The NATO military bloc is preparing its largest joint military exercise since the Cold War. This was reported by the Financial Times.
The Steadfast Defender training will take place in the spring of 2024, with more than 40,000 participants. The Alliance will rehearse a scenario of repelling Russian aggression against one of its members.
"The Steadfast Defender exercise is part of NATO's rapid transition from a crisis response to a military alliance in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine," the British newspaper notes.
The exercise will include 500 to 700 air combat sorties, more than 50 ships and about 41,000 troops. The military will be modeling potential maneuvers against the Russian-led coalition, which has been codenamed Occasus.
The exercise is technically advanced, using real geographic data to create more realistic scenarios for the troops.
Sweden, whose application for NATO membership has not yet been ratified by Turkey and Hungary, will also join, with the total number of participant countries increased to 32.
The exercises will take place in Germany, Poland and the Baltic states in February and March and are part of a new training strategy that will see the military alliance conduct two major trainings each year instead of one. NATO will also train to counter terrorist threats beyond its immediate borders.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, said last June that the alliance would increase the number of high-readiness forces from 40,000 to more than 300,000. In this way, the bloc will in the future favor heavy military capabilities as opposed to the light and mobile forces deployed in the Balkans and Afghanistan. Following this statement, NATO leaders at a summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius in July agreed on new plans for regional defence and the creation of a so-called multinational Allied Response Force capable of responding quickly to threats.