The Computer-Assisted/Command Post Exercise (CAX/CPX) portion of TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 is set to commence 14 November 2018 primarily in Naples, Italy and in Stavanger, Norway.
Over the span of 10 days close to 3,500 military and civilian personnel will participate in the exercise.
The goal of the CAX/CPX is to train and certify Joint Force Command Naples (JFC Naples) to assume the operational command of the NATO Response Force (NRF) in 2019.
The exercise will be directed by Polish Army Major General Andrzej Reudowicz, Commander JWC, who is designated as the ODE, or, Officer Directing the Exercise.
“JWC delivers threat-based training to NATO, reflecting the realities of the ever more complex operational environment,” Reudowicz said. “The Command Post Exercise will contribute to NATO’s deterrence and defence posture, amplify our interoperability and demonstrate Visible Assurance that NATO is committed to the defence of its Member States. It will simulate our collective response to a realistic Article 5 scenario that brings NATO Allies together.”
The CAX/CPX will provide a complex synthetic environment for training the command and control elements of the NRF19 force package at the strategic, operational and tactical levels of warfare, said Dutch Army Lieutenant Colonel Willem “Bill” De Kant, JWC’s Officer of Primary Responsibility (OPR) for TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018.
“Participating in the exercise, at the strategic level, there is HQ SHAPE. At the operational level, we have JFC Naples with Admiral James G. Foggo at the helm. At the tactical level, we have the component commands of JFC Naples; 1 (German/Netherlands) Corps as the land component command, Italian MARFOR as the maritime component command, and AIRCOM as the air component command,” De Kant noted, adding: “There are also many non-NATO organizations and other commands participating as Response Cells, like the Norwegian Joint Headquarters and a variety of land brigades, including the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) Brigade. Additionally, the European Union, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations and many institutions from Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Finland are also participating.”
The scenario-based exercise will involve NATO and Partner military forces as well as the Opposing Force; news media, representatives from civil, political, military and economic elements of power, non-governmental organizations and international organizations, making it possible to challenge strategic/operational and tactical level commanders and their staff to focus on both the military and non-military aspects of international security. This multifaceted conflict environment will be virtually represented, without actual deployment of units and troops on the ground like in a LIVEX.
De Kant explained that the CPX would enhance and strengthen the capabilities of NRF19 and test its ability to plan and conduct a major collective defence operation more cost-effectively.
“Basically, with the Command Post Exercise, we are going to do more with less, while avoiding high costs. The CPX has significant advantages. It is designed to emulate the complex operational conditions and dilemmas that are difficult to replicate in a Live Exercise.”
TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 is a massive exercise from the perspective of both high-visibility deterrence and the volume of training at the operational level, De Kant added.
“With the CAX/CPX, we can provide first-class training for any contingency in a realistic and comprehensive environment. We are not limited by the challenges of a live training environment and other peacetime constraints such as training near civilian populations. We stay indoors. We save a tremendous amount of money because we don’t bring in 50,000 troops, we don’t transport vehicles and equipment, and we won’t be building any training areas. But with our CAX, we are in excellent position to simulate a NATO-led Article 5 collective defence operation at the Major Joint Operation (MJO) scale.”
De Kant added: “With the CPX we will also test new doctrine, capabilities and concepts some of which, I believe, will be crucial in the future. All these efforts are focused on boosting interoperability among Allied forces and ensure that our military forces remain adaptive, flexible and robust. The CPX is as vital to keeping our Alliance strong as is the LIVEX.”
Another opportunity provided by the CPX is the participation of Finland and Sweden, De Kant said.
“For the first time, through this CPX and in an Article 5 collective defence exercise, we will have Finland and Sweden, who are among NATO’s closest partners, participating and playing themselves,” De Kant said. “Of course, they have participated in the TRIDENT JUNCTURE Series of Exercises before, but they were then role-playing as fictitious countries. Having representatives from their Defence Forces and civil experts from their governmental organizations brings great opportunities and advantages to the Training Audiences. It will further enhance realism in the Grey Cell replicating all non-NATO players.”
Exercise TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 is based upon a fictitious Article 5 scenario, codenamed OCCASUS, created by the JWC over a period of 24 months, simulating a near peer adversary. It describes a deepening political and territorial crisis in the High North, involving actual and fictitious countries. Norway, as the host nation, provides the setting, role-playing itself as a country under mounting political, military and civil pressure from a near peer adversary.
The CPX will be conducted at various locations across Europe, in Italy (Naples and Taranto), Norway (Stavanger, Jørstadmoen, Bodø, Oslo), Belgium (Mons), Germany (Ramstein), and at sea, on board ITS ETNA, an Italian Navy flagship.
The scenario will expose the NRF19 Training Audiences to multiple command and control challenges ranging from non-linear/hybrid warfare to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence (CBRN), within NATO’s area of responsibility.
The CPX will also provide a venue for conducting experiments in a wide variety of areas, including Space Support to Operations, Weapons of Mass Destruction Disablement, Operations Logistics Chain Management, and more.
Prior to the CAX/CPX execution set to kick off 14 November, the Training Audience completed an Academics Seminar in January 2018, a Crisis Response Planning in February/March 2018, and a Battle Staff Training in September/October 2018. The Centre concluded the Exercise Control (EXCON) training in Stavanger for nearly 600 participants on 13 November.
Exercise planning is all about teamwork, agile processes and strong commitment throughout the exercise cycle, said De Kant.
“Normally, the planning process of a CPX takes 18 months. But because TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 is combined with a large LIVEX, we started planning almost three years ago. I was nominated JWC OPR in February 2016. It has been quite a complex, but very rewarding process. The highlight for me was the Main Planning Conference, where all the stakeholders discussed both the LIVEX and the CPX. It took place at the JWC because we have both state-of-the-art conference facilities and the largest Auditorium in NATO!”
De Kant added: “We are all very proud to take part in such an important exercise for the NATO Alliance. I have been serving in Dutch Armed Forces for 38 years now and being the JWC OPR for TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 has been very rewarding to me. I feel humbled and privileged to work with the JWC Exercise Planning Team (EPT) that operates like a well-oiled machine, no matter how hard the task. I call them my dream team.”
TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 is NATO’s largest military exercise since the end of the Cold War.
The LIVEX ended on 7 November, but the exercise itself continues. Asked his expectations from the CAX/CPX, German Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Stephan Dirr, JFC Naples’ OPR for TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018, said: “TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 is an outstanding opportunity to test NRF capabilities and building our Forces' readiness. During the LIVEX, we successfully deployed NATO Forces in harsh Norwegian winter to the possible area of operations and during the CPX, we will prove that we are able to command and control a very complex operation here against a near peer adversary."
Dirr added: "The CPX is an incredible opportunity to the Training Audiences. I want to take this opportunity to thank the Joint Warfare Centre for their outstanding support on our way to NRF19 certification. The training delivered by this Centre provides a substantial testbed for the Training Audiences and supports our full spectrum readiness. The lessons of this exercise will influence NATO for a long time. I have been involved in NATO exercises for over 10 years now, but I know that TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 will be the highlight of my career."
During TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 EXCON training in Stavanger, Norway, the Turkish contingent commemorated the 80th anniversary of the passing of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of Turkish Republic on 10 November, together with JWC leadership, staff and family members. On 11 November 2018, the Joint Warfare Centre held an Armistice Day Commemoration Ceremony to mark 100 years since the end of World War One.