NATO Partners Kick Off ‘Formidable Shield’ Exercise


By C. Todd Lopez

Exercise Formidable Shield, which kicks off Monday, is expected to showcase the strength of the NATO alliance and its commitment to the defense of Europe, the deputy Pentagon press secretary said. 

“The U.S. 6th Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO will kick off the biennial Exercise Formidable Shield 2023 next week,” said Sabrina Singh during a briefing at the Pentagon. “This three-week exercise demonstrates the unprecedented cohesion of the NATO alliance, our unmatched capacity and capability, and our combined commitment to deterrence and defense of the Euro-Atlantic area and the High North.” 

The exercise, which runs May 8-26, takes place on odd-numbered years. This year, the event will involve 13 NATO allied and partner nations, more than 20 ships, and 35 aircraft, including the F-35. 

“This long-planned exercise encompasses live-fire rehearsal events in a multidomain environment against subsonic, supersonic and ballistic targets,” Singh said. 

About 4,000 personnel from across NATO are expected to participate. 

Formidable Shield demonstrates allied interoperability in a live-fire joint and combined integrated air and missile defense environment using NATO command and control structures. 

Singh also discussed the pending deployment of 1,500 U.S. military personnel to provide assistance at the U.S. border, which was requested by the Department of Homeland Security late last month and approved Tuesday by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III. 

“As you know, this is a 90-day, temporary deployment of our military personnel at the border,” Singh said. “They will not be conducting any law enforcement activities. Their role and responsibility will really remain back-of-house, including data entry and helping with any [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] capability and monitoring.” 

Right now, Singh said, the military services are notifying those units that will participate in border operations, and she said the department is expecting their arrival by May 10. She also emphasized that those military personnel are not expected to be interacting with migrants at the border. 

“The intention is not for them to be interacting with migrants, for that, that would be more of a DHS role,” she said. 

While the deployment to the border is temporary and expected to last for just 90 days, Singh said if DHS were to ask for more assistance or for an extension of assistance already approved, the department would consider that. 

“We would certainly review that option and haven’t ruled anything off the table,” she said. “But for right now, that deployment is just for those 90 days.” 

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