Defender-Europe 20 Plus Moves into an Active Phase
(Source: Polish Ministry of Defence; issued May 13, 2020)
A modified exercise Defender-Europe 20 Plus will be conducted from 5 to 19 June. In total, around 6,000 soldiers, 100 tanks and over 230 combat vehicles will train at the Drawsko Pomorskie training area.

The joint decision of the Ministry of National Defense and the US Department of Defense to carry out the active phase of the exercise was preceded by a thorough assessment of the situation and an effort of both planning teams. The exercise, initially planned for May, will be carried out in accordance with all sanitary restrictions.

Defender-Europe 20 Plus is a mutual confirmation of excellent Polish-American relations. It also shows that, despite the pandemic, our troops are fully interoperable, capable and prepared to conduct operations.

Approximately 6 000 U.S. and Polish soldiers will take part in the exercise. Of those, about 4 000 U.S. Soldiers will come from the 1st Cavalry Division Headquarters (Forward); 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division; and 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade; and approximately 2 000 Polish Soldiers will come from the 6th Polish Airborne Brigade; 9th Polish Armored Calvary Brigade; and 12th Polish Mechanized Brigade.

During the modified exercise, Polish and American brigades will cooperate in a joint combat operation. The river crossing episode, originally planned as part of the Allied Spirit exercise will be conducted with participation of armored and airborne brigades.

Since the end of February Drawsko Pomorskie training area has seen joint operations of Polish and American soldiers, who came to Poland for the Defender-Europe 20 exercise. The initial American forces were logistics units, tasked to prepare the training ground for a significant number of troops to be stationed there. Equipment storage spaces, car and heavy equipment parking spaces, residential tents and dining facilities were built.

The Polish Army supports the US soldiers every day by securing, among others, road transportation, material and energy supplies and logistics. The 12th Mechanized Brigade from Szczecin, as one of the main participants on the Polish side, actively helps and secures the transport of allied equipment to the Drawsko training ground. The main tasks planned for implementation during the exercise are consulted with the American side on a continuous basis, to jointly perform assigned tasks to the best possible extent.

In addition to logistics, American troops conducted also training – first in small and then more complex groups of soldiers so that they could smoothly enter the training rhythm. Then larger and larger units were trained - also with the use of heavy equipment and ammunition.

Over the past six weeks, US soldiers got acquainted with Drawsko Pomorskie training area during tactical trainings and practical exercises conducted within US brigades, but also together with Polish soldiers from the 12th Mechanized Brigade, also taking part in the Defender-Europe 20 Plus exercise. In recent days, along with the soldiers of the 1st Engineering Battalion, American soldiers strengthened roads within the training area, which will significantly improve the mobility of all participating forces during the exercise.

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the US Department of Defense, in agreement with the Ministry of National Defense, modified the Defender-Europe 20 exercise, which was to be the largest deployment of forces from continental United States to Europe in 25 years. Since the end of February, around 4,000 soldiers and 1,550 units of equipment have reached the Polish training grounds.

The main goal of the exercise is to increase strategic readiness and interoperability stemming from the ability to quickly deploy troops across the Atlantic, as well as to test the host nation support. It must also be stressed that the logistical aspect of the exercise have already been tested and applied. All allied exercises increase security of the eastern flank and serve to develop procedures for the effective use of troops against modern warfare challenges and deter the potential aggressors.

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