According to official statement from U.S. In response to the current outbreak of the COVID-19 and recent guidance by the Secretary of Defense, they have modified exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20 in size and scope. As of March 13, all movement of personnel and equipment from the United States has ceased to Europe. The health, safety and readiness of our military, civilians, and family members are our paramount concern.
In fact most of 20,000 American soldiers and their equipment scheduled to come to Europe as part of the Defender-Europe 20 military exercise are already here, US Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher said in an interview with the Wprost weekly.
Asked whether the coronavirus situation in Europe was hampering the planned exercises, Mosbacher replied that she had recently been in Drawsko Pomorskie, north-western Poland, and though she did not want to foretell the future, most of the troops were already in Europe.
The ambassador went on to say that Defender-Europe 20 is a complicated operation and extremely costly to the American taxpayer.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said the Army had already deployed roughly 6,000 soldiers and 3,000 pieces of equipment from the U.S. beginning in January in support of the Defender Europe exercise, and also deployed a Brigade Combat Team and a Division-sized headquarters.
The Army also has moved about 9,000 vehicles and pieces of equipment from Army Prepositioned Stocks (APS) in Europe for the exercise, he noted.
“One of the big objectives of this exercise was what we call strategic readiness,” McConville said, “the ability to dynamically employ our forces from the United States and we were able to demonstrate most of those capabilities. We were able to get our forces over there, we have a draw from the prepositioned stocks and we’re still able to train with our allies and partners, although at much less capability.”
And those units that won’t be able to train through some of the linked exercises in Europe are already “tactically ready,” McConville said, and could maintain readiness through home station training.
A USAREUR spokesperson told on 17 March that the 1st Cavalry Division and the 1st Armored Division’s 2nd Brigade had been ordered to halt movement and redeploy to their home bases.
USAREUR said in its press release that it expected the armoured brigade combat team (ABCT) already deployed to Europe to conduct gunnery and other joint training with allied forces as part of a modified exercise ‘Allied Spirit’. The spokesperson identified the ABCT as the 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade, which is the next annual rotation to Europe under ‘Atlantic Resolve’ and will train with allies, including in remaining ‘Defender-Europe 20’ training activities.
According to the DEFENDER-Europe 20 Fact Sheet about 20,000 service members from the continental U.S. and 9,000 U.S. service members based in Europe will participate in the exercise.
We are informed about reducing the number of service members participating in from the continental U.S. What about 9,000 U.S. service members based in Europe before?
Thus, while the WHO declares the global pandemic and Europeans are facing increasing containment measures, more than ten thousands of American soldiers spread out across Europe exposing all the countries to serious risks.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.