The largest military exercise in Norway since the cold war is getting closer. This October more than 40,000 soldiers from some 30 countries arrive in Norway for NATO's high-visibility exercise Trident Juncture. The exercise will be led by American Admiral James Foggo, Commander of the Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, Italy.
Admiral Foggo visited Oslo and Norwegian Chief of Defence, Admiral Haakon Bruun-Hanssen. Last week, it was Mr Foggo's turn to welcome his Norwegian colleague to Naples. Trident Juncture 18 was naturally one of the main topics during the visit, and Admiral Foggo says that the preparations for the exercise are going well.
"We are still on track thanks to thorough preparations. Now we look forward to speed things up after the summer", Admiral Foggo said during a press meeting in Naples on 3 July.
10,000 vehicles, 40,000 soldiers, 130 aircraft and 70 vessels will be coming to Norway for the exercise. The first shiploads arrive in southeast Norway after the summer, and from there the materiel will be transported to the main exercise area in central and eastern Norway.
"Norway is an exceptionally great place for an exercise like this, and Norway has been a faithful member of the Alliance since its start. Trident Juncture 18 will be an excellent opportunity to test both personnel and materiel", Foggo says, adding:
"And in October–November the weather can be really rough in Norway, so we look forward to be tested in cold weather operations".
Norwegian Chief of Defence, Admiral Haakon Bruun-Hanssen, is pleased that NATO accepted Norway's offer to host Trident Juncture 18.
"We have held several similar exercises in Norway earlier and NATO allies need to learn how to handle cold weather, so we are happy that NATO wanted to hold the exercise in Norway, Mr Bruun-Hanssen said.
Testing Norway's total defence
Both Foggo and Bruun-Hanssen have background as submarine officers, and their common background has created a great relationship between the two Admirals. Now they both look forward to Trident Juncture. The exercise will be challenging both for NATO and for Norway, who will be receiving materiel and personnel from over 30 countries.
"This allows us to test our total defence concept. Some things will probably not go exactly according to plan, but we will learn from it", says Mr Bruun-Hanssen.
A sign of unity
The two Admirals point out transparency as an important aspect of the exercise. The Alliance has invited observers from all the countries in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), including Russia.
"We are transparent in the way we speak about the exercise. We have no secrets; everyone knows when the exercise starts, and when it ends", Foggo says.
Equally important, Trident Juncture will be showing how the countries of NATO stand together.
"This is an exercise where all 29 member countries participate. It is hard to find a clearer sign of unity than that", says Admiral Bruun-Hanssen.