NATO was on the cusp of initiating a massive war drill called Defender-Europe 20. The 40,000 solider war game would have included 20,000 US troops and accompanied by heavy weaponry but was called off on Monday amid the Covid-19 outbreak across Europe.
"As of March 13, all movement of personnel and equipment from the United States to Europe has ceased. The health, safety, and readiness of our military, civilians, and family members is our primary concern," US Army European Command said in a press release.
Press Release - In response to the current outbreak of the #COVID19 virus and recent guidance by @EsperDoD, we have modified exercise #DefenderEurope 20 in size and scope: https://t.co/uH32FxAz0D pic.twitter.com/fEgatuvo3v— U.S European Command (@US_EUCOM) March 16, 2020
The exercise would've been the most massive deployment of US troops to Europe since the 1983 Operation Re-forger exercise at the height of the Cold War.
US Army European Command said, "many details still being worked and discussed with our Allies and partners." With a scaled-down exercise, the Army still "anticipates the armored brigade combat team already deployed to Europe will conduct gunnery and other combined training events with Allies as part of a modified Allied Spirit exercise."
The release said, "forces already deployed to Europe for other linked exercises will return to the United States."
We noted at the initial stages of Defender 20 at the Strategic Command Centre in Nebraska, with participation from US Defense Sect. Esper last month, conducted computer simulations of nuclear war between the US and Russia.
The biggest war drill in decades was set to take place after the nuclear war simulation against Russia. Simultaneously, a Covid-19 pandemic is sweeping across Europe and crashing the global economy. Talk about unprecedented times…
So why did NATO pull the plug on the full-scale drill at the very last minute?
The reason could be due to large troop movements across Europe that would've led to a further spread of the virus.
NATO could've been on the verge of an armed conflict with Russia, positioning troops and armored vehicles, under the guise of an exercise.