Exercise TRIDENT JUNCTURE 16 in retrospect
TRIDENT JUNCTURE 16 (TRJE16), the computer-assisted/command post exercise (CAX/CPX) sponsored by Allied Command Transformation (ACT), certified NATO's Joint Force Command Naples (JFC Naples) to lead the NATO Response Force (NRF) in 2017.
NATO Component Commands serving under NRF 2017 includes Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), Allied Air Command (AIRCOM) as well as NATO Special Operations HQ (NSHQ) and the Joint Logistics Support Group (JLSG), who all took part in the exercise.
TRJE16 also saw the participation of a Romanian Psychological Operations Task Force and the Czech Combined Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Task Force, along with the United Kingdom's 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade (The Iron Fist), which will provide the Brigade HQ for NATO's Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) in 2017.
Last but not least, TRJE16 was also the first exercise where the JWC worked together with the Estonian NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU).
NRF 17 Certification: Four Nobles and One TRIDENT
Directed by Major General Andrzej Reudowicz, Commander Joint Warfare Centre (JWC), Phase IIIB ran from 19 October to 2 November 2016 at various locations across Europe, bringing together nearly 3,000 civilian and military personnel.
"TRJE16 is designed to certify the full operational capability of JFC Naples to lead the NATO Response Force in 2017 as we adapt our forces to new security challenges. In this respect, the JWC takes its leading role in NATO's operational level training very seriously," Reudowicz said.
Major General Andrzej Reudowicz, Commander Joint Warfare Centre. Photo by JWC PAO.
The exercise oriented on a Major Joint Operation (MJO–) designed across the conventional, unconventional and hybrid spectrum of warfare. Based on the fictitious SKOLKAN training scenario, it provided a complex Article 5 Collective Defence setting in the Baltics against a fictional adversary. Primarily set in Estonia, the exercise significantly challenged JFC Naples, the NRF 2017 Command and Control HQ,and its land, air and maritime components on all aspects of modern warfare.
During the execution, JWC hosted the EXCON, including the Response Cells, the White/Grey Cell representing the host nation agencies and non-governmental organisations, as well as an Initial Command Element (ICE) HQ and the JLSG.
Colonel Christopher Engen, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Centre's Exercise, Training and Innovation Directorate, stressed that the main goal for TRJE16 was to test and analyze joint operational readiness of 2017 NRF Command and Control across all mission areas. "The many months of collaborative planning and preparation delivered a holistic, credible synthetic environment which stimulated activities and posed complex challenges for the Joint Headquarters' functions across all domains," Engen said.
Additionally, TRJE16 implemented a strong Comprehensive Approach to the planning and execution of the MJO–, highlighting the importance of establishing effective cooperation mechanisms among nations, international organisations and non-governmental organisations and all relevant NATO bodies during a regional crisis or contingency situation. Liaison personnel and exercise planners from the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian Ministries of Defence all played a significant role during the exercise.
Leader of the 23-strong Estonian team deployed to Stavanger, Estonian Army Lieutenant Colonel Enno Mots, role-played the Estonian Chief of Defence as part of the EXCON White/Grey Cell organisation. "As the Host Nation representative, I can say that TRJE16 fulfilled all my expectations. The strong collaboration between EXCON's different elements enriched the learning environment here. It has been a pleasure to witness so many nations conducting an Article 5 exercise through a range of challenging scenarios, basically practicing defence of a small country like Estonia. NATO Article 5 exercises, such as TRJE16, are challenging events and set a new approach for better thought-processes," Mots acknowledged.
A meeting of the White/Grey Cell, photo by JWC PAO.
TRJE16 also trained participating HQs in a very complex and dynamic information battle-space using top-notch media simulation capabilities.
British Army Sergeant Laura Bibby from the 77th Brigade, said: "Being able to support NATO at the operational level has been an inspiring experience. The aim of the 77th Brigade is to deliver non-lethal and non-military effects to maintain or change behaviour. I feel that by working with the JWC media team to produce special daily newscasts, we achieved that aim for the Opposing Forces (OPFOR). The programme was the counter-narrative that truly challenged the Training Audience in the information space."
