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    INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

    COVID-19 affects “Defender – Europe 20” Exercise 

    Defence Redefined
    Published on 16/03/2020 at 08:58

    The US Armed Forces and their allies do not intend to cancel the largest military exercise in Europe in 25 years; however, the number of troops and exercise activity is expected to be significantly reduced due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

    The “Defender – Europe 20” exercise was intended to mobilize during April and May in 10 European countries, some 37,000 troops from 18 countries. The Commander of the US troops in Europe said on Thursday 12/3 that “in the light of the new coronavirus the participants in the exercise “Defender – Europe 20” will be reduced. 

    “We have taken seriously the outbreak of the new coronavirus pandemic and we are confident that by making this important decision we will continue to do our job to prevent further spread of the virus,” US Armed Forces officials told. 

    That came after US President Donald Trump’s statement to citizens on Wednesday 11/3, announcing measures to combat the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus and the disruption of air flights to America. 

    “We can always do another ‘Defender – Europe 20’ exercise. Public health concerns are a top priority right now,” said James Jay Carafano, vice president of the Davis Institute for the US National Center for National Security and Foreign Policy. 

    The US Forces Command Europe announced on 16/03 that the exercises “Dynamic Front”, “Joint Warfighting Assessment”, “Saber Strike” and “Swift Response”, which were part of “Defender – Europe 20”, were not carried out, but an appreciation is made for the involvement of the armored combat brigade that is already deployed in Europe in the remaining exercises. The US forces deployed in Europe to participate in other exercises as part of “Defender-Europe 20” will return to the US, the statement said.  

    However, with Europe daily registering more cases of coronavirus than any other region in the world, there are doubts and concerns as to whether the exercise will continue, even with a reduced number of participants and activities.

    The purpose of “Defender-Europe 20” is to build strategic preparedness for the development of a credible force in Europe in support of NATO and the US National Defence Strategy.  

     

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