The British Army’s 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team (16 Air Asslt BCT) has mobilised over 2,000 troops and 500 vehicles to Estonia as part of Exercise Steadfast Defender, demonstrating NATO’s capability to coordinate large-scale military operations across Europe.

Commencing their journey from Merville Barracks in Colchester, the troops utilized a combination of transport modes—road, rail, sea, and air—to cover the approximately 1,500-mile journey to Estonia.

This movement tested the brigade’s expeditionary capabilities and logistical coordination, highlighting the complexity of deploying forces across multiple borders and modes of transport.

Major Tom Joyce, the logistics planning officer, emphasized the scale and importance of this operation. “Force projection is always challenging and this has been a real test of our logistics professionals. Planning how to move the force and sustain it along the way, and then executing that efficiently, is vital so that troops, vehicles, and equipment arrive on time, ready and rested for the main event,” he explained.

The deployment includes elements from the 3 PARA Battlegroup, centred around the airborne infantry of the 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment. This group is supported by a range of units, including artillery, engineers, logisticians, medics, and signallers from 16 Air Assault BCT, along with 4 Regiment Army Air Corps Battlegroup (4 AAC BG) providing helicopter support.

A strategic point in the journey was the crossing at the Polish-Lithuanian border near the Suwalki gap, a key chokepoint between the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad and Belarus. This movement was closely coordinated with other NATO units, showcasing alliance interoperability in a strategically sensitive region.

Lance Corporal Zac Rands, of 156 Provost Company, 3 Regiment Royal Military Police, shared his experiences in a news release. “It’s been a very interesting experience, and a lot of the younger soldiers like me haven’t driven in Europe much before,” he said, highlighting the educational aspect of such deployments for newer soldiers.

The final stages of the journey involved air transport, with the majority of soldiers flying to the exercise location on RAF Voyager transport aircraft, and the brigade’s Apache attack, Wildcat reconnaissance, and Chinook support helicopters deploying separately.

Exercise Steadfast Defender 24 is part of a broader set of manoeuvres under the US Army Europe and Africa-led Exercise Swift Response, which includes 13,000 troops from 17 nations. The exercises stretch across Europe from the Baltics to the Balkans, aiming to enhance NATO’s readiness and ability to respond to threats.

Avatar photo
Lisa has a degree in Media & Communication from Glasgow Caledonian University and works with industry news, sifting through press releases in addition to moderating website comments.
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker (@guest_816564)
21 days ago

Great practice. As the solider says a lot of the young soldiers haven’t deployed much so it’s great experience for them.
There are so many new recruits starting all the time it makes training exercises vital. It allows the skills and knowledge from exercises of older more experienced soldiers to pass it on to the new ones.
I really hope whoever wins the election realises how vital the forces are and that they need to fund an increase in numbers.

Lonpfrb (@guest_816596)
21 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

The First responsibility of the nation state is for Defence…

AlexS (@guest_816801)
20 days ago

Challenger 2nd place into CAT 2024 Canadian Army tank training exercise in Riga.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_818417)
14 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

That will upset those who disrespect CR2, and think we should have bought Leo2 all those years ago.