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Published by National Interest
7 Feb 2020
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The Defender Exercise 2020 will be one of the biggest military exercises since the end of the Cold War. The exercise will take place in May and June of this year and will occur across the regions of Germany, Poland, and the Baltic States. Despite President Trump’s outspoken criticism of European allies, it will also be one of the largest deployments of U.S. troops to Europe in twenty-five years. The intention of the exercise is to demonstrate U.S. resolve to defend its allies and to show the deterrent ability of NATO. It will play an important part in signaling alliance commitment, testing readiness, and improving interoperability. However, at the political level, this exercise may be misguided. Such a large exercise on Russia’s borders risks both intentional and unintended escalation, perhaps through unconventional means, as was seen with Russia’s reaction to previous military exercises by blocking GPS location signals in the region. It also provides only a short term response to deeper military challenges in the Baltic region.