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DEFENDER 2020 exercise: first British ship docks in Antwerp

On Monday 3 February at around 4.30 am, the first English ship of the 104th Logistic Support Brigade docked in the port of Antwerp as part of the American exercise Defender 2020. Onboard were numerous logistics vehicles and equipment.

DEFENDER 2020 exercise first British ship docks in Antwerp The first British ship of the 104th Logistic Support Brigade docked in the port of Antwerp (Picture source: Belgian MoD)

This is the start of a large-scale exercise that will last three months. Defender 2020 (Dynamic Employment of Forces to Europe for NATO Deterrence and Enhanced Readiness) is the largest deployment of US ground troops to Europe in 25 years. Twenty thousand people will take part in the exercise and will transit through Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Poland. The first convoys to Germany will start on the evening of Tuesday, February 4.

For Belgium, this represents a real coordination exercise. In addition to the military command of the province of Antwerp, a number of units such as the 29 Logistics Battalion, the 2 Medical Intervention Element, the Motorised Brigade units (Force Protection), the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Service (SEDEE), the military police and the Movement Control Group (MCG) are responsible for disembarkation, security and transport.

This support comes under NATO's Host Nation Support mission, through which Belgium is committed to providing logistical support to Allied forces transiting through Belgian territory.