Largest NATO military exercise in 25 years comes to a close

The third largest military exercise by the western allies in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Defender 2020 is coming to an end. Polish and American units are conducting their final joint manoeuvres of this exercise. The military exercise, which started in February, involved the deployment of a division-sized combat-credible force from the United States to Europe and was the largest such exercise in 25 years.

Significant parts of the exercise took place on Polish soil but the troops also got to familiarise themselves with local conditions in the Baltic States, Germany and parts of Scandinavia.

All-in-all, more than 20,000 soldiers took part in the months long event, which had to be scaled down in March due to the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The goal of the exercise was to improve reaction times associated with the transport of the troops and equipment, to study the levels of compatibility between allied forces, control the efficiency of procedures but also, as with all military exercises, serve as a deterrent show of force for potential adversaries.

Tensions have grown in recent days as the Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko accused the NATO-forces exercising in Poland of preparing some kind of intervention in Belarus.

Lukashenko himself ordered military exercises to take place in western Belarus to counter the threat. NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, denied that the NATO exercises had any offensive character and stated that “NATO poses no threat to Belarus”.

Military leaders representing NATO have announced that a similar military exercise is to be held in Europe next year, even if smaller in scope.