The simulated press conference in Naples. Photo by JWC PAO.
The exercise script for TRJE16 included a total of 1,755 Injects and 97 Incidents with multiple complex operational dilemmas in order to stimulate joint operational level challenges in support of the Training Objectives set by Deputy Commander JFC Naples, Canadian Army Lieutenant General Alain Parent.
"With afforded freedom from the JFC Naples for the execution phase, the exercise design was able to maintain a broad focus throughout the entire duration of the event. 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.
"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 OPFOR was essential to achieving success."
JWC's Training Team in Naples. Photo by JWC PAO.
According to Danish Army Lieutenant Colonel Niels Fabricius, JWC's Officer of Primary Responsibility (OPR) for TRJE16, the exercise offered unique training opportunities and was a special exercise from the start to finish.
"The setting was a NATO Article 5 situation, basically taking on NATO Article 5 tasks against a highly capable and professional adversary in a very hybrid, proxy and asymmetric environment. There was a risk involved because the operation challenged our doctrine and 'normal' procedures. Still, it turned out fine and was a great challenge to the whole Training Audiences. The deployment of the Operational Liaison and Reconnaissance Team (OLRT) on location in Tallinn, thereby combining real life with a fictitious scenario, was also a great endeavour."
Fabricius highlighted the enthusiasm and passion of all involved: "In particular, the excellent level of cooperation and coordination between the OCE (Naples) and ODE (Stavanger) planning teams made this more than two years of comprehensive planning rather easy and much focused. But also the very good interlink and understanding between JWC settings and play (Scenario, OPFOR and the MEL/MIL) and JFC Naples leadership helped keep the exercise fully on track throughout the execution phase."
Fabricius also noted that the 1,755 created Injects of TRJE16 resulted with a total of 37,500 CAX orders; an incredible 25 per cent increase to the previous command post exercises conducted by the JWC.
During TRJE16, a JFC Naples Initial Command Element (ICE) led by British Army Major General Ian Cave set up headquarters in the D Block within the JWC's bunker complex.
"TRJE16 has served as an excellent training opportunity for the JFC Naples," Major General Cave pointed out, adding: "It has allowed the Headquarters to operate in its NRF construct, including a deployment of the Initial Command Element as a liaison and situational in-country awareness mode. Having completed the exercise, the Headquarters is in an excellent position to be ready to undertake Enhanced NRF17 Standby Responsibility."
Major General Ian Cave briefing to Admiral Michelle Howard, Commander JFC Naples in the Bunker, JWC. Photo by JWC PAO.
TRJE16 also assessed the Alliance's Transformational capabilities such as Strategic Communications and Space Support to Exercises. Colonel Engen commented: "On the whole, the exercise was a success in that it fully demonstrated NATO's interoperability and rapid response capabilities."
And, one of those areas was joint CBRN support to operations. Czech CBRN Battalion Chief of Staff Major Ivan Janeček noted: "This exercise outperformed my expectations regarding the CBRN play. The scenario offered many opportunities to develop several good storylines, which really challenged the Training Audiences. CBRN-related injects clearly displayed the imperative necessity of rapid reaction by the CBRN units on today's battlefield, which is extremely hybrid. That's why other units have to count with CBRN issues, like releases of weapons of mass destruction or toxic industrial material and have to cooperate with CBRN units in order to achieve their mission. The exercise offered many opportunities to train CBRN events and showed commanders that contaminated areas can significantly delay their efforts."
As NATO's principal facilitator for the computer-assisted/command post exercises Commander Joint Warfare Centre serves as the Officer Directing the Exercise (ODE) during all TRIDENT exercises. JFC Brunssum led the NATO Response Force in 2016. JFC Naples took over that role in January 2017, for a 12-month period. The NRF 2017 certification exercises, as indicated in the subtitle of this article, were as follows: TRIDENT JUNCTURE 16 (operational level), NOBLE ARROW 16, NOBLE LEDGER 16, NOBLE MARINER 16 and NOBLE SWORD 16 (component level).
The Air Response Cell at JWC. Photo by JWC PAO.