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NATO’s Largest Military Exercise Since the Cold War: “Steadfast Defender”

NATO member countries are gearing up to conduct their most extensive military exercise since the Cold War era. Set to commence in the spring of the following year, this ambitious undertaking is aimed at simulating various military scenarios, with a primary focus on defense against a hypothetical adversary resembling a Russian-led coalition known as Occasus.

Scope and Scale:

This expansive military exercise is expected to encompass a multitude of elements, showcasing NATO’s commitment to readiness and collective defense.

The key components include:

Air Combat Missions:

  • The exercise is set to involve an impressive range of between 500 and 700 air combat missions. These missions will test the alliance’s aerial capabilities, coordination, and response to potential threats.

Naval Deployment:

  • Over 50 naval vessels from NATO member states will participate in the exercise. This naval component will emphasize maritime security and the protection of vital sea lanes.

Ground Forces Engagement:

  • Approximately 41,000 troops will be deployed to simulate ground operations. These forces will engage in various tactical scenarios to enhance their readiness and interoperability.

Scenario and Purpose:

The overarching objective of this exercise, codenamed “Steadfast Defender,” is to refine NATO’s transformation from a crisis response organization into a robust war-fighting alliance. The scenario envisages repelling a hypothetical Russian-led attack on a NATO member state.

Geographical Scope:

The geographic theater for these extensive drills will span across several nations, including:


  • Key aspects of the exercise will unfold on German soil, highlighting the country’s strategic significance within NATO.


  • Poland’s participation will emphasize the alliance’s commitment to defending its eastern flank.

Baltic Countries:

  • The Baltic nations, comprising Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, will play a pivotal role in the exercise, underlining NATO’s dedication to their security.

Sweden’s Involvement:

  • Notably, Sweden, a nation considering full NATO membership, is expected to join the drills. Pending approval, Sweden’s participation will bring the total number of nations involved to 32, further demonstrating NATO’s growing reach and partnership.

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