The execution phase of exercise TRIDENT JUNCTURE 16 (TRJE16) was conducted from 24 October to 2 November in various locations across Europe, including the Joint Warfare Centre (JWC) in Stavanger, Norway and Joint Force Command Naples (JFC Naples) in Naples, Italy, as well as on-board NATO ship FS Tonnerre afloat. During the exercise, 27 nations, both NATO and non-NATO, were present at the JWC and 57 participating units and organizations were represented.
TRJE16 was an Allied Command Transformation (ACT) sponsored Command Post Exercise directed by Polish Army Major General Andrzej Reudowicz, Commander JWC. It certified JFC Naples to assume command of the 2017 NATO Response Force (NRF) together with its Component Commands, which included Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), Allied Air Command (AIRCOM), NATO Special Operations HQ (NSHQ) and the Joint Logistics Support Group (JLSG).
Overall, TRJE16 aimed to demonstrate NATO's ability to plan and execute a Major Joint Operation across the conventional, unconventional and hybrid spectrum of warfare based on the fictitious SKOLKAN training scenario, which provides a complex Article 5 Collective Defence setting. During the exercise, the Training Audience was challenged with hundreds of injects as part of the Main Events List/Main Incidents List (MEL/MIL) scripted material.
"With afforded freedom from JFC Naples for the execution phase the exercise design was able to maintain a broad focus across throughout the duration of the exercise. This ‘Freedom of Movement’ contributed to establishing and maintaining an environment that presented constant challenges to both the Primary and Secondary Training Audiences," said Canadian Army Lieutenant Colonel Dave Canavan, JWC’s Chief MEL/MIL for the exercise.
He added: "While the collaborative efforts of the JWC civilian and military staff and contractors as well as the efforts of the civilian and military augmentees were essential to the effective running of TRJE16, the close cooperation between MEL/MIL and opposing forces (OPFOR) was essential to achieving success. This OPFOR-MEL/MIL cooperation resulted in the collaborative development of an exercise design that was clearly and consistently understood throughout the preparation and development of the exercise. During the execution phase, this level of understanding was maintained throughout EXCON and directly contributed to the successful execution of this phase."
The exercise Officer of Primary Responsibility (OPR) from JWC, Lt Col Niels Fabricius (DNK A) said: "I believe that several things were unique for this exercise. The setting, to execute a NATO Article 5 in this very hybrid, proxy and asymmetric environment with a very capable and professional opponent was a risk because it challenged our doctrine and ‘normal’ procedures. But it turned out fine and was a great challenge to the whole training audience. The operational Liaison and Reconnaissance Team (OLRT) to Tallinn was also unique. To execute the OLRT on location in Tallinn and hereby combine real life activities with a fictitious scenario was a great endeavour."
"I am happy with the very dedicated engagement from all the individuals who were assigned to the exercise. But also in particular the very good cooperation and coordination between OCE (Naples) and ODE (Stavanger) planning teams made this, more than two years of comprehensive planning, rather easy and very focused. But also the very good interlink and understanding between JWC settings and play (Scenario, OPFOR and MELMIL) and JFC Naples leadership kept the exercise fully on track throughout the execution phase."
An Initial Command Element (ICE) also deployed to JWC as part of the exercise. The NRF-17 Commander Lieutenant-General Alain J. Parent, who is also the Deputy Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples, visited JWC and the ICE towards the end of the exercise. Commander JFC Naples, U.S. Navy Admiral Michelle Howard also visited JWC on the last day of the exercise.