NATO Commences ‘Steadfast Defender 24’, Largest Military Exercise Since Cold War



NATO has commenced ‘Steadfast Defender 24’, the largest military exercise it has orchestrated in decades, involving approximately 990,000 troops from 31 member countries and Sweden. The four-month-long drills aim to demonstrate NATO’s capability to rapidly deploy forces to Europe from North America and beyond, utilizing naval vessels, aircraft, and combat vehicles. The exercise comes in response to recent actions by Russia, including the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and serves to reinforce the alliance’s readiness and solidarity amidst growing security concerns in Europe.

  • ‘Steadfast Defender 24’ is NATO’s most significant military exercise since the Cold War, focusing on the rapid deployment of forces to Europe.
  • The exercise involves around 990,000 troops, naval vessels, aircraft, and over a thousand combat vehicles from 31 NATO members and Sweden.
  • The drills are a part of a regular three-year cycle, not solely a reaction to Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine, but also reflecting long-term strategic planning.
  • NATO’s actions are deemed defensive, countering Russia’s aggression and violations of Ukrainian sovereignty since 2014, including the illegal annexation of Crimea.
  • The exercise sends a message of strength and cohesion, particularly with Sweden’s participation signaling NATO’s expansion.
  • NATO does not believe these exercises increase the likelihood of confrontation with Russia but sees the drills as necessary preparedness for defense.
  • The alliance is transforming into a warfighting organization in response to the realistic threat posed by Russia, as acknowledged by NATO officials.
  • Potential political changes in the US, such as a return of Donald Trump to the presidency, could impact NATO’s dynamics, with a need for Europeans to prepare for greater defense responsibilities.
  • The timing of the exercise correlates with deteriorating security at the borders of the Baltic states and Poland, now the new front lines as opposed to Germany during the Cold War.
  • NATO maintains its stance as a defensive alliance, countering Russian claims that the exercises are provocative.
  • The exercise showcases NATO’s commitment to the region and its preparedness to respond to various threats, including military and hybrid tactics.

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