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Army Plans Massive Exercise in Europe

A panel of experts, including Lt. Gen. J.T. Thomson, left, commanding general of NATO Allied Land Command, and Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, second from right, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe, discuss the upcoming Defender-Europe 2020 exercise.
A panel of experts, including Lt. Gen. J.T. Thomson, left, commanding general of NATO Allied Land Command, and Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, second from right, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe, discuss the upcoming Defender-Europe 2020 exercise.
Photo by: 
Pete Marovich for AUSA
Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A massive multinational exercise set to begin in April is "the right type of exercise" to foster readiness in Europe, a senior U.S. commander in the region said.

"This exercise is part of preparedness," Lt. Gen. J. T. Thomson, commander of NATO Allied Land Command, said about the upcoming Defender-Europe 2020.

Thomson made his remarks Oct. 15 during a forum at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition, where panelists discussed the forthcoming exercise, the largest deployment of U.S.-based land forces to Europe in the last quarter-century.

Based on a fictional scenario set in 2028, the exercise will include 37,000 participants from 18 nations, conducted across 10 host countries. 

The exercise springs from a sense of urgency surrounding events in Europe in 2014, said Lt Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe. Although the Army has practiced force projection for years, Cavoli said, "now it's time to practice it at scale."

"We want to show potential adversaries we have the potential to win a war if deterrence fails," said Maj, Gen. John Richardson, deputy chief of staff of operations, G-3/5/7, at U.S. Army Forces Command.

Noting that the U.S. and partner nations previously have held exercises on the defense of Europe, panelists said, this one will draw on previous lessons in order to address new threats. 

"Our threats have changed," Thomson said, noting, "ours is an alliance that has to adapt."

- Susan Katz Keating for AUSA