U.S. Navy Embarks on Trident Juncture 18 NATO Exercise
The Allies are conducting one of the largest NATO exercises in recent history.
Between October 25 and November 7, 50,000 military participants from 31 nations will conduct a defensive live exercise in the North Atlantic and Baltic Sea. One of the largest exercises ever, the NATO event, Trident Juncture 18, is meant to ensure that NATO forces “are trained, able to operate together and ready to respond to any threat from any direction,” according to a statement from the alliance.
Trident Juncture 18 will include around 150 aircraft, 65 vessels and 10,000 vehicles. NATO will conduct the exercise in central and eastern Norway, the surrounding North Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea, including Iceland, and the airspace of Finland and Sweden. The alliance will also be conducting advance activities in and around Iceland October 15-17.
Leading the exercise will be Adm. James Foggo, USN, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, U.S. Naval Forces Africa and Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Italy. At a press conference last week in Brussels, the admiral shared that Trident Juncture centers on a core theme of “the three D's.”
“NATO is a defensive alliance, Trident Juncture demonstrates our credible capability and together we deter potential adversaries,” he said. “Trident Juncture illustrates NATO’s relevance and unity, and that we are ready to defend ourselves and the territory which is contained within those 29 allied nations.” Partner nations Sweden and Finland, who are not NATO members, will also be participating in the exercise, Adm. Foggo noted, “and we are delighted about that.”
Norwegian Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Rune Jakobsen, commander of the Norwegian Joint Headquarters in Bodø, Norway, said Trident Juncture would be an important “stress-test” of national defense plans, as well as a first-hand experience of NATO’s Northern flank in challenging weather conditions for the Allies.
“Norway is a small country and our defense relies heavily on NATO’s collective defense,” Gen. Jakobsen said. “Invoking Article 5 means to be able to receive Allied forces and reinforcements, and to that we must have plans and we must rehearse the plans. That is why Trident Juncture 18 is important for us. The exercise will give us the opportunity to test, evaluate, further develop our Total Defense Concept.”
Gen. Jakobsen noted that the exercise includes a high-intensity warfighting scenario with tactical and operational activities, in which NATO is repelling an imaginary attack “from the North.”
When asked if that meant the imaginary attack comes from Russia, given the proximately of Norway, Adm. Foggo emphasized that the exercise had several messages, including to show NATO’s strength. “NATO is capable of defending and deterring any adversary,” he said. “Not anyone in particular, no particular adversary. This is a message to anyone who might conduct any kind of aggressive act leading to an Article 5 scenario inside the NATO Alliance.”
Gen. Jakobsen confirmed that the core exercise would take place more than 1,000 kilometers from the Russian border and that air operations would be up to 500 kilometers away. “So there should not be any reason for the Russians to get scared, or see this as something else than a defensive exercise,” he said. “Norway will provide a unique training opportunity for all participants: with large sea, air and land areas available for maneuver, with very high freedom of maneuver in all dimensions.”
In addition, Adm. Foggo also announced that aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman and its strike group of other ships and aircraft would be participating in the live exercise. “The U.S. Navy is demonstrating its capability because of our flexibility, our agility and our commitment to the alliance,” the admiral said. “And we have deployed the Harry S. Truman as a function of our dynamic force employment planning throughout the globe.”