NATO forces rolled through Estonia as part of Exercise Steadfast Defender 24.

Exercise Steadfast Defender 2024 sees NATO troops take part in a series of 11 exercises over six months, from the Mediterranean to the Arctic. The exercise is divided into two main phases, each emphasising different aspects of NATO’s capabilities.

The first phase focuses on transatlantic reinforcement. This phase includes complex maritime live exercises and amphibious assault training conducted in the North Atlantic and Arctic seas. The second phase showcases multi-domain exercises across Europe, with a particular focus on the rapid deployment of troops and equipment across allied borders.

NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Estonia tweeted about the manoeuvres of British and allied tank units.

Challenger 2 tanks of the Royal Tank Regiment and Warrior infantry fighting vehicles of the Mercian Regiment, form one of the three Battle Groups making up 12th Armoured Brigade Combat Team.

They were recently put through their first paces on Exercise Immediate Response, which took place in the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area near Szczecin, as one component of Exercise Steadfast Defender 2024.

The 12th Armoured Brigade Combat Team has deployed approximately 2,500 troops and 800 vehicles as part of the largest such exercise in four decades, which, say the British Army, is designed to strengthen NATO’s unwavering commitment to defend the Alliance’s shared values.

Speaking in Poland recently, Lieutenant Colonel Grant Brown, Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, The Mercian Regiment said:

“We really don’t get much opportunity to exercise with other nations on this scale very often, so to do this delivers an awful lot of combat power. The benefits are learning how other nations operate, what their capabilities are. The main takeaway for me is that we have proved to our ourselves, our allies and our adversaries that we can put a significant amount of firepower into the field at short notice.”

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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George Amery
George Amery (@guest_822394)
1 month ago

Hi folks hope all is well.
Great to see this and demonstrating the magnificent professionalism of UK military.
I note the numbers do appear quite low. 2,500 troops are deployed along with their vehicles. Is this the largest component of the exercise? Do we know numbers of others attending from the nations? I get the impression we are providing the largest component of the exercise. Is this correct?
Cheers
George

Jim
Jim (@guest_822405)
1 month ago
Reply to  George Amery

Hi George, probably not a good idea for us to deploy division sized + forces on Russia boarder just a 1 hour drive from its second biggest city at a time of heightened tension. This is just one of a series of deployment including 7th light brigade that has sent 20,000 british soldiers to Europe this summer. NATO forces are so large now then even if we just deployed 10% of personnel some 300,000 men to the boarder we would out number the entire regular Russian army at the start of the war with Ukraine. NATO is so close now… Read more »

George Amery
George Amery (@guest_822445)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Cheers Jim, yes that makes sense. I’d knew I’d get a good answer from you experts as per!
George

Jacko
Jacko (@guest_822403)
1 month ago

They are certainly having a European tour😂👍

Mr Bell
Mr Bell (@guest_822448)
1 month ago

The army really needs to secure funding and political will to upgrade all the remaining available C2s to the C3 standard and whilst they are at it fit them all with trophy APS from the word go, rather than fitted for but not with fiasco and only 67 active sets being purchased. It really makes my blood boil. Sending troops into any combat zone now in any armoured vehicle without an APS is akin to the snatch land rovers in Afghan. Lives will be lost.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_822496)
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Absolutely Mr Bell, why scrounge on this essential defensive protection for front line tanks. There’s only 148 and maybe have a few more for spares. Makes you wonder what’s going or not on the Ajax and Boxer too.

Last edited 1 month ago by Quentin D63
Jonno
Jonno (@guest_823552)
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

We should start making an upgraded series of Ch 3 Hulls with an aim to eventually make 10 per month. (That is 10% of the Russians with their T90’s.)This is essential in my mind and they should upgrade the power plant and do whatever to improve ground clearance and track width; eventually you end up with a Ch4.
In war you cant stand still.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_822458)
1 month ago

Our Tanks always look the part, to my eye.

Jim
Jim (@guest_822464)
1 month ago

I’m always amazed how we manage to slag off our armoured forces especially our tanks. The Chieftain, challenger 1 and challenger 2 have all be slagged off multiple times yet always seem to over perform in combat.

The rest of our armoured formations look pretty good as well and the kit from Boxer, Ajax and Archer that’s all arriving is top class backed by Apache E and M270 with PrSM all looks pretty world class compared to almost anyone else.

Sam
Sam (@guest_822487)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

The issue with Ajax is the mess of the procurement and Boxer the speed of construction.

The actual kit once we have it might end up being very good, but the various delays have led to us still having the use the absolutely ancient Bulldog for example.

Dern
Dern (@guest_822504)
1 month ago
Reply to  Sam

Even when Ajax is fully in service, Bulldog will continue.
Ajax is coming in the following variants:
Ajax- Replaces Scimitar
Ares- Replaces Spartan
Athena- Replaces Sultan
Apollo/Argus- Replace Sampson
So in CR2 and Recce Regiments the Bulldog will soldier on in things like the Ambulance Role

Sam
Sam (@guest_822516)
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

They’re ordering Boxer Ambulances.

