The American Admiral visited Norway this week as part of the preparations ahead of NATO's large-scale exercise Trident Juncture this October. The exercise will take place in central and eastern parts of Norway, and an expected 35,000 soldiers from more than 20 countries are to take part. It will be the largest military exercise in Norway for decades.
"It is very important for NATO to show that it is ready to defend and deter in any geographic part of the Alliance – whether it be in North America or here in Europe. And so we bring 35,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, over 60 ships and about 130 aircraft into the exercise", says Admiral Foggo.
The Admiral is the commander of NATO's Allied Joint Force Command Naples. The command plans and conducts military operations and exercises – including Trident Juncture. Admiral Foggo is looking forward to bringing NATO troops into Norway.
"Norway is a very important member of the Alliance, strategically located in the North Atlantic. It will also give us an opportunity to train in weather that is different", he says.
"We learn how to operate on a rocky coast, which is a little more difficult for amphibious landings, and we learn how to operate in cold or foul weather. It is very important to be versatile for any military force that is going to operate anywhere in the world, like NATO could if necessary."
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Back in the 1980s, the Admiral served on board a submarine and spent two years operating in the Baltic Sea and the waters between Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
"It is extremely challenging to work inside an archipelago like that. It's the same thing here along the Norwegian coast. It's a training environment that is unmatched anywhere else in the world. We get a lot out of it, and we hope you get a lot out of it too", the Admiral says.
Exercise Trident Juncture will train NATO troops in working and operating seamlessly together. For Norway, the exercise will test the country's ability to receive and handle all the foreign troops and capacities.
Norwegian Chief of Defence, Admiral Haakon Bruun-Hanssen, says the exercise will be an opportunity for the Norwegian Armed Forces to test Norway's Total Defence Concept. The concept is Norway's civilian-military cooperation, involving the Armed Forces and a wide range of civilian departments and authorites.
"If we are able to support NATO in reacting quickly, we will increase our ability to deter and to demonstrate that our Total Defence Concept works. In this regard, Trident Juncture is the finishing touch. If we do well and show that we got what it takes, it will strenghten the credibility of Norwegian defence and NATO cooperation", Bruun-Hanssen says.
Admiral Foggo highly agrees:
"During the time that we operate together, we are interoperable. We learn how each other uses their particular equipment, we learn how to communicate, and we learn the doctrine and the language of each and every member of the Alliance in participation".
During his visit in Norway, Admiral Foggo met with the commanders of the Norwegian Armed Forces, including Chief of Defence, Admiral Haakon Bruun-Hanssen. The Trident Juncture commander has been in Norway several times and finds the cooperation between Norway and NATO "exceptional".
"I have operated outside and inside the Norwegian coast, and I find that my partners here, in the Norwegian Armed Forces, are some of the most professional members in the Alliance. It is always a pleasure to work with them", he says, adding:
"The preparations are going extremely well, we are on track. And we have the benefit of our senior NATO mentors who are with us in headquarters to provide observations, recommendations and suggestions as we move forward."