The NATO-led Trident Juncture 2018 (TRJE18) exercise that is to be held in October and November is the largest coordinated show of force since the Cold War. It will primarily be hosted by Norway. The training event will largely take place in the central and eastern parts of this Nordic country that neighbors Russia, as well as over the skies and in the seas of Sweden and Finland. The maritime component will be conducted in the surrounding areas of the North Atlantic and in the Baltic Sea. TRJE18-related activities will take place as far away as Iceland. Russia has been invited to send observers to watch the exercise.
Actually, TRJE18 consists of three parts. The deployment phase has been underway since August. A live field exercise will be held from October 25 to November 7 with six brigades fighting each other right in the heart of Norway. A command post training event will be conducted from November 13 to November 24.
The drill will involve 45,000 participants from over 30 nations, including 10,000 rolling or tracked vehicles, 150 aircraft, and 60 ships. The main goal is to test the ability of NATO’s new Response Force to rapidly deploy. Norway will evaluate its ability to receive and handle reinforcements sent by its allies.
There are 700 US Marines stationed in Norway. That’s not a huge force, but as Adm. James Foggo, who heads all US naval forces in Europe and Africa and commands the Allied Joint Force Command in Naples put it, “that’s 300 Marines today. 3,000 Marines tomorrow.” The American pre-positioned forward storage sites in Norway, a complex of caves, have been upgraded to store weapons and equipment for roughly 15,000 Marines. That Scandinavian country has become the source of a threat to Russia’s national security.
The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is also taking part. The aircraft carrier returned to its home base in Norfolk in July following a three-month deployment. It was back in Europe in mid-September. Normally, US carrier groups operate according to a standard seven-month cycle.