Soldiers walk through a poppy field

Thousands of British troops support NATO in Europe

British forces will complete a series of planned exercises across Europe this month one of the largest deployments since the Cold War

The exercises this month will see tanks, tracked artillery guns and armoured fighting vehicles deploy across Europe from Finland to North Macedonia, demonstrating British forces’ ability to integrate with NATO allies and preserve peace across the continent.

The UK Armed Forces will work alongside thousands of troops from NATO allies and JEF (Joint Expeditionary Force) partners in the defensive exercises. NATO is a defensive alliance, designed to preserve peace, prevent conflict and protect its people; these exercises are part of ensuring the alliance is prepared to respond to any threat from any direction.

Exercise Arrow

Earlier this month the British Army deployed to Finland to take part in Exercise Arrow.

The exercise has improved the ability of UK and Finnish troops to work alongside each other as part of the Joint Expeditionary Force, an 8 year military alliance of 10 ‘like-minded’ nations.

British forces integrated alongside Finnish troops this month on Exercise ARROW.

Exercise Defender

Exercise Defender is a US-led NATO exercise which sees 1,000 British soldiers alongside troops from 11 partner nations including Poland and Denmark. The exercise involves tanks and other armoured vehicles deploying from the NATO Forward Holding Base in Sennelager, Germany.

“Exercise Steadfast Defender will test NATO’s readiness and military mobility with forces deploying across land and sea, all the way from North America to the Black Sea region and off the coast of Portugal,”

NATO Secretary General

British forces will exercise across Poland, integrating with forces from across the alliance to put NATO’s international communication and collaboration to the test. The exercise will strengthen our relationships with NATO allies across the continent and Atlantic.

Exercise Swift Response

Exercise Swift Response is part of a US-led, annual exercise known as Defender Europe. Held across 16 European countries, it is designed to showcase the ability of NATO to carry out large ground combat operations in support of its members and allies.

The purpose is to present combat credible Army forces in Europe and Africa and enhance readiness by building airborne operations with Allies and partners.

Soldiers load up into the back of a Chinook helicopter
Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment load onto the back of a Chinook during Exercise Swift Response 2022
British forces from across 16 Air Assault Brigade have deployed to North Macedonia on Ex SWIFT RESPONSE, an annual NATO exercise designed to strengthen military integration across the alliance.
CH47 Chinook helicopters from the Royal Air Force have deployed to North Macedonia as part of 16 Air Assault Brigade.

Exercise Hedgehog

Exercise Hedgehog is an Estonian-led NATO exercise that will see troops from the Royal Welsh Battlegroup and the Royal Tank Regiment exercising on the Estonia-Latvia border alongside 18,000 NATO troops. The exercise includes French and Danish forces, who are part of the British-led NATO battlegroup permanently deployed to Estonia as part of Op CABRIT.

A wide range of units from the Field Army will be involved, from airborne forces, to helicopters and armoured forces, which will be supported by artillery, electronic warfare, air defence, surveillance drones, and engineers.

British tanks are in Estonia on Operation Cabrit as part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence

Key international partnerships

These exercises showcase the scale and significance of the UK Armed Forces’ contribution to the security of Europe and North Atlantic; they highlight the continued importance of the leadership role which the UK plays as a member of NATO and the JEF (Joint Expeditionary Force).

In addition to the Army’s programme, the UK will deploy a major headquarters to the Baltic region, in support of the JEF.

The UK is the framework nation for the JEF, a coalition of like-minded partners, able to respond rapidly to crises in the High North, North Atlantic, Baltic Sea region and further afield.

See how else the UK Armed Forces are contributing to NATO:

Find out where else the UK Armed Forces are deployed here👇

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