NATO’s biggest deployments since the Cold War see the UK provide 20,000 personnel

In an announcement at Lancaster House, Defense Secretary Grant Shapps MP outlined the UK’s commitment to strengthening NATO’s strength by deploying 20,000 personnel from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force.

The move comes in response to an evolving geopolitical landscape characterized by recent RAF strikes and a support package for her Ukraine.

Shapps MP is imperative for the UK to adapt to a new era of global challenges. As part of targeted Royal Air Force strikes in Yemen and an aid package to Ukraine, Shapps revealed plans for a military deployment in the first half of 2024.

Dubbed Exercise Steadfast Defender 24, the deployment will see 20,000 personnel from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force join forces with 31 NATO allies and Sweden. The exercises, which span multiple countries, coincide with NATO’s 75th anniversary, making it one of the alliance’s biggest deployments since the end of the Cold War.

Shapps emphasized the need to deter adversaries, lead allies and defend the nation during geopolitical changes. He stated, “Today, our adversaries are aggressively rebuilding their barriers. Old enemies are revived. The battle lines are redrawn. Tanks are literally on the lawn of Ukraine. And the foundations of the world order are being shaken to their core. We are at a crossroads.”

The deployment includes eight Royal Navy warships and submarines, a Carrier Strike Group centered around a Queen Elizabeth -class aircraft carrier and an allied amphibious task force of over 400 Royal Marine commandos in the Arctic Circle.

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As a key member of NATO, the UK will be led to ensure high levels of readiness across its fleet and troops, while actively participating in NATO’s operations in Eastern Europe, according to GlobalData’s information on UK Defense Market 2023-2028.

The British Army, contributing 16,000 troops, will conduct live-fire manoeuvres, parachute jumps, joint helicopter forces and deploy Army Special Operations Forces. This aims to test and enhance the readiness of UK land forces to defend NATO and enhance interoperability with allied armed forces.

The Royal Air Force will showcase its capabilities, including F35B Lightning attack aircraft and Poseidon P8 surveillance aircraft. The RAF’s participation will focus on simulated conflict scenarios against close adversaries, demonstrating its ability to defend against evolving threats.

This move is in line with the commitment made at the 2023 NATO summit in Vilnius, further strengthening the coalition between the UK and its NATO allies. As Shapps concluded, “I can announce today that the UK will send around 20,000 people to take part in one of the biggest NATO deployments since the end of the Cold War. Exercise Steadfast Defender will see our military join forces with counterparts from 30 NATO countries and Sweden, providing vital reassurance against Putin’s threat.”

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In other NATO developments this year, NATO signed a $5.6 billion deal with COMLOG, a joint venture between Raytheon and MBDA, to acquire 1,000 Patriot Guidance Enhanced Missiles (GEM-Ts) under the European Sky Shield Initiative .

GEM-T missiles, capable of intercepting ballistic missiles, cruise ships and enemy aircraft, will strengthen Europe’s air defenses. Germany, the Netherlands, Romania and Spain, the beneficiaries of this agreement, contribute to the European Sky Shield Initiative.

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