Beach storming and Ospreys on foreign vessels at Trident Juncture
October 28, 2015
NAPLES, Italy — NATO allies are flexing their muscles at sea halfway through the alliance’s biggest land, air and sea exercise in more than a decade.
Amphibious and naval operations have been the early focus of Trident Juncture 15, a 19-day exercise involving 36,000 participants at sites across Spain, Portugal, Italy and in nearby waters.
U.S. and Portuguese marines launched from the American amphibious ship USS Arlington to storm a beach in Pinheiro da Cruz, Portugal, on Oct. 20. Dutch and British forces also practiced amphibious landings at Sierra del Retin, Spain, and Sardinia in the exercises’s opening days.
Canadian, Portuguese and Danish ships coordinated off Portugal’s southern coast, while Portuguese F-16 and Finnish F/A-18 fighter jets provided air defense for maritime maneuvers.
Next week, U.S. Marines will land and launch their MV-22 Ospreys from the Spanish ship Juan Carlos I, the latest test of the Corps’ plan to operate Ospreys off foreign vessels because of a lack of American amphibious warships in the theater.
Trident Juncture is designed to test NATO forces’ speed and ability to adapt to a wide-spectrum of conflict. Each event involves the fictitious country of Sorotan, which faces invasion from a hostile neighbor.
The exercise will certify the NATO Response Force and its quick-reaction Spearhead task force for the coming year.
Planning for Trident Juncture began two years ago, the aim being to mark NATO’s transition from its counterinsurgency-focused campaign in Afghanistan to a broader range of operations.
Russia’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine, the expansion of Islamic militant groups in North Africa and the Levant and NATO responses to both have since changed those plans, officials said. The alliance recently decided to increase the size of the response force and created the Spearhead force, designed to deploy to a crisis with 48 hours.
More than 30 nations are participating in Trident Juncture, contributing over 70 ships, submarines and maritime patrol aircraft to the exercise, in addition to air force and army components. More than 3,000 marines from multiple countries also are participating.