Tens of thousands of soldiers and thousands of military equipment units are being gathered in Norway these days to participate in the exercises of the North Atlantic Alliance. The drill will last until 7 November.
The goal of the “Trident Juncture 2018” exercise is to have a deterrent effect and prepare to defend “against any threat coming from any direction and at any time,” said the drill commander, American Admiral James Foggo.
The scenario involves joint action in case of Norway’s sovereignty violation. However, in addition to the official allies, the forces of neutral Sweden and Finland, as well as the Ukrainian military, will also take part in the exercise.
The main maneuvers of the land, air and sea armada began on October 25, but the preliminary stage of the drill has already started off the coast of Iceland and in the north of Norway. It will cover the landing of the US Marine Corps aircraft from the atomic aircraft carrier “Harry Truman” — it is the first time since 1989 that the American aircraft carrier will be taking part in NATO drill.
In addition to Poland and the Baltic countries, Norway is the only NATO member country that has a land border with Russia. Oslo and Moscow also have a large maritime boundary beyond the Arctic Circle, which has been a subject of controversy for a long time. Both sides are thinking about the reserves of oil and natural gas that may be found in the Arctic shelf.
Since the beginning of the undeclared war of Russia against Ukraine, Finland and Sweden began to actively discuss joining NATO, and Norway announced that it would give about $ 20 billion to reorganize and rearm its army.
“We cannot rule out the possibility that Russia will consider the use of military force as a possible tool in the Polar Region. Also, even though a potential crisis is unlikely to arise in the immediate vicinity of Norway, the conflict that will start in another region may directly affect us,” says the Norwegian Army’s long-term development plan presented in 2016.
Norway’s defense budget grew from $ 5.8 billion in 2014 to $ 6.5 billion in 2018 and there are plans to increase it further. The budget of the Belarusian Ministry of Defense has been around $ 0.5 billion for many years.
In summer, the “Saber Strike” drill was held in Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, in which 18,000 soldiers from 19 NATO countries took part, and in November, “Anaconda” will be held in Poland with approximately 10,000 soldiers from 10 countries.