Bulgaria will host and share in a series of multinational military exercises in 2021 so as to enhance its armed forces’ operational capabilities, the Bulgarian Defence Ministry said in a press release on Monday.
Between March and mid-June, over 30,000 troops of 26 NATO Member States will hone interoperability in simultaneous defence operations at 30 training areas in 14 countries during a series of interconnected exercises codenamed DEFENDER-Europe 21, which will be led by the U.S. Army Europe and Africa.
DEFENDER-Europe 21 is associated with a key training event: NATO‘s Steadfast Defender 21 (mid-May through early-June), led by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), in which Bulgaria will mainly contribute logistical support as a host country for forces transit.
DEFENDER-Europe 21 will encompass several linked exercises, including Swift Response, Saber Guardian, Immediate Response, and Defender Europe.
From mid-May to mid-June, Bulgaria, alongside Germany, Romania, Hungary, the Republic of North Macedonia and Albania, will host Exercise Saber Guardian, in which more than 13,000 service members from 16 countries will conduct live fire and air and missile defence operations, plus a large scale medical evacuation. In Bulgaria, Saber Guardian will encompass three national exercises with international participation: Strike Back 21, Balkan Sentinel 21 and Shabla 21, and a special operations exercise called Trojan Footprint – South. Bulgarian military elements will participate in Exercise Decisive Strike in the Republic of North Macedonia, which, too, is part of Saber Guardian.
Swift Response (early to mid-May) will include airborne operations in Estonia, Bulgaria and Romania involving more than 7,000 troops from 11 countries.
In Exercise Immediate Response (mid-May through early-June), more than 5,000 troops from 11 countries will spread out across
31 training areas in 13 different countries to conduct live fire training.
In June, approximately 1,500 personnel will stage Defender Europe, a command post exercise seeking to drill the
headquarters’ ability to command multinational land forces in a joint and combined training environment while maintaining
real-world operations across 104 countries, including Bulgaria, on two continents./BTA