NEWS | March 12, 2021

Exercise Austere Challenge Demonstrates Crisis Readiness

By EUCOM Public Affairs

In response to a fictional scenario, more than 900 military and civilian personnel came together to conduct exercise Austere Challenge 2021 (AC21) this week.

Leadership, strategists, planners and operators of U.S. European Command, including components, conducted the week-long command post exercise virtually while keeping for health protection measures in place.

Austere Challenge 21 is part of an ongoing exercise series that has taken place since the 1990s and focuses on training combatant command coordination, command and control and the integration of capabilities and functions across USEUCOM’s headquarters, its component commands and U.S. interagency. The exercise is linked globally to another U.S. combatant command exercise, U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Space Command’s Exercise Global Lightning 2021.

With the first iteration of the Austere Challenge series conducted in October of 2020, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John C. Boyd, USEUCOM's director of exercises and assessments offered that "this iteration of the Austere Challenge 2021 exercise series allowed us to further hone the lessons learned from past training events, resulting in better procedures for our team and our NATO partners who may have to join us in responding to crises," Boyd went on to say. “Exercises like this one are a valuable tool for us to sharpen the skills necessary to support security and stability across the region."

Leadership throughout the exercise acknowledged the necessity to conduct exercises like AC21 in order to prepare ready forces, validate strategic access, exercise deterrence principles, and integrate and synchronize with the NATO alliance. While the pandemic forced USEUCOM to modify or cancel a variety of exercises last year, training and partnership building continue with robust health protection measures in place.

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 more than 64,000 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