NATO launches biggest military exercise in Europe since Cold War

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.

Visiting the Vikings

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.

Clip of the Norwegian Defense Ministry with an invitation to the “Trident Juncture 2018” drill
In addition, the goal is to practice the NATO Allied Response Force operations. “As part of the exercises, the 5,000-strong front-line combat group, the Combined Group of Highest Readiness, will operate,” the US Department of Defense site quoted Foggo as saying. It is planned that the Combined NATO grouping of the highest efficiency should be ready for combat deployment in 48 hours.

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.

The “Harry Truman” aircraft carrier can carry up to 90 combat aircraft and helicopters. Photo by U.S. Navy
In total, about 50,000 soldiers, 150 airplanes and helicopters, 70 warships from 31 countries will take part in the drill here.

Why Norway?

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.

Russian soldiers learning to fight in the Far North. Photo: Russian Defense Ministry
The neighboring neutral countries like Sweden and Finland also expressed their concern over the sharp increase in Russia’s military activity near its borders. Russians are building new and increasing old military bases in the Arctic, the Russian military aviation has repeatedly been involved in incidents with aircraft of the Scandinavian countries.
Territorial claims in the Arctic. Infographics:

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.

Norwegian soldiers during the winter exercise. Photo: Norwegian Ministry of Defense
Norway, like Finland, maintains a conscription army. Several years ago, it was the first in Europe to launch conscription for women.

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.

Not only North

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.

Residents of Bialystok meeting with American soldiers on an armored personnel carrier “Stryker” during the Atlantic Resolve exercise in spring 2015.
Also in November, NATO will hold an exercise in virtual space warfare – “Cyber ​​Coalition”, with the center at the NATO Cyber ​​Defense Joint Center in Tallinn.
Alyaksandr Helaheyeu,
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