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Photo from earlier NATO exercise. From February to May, the Danish Defence is participating in Steadfast Defender 24, which is the largest NATO exercise in decades. Approximately 90,000 soldiers from all 31 allied nations and Sweden are involved.

By The Danish Defence Command


The NATO exercise is based on NATO’s updated defence plans. It is divided into two parts and includes a wide range of embedded elements. Geographically, it spans from the Atlantic Ocean, across the far north to the Baltic countries, continental Europe, and down to the Black Sea region.


One of the focal points of Steadfast Defender 24 is the movement of materiel and equipment and large forces from North America to reinforce the NATO alliance on European soil.


Danish Participation on Two Fronts 

The Danish Armed Forces will contribute to Steadfast Defender 24 with up to 1,200 soldiers distributed across all services. In connection with the exercise, Denmark also provides host nation support, as its location on the Baltic Sea is strategically important for rapid and seamless NATO reinforcement in Eastern Europe.


Subsequently, the North-American forces will participate in multiple exercise cycles aimed at training member countries’ ability to conduct complex military operations across nations and military domains.


“The exercise will demonstrate that the NATO alliance is capable of a transatlantic movement of forces from North America, which can be deployed in Europe, significantly enhancing NATO’s defence capability in Europe and the areas around Denmark. With our participation, we show that we stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies against external threats to NATO alliance territories,” says Brigadier Poul Ebstrup, Deputy Head of Joint Operations, Defence Command Denmark.


Focus on Strengthening Defence in the Nordic Region

In the first part of Steadfast Defender, the Danish Armed Forces will be part of Joint Warrior 24, a British-led maritime exercise in the waters west of Norway, as well as the Norwegian-led exercise Nordic Response 24, which takes place in the extreme cold of the Arctic regions of the Nordic countries.


According to current plans, the Danish Armed Forces will contribute with exercise units from the Navy, the Air Force, Special Operations Command, and various staff officers.


During the Nordic Response exercise, allied reinforcements from North America and other alliance countries will be deployed, enhancing Norway’s, Sweden’s, and Finland’s ability to deter a potential northern flank threat. This exercise provides a unique opportunity for operational cooperation with units from Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the US, contributing to Nordic integration within NATO and ultimately strengthening NATO’s defence capability in the region.


NATO emphasizes showcasing the strengths that Finland and Sweden bring to the alliance through Steadfast Defender 24.


NATO’s defence plans and large-scale exercises

All NATO exercises are defensive in nature, and this particular exercise has been in preparation for several years. Its purpose is to train NATO’s ability to execute its defence plans.


The current defence plans were adopted at the NATO summit in Vilnius in 2023 in response to an increasingly uncertain and unpredictable security situation in Europe, marking the most comprehensive plans since the end of the Cold War.


For more information about Steadfast Defender 24, you can visit NATO’s website


Learn more:


Approximately 90,000 personnel from all 31 allied nations and Sweden are participating in the NATO exercise Steadfast Defender 24.


The Danish Defence plans to participate with up to 1,200 soldiers from all branches.


In total more than 50 Naval Assets, 80 Air Platforms, and 1,100 Combat Vehicles participate i Steadfast Defender 24.


The last NATO exercises of comparable size were REFORGER in 1988 (with 125,000 participating soldiers) and TRIDENT JUNCTURE in 2018 (with 50,000 participants).