The US is plotting one of its largest European military exercises since the Cold War

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A massive military exercise in Europe involving 20,000 U.S.-based troops will kick off in February of next year, the Army officially announced on Monday.

Approximately 37,000 total service members will participate in Defender Europe 2020, including 20,000 U.S. troops and additional personnel from 18 other countries. Lt. Gen. Chris Cavoli, commander of U.S. Army Europe, told Defense News it will be the third largest exercise in Europe since the Cold War.


"Defender Europe 2020 is a great opportunity to demonstrate the U.S. Army's unmatched ability to rapidly project forces across the globe while operating alongside our allies and partners in multiple contested domains," Army Deputy Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Charles Flynn, said in the Army's press release.

The exercise is scheduled for April to May 2020, according to a separate press release; personnel and equipment will be moving from February through July 2020. It will span across 10 countries. The hope is to demonstrate the Army's "ability to deploy large units to Europe...for the deterrence of an aggressive Russia," as Defense News reports.

According to the release, a U.S. Army division headquarters, three armored brigade combat teams, a fires brigade, and a sustainment brigade will be participating, alongside Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps service members.

Cavoli said, per Defense News, that the exercise will "test the Army's ability to deliver a force" from the U.S. "to operational areas throughout Europe from Germany to Poland to the Baltic States and other Eastern European nations, Nordic countries and even Georgia."

Monday's announcement comes just one year after 50,000 U.S. and NATO troops — along with 65 ships, 10,000 vehicles, and 150 aircraft — came together for the biggest Trident Juncture exercise in almost three decades and NATO's largest since the end of the Cold War.

The Army has also been planning a similar exercise in the Indo-Pacific that will see 5,000 to 10,000 soldiers deploy, according to Army Times.

A UH-60 Black Hawk departs from The Rock while conducting Medevac 101 training with members of the 386th Expeditionary Medical Group, Feb. 16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys)

A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.

At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.

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The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.

Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."

Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.

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The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.

Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.

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An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps

"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."

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(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.

At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.

Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.

"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."

She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."

It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.

The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.

But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.

The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.

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