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May 5 2021

NATO announces official kick-off of flagship exercise Steadfast Defender 2021

Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) invites media representatives to a virtual press conference on NATO exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 on Thursday, 6 May 2021, at 15:30 (Brussels Time).

The press conference will be led by SHAPE’s Vice Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Brice Houdet with representative from the Joint Force Commands Norfolk (USA), Naples (ITA) and the headquarters Joint Support and Enabling Command (DEU). The NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu will moderate the virtual press conference.

Journalists interested in participating via Zoom can register no later than 06 May 2021 at 10:00 (Brussels time) here: The accreditation platform will be open as of Tuesday 4 May at 11:00. Interpretation in French an English will be provided.

Registered media representatives will be contacted separately for technical details. While every effort will be made to accommodate as many questions as possible, time limitations might not allow all questions to be asked.

Background information

Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 is NATO’s flagship exercise for 2021 and the first in a new series of long-planned NATO exercises to ensure that our forces are trained, able to operate together and ready to respond to any threat from any direction. This exercise will demonstrate the value of North America and Europe working together to keep our nations safe in a more challenging security environment.

With participation from around 20 Allies from North America and Europe, Steadfast Defender 2021 will help improve the interoperability of Allied forces and practice military mobility throughout Europe. The exercise will also contribute to enhanced cooperation with our partner countries Finland and Sweden.

Steadfast Defender 2021 will improve NATO’s capability to respond collectively to an attack. The geographic locations, scale of deployment across sea, land and air, and range of military capabilities involved, reflect NATO’s resolve to deter and defend in the Euro-Atlantic area.

The exercise will also be the first large test of NATO’s adapted Command Structure. It will involve the two new commands, one focused on logistics, Joint Support and Enabling Command (JSEC), based in Ulm, Germany, and the other focused on the North Atlantic, Joint Force Command Norfolk (JFCNF), based in Norfolk, Virginia, in the U.S.

“Exercise Steadfast Defender is the first in a series of NATO-led exercises to ensure that our forces are trained, interoperable, and ready to respond to threats from any direction,” Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General Tod D. Wolters.

The size and scope of Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 will test NATO’s ability to move large numbers of troops, equipment and supplies across the Atlantic and Europe in response to the training scenario. The rapid deployment of reinforcement from North America, movement across the European Continent and integration of multinational troops will strengthen the readiness and deterrence posture of Allied Command Operations.

The exercise is conducted in three parts.

Part 1: Securing Sea Lines of Communication/Transatlantic Reinforcement

Part one focuses on the rapid reinforcement of NATO’s European Allies by North American forces. This phase is led by Joint Force Command Norfolk and will include a maritime live exercise as well as a distinguished visitors and media day in Lisbon, Portugal.

Part 2: Enablement of Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) Area of Responsibility/Military Mobility/Deployment of the NATO Response Force (NRF)

The focus of part two is rapidly transitioning reinforcements from their home stations and nations to their exercise locations. This phase heavily involves the Joint Support and Enabling Command and its ability to facilitate movement across the European continent which will be highlighted during the JSEC visitors/media day on 18 May. This phase will culminate with the Turkish-led Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) participating in Joint Force Command Naples- led exercise Noble Jump in Romania from 19 May to 2 June.

Part 3: Additional Multinational Training

To close exercise Steadfast Defender 2021, Allies and partner nations will participate in various national exercises including U.S.-led exercise Saber Guardian in Romania from 24 May to 9 June. This phase also includes redeployment operations back to home stations/nations.

NATO Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 is directly linked to or associated with the following exercises:

JFC Naples Exercise NOBLE JUMP 2021






Steadfast Defender 2021 is associated with U.S. Army Europe-Africa’s Exercise DEFENDER EUROPE 21.

For the most up-to-date information on Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 follow #SteadfastDefender21 on your favourite social media platform and bookmark our Steadfast Defender website


For further information, please contact the Public Affairs Officer at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), Belgium, Tel +32 6544 7854, E-mail

If you should have questions on the registration, please email

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