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May 7 2021

JSEC kicks off NATO exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 Part 2 under strict COVID-19 precautionary measures

Ulm, Germany – The Joint Support and Enabling Command (JSEC) participates in Part 2 of NATO´'s 2021 flagship exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 from 12 to 20 May 2021 in Ulm, Germany. Key purpose of the Command Post Exercise is the training and testing of its ability to coordinate the movement of Allied forces and equipment across European borders in the speed of relevance. As JSEC is involved in a NATO exercise for the first time, it marks a major milestone in the establishment of this operational-level NATO headquarters on its way to full readiness to be declared later in 2021.

COVID-19 mitigation measures

With a public authority approved hygiene concept, JSEC is taking all precautionary measures to protect the participants of the exercise at any time. The measures include body temperature checkpoints, keeping physical contacts at minimum, contact tracing, virtual meetings, rapid antigen tests in case of inevitable physical meetings and not exceeding the maximum number of participants.

We are taking sensible precautions for the safety of all participants...

"We are taking sensible precautions for the safety of all participants during this exercise, it can be conducted without endangering our personnel," stated JSEC Commander, Lieutenant General Jürgen Knappe, "We have proven that we are able to practice safely, despite the pandemic. Nevertheless, we remain vigilant and will monitor the situation permanently. Depending on the pandemic development, we will adapt our concept. Our Medical Advisor is in close contact with the Legal Public Supervision."

At the body temperature checkpoint, soldiers are permanently monitored during Steadfast Defender 2021.
(JSEC picture by Corporaal Bastian Suepple, DEU AF)

NATO´'s 2021 flagship exercise is bringing expertise together

Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 is the first in a new series of long-planned NATO exercises to ensure that NATO forces are trained, able to operate together and ready to respond to any threat from any direction. It demonstrates the value of North America and Europe working together to keep NATO nations safe in an ever more challenging security environment.

"Steadfast Defender is to enhance, enrich, maintain the cohesion of the Alliance, our interoperability between armed forces of member nations of the Alliance, and of course to also maintain the trans-Atlantic link between the North American nations and the European nations of the Alliance," Lieutenant General Brice Houdet, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) Vice Chief of Staff explained as NATO announced the exercise.

It will involve two new NATO commands for the first time: JSEC, focused on enablement and the Joint Force Command Norfolk, based in Norfolk, Virginia, in the U.S., with a focus on the Atlantic Sea.

"It´'s not just a JSEC exercise, it is a NATO approach to demonstrate the effectiveness of the NATO Command Structure Adaptation," underlined Knappe. He added, "A successful execution of Steadfast Defender 2021 is an important part of strengthening NATO's deterrence and defence readiness and a strong assurance towards all allies that we are ready."

Soldiers of the Joint Support and Enabling Command serve in the Joint Operations Center.
(JSEC picture by Corporaal Bastian Suepple, DEU AF)

Steadfast Defender 2021 as such will see deployments across the Atlantic Sea and throughout the European continent, all the way to the Black Sea Region. It will be executed in several steps, including live maneuvers focussing on the training and the interoperability of Allied forces, as well as tabletop activities testing and improving the ability of the new NATO Command and Force Structure to exercise command and control of the deployment of troops.

From 20 to 28 May, the exercise will see a large-scale maritime deployment across the Atlantic Sea to the coast of Portugal. It will focus on improving NATO's ability to protect and defend the Lines of Communication that enable transatlantic reinforcement. This part of the exercise will involve a significant number of ships with 5,000 participants from nine nations.

Meanwhile, from 12 to 20 May, a command post exercise will be conducted in Ulm, Germany. Some 300 personnel from 18 nations will be involved in this part of the exercise, training and testing the developed capabilities of the JSEC and the Standing Joint Logistics Support Group, supported by the Multinational Joint Headquarters Ulm and the Joint Warfare Centre from Stavanger, Norway.

In late May, NATO's annual Noble Jump exercise will take place under the umbrella of Steadfast Defender 2021. This will see the deployment of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, led by Turkey, to Romania. Some 4,000 troops from 12 countries will be involved. Other associated exercises will take place in the region as well.

Fictitious and realistic scenario

The exercise scenario is fictitious considering the challenges of enabling, reinforcing and sustaining Alliance forces to and through SACEUR´'s Area of Responsibility in the context of an emerging threat in Europe. It is based on an NATO Article 5 situation, testing collective defence. The forces will deal with fictitious adversaries and situations. But the experience they gain and the lessons they learn will be real.

During Steadfast Defender 2021, soldiers serving in the Joint Support and Enabling Command regularly conduct the rapid antigen test.
(JSEC picture by Corporaal Bastian Suepple, DEU AF)
Soldiers of the Joint Support and Enabling Command serve in the Joint Operations Center.
(JSEC picture by Corporaal Bastian Suepple, DEU AF)

Story by Joint Support and Enabling Command Public Affairs Office

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