WASHINGTON -- Preparations for DEFENDER-Europe 20, the largest exercise of U.S.-based military forces to Europe in more than 25 years, will begin Thursday when participating units will load vehicles, heavy equipment and materiel for rail transport and onward shipping. Equipment will originate from Fort Hood, Fort Bliss and Fort Stewart with shipping through late February.

DEFENDER-Europe 20 and its associated exercises will increase strategic readiness and interoperability by exercising the U.S. military's ability to rapidly move a large, combat-credible force of soldiers and equipment from the United States to Europe and, alongside its allies and partners, to quickly respond to a potential crisis.

Approximately 37,000 U.S., allied and partner-nation service members are expected to participate, with roughly 20,000 soldiers and 20,000 pieces of equipment deploying from the United States.

Journalists interested in more information and media opportunities should visit https://www.eur.army.mil/DefenderEurope.