Steadfast Defender 24 is an overarching name for a series of around 18 different exercises taking place from mid-January to the end of May. The scenario involves a simulated rapid-onset conflict with a nearby adversary. The main objective is to practice NATO's ability to reinforce Europe by moving troops across the Atlantic, from North America to Europe.
"The exercise will clearly demonstrate the alliance's determination and capability to implement the concept of deterrence and defense across the entire Euro-Atlantic area," says Carl-Johan Edström, Chief of the Joint Forces Command at the Headquarters.
4,500 troops from all branches
The Swedish contribution to the exercise series varies depending on the specific exercise. Currently, it is confirmed that around 4,500 soldiers and sailors from all service branches and the home guard are participating in the Norwegian exercise Nordic Response 24, taking place in Norway, Sweden, and Finland from March 3 to 14.
In April and May, there will also be Swedish participation in the Immediate Response 24 exercise. The Swedish Armed Forces, in particular, will conduct a live operation in the northern part of the country as approximately a thousand U.S. soldiers move from Norway to Finland via Sweden. This will put increased pressure on roads and railways.
“The operation falls within what we call host nation support, the ability to receive assistance from outside. It will be visible in civil society, mainly in the north, affecting everything from security to providing food and fuel, as well as rest stops for soldiers. For us, it is a great opportunity to participate when NATO exercises collective defence” says Carl-Johan Edström.
800 US troops air-dropped
The Swift Response 24 exercise, partially taking place in Skillingaryd in May in southern Sweden, also involves host nation support. Approximately 800 U.S. soldiers will be air-dropped and then move with Black Hawk helicopters to Kvarn to conduct live exercises with live ammunition. Additionally, there are plans to air-drop a U.S. howitzer battalion with 220 soldiers and artillery pieces for live firing on the Skillingaryd firing range.
For the navy's part, the main focus is on the Baltops 24 exercise. It is the most prominent exercise in the Baltic Sea region and includes the integration of air and naval combat forces, ASW, and various types of amphibious operations.
A significant portion of the Steadfast Defender 24 exercise series will also take place in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Germany.