STAVANGER, Norway – After 19 months of preparation, STEADFAST DEFENDER 2021 (STDE21) command post exercise (CPX) officially kicked off in Ulm, Germany, on May 12, 2021.

Directed by the Joint Warfare Centre (JWC), the aim of the nine-day CPX is to strengthen NATO Forces’ interoperability, while testing the rapid and seamless movement of 15,000 simulated troops across European borders.

Rear Admiral Jan C. Kaack, Commander JWC, serves as the Officer Directing the Exercise (ODE) during STDE21 CPX. Approximately 300 civilian and military personnel from 18 nations are participating in the exercise. 


Rear Admiral Jan C. Kaack, Commander Joint Warfare Centre

Under the lead of Allied Joint Force Command Naples (JFC Naples), STDE21 is the flagship collective defence exercise for NATO in 2021, bringing together more than 20 NATO Allies and Partners from North America and Europe to test NATO’s readiness and military mobility.

STDE21 involves three parts and several linked exercises in addition to the CPX, including a maritime live exercise (LIVEX), supported by air units, and the land-heavy live-fire annual exercise NOBLE JUMP, scheduled to start in late May.

Deterrence, defence, dialogue

The JWC’s primary training audience during STDE21 is NATO’s Joint Support and Enabling Command (JSEC), established in 2018, and the Standing Joint Logistics Support Group (SJLSG), both located in Ulm, Germany.

Based on the synthetic Article 5 / collective defence scenario created by the JWC, the CPX will focus on the enablement and coordination of the simulated movement of NATO’s follow-on-forces and their equipment into, throughout, and from the JSEC-assigned area, as well as their sustainment.

“STDE21 is the JSEC’s first major exercise on the road to full operational capability. We train hard to maintain 360-degree approach to security,” said Lieutenant Colonel Peter Mientus, JSEC Head of Strategic Communications.

He added: “The reinforcement and sustainment of forces in Europe from across the Atlantic is vital to NATO’s efforts on deterrence, defence, and dialogue. I am proud to be part of the endaveour to improve NATO’s readiness and military mobility, together with allies and partner nations.”

Explaining the aim of the CPX, Mientus said: “Our aim is to enhance JSEC’s operational prowess utilizing a collective defence scenario with regards to movement control, security coordination, force protection, as well as liaison between Allied forces, the nations, and other stakeholders.”

For the duration of the exercise, the JWC deployed a 30-strong Exercise Control (EXCON) forward team to Ulm, including JWC’s Officer of Primary Responsibility (OPR), Commander Oliver Vanek.

Vanek said: "The uniqueness of this exercise is twofold: First, we deployed our whole EXCON forward, which gives us a significant advantage for all EXCON members to interact with the JSEC. Secondly, the delivery of a vignette-based exercise, which offers both the JWC, and the JSEC, as a young command, the unique opportunity to pause, reflect, assess and, if needed, reset in order to support the JSEC in their effort to reach full operational capability."

The exercise is ongoing under strict COVID-19 precautionary measures.





STEADFAST DEFENDER 2021 is a collective defence exercise based on an Article 5 scenario. The exercise will enhance Alliance security by maintaining NATO’s broad range of interoperability and military capabilities to deter potential adversaries and assure Allies of NATO’s ability to defend them. The geographical locations of the exercise and the scale of deployment across sea, land, air, and the range of military capabilities involved reflect NATO’s resolve to deter, and where necessary, to confront and defeat, potential aggressors.

"We train to be ready; to have operational mentality and capability."
- Lieutenant General Brice Houdet, Vice Chief of Staff, SHAPE