Assume those will replace Bulldog.

Dern
Dern (@guest_822522)
1 month ago
Reply to  Sam

No, they won’t. We’re ordering 60 Boxer Ambulances.
Each Boxer Infantry Battalion will have 6 Ambulances (2 in the RAP and 1 in each of the Rifle Coys and Maneuver support Coy) across 5 Boxer Battalions that’s 30 Ambulances.
Leaving another 30 to equip the 2 Armoured Medical Regiments, 2 Challenger Regiments, and 4 Ajax Regiments, which is not enough.

That means, realistically, Boxer Ambulance will equip the 5 Mechanised Infantry Battalions, and 2 Armoured Medical Regiments, with a small reserve, while Ajax and Challenger Regiments continue to be supported by 432 in the ambulance role.

Sam
Sam (@guest_822525)
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Those only the initial order mate. It’s widely reported they’re looking at over a 1000 Boxers eventually:

Dern
Dern (@guest_822526)
1 month ago
Reply to  Sam

“Widely reported” is not “Orders that are funded.” As it stand the Army has not bought enough ambulances to replace 432 in the role, and has no costed plans to do so.

Sam
Sam (@guest_822530)
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Come on. It’s very clearly the intention.

Dern
Dern (@guest_822536)
1 month ago
Reply to  Sam

The intention was also to have 2 Strike Brigades on Boxer and 2 Armoured Infantry Brigades on Warrior CSP.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_822550)
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

It will be interesting what additions are made, Graham and I have pondered this before as there are also the Ajax variants.

My understanding of the 1,000 plus is that the money has been “allocated” which, yes, is in the future and not the same as fully funded now.
And if the options for hundreds more to take us over the 1,000 number transpire, what units will actually get them? Hope for more mechanization in the Infantry beyond whatever LPM they choose?

Given the glacial place of build, the 432s will be 80 years old!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_822551)
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

What will be the allocation in the 2 Regs?
Pitifully few to share between 2 unless only partially equipped with single Sqns.
I recall you shared an Internal ORBAT once.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_822517)
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Surely Boxer ambulance will replace Bulldog ambulance in those units?

Dern
Dern (@guest_822523)
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

See above, the numbers don’t work.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_822785)
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Very true as far as Tranche 1 and 2 are concerned. Let’s hope we hear about Tr3 the other side of the Election, and that that includes the additional ambulances required.

Jacko
Jacko (@guest_822512)
1 month ago
Reply to  Sam

the 432 still does the job it was made for even now.after all it is only a steel box on tracks and is perfect for the likes of engineer sections etc👍

James Hogan
James Hogan (@guest_823696)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

I was reading thta the Army was really concerned about how Chieftain fared in the Idan Iraq war against the Russian tanks operated by Iraq

John
John (@guest_822492)
1 month ago

Watching the “shenanigans” of Putin and Co over the past few years has made me realise the need for a BAOR type of forward deployment again. Not just equipment but boots. Poland and the Baltic states are the obvious locations to me. We frankly should have stayed in Germany. The so called peace dividend was a clear sign to Russia that we were going soft. Same with naval activity, silly aircraft carriers when subs, destroyers and frigates are more use and the Atlantic is our lake, not the Pacrim. Now watch the triggered 😏

Dern
Dern (@guest_822505)
1 month ago
Reply to  John

Everyone I knew was saying we should stay in Germany when the final drawdown happened. Granted; we where all serving BFG/BAOR veterans so maybe slightly biased. But we all said it was driven by a desire to spend UK goverment money in the UK rather than in Germany, at the cost of spending a fortune building base infrastructure in Salisbury for the BFG to pull back to, and that we’d be back in Europe within 10 years. We hadn’t even finished withdrawing BFG when we had to stand up EFP forces in Estonia. You are wrong about Carriers, they are… Read more »

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_822494)
1 month ago

Looks like something heavier than the usual GPMG is being mounted on the turret top maybe a 12.5mm mg? With some anti drone tech?

Aaron L
Aaron L (@guest_822588)
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

It’s a RWS with the GPMG

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_822773)
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Think its a L37A2 GPMG. We have never fitted anything more substantial at the loaders hatch in the anti-air/anti-dismounted infantry role. There is a major army initiative looking at anti-drone warfare; it won’t necessarily conclude that every AFV should be fitted with a better anti-air weapon.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_822817)
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Okay, thanks both. It just looked a bigger mount than normal that could take something heavier. Hopefully the nice new CR3s will have some anti-drone capacity.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_823001)
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

As I said, I doubt the army’s counter-drone strategy will dictate that every AFV (incl CR3) will be fitted with a better anti-air weapon than the Loader’s MG. The CR3 design has been frozen and they are being built now.