Chaos on the roads, noise and good shopping.These briefly summarise how you will experience NATO’s practice with 40,000 soldiers in Norway this autumn.
Queues and delays will be everyday events in Østfold, Akershus, Hedmark, Oppland, Møre and Romsdal, and Trøndelag from the end of August until the last soldiers leave the country in December.
The NATO exercise, ‘Trident Juncture’, is the largest on Norwegian soil since the Cold War. 40,000 troops from 30 countries will practice combat from the 31st of October to the 7th of November.
The goal is to show solidarity and strength when Norway is attacked by the fictional land of Mureius.
“There are challenges with military columns that run slower than we are used to. Occasionally, civil traffic must be stopped completely, partly because of weight restrictions on bridges.We are working to minimise the affects on daily life, but the presence will certainly be felt,” said head of the Armed Forces operating headquarters, General Lieutenant Rune Jakobsen.
On the other hand, there are also positive effects.
“Roughly, goods and services will be purchased for NOK 1.5 billion during the exercise,” said Jakobsen.
Find each other
The Directorate for Social Security and Preparedness (DSB) will coordinate the civil efforts before, during and after the exercise.
County councils, municipalities, the police, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration and a large number of other agencies will be put to the test.
“We are being tested on what was central to the terrorist attack on July 22, 2011. Resources must find each other,” said Cecilie Daae, DSB Director.
She added that the exercise needs to be planned both largely and in detail, “as when a column drives past a nursery or a refugee reception centre”.
The Nordbytunnel on the E6 through Akershus will be one of the critical points when large forces and heavy goods will be transported to and from the exercise – between Borg Harbour in Fredrikstad and the exercise area, which will mainly be in Central Norway.
According to the Armed Forces Forum, the southbound lane will be closed from the 3rd of September to the 12th of November due to an upgrade that has been planned for a long time. The northbound lane will therefore have opposite traffic. Then it will become too narrow for wide military vehicles, which instead have to drive around the tunnel.
Section leader Stian Jacobsen, of the Norwegian Road Administration for Region East, has had several meetings with NATO’s headquarters in Naples about Norwegian conditions and restrictions on the road network.
“We experience to some extent that they have an unrealistic expectation of what is allowed on Norwegian soil,” he told the magazine.
“The exercise itself will take place outside of the big cities, but people will meet soldiers both at the store and in the local community,” said vice-leader,Ketil Olsen to NTB news as he met international press at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels to discuss the exercise earlier this month.
The scenario NATO will practice is a so-called Article 4 situation that evolves into an Article 5 situation. This means that Norway needs help from its allies to defend itself.
According to NATO leaders, it is a clear goal to scare Russia. The Alliance is supposed to deter by showing what it is capable of.
Do not provoke
However, it is not going to be practiced in Finnmark, according to Jakobsen.It is about logistics, but not only logistics.
“We do not want unnecessary provocations either,” he said during a press briefing about the practice at Akershus Castle on Friday.
Russia has been invited to observe during the exercise. At the same time,NATO forces are prepared that Trident Juncture will be an opportunity for Russians to practice different methods of influence.
On top of all that, daily life must go on alongside the big and small events it brings with it.
“In an increasingly demanding security policy image, it is about being well prepared for what we know will meet us, and not least what we do not know will meet us,” said DSO Director, Daae.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today