Large-scale, Army-led NATO exercise kicks off in Europe

by Tommy Grant

Soldiers in Europe this week kicked off a month-long, large-scale exercise with 6,500 participants focused on preparing a multinational brigade to defend NATO.

Exercise Allied Spirit is run by 7th Army Training Command along with NATO allies and partners at Hohenfels and Grafenwöhr Training Areas, Germany, according to a U.S. European Command release.

The exercise commenced on Feb. 26 and will conclude on March 27.

Task Force 82, from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, will operate a division-level headquarters element running higher command for the German Army’s 41st Panzergrenadier Brigade, according to an Army release.

The task force supports the Army’s V Corps reinforcement of NATO’s eastern flank and conducts security force assistance with NATO Allies from Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Slovakia.

The Allied Spirit exercise has grown from a two-week, interoperability exercise involving an estimated 2,500 participants and eight nations to its current iteration that lasts four weeks, includes 6,500 troops and 15 nations.

Major players include the United States, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Exercises such as these are critical for the U.S.-NATO strategic relationship, said Brig. Gen. Steven Carpenter, head of 7th Army Training Command.

“Now, more than ever, this shared resolve is absolutely critical; Allied Spirit is a strong symbol of that ongoing relationship,” Carpenter said in the EUCOM release.

U.S. Army units participating in Allied Spirit 2024:

  • 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Liberty, North Carolina
  • 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia
  • 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas
  • 4th Security Forces Assistance Brigade, Fort Carson, Colorado
  • Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations teams, U.S. Army Reserve
  • 153rd Public Affairs Detachment, West Virginia National Guard

Source: U.S. European Command

Allied Spirit has folded into the string of large-scale exercises under the umbrella of Steadfast Defender, the new name for Defender Europe. That is a January-to-May series of exercises across the continent designed to test NATO’s new defense plans.

The overall program will involve 90,000 troops from 31 nations with more than 50 naval assets, 90 air platforms and 1,100 combat vehicles, according to the Pentagon’s website.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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