Poland to participate in Defender-Europe 20 military exercises

Rafał Guz/PAP

Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak and US Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher took part in a briefing on Thursday ahead of the Defender-Europe 20 military exercises that will see almost 20,000 US troops deployed to Europe.

Blaszczak described the exercises as strong confirmation of joint Polish-US engagement in security, while Ambassador Mosbacher said the manoeuvres were evidence of the vitality of the guarantee enshrined in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. The manoeuvres, planned from February to April, involve the deployment of some 20,000 US troops to Europe where they will take part in range exercises in Poland and the Baltic states as well as other locations. It will be the biggest US deployment to Europe in 25 years.

The defence minister drew attention to the fact that within the framework of Defender-Europe 20, the strategic transfer of forces is one of the key capabilities essential to ensuring Poland enduring security. "It is a very important test not only for the armed forces but also for administration and non-military institutions," he said, going on to add that the exercises would enable the Polish Armed Forces to test their capacity for planning, logistics and coordination.

"We want society to have global awareness of the scale of engagement of US forces, entrusting Poland with the role of one of the host states as well as the fact that organisation of exercises by the command of US forces in Europe is one of the elements of the growing engagement of the United States in building the security of the whole region," Blaszczak said.

Blaszczak went on to state that almost 37,000 soldiers from 18 countries would be taking part in the exercises with the active phase starting in almost three months. He highlighted that Poland would be an active participant in Defender-Europe 20.

"Our contribution is not only more than 2,000 soldiers, heavy equipment, aviation, road, rail and port infrastructure," Blaszczak said. "It is also a very numerous group of people from the civilian sector and other services, such as the police, fire brigade and border guard."

Ambassador Mosbacher said the exercises were not merely symbolic but the essence of what is meant by collective defence, adding that Defender-Europe 20 shows what NATO's Article 5 guarantee means that an attack on one member state is an attack on the whole alliance. She added that the almost 20,000 US troops coming to Europe would be joined by a further 9,000 already here and that testing their deployment potential was a significant logistical challenge, but one that NATO could meet.