More than 2,600 paratroopers from 11 nations completed a series of three airborne forcible entry operations during the largest U.S. and NATO annual exercise in Europe in recent days.

The Swift Response 2021 exercise involved three brigade jumps with U.S. paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and the 173rd Airborne Brigade out of Vicenza, Italy.

Paratroopers from the United Kingdom, Poland, Germany, Romania and other NATO allies also participated.

A total of 7,000 paratroopers supported the exercise both in the United States and Europe as part of the preparations and follow on missions.

Range time for the soldiers, including live fires and other training missions, continued in Europe this week.

Swift Response 21 is part of the larger umbrella exercise called Defender Europe 2021.

Defender Europe involves more than 28,000 troops from 26 nations. The soldiers are conducting operations in 30 training areas across a dozen countries.

The exercise’s limits span from Estonia to Morocco — all part of U.S. Army Europe and Africa Command’s area of operations.

The airborne portions this week were the opening salvo after months of preparation that included equipment shipments, pre-staging of supplies and various unit rehearsals.

Previous exercises included logistics over the shore, movements in Albania and rocket live fires in Estonia.

Follow-on exercises will include live fires in Bosnia and Herzegovina under Immediate Response 21.

The same exercise will include light infantry battalion maneuvers in North Macedonia.

Missile defense live fires are scheduled for next week.

More exercises are planned later in May and early June in Romania and Bulgaria.

A bilateral exercise with security partners in Morocco is the final event of Defender Europe and is scheduled for mid-June.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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