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DEFENDER 23 Kicks Off This Month in Europe

Library image of an M1A1 Abrams main battle tank driving off MV Endurance in Bremerhaven during DEFENDER-Europe 20 [© Bob Morrison]

Nearly 9,000 American troops are expected to participate in the two month long DEFENDER 23 exercise which kicks off this later month.


News Release, Arlington VA, 05 April 2023: Nearly 9,000 American troops are expected to participate in the DEFENDER 23 exercise which kicks off April 22, the deputy Pentagon press secretary said today [Wednesday].

“This annual, nearly two-month long exercise is focused on the strategic deployment of US-based forces, employment of Army pre-positioned stocks and interoperability with European allies and partners,” said Sabrina Singh, during a briefing today at the Pentagon.

The DEFENDER 23 exercise is led by US Army Europe and Africa and has been planned since 2021. The exercise is designed to demonstrate the US military’s ability to rapidly deploy combat-credible troops and equipment to assure allies, deter those who would threaten the peace of Europe and defend the continent from aggression. The exercise also demonstrates the commitment of European nations to increase the scale, capability and interoperability of their own militaries.

Library image of the first British Army HET coming ashore in Antwerp from MV Eddystone 03 February 2020 at the start of DEFENDER-Europe 20 [© Bob Morrison]

“Approximately 9,000 US troops and about 17,000 troops from 26 allied and partner nations will participate and portions of the exercise will stretch across 10 different European countries,” Singh said.

Singh said equipment to support the exercise began arriving this week in Spain. About 7,000 pieces of equipment were shipped to the European theatre from the US, she said. Additionally, about 13,000 pieces of equipment, drawn from pre-positioned stock, will be used during DEFENDER 23.

In addition to the United States, troops from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom will all take part in DEFENDER 23.

[Source: DoD News ~ C. Todd Lopez]


Library image of an M1Abrams tank taken from US Army Prepositioned Stocks in Germany and deployed to Poland on DEFENDER-Europe 2020 [©Bob Morrison]

DEFENDER 23 is a US European Command directed multi-national, joint exercise designed to build readiness and interoperability between US and NATO allies and partners. DEFENDER 23 will:-

  • take place from 22 April to 23 June
  • include more than 7,800 US and 15,000 multi-national service members from 26 Allied and partner nations
  • demonstrate US Army Europe and Africa’s ability to quickly aggregate combat power in Eastern Europe
  • increase lethality of the NATO Alliance through long-distance fires
  • build unit readiness in a complex joint, multi-national environment
  • leverage host nation capabilities to increase operational reach

[Source: US DVIDS]


Editor’s Footnote: The USAREURAF-led (US Army Europe and Africa) DEFENDER (Dynamic Employment of Forces to Europe for NATO Deterrence and Enhanced Readiness) series of annual exercises, formerly known as DEFENDER-Europe, commenced in early 2020 and bears similarities to the REFORGER (RETurn of FORces to GERmany) defensive deployment exercises of the Cold War era.


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