In Poland and eight other countries, Exercises Swift Response and Defender Europe are taking place with the participation of around 18,000 troops from twenty countries. Participating land forces from North America have deployed to Europe until mid-June, and will develop their ability to cooperate in joint combat operations using long-distance tactical marches, river crossings, and live fire exercises.
In Estonia, Exercise HEDGEHOG (Exercise SIIL in Estonian) kicked off on 16 May with the participation of over 15,000 NATO soldiers from fourteen countries. The exercise aims to test readiness and enhance interoperability among the nations. The scenario consists of an amphibious landing followed by a multi-day force on force exercise, including a vertical assault raid. Several other exercises are taking place in Estonia and its immediate vicinity at the same time, meaning participating forces also have the opportunity to practice their procedures for cross-border cooperation.
In Germany, General Jörg Vollmer, Commander of Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, attended Exercise Wettiner Heide to observe the preparations of NATO's Response Force. The exercise, involving 7,500 troops, tested the procedures and combat readiness of next year's spearhead force (NRF 2023).
In the Baltic Sea, vigilance activity Neptune Shield 22 (NESH 22) began on 17 May. The activity integrates high-end maritime expeditionary strike capabilities of Sea, Air and Land assets, and continues until 31 May in the Baltic, Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas. NESH 22 builds on the recent Exercise Neptune Strike, which saw NATO take charge of a U.S. Carrier Strike Group for the first time in history. In NESH 22, the U.S. has transferred command and control to NATO of not only a Carrier Strike Group led by the USS Harry S. Truman in the Mediterranean, but also an Amphibious Ready Group and a Marine Expeditionary Unit (22 MEU) led by USS Kearsarge in the Baltic.
All these long-planned exercises and activities, stretching from the High North to the Balkans, enhance the readiness and interoperability of NATO forces. They are defensive, transparent, and show that NATO's allies and partners stand together, ready to defend against threats to the Euro-Atlantic area from any direction in a multi-domain environment.
"NATO's commitment to promoting peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic area is clearly expressed by the integration of our forces' capability to rapidly respond in a time of crisis", emphasised General Vollmer.