As part of Exercise Defender-Europe 21, military equipment have rolled off U.S. Navy vessels into the Albanian port of Durres. Carrying the moniker Defender-Europe 21 to signify the year, this is the second exercise in the Defender-Europe series. When the inaugural Defender-Europe 20 took place last year, it was the first time in recent decades that the United States and its NATO allies conducted a large-scale military exercise across the Atlantic and Europe. The last time was during the “Return of Forces to Germany” exercises series known as Reforger and designed to protect Europe during the Cold War.
Defender-Europe 21 is a very large-scale multinational military exercise led by United States Army Europe and Africa Command. These exercises are designed to improve military readiness and offer professional development opportunities for the participating countries and their militaries.
The success of Defender-Europe 20, despite some modifications because of the Covid-19 pandemic, demonstrated the strength and durability of transatlantic relations, tested essential procedures and skillsets, emphasized unified purpose, and incentivized allies to strengthen their institutional knowledge and improve their logistical capacity.
A defensive exercise in nature, Defender-Europe 21 is designed to build and exercise collective readiness to respond to threats. It will focus on crisis response scenarios and practice integrating and carrying out the efforts of the very different military services of the various armies, air forces, and navies. What makes it even more challenging is the complex nature of coordinating the activities of more than 28,000 multinational forces from twenty-six nations, not only during the exercises, but as they move through countries towards the thirty training areas located in the twelve countries participating.
"Albania’s role in this year’s exercise will be significant with the Albanian military’s comprehensive integration into the exercise. This marks a major step up for Albania and demonstrates the confidence that exercise planners have placed in its military. By hosting near-simultaneous missile defense exercises timed with activities in twelve other countries and conducting other exercise-related activities there will be a lot of activity. The port of Durres will be Defender-Europe 21’s only exercise site where a Joint Logistics over-the-shore operation will take place. This exercise involves moving military equipment from a ship to the shore," has said the portal nationalinterest.org.
Defender-Europe 21 emphasizes the geostrategic importance of the Western Balkans. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Europe and Africa, has emphasized the importance of the region: “Defender-Europe 21 provides us the best opportunity to hone our abilities alongside our allies and partners in the strategically important Balkans and Black Sea region so that collectively, we are ready to respond to any crisis that may arise.”
Serbia’s “Response 2021” exercise ahead of NATO military drill
In response to NATO military exercise in the region Serbia held a major military exercise last week.
Serbia’s “Response 2021” exercise came one week ahead of major exercises held in Albania in the context of “Defender – Europe 21”, the Western allies’ military exercise planned to last from March until June.
At the end of the exercise on Saturday, President Aleksandar Vucic stressed that Serbia will continue to invest in the army.
“By further modernization and strengthening of our army and police, we can act preventively to deter any aggressor. We will always act quickly and efficiently against possible terrorist acts,” Vucic said.
Serbia says it won’t join NATO and maintains close ties with Russia, particularly in the military field. Its “Response 2021” relied largely on military supplies from Russia, including the Russian Pantsir missile system, Mi-17 helicopters, and Mi-35M combat helicopters. In addition, Serbia has received fighter jets, combat tanks and other weapons from Russia. Both countries are working to open a Russian defense ministry office in Belgrade.
All branches of the Serbian forces took part in the live fire exercise, including the army, air force, air defense, special operation brigades, parachute brigade, special anti-terror helicopter units, etc. /argumentum.al