Courtesy of Surface SITREP, published by the Surface Navy Association (www.navysna.org).
Fifty thousand military personnel from NATO personnel and partner countries took part in Exercise Trident Juncture 2018 to test the alliance’s ability to repel an attack on a member nation. The exercise, which ran from Oct. 25 to Nov. 7, included 150 aircraft, 65 ships and 10,000 vehicles, and took place primarily in Norway. Trident Juncture, followed an “article 5” collective defense scenario. NATO’s Article 5 states that an attack on a member is an attack on the entire alliance, and the alliance will respond to defend its members.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and other NATO leaders took every opportunity to state that Trident Juncture 2018 was a defensive exercise. “NATO is a defensive Alliance, and all nations have the right to exercise their own forces, and we are exercising on NATO territory in Norway, and we exercise with our close partners, Finland and Sweden. We are transparent about what we do. This is a long time planned exercise and we have also used the NATO-Russia Council to brief Russia on the exercise, and we have invited observers from the OSCE to observe the exercise. They can talk to the soldiers, the troops participating in the exercise. They can conduct overflights and they will also be briefed on the scenario of the exercise. NATO always invites observers to our exercises. Russia has not invited international observers to any exercise since the end of the Cold War.”
“We are not in a Cold War situation, but we are exercising collective defense, because that’s the core task for NATO, is to show that we have the resolve, that we have the capabilities, that we have the will to defend all Allies.”
But, he also said that we have not witnessed a return to the Cold War. “We are not in a Cold War situation, but we are exercising collective defense, because that’s the core task for NATO, is to show that we have the resolve, that we have the capabilities, that we have the will to defend all Allies.”
Stoltenberg said the times have changed. “During the Cold War, you had two military blocs confronting each other, the Warsaw Pact and NATO. You had hundreds of thousands of combat-ready troops on both sides, along the east/west border in Europe. You don’t have anything similar to that today. “
Russia claimed the exercises were intended to intimidate and scare, although no mention was made of their own recent military drills involving 300,000 personnel, as well as Chinese troops. Speaking on state-run RT television, a former senior military official, Lt. Gen. Valery Zaparenko, said Trident Juncture is really preparation for a large-scale armed conflict in regions bordering with the Russian Federation.
While NATO’s exercise was transparent and avoided aggressive actions aimed at Russia, on Nov. 5 a Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jet conducted a high speed pass directly in front of a U.S. Navy EP-3 Aries aircraft flying in international airspace over the Black Sea. A U.S. Sixth Fleet statement said the Su-27 put the U.S. Navy aircrew at risk. The Su-27 made a second pass and blasted the EP-3 with its afterburners when it pulled away.
Minister of Defence of Norway Frank Bakke-Jensen said it made sense that Allied forces were training in the harsh weather and rugged terrain of Norway. “That’s why we have troops from the US, UK, Germany, Dutch troops, on a rotational basis, we don’t have them on a permanent basis, but they are here on a rotational basis to exercise with our troops.