• Exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20 is the deployment of a division-size combat-credible force from the United States to Europe, the drawing of equipment and the movement of personnel and equipment across the theater to various training areas. The exercise was expected to test multidomain operations but is now being restricted out of caution regarding the new coronavirus outbreak. Credit: U.S. Army
     Exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20 is the deployment of a division-size combat-credible force from the United States to Europe, the drawing of equipment and the movement of personnel and equipment across the theater to various training areas. The exercise was expected to test multidomain operations but is now being restricted out of caution regarding the new coronavirus outbreak. Credit: U.S. Army

Army Limits Multidomain Exercise Due to COVID-19

March 16, 2020


Service officials are still working out details of Defender-Europe 20.


In response to the current outbreak of the COVID-19 virus and recent guidance by the Secretary of Defense, the U.S. Army has modified exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20 in size and scope. As of March 13, all movement of personnel and equipment from the United States to Europe has ceased, according to an Army announcement.

Other exercises that were to be linked to Exercise Defender-Europe 20—Dynamic Front, Joint Warfighting Assessment, Saber Strike and Swift Response—will not be conducted. The Army anticipates that the armored brigade combat team already deployed to Europe will conduct gunnery and other combined training events with allies as part of a modified Allied Spirit exercise. Forces already deployed to Europe for other linked exercises will return to the United States.

Defender-Europe was intended to be a massive, first-of-its-kind exercise designed to test the Army’s ability to rapidly project power forward, effectively operate with other nations and engage in multidomain operations. The overall purpose is to build strategic readiness by deploying a combat credible force to Europe in support of NATO and the U.S. national defense strategy.

The Army’s emailed announcement makes the case that the exercise has achieved much of its intended goal despite the cutbacks. “This effort has exercised the Army's ability to coordinate large scale movements with allies and partners. Since January, the Army deployed approximately 6,000 Soldiers from the United States to Europe including a division headquarters and an armored brigade combat team,” the announcement states. “It has moved approximately 9,000 vehicles and pieces of equipment from Army Prepositioned Stocks and approximately 3,000 pieces of equipment via sea from the United States. And, in coordination with allies and partners, it also completed movement of Soldiers and equipment from multiple ports to training areas in Germany and Poland.”

Many details still are being worked and discussed with our allies and partners. Changes are anticipated to the deployment timelines of soldiers currently in Europe, redeployment of U.S.-based equipment, and the next Atlantic Resolve rotation.

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