Is NATO Mobilizing 90,000 Troops for War With Russia? What to Know

Is NATO Mobilizing 90,000 Troops for War With Russia? What to Know

NATO on Thursday announced next week’s launch of its largest military exercise in more than 35 years. Around 90,000 military personnel will participate in what an alliance official called “a simulated emerging conflict scenario.”

The exercise has led to speculation by some social media users that NATO could be setting the stage for a potential conflict with Russia in the future. Speaking on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ InfoWars podcast, conservative activist Jack Posobiec said NATO’s wording of “a simulated emerging conflict scenario against a near-peer adversary” was “interagency speak for it’s going to be a war game with Russia.”

While Russia was not named in the announcement, Reuters reported an alliance document identified Russia “as the most significant and direct threat to NATO members’ security.”

U.S. Army General Christopher Cavoli, who serves as supreme allied commander Europe for the alliance, spoke about the operation dubbed “Steadfast Defender 2024” during a press conference. He said approximately 90,000 troops will join the operation that will begin next week and run through May.

Troops drive armored vehicles in a NATO joint military exercise at the Novo Selo military ground in northwestern Bulgaria on September 26, 2023. On Thursday, NATO announced it will soon hold a large military exercise involving 90,000 troops.
Photo by NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP via Getty Image
NATO did not identify any specific threats that would have instigated the exercise and provided no indication of any looming military maneuvers by Russia against the bloc. Reuters noted that Poland, which shares a border with Russia, would be the site for part of the exercise, while other drill locations will be Baltic states that are “most at risk from a potential Russian attack,” as well as Germany, Norway and Romania.

Newsweek reached out to NATO and the Russian Ministry of Defense via email on Thursday for comment.

Dutch Admiral Rob Bauer, chairman of the NATO Military Committee, said the 90,000 soldiers represent “a record number of troops that we can bring to bear and have an exercise within that size, across the alliance, across the ocean from the U.S. to Europe.”

That troops number is also the largest used for a NATO military exercise since the Cold War, when 125,000 soldiers participated in a 1988 exercise called “Reforger.”

In addition to the personnel, NATO will use more than 50 ships, more than 80 fighter jets, helicopters and drones, as well as 1,100 combat vehicles, including 133 tanks.

“For the first time in 30 years, we have the strategy—deterrence and defense of the Euro-Atlantic area—and we have the plans to make the Alliance fit for the purpose of collective territorial defense,” Cavoli said. “We are now in the process of making our plans executable. This means making sure we have the force commitments, command and control arrangements, and the enablement our plans require.”

He added: “Steadfast Defender 2024 will be a clear demonstration of our unity, strength, and determination to protect each other, our values and the rules based international order.”

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