NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu moderates a media briefing on the alliance's Steadfast Defender 2021 exercise, which kicks off this month. Photo courtesy of NATO
May 6 (UPI) -- More than 20 NATO allies and partners from North America and Europe will participate in the NATO exercise Steadfast Defender 2021, which kicks off this month, the alliance announced Thursday.
"Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 will test NATO's readiness and military mobility - with forces deploying across land and sea, all the way from North America to the Black Sea region and off the coast of Portugal," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a press release.
More than 9,000 troops will participate in the exercise, which Stoltenberg said "demonstrates that NATO has the capabilities and the resolve to protect all Allies against any threat."
The exercise will be the first large-scale test of the alliance's adapted command structure and involves two new NATO commands: Joint Support and Enabling Command based in Ulm, Germany, and Joint Force Command Norfolk, based in the United States.
Joint Command Norfolk will lead the first phase of the exercise, which includes a maritime live exercise with around 5,000 forces and 18 ships, including the Britain's UK Carrier Strike Group led by the HMS Queen Elizabeth.
About 300 personnel are also scheduled to participate in a table-top exercise in Ulm to train and test the ability of the Joint Support and Enabling Command to coordinate the speedy movement of Allied forces and equipment across European borders, NATO officials said.
At the end of the month, about 4,000 troops from 12 countries will participate in NATO's annual Noble Jump -- which will see the deployment of the Turkish-led Very High Readiness Joint Task Force to Romania -- under the umbrella of Steadfast Defender 2021.
Earlier this week, the British Royal Navy announced that the HMS Elizabeth is set to participate in Exercise Strike Warrior, which will involve 20 warships and three submarines, from 11 NATO and allied nations.
Also this week, the Department of Defense announced that Exercise Defender Europe 21 -- an exercise involving 26 nations, including the United States, and around 28,000 multinational forces focused on building operational readiness and interoperability between NATO allies and partners -- has begun.
The exercises also kick off amid an uptick in U.S. activity in the Black Sea -- most recently an exercise involving the U.S. Coast Guard cutter USCGC Hamilton and the Turkish Navy last week.
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform at The Great Florida Air Show presented by Northrup Grumman in Melbourne, Fla., on Saturday. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo