the 1st Regiment Bersaglieri tank platoon, commands a Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, during NATO Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021. The platoon recently arrived in Romania in support of the multinational exercise. (Photo by NATO – Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe )

Joint Command Norfolk will lead the first phase of the exercise, which includes a maritime live exercise with around 5,000 forces and 18 ships, including the Britain’s UK Carrier Strike Group led by the HMS Queen Elizabeth. About 300 personnel are also scheduled to participate in a table-top exercise in Ulm to train and test the ability of the Joint Support and Enabling Command to coordinate the speedy movement of Allied forces and equipment across European borders. At the end of the month, about 4,000 troops from 12 countries will participate in NATO’s annual Noble Jump — which will see the deployment of the Turkish-led Very High Readiness Joint Task Force to Romania — under the umbrella of Steadfast Defender 2021.

A Spanish Soldier assigned to the BRILAT Brigade mans a machine gun while training tactical vehicle manoeuvring during Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 in Romania. More than 270 Spanish troops deployed to Romania in support of the exercise.
A Spanish Soldier assigned to the BRILAT Brigade mans a machine gun while training tactical vehicle manoeuvring during Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 in Romania. More than 270 Spanish troops deployed to Romania in support of the exercise. (Photo by NATO – Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe )
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