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Kristine Karch, Reiner Braun & Lucas Wirl
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Defender 2020 – NATO 's war maneuver against Russia
Shipment, Savannah, US for Defender 2020 (Photo: Pfc. Carlos Cuebas Fantauzzi)

Defender 2020 – NATO 's war maneuver against Russia

"Defender 2020" is one of the biggest war maneuvers since the end of the Cold War.

(Article from the newspaper of the international network “No to war – no to NATO” on Defender 2020 with the financial support of the European Left. Download to the full newspaper)

37,000 soldiers plus 7,000 US National Guardsmen are involved. The biggest transatlantic deployment of troops for 25 years, 20,000 US soldiers and their war materials are being brought across the Atlantic to Europe in one fell swoop. 28,000 of the 37,000 are GIs. 20,000 are from the USA, 8,000 are already in Europe and another 9,000 are from 16 NATO countries and also from Finland and Georgia.

A total of 18 countries are involved altogether. The Bundeswehr is participating in the Defender-Europe 20 exercise with up to 4,000 soldiers. This means that Germany provides the second largest troop contingent. The exercise is a war maneuver of the US Army, which is centrally controlled from the US Army Headquarters Europe in Wiesbaden (www.eur.army.mil). The new Joint Support and Enabling Command of NATO in Ulm, which is currently being set up, EUCOM in Stuttgart and the US Air Base in Ram-stein are also involved. The various contingents involved come primarily from the NATO states and so it can be spoken of as a NATO maneuver. The 16 participating NATO members are: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Estonia, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, USA.

In NATO's propaganda for Defender 20, the United States is referred to as playing a central role in NATO policy, in an attempt to show that this war alliance is still functioning - at least as an instrument of deployment against Russia. Eastern Europe, the Baltic States and especially Germany, are the central areas for the maneuver as it pushes towards the borders of the Russian Federation and Belarus. Transfers by air to airports in Berlin, possibly Bremen, Hamburg, Cologne/Bonn, Frankfurt a.M., Munich, Nuremberg and Ramstein are also planned. Internationally, seaports in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany and the inland ports of Bremen, Duisburg and Krefeld will play a major role in the transfer of materials. Transport by road is planned along a west-east axis via Düsseldorf-Hannover-Magdeburg - Frankfurt in the north and via Düsseldorf - Mannheim - Nuremberg - Dresden - Görlitz in the south. A north-south transport route is intended to go through Bremerhaven - Hanover - Frankfurt - Mannheim. Rest areas along the journey are planned in military centres in Rheindahlen, Augustdorf, Burg, Lehnin, Oberlausitz, Garlstedt, Stadtallendorf and Franken-berg (Saxony) and also other US installations in Germany.

Within Germany, the Bundeswehr is providing support within the framework of the Host Nation Support agreement and this will therefore be based on the requirements of the US. The German Armed Forces Base provides up to 1,500 soldiers for Defender 20 support services alone and which, according to current planning, will be provided at 13 locations. These include the establishment and operation of three Convoy Support Centers in Garlstedt, Burg and Upper Lusatia, as well as the construction of a tank facility at the Bergen Military Training Area. Central relocations are being carried out with Deutsche Bahn, which gives military transport priority over civil traffic.

Chaos and confusion, traffic jams on motorways and disruption on railway lines are inevitable. In addition, there are also maneuvers international network in Lithuania and Latvia and a transfer of troops from there to Germany and Poland. Altogether there are supposed to be seven different, networked and interlocking war maneuvers. The military education and training is also international. Soldiers from Denmark and Italy are coming to Bergen in addition to the German and US soldiers. Other soldiers from Poland, Lithuania and Germany are in Grafenwöhr. Polish and Baltic soldiers train together with Germans at the Russian western border.

The biggest war exercise takes place in the immediate vicinity of the Russian and  Belarusian  borders:  "Saber  Strike" in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland with 18,000 soldiers from 19 countries. In addition, there is, "Astral Knight", an exercise of the US Air Force, which includes air and missile defenses at various locations. F-35 stealth bombers and B-52 long-range bombers are also taking part in this exercise. The size and location of the maneuvers is a provocation to Russia and carries the risk of a possible direct confrontation between NATO and Russian military formations.

Also, the timing was not chosen at random. The maneuvers will include the 75th anniversary of the final liberation of Europe and especially Germany from fascism, mainly by the soldiers of the Red Army. Marking a historically forgotten date with a nod to a former ally who carried the main burden of the liberation of Europe from fascist tyranny, with more than 27 million dead. This large-scale maneuver, this provocation, against Russia is to be repeated every two years. While across the continent there is concern and discussion about containing life-threatening environmental destruction, the largest destroyer of the environment, the military, is practicing its rituals unimpressed.

These maneuvers are also part of the comprehensive militarization of societies in Europe. The population becoming more accustomed to war and war preparations. Protest and resistance are necessary, and they are being prepared by  the  peace movement in many communities and places along the route. Education and vigils, demonstrations and actions of civil disobedience will form a unity of resistance against this aggressive war-mongering policy.

Kristine Karch, Reiner Braun & Lucas Wirl, steering committee international  network „No to war – no to NATO“. Full Newspaper on Defender 2020

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