Questioned by the Lusa agency about Portugal's participation in the Atlantic Alliance's large-scale exercise 'Steadfast Defender 2024', which began today, the General Staff of the Armed Forces (EMGFA) responded that 20 Army soldiers will be committed to the Poland, during April and May, “with the aim of training the projection of forces”.

In May, in Romania, Portugal will also participate, within the scope of this exercise, “in a training activity for defensive operations, through 15 soldiers from the National Force Deployed in that country, in the reinforcement of combat support capabilities and services”.

“Additionally, Portugal contributes to the carrying out of this exercise with a soldier to join the Operations planning cell in the Joint Staff of the NATO Command, in Norfolk and with an element embarked as a member of the Staff of the Commander of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1)”, is added in the response sent to Lusa, totaling 37 soldiers.

The EMGFA also recalls that Portugal currently participates with 240 soldiers from the Navy, Army and Air Force in several NATO missions, which aim at “the cohesion of the Alliance and deterrence on its eastern flank”, namely in Romania, Belgium, in the South Sea North, Baltic Sea and Mediterranean.

NATO today began large-scale military maneuvers, the largest “in decades”, which will last several months and involve around 90,000 troops from the Atlantic Alliance.

In the exercise, called 'Steadfast Defender 2024' and which will run until May, not only military personnel from the organization's 31 member states will participate but also from Sweden, which is in the accession process.

“The Alliance will demonstrate its ability to reinforce the Euro-Atlantic zone through the transatlantic deployment of forces from North America. This reinforcement will take place within the scope of a simulated scenario of emerging conflict”, declared the supreme commander of the Allied Forces in Europe (SACEUR), North American general Christopher Cavoli.

These maneuvers will take the form of a conflict scenario against an “adversary of comparable size”, according to NATO terminology (North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Western defense bloc), thus referring to Russia without naming it.

Around 50 warships, 80 aircraft and 1,100 combat vehicles of all types will participate. This is the biggest “war game” since the ‘Reforger’ exercise in 1988, in the middle of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the Atlantic Alliance.