U.S., NATO Assess Lessons of Trident Juncture Exercise
(Source: US Department of Defense; issued Jan 17, 2019)
Marines and sailors assigned to the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, apply tire chains to a Light Armored Vehicle – Anti-Tank vehicle during exercise Trident Juncture in Norway in November. (USMC photo)
Officials throughout NATO are assessing the lessons learned from the massive Trident Juncture exercise last year, and U.S. European Command officials vow to apply those lessons to exercises moving forward.

Air Force Maj. Gen. John P. Healy, the command’s director of exercises and assessments, praised the soldiers, Marines, airmen, sailors and civilian employees who participated in NATO’s Trident Juncture in Norway last year. “They did the heavy work,” he said.

Trident Juncture is a monumental exercise with thousands of moving parts — from Marines drawing equipment from war stocks and a carrier battle group operating north of the Arctic Circle to airmen bringing in equipment and supplies and engineers examining roads and bridges.

NATO designed the exercise to test interoperability of alliance and partner troops. It examined command and control aspects of alliance forces, and examined the logistics behind the effort, Healy said.

“The unique attribute of the U.S. with our partners and allies is we are the only ones who can actually move stuff to this effect, with this degree of efficiency and effectiveness anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice,” the general said in an interview from U.S. European Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.

But interoperability is more than just solving logistical problems, Healy said. It means forces can work together in a battlespace. “With 31 different nations participating in the exercise, we’ve got 31 different methodologies on how they want to command and control the troops they are bringing along with them,” the general said.

Now the job for U.S. European Command will be to internalize the lessons of Trident Juncture. “We are going to take the lessons and use them in all the NATO exercises, our EUCOM exercises as well as our combined exercises,” he said.

Working with other countries is important to American goals in Europe. “We are one of the partners and allies associated with NATO,” Healy said. “We need to make sure that what we are doing is in line with what NATO’s expectation of a collective defense is and vice versa.”

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Dstl Tests NATO’s War of Words
(Source: UK Ministry of Defence; issued Jan 17, 2019)
Specialists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) tested NATO’s strategic communications during Exercise Trident Juncture.

The biggest NATO exercise since 2015 saw around 50,000 troops deploy to Norway and Iceland for the three-month-long training, with Dstl spending five weeks on the exercise.

Dstl worked with NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division, the Joint Warfare Centre and Supreme Allied Command Transformation to deliver an assessment of the tools NATO used for public engagement around the exercise. Results revealed better public engagement, as well as the development of a framework which will allow NATO to achieve the ‘information advantage.’

A strategic communications specialist from Dstl said: “This is about winning the information war, as well as the frontline one. We need to combine what we know about both elements to be successful. Online media has changed the way we do business in this area.

“We provided evidence which changed the way NATO did business in terms of their external communications for that exercise, and for future processes. In five weeks, we were able to identify, analyse and assess, and then advise NATO communicators on how to use online media to their best advantage.

“The impact was huge; we effected significant change in terms of cut-through of positive messaging about NATO.”

The work involved tracking hashtags and sentiment, monitoring the information environment and advising NATO on how to gain traction and impact with its online presence. Analysis of external media was also tracked, alongside NATO’s own communications about the exercise.

The Information Fusion Cell director from Joint Force Command Naples said: “The scientists are inspirational ambassadors for Dstl and are greatly valued at Joint Force Command Naples.”

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