NATO Allies and Partner Nations concluded TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 Computer-Assisted Command Post Exercise (CAX/CPX) on 22 November 2018 at nine different exercise locations throughout Europe, including 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 exercise, which began on 14 November, brought together approximately 3,500 personnel from 31 nations.
Directed by NATO Joint Warfare Centre (JWC), the aim of the CAX/CPX was to train, exercise, and evaluate the NATO Response Force 2019 (NRF19) Command and Control and deployable forces through complex simulated scenarios of conventional and hybrid warfare.
“This is by far the best exercise I directed as the ODE [Officer Directing the Exercise],” said Polish Army Major General Andrzej Reudowicz, Commander JWC. “It presented a great challenge to both the Training Audiences and the Joint Warfare Centre. TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 was the most complex Article 5 exercise in recent memory. It reflects how far we have come in readiness; but it will also be instrumental in NATO’s future warfare development and progress. Together we bolstered our joint response capabilities and shown that we are trained, capable, and more prepared to respond to any threat from any direction.”
Reudowicz then pointed out the importance of the almost three-year-long exercise planning process led by the JWC prior to execution of TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018. “Normally, exercise planning runs on a 12- to 18-month schedule, but due to the LIVEX portion of the exercise, our planning process, or Phase II, took a bit longer than usual. This exercise validated just how important solid preparation and planning are, starting from the Crisis Response Planning phase through the Battle Staff Training to STARTEX. The fruits of our labour were evident in the readiness of those Training Audiences who did that together, leading to a smooth STARTEX for maximum training value. The process was tremendously ambitious, and in some ways, even more important than execution. Fundamentally, Phase II is about strategic thinking, whereas execution is about processes. Phase II creates the scenario parameters and ensures that the exercise design remains challenging, innovative, and meets all the Training Objectives."
Major General Reudowicz underlined that JWC-led exercises focused on the Host Nation command and control dilemmas as well as the importance of civil-military cooperation in the era of Total Defence, saying, “We must all remember that NATO is more than just the NATO Command and Force Structures. National governments should also be significant players” adding that this would be a clear “win” for future NATO warfare development.
The almost three-year-long joint planning and coordination effort between Allies and Partners, an unprecedented level of HQ SHAPE support within the Exercise Control organization, new initiatives such as the Forward Coordination and Liaison Element, and ongoing observations on national total defence concepts and Transformational Activities, including Space Support in NATO Operations, were among the highlights of the CAX/CPX.
TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 CAX/CPX: Prime example of NATO Allies and Partners working together
TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 CAX/CPX was based upon a fictitious Article 5 scenario, codenamed OCCASUS, created by the JWC’s Scenario team over a period of 24 months.
The scenario focused on ensuring the defence of Norway and described a deepening political and territorial crisis in the High North, including the Arctic, one of the most strategically important regions in the world.
“Joint Warfare Centre acts as the conscience of the Alliance, creating scenarios and exercises in which the different headquarters are immersed in a highly realistic environment, which reflects the different dimensions of modern warfare against a near-peer adversary,” said Royal Marines Major General (Ret.) Roger Lane, JWC’s Senior Exercise Control Advisor for the exercise.
“For the Joint Warfare Centre, this means providing an adversary that emulates the full spectrum of challenges facing the Alliance, including Space, Cyber, Land, Air, Maritime and Special Forces, but also the exploitation of the Information Environment in which potential adversaries may seek to undermine the Alliance’s cohesion, and societal and structural cohesion.”
Lane added: "By creating this environment and challenging the Training Audience, JWC provides a mirror which reflects their performance back to them from which they can learn and grow, whilst also providing insights into future capability requirements or doctrinal changes or shortfalls.”
The scenario-based exercise involved NATO and Partner military forces, Response Cells from the Nations and Component Commands, such as brigades and air squadrons or maritime task groups 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.
Land manoeuvre, air defence, integrated air and missile defence, theatre ballistic missile defence, maritime warfare and maritime interdiction, mine countermeasures and amphibious operations, operational-level logistics, cyber defence as well as strategic communications, protection of civilians, interaction with non-military actors were amongst the training focus areas of the TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 CAX/CPX.
“The Centre’s ability to closely synchronize the Opposing Forces and Training Audience’s plans and actions in preparation for the Command Post Exercise framed the boundaries of the Response Cells, contributing to the delivery of well-coordinated and synchronized Injects and actions that challenged the Training Audience,” said Canadian Army Lieutenant Colonel Dave Canavan, JWC’s Chief MEL/MIL for the CAX/CPX.
The EXCON staff – both JWC and augmentees – did a brilliant job of delivering the exercise script, added Canavan.
TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 CAX/CPX also provided an invaluable platform to work with two of NATO’s closest partners: Sweden and Finland.
“Sweden has participated in many NATO exercises, on different levels; both Live Exercises and Command Post Exercises. TRIDENT JUNCTURE is, however, due to the scenario, was the first time Sweden participated as ‘Sweden’ and not as the fictitious country,” said Major General Bengt Andersson, who served as the Commander of the Swedish Forward Coordination Element at the JWC.
