Exercise Trident Juncture 2018, a NATO-led exercise designed to test the collective response to an armed attack against one ally, concluded in Vaernes, Norway, Nov. 7, 2018.
More than 50,000 personnel from all NATO member nations participated in Trident Juncture, along with partner nations Sweden and Finland, bringing approximately 10,000 vehicles, 250 aircraft and 70 ships from across the alliance to the largest NATO exercise since 2002.
U.S. Forces participating in the exercise included the II Marine Expeditionary Forces, the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group, and the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group.
“Trident Juncture served as a powerful deterrent against any country looking to contest the sovereignty of another,” said Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Italy. “The exercise was fundamentally aimed at maintaining peace and preventing war, but it demonstrated that if pushed, NATO is ready to fight back.”
The exercise centered on the fictional scenario of invoking NATO Article 5 to protect Norway from an invasion at its borders by inserting reinforcements by air and by amphibious landing.
“Trident Juncture allows us to improve our capability to work together at sea, defending the sea lanes, and each other if required,” said Vice Adm. Lisa Franchetti, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO. “No single nation can address today’s challenges alone, and this exercise demonstrates our combined ability and willingness to work towards the common goals of regional security and stability.”
During the exercise, distinguished visitors visited the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) including the Crown Prince of Norway Haakon.
Members of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa also attended a Trident Juncture strength demonstration in Trondheim, Norway, which consisted of a static display from 15 countries and a simulated amphibious assault.
The biggest challenge during the exercise was adverse weather conditions.
The Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) was damaged during the transit from Iceland to Norway and had to return to Iceland for repairs. The Marines aboard still participated successfully in the exercise.
“All of the Marines aboard USS Gunston Hall who were scheduled to participate were transported to Norway to participate in Exercise Trident Juncture,” said Marine Corps Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway. “The Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) and 24th MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) made the appropriate transfers of equipment among the three ships of the ESG in order to ensure that the 24th MEU would be able to meet its exercise objectives.”
Despite the challenges, Trident Juncture was ultimately a success and serves as a steady reminder of our commitment to, and the capabilities of the NATO alliance.
“The United States’ commitment to its allies, partners, and ideals—a legacy from the 5 million U.S. service members who fought in World War I—has earned and continues to earn our allies’ and partners’ trust,” said Foggo. “And this mutual trust, combined with NATO’s collective military might, has prevented a world war for more than 70 years, and hopefully, many more.”
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa\U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.
Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Nelson, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet