STUTTGART, Germany – U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) leaders, strategists, planners and operators joined forces with their NATO counterparts in exercise Austere Challenge 2021 (AC21) to practice a coordinated response to a fictional major crisis this week.
While the exercise was conducted virtually to protect the health of the participants and our communities from COVID-19 more than 4,000 military and civilian personnel participated. The exercise brought together USEUCOM and its components who joined Joint Forces Command-Brunssum and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO for the weeklong, computer-based, biannual command post exercise, which culminated today.
"We are looking forward to drawing on the lessons learned we have from this exercise as we prepare for future activities together," said German Gen. Jörg Vollmer, commander of Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum.
AC21 is part of an exercise series planned and executed since the 1990s and focused upon training combatant command coordination, command and control and the integration of capabilities and functions across USEUCOM’s headquarters, its component commands, U.S. interagency and NATO. The exercise was linked globally to other U.S. combatant command exercises, including U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Space Command’s Exercise Global Lightning 2021 and U.S. Transportation Command’s Turbo Challenge 2021.
“Exercises like AC21 prepare the USEUCOM staff to respond to crises in a timely and well-coordinated manner with our NATO Allies, which ultimately supports regional stability and security,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John C. Boyd, USEUCOM’s director of training and exercises.
While the ongoing pandemic forced a variety of USEUCOM exercises to be modified or canceled this year, training and partnership-building has carried on. “We remain postured and ready to support NATO against any enemy or threat – be it a military crisis or an invisible virus,” Boyd added. “Together on innumerable instances, the U.S. and NATO have demonstrated a strong, unbreakable working relationship to counter any threat to the alliance. AC21 is yet another example of the strength and solidarity of the NATO alliance and USEUCOM’s contributions to Europe’s collective defense.”
U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) is responsible for U.S. military operations across Europe, portions of Asia and the Middle East, the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean. USEUCOM is comprised of approximately 72,000 military and civilian personnel and works closely with NATO Allies and partners. The command is one of two U.S. forward-deployed geographic combatant commands headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. For more information about USEUCOM, visit https://www.eucom.mil/.