Andersson added: “It is also the first time Sweden participated with a Coordination Element, instead of providing Liaison Officers. What we have seen is a well-planned and well-executed exercise. We have learned a lot, but I am also convinced that the Swedish team has provided a lot of good inputs to both the Training Audience and the exercise as such. I am convinced that the Swedish participating in EXCON, as a Forward Coordination Element, is a big step forward for both Sweden and NATO.”
Regarding the Finnish participation in the CAX/CPX, Colonel Manu Tuominen, the Senior Officer of the Finnish Coordination Element, said: “This was the first time when Finland participated a NATO-led CPX with somewhat real geography and Article 5 dimension. That’s very challenging because in this kind of scenario one has to be able to analyse different actions on the operational and strategic levels at the same time. In addition, the legal and political constraints have to be taken into account. Our national goal was to learn how NATO operated and cooperated with Partners. Now at the end of the exercise, I can say that this goal was achieved.”
The recent exercise placed special emphasis on the Norwegian Total Defence Concept, which was fully integrated into all aspects of the CAX/CPX, describing the total amount of military and civilian efforts during a crisis.
According to Tor Honningsvåg, the Senior Advisor at Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB), in a wide training scenario like TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 that involved NATO Article 5 and high-intensity warfighting in Norway, the term “total defence” implied that the country’s total national resources had been mobilized to defend the nation and to provide Host Nation Support to NATO.
“Norway has subscribed to the Total Defence Concept for many years, in fact, since before the Cold War days,” said Honningsvåg, adding: “During TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018, most civilian agencies that have a preparedness responsibility in Norway took part in the Command Post Exercise as the [secondary] Training Audience. The DSB coordinated the planning process for civilian participation in this exercise, as it did last year for TRIDENT JAVELIN. These civilian agencies and organizations developed the Training Objectives and we participated in the scripting process to produce a number of Injects designed to meet these Training Objectives.”
Honningsvåg explained that more than a dozen civilian partners took part in the CAX/CPX to liaise directly with the Norwegian Joint Headquarters in Bodø and the lessons identified from both TRIDENT JAVELIN 2017 and TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 would be utilized to support the ongoing modernization efforts on the Norwegian Total Defence Concept.
The “After Action Review”: A Learning Process
The exercise was capped by a JWC-supported After Action Review (AAR) held at various exercise locations via VTC on 23 November 2018 with participation of Admiral James G. Foggo III, Commander Allied Joint Force Command Naples (JFC Naples); Lieutenant General Christian Juneau, Deputy Commander of Joint Force Command (JFC) Naples; Lieutenant General Olivier Rittimann, SHAPE HQ Vice Chief of Staff; Major General Andrzej Reudowicz; Lieutenant General Michiel van der Laan, Commander 1 (German/Netherlands) Corps; Rear Admiral Aurelio De Carolis, the Commander of Italian Maritime Forces; Major General Claudio Gabellini, Chief of Staff Headquarters Allied Air Command; Rear Admiral Sverre Nordahl Engeness, Chief of Naval Operations of the Norwegian National Headquarters as well as members of the Training Audience, EXCON, Senior Advisors and the Subject Matter Experts. It was agreed that the exercise was successful, and all primary Training Objectives were achieved.
The AAR also provided the opportunity for the Training Audiences to identify their own key strengths, determine which areas need more development and define future goals and ways ahead.
Major General Reudowicz underlined that the JWC’s ultimate ambition was to produce “evidence for change”.
Reudowicz said: “The Joint Warfare Centre effectively serves two masters for these [Command Post] exercises: SACEUR with his SAGE (Ed. SACEUR's Annual Guidance for Education, Training, Exercise and Evaluation), and SACT for NATO experimentation. As such, we develop exercises that integrate Training and Experimentation by including Transformational Activities to test and validate warfare development concepts to avoid fighting yesterday’s war. In doing so, our ambition is to produce evidence for change.”
Highlighting the critical role of Space Support in NATO Operations, Weapons of Mass Destruction Disablement, and NATO Allied Ground Surveillance Force Activities, which were all integrated in the exercise planning, Reudowicz added: “I believe that Transformational Activities such as these have raised awareness of the Training Audience on the development of emerging concepts and lessons identified will contribute to support NATO warfare development in a tangible way.”
TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 was NATO’s largest military exercise since the end of the Cold War. It focused on two major components: the Live Exercise (LIVEX) and a separate Computer-Assisted Command Post Exercise (CAX/CPX) that aimed to train command and control procedures of NATO Response Force 2019, led by Allied Joint Force Command Naples (JFC Naples).
The LIVEX portion took place in central and eastern Norway, the surrounding areas of the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea, Iceland, and within the airspace of Finland and Sweden. The CAX/CPX portion of TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 was directed by Polish Army Major General Andrzej Reudowicz, Commander Joint Warfare Centre, who was designated as the ODE, or, Officer Directing the Exercise.
A more detailed article and interviews will be published in the upcoming issue of the JWC's "The Three Swords" Magazine.