Home Europe Largest NATO drill on European soil in decades officially kicks off

Largest NATO drill on European soil in decades officially kicks off

Swift Response 21
Paratroopers execute a jump during Swift Response 21 in Romania on May 10. Photo: US Army

Defender Europe 21, a US-led multinational exercise that is touted as the largest NATO drill on European soil in decades, kicked off in Romania with the start of Swift Response 21.

Swift Response is the first of many smaller evolutions that will be carried out under the broader Defender Europe program.

Swift Response 21 took place in Romania, Estonia and Bulgaria encompassing over 7,000 paratroopers from ten different nations. The near-simultaneous joint forcible entry operation ended in Romania on a sunny cloudless day. The clear blue sky was decorated with parachutes and aircraft from five different partner and allied countries.

Swift Response 21 is designed to highlight NATO’s ability to leverage multinational cooperation to insert ground forces rapidly, and appropriately respond to a potential crisis anywhere in the world.

During Defender Europe 21 NATO allies and partner militaries from 26 nations will conduct near-simultaneous operations across more than 30 training areas in more than a dozen countries from the Baltics to the strategically important Balkans and Black Sea Region.

Other maneuvers will include Immediate Response, Saber Guardian, African Lion, and a new series of NATO drills called Steadfast Defender.

This year, Defender Europe 21 will also include significant involvement of the US Air Force and US Navy. The exercise will utilize key ground and maritime routes bridging Europe, Asia and Africa. The exercise will incorporate new or high-end capabilities including air and missile defense assets, as well as assets from the US Army Security Force Assistance Brigades and the recently reactivated V Corps.