(Source : US EUCOM) – U.S. European Command remains ready and responsive during the pandemic

Following the outbreak of COVID-19, the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) quickly reduced the scope and size of U.S.-led multinational exercise Defender-Europe 20 to reduce risk on participating forces and local populations. It is one example of how Allies and partners are working together to adapt to this crisis, while maintaining readiness.

While COVID-19 continually creates challenges across all segments of society, the U.S. military in Europe continues to stand the watch.

Approximately 72,000 military men and women and civilians, who live and work across the European theatre, are maintaining warfighting readiness and deterrence, while taking appropriate measures to prevent the further spread of the virus.

“Never has there been a more important time for our military to remain ready and responsive than during this ongoing public health crisis,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Kramer, director of USEUCOM’s exercises and training programmes. “The ability to respond quickly and to adjust at a moment’s notice is instrumental in our ability to maintain our readiness. The current environment with this public health crisis has demonstrated our ability to do just that.”

Regular training and coordination with Allies and partners enhances already strong relationships and improves our ability to respond together in times of need.

The response to the COVID-19 outbreak during Exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20 is one example of how Allies and partners worked together in a crisis and adapted to defend the health and safety of personnel and communities.

With more than 6,000 service members deployed from the United States to Europe, DEFENDER-Europe 20 demonstrated the ability to move more than 3,000 pieces of equipment from ports to training areas and more than 9,000 pieces of Army prepositioned stock from storage sites to training areas. When the virus outbreak expanded around the globe, leadership from all participating units came together to quickly mitigate risks, which included modifying and canceling events.

“While we did not make it through all of the elements of Exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20, we learned a number of lessons that have enhanced our already existing military strengths,” Kramer said.

Mobility in Europe is all about understanding processes, requirements, and accessibility. Despite DEFENDER-Europe 20 being modified, planning efforts alongside NATO Allies and European Union partners proved just how critical open lines of communication are to successfully facilitating logistical movements from the United States and then throughout the continent with speed and relevance.


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Photo © While reduced in scope and size, Exercise Defender-Europe 20 has demonstrated military mobility. Pictured: heavy tanks and armoured vehicles are offloaded from US vehicle carrier Endurance in Bremerhafen, Germany – 21 February 2020, Sgt Dominique Washington, as published in ibid