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Start of NATO Exercise STEADFAST DEFENDER 24

The Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall departed Naval Station Norfolk, January 24, 2024, commencing operations for STEADFAST DEFENDER 2024 [SHAPE press release image]

Exercise STEADFAST DEFENDER 24 began on Wednesday as the dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) departed Norfolk, Virginia.

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SHAPE News Release, Mons, 24 January 2024: Exercise STEADFAST DEFENDER 24, NATO’s largest exercise in decades, began on Wednesday, January 24, 2024 as the dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) departed Norfolk, Virginia, United States and following a series of operations will commence her transit across the Atlantic.

The departure of USS Gunston Hall marks the first tactical movement of STEADFAST DEFENDER 24. His Majesty’s Canadian Ship Charlottetown, will depart Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada for Europe later this month. Planned over the course of several years, STEADFAST DEFENDER 24 will highlight NATO’s ability to deploy forces rapidly from North America and other parts of the Alliance to reinforce the defence of Europe.

“The Alliance will demonstrate its ability to reinforce the Euro-Atlantic area via trans-Atlantic movement of forces from North America,” said General Christopher Cavoli, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). “STEADFAST DEFENDER 2024 will be a clear demonstration of our unity, strength, and determination to protect each other, our values and the rules-based international order.”

STEADFAST DEFENDER 24 will take place in several locations, with associated exercises running until May 31, 2024. It will be the first large scale NATO exercise where new defence plans will be put into action. It will show that NATO can conduct and sustain complex multi-domain operations over several months, across thousands of kilometres, from the High North to Central and Eastern Europe, and in any conditions.

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