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Exercise Cold Response cancelled. Reduced Defender Europe. Coronavirus fear strikes (v2)

(B2) The threat of coronavirus continues to strike in the various European armed forces. The Norwegian authorities have announced, Wednesday (March 11), put an end to the Cold Response 20 exercise which was to mobilize 15.000 soldiers from ten countries (1) on their soil until March 19. This, " after extensive review and discussions with allied and partner participants ».

(credit: MOD Norway)

The discovery of suspicious cases – at least one Norwegian soldier tested positive on March 5 – and the quarantine of around 850 soldiers from the Skjold barracks, in the north of the country, had begun to cast doubt on the holding of this exercise. The decision of certain countries such as Finland not to send their troops there (announced on March 8 in a communicated), like the American decision to consign its forces at home, sounded the death knell for the exercise.

Defender Europe exercise put on hold

Same cause, same effect. Exercise Defend Europe 20, which has already started, has been put on hold. The US command in Europe announced its decision to " reduce the number of American participants ". " We take the coronavirus outbreak seriously and are confident that by making this important decision, we will continue to do our part to prevent the spread of the virus “, indicates the head of the US forces in Europe (EUCOM) in a communicated.

However, this exercise was to be one of the most important ever undertaken by the Allies. More than 35.000 soldiers were normally expected to participate. It was to include several major phases intended to demonstrate to its Russian neighbor both the relevance of the Allied system and its desire to defend the borders of the Alliance as well as its neighbors. Part of the exercise was to take place not far from the Kaliningrad enclave. And others in Georgia.

US military travel ban

In the wake of Donald Trump's announcement, the Pentagon announced on Wednesday (March 11) drastic measures to limit the movement of American military personnel, whether abroad or within American territory. Staff members coming from one of the countries considered at risk by the United States (2) are asked to remain confined at home.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde, with RM)

  1. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, UK, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, France and USA.
  2. All Schengen countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Netherlands , Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and Vatican) + the most affected countries (China, South Korea, Iran). Read our watch diary of March 13, 2020.

Updated March 13 in the morning, with the last § (US information)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).