Dutch naval vessels HNLMS Johan de Witt and HNLMS Karel Doorman are leaving for northern Norway today, 19 February, to participate in Steadfast Defender. This is the largest NATO exercise since the Cold War.

Steadfast Defender consists of several sub-exercises, of which Nordic Response is one of the first. For this, some 750 Dutch soldiers join 20,000 soldiers from fourteen countries. Among other things, they train in Norway to land Marine Corps units from the sea. These are known as amphibious operations.

The joint logistics support ship HNLMS Karel Doorman and the amphibious transport ship HNLMS Johan de Witt make this possible. A large unit of marines is currently already in Norway for its annual winter training.

It total, 90,000 military personnel from all 31 NATO member states and Sweden are taking part in Steadfast Defender.

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Managing from sea

The Dutch contribution to Nordic Response falls under the command of the Maritime Battle Staff of The Netherlands Maritime Forces. This is a deployable staff that commands maritime operations from the sea. British and German soldiers now fall under that command.

The deputation comprises a total of two Dutch naval ships, one British naval ship, two NH90 maritime combat helicopters and three British Wildcat helicopters. Also involved are a specialist diving team, more than 350 Dutch marines with landing craft, 350 British marines and 120 soldiers from the German Seebataillon.

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Steadfast Defender 2024

Steadfast Defender 2024 is a NATO exercise taking place in Europe from February to May 2024. It involves a series of national and multinational exercises in which the Netherlands is participating with NATO member states and Sweden.

With Steadfast Defender, NATO is demonstrating its ability to deploy troops quickly and on a large scale. In this case, from North America to Europe. This is done in the context of a simulated conflict scenario, where Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty is triggered. NATO is thus demonstrating its ability to defend itself when a member state is attacked. Because according to Article 5, an attack on one is an attack on all.

During Steadfast Defender 2024, military personnel from the maritime, land, air, space and cyber domains will work together. The exercise covers thousands of kilometres, between the North Pole and the East Flank.

Picture by the Dutch Ministry of Defence.

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