Hopefully you won’t find them crawling around in your yard,but when NATO sends 40,000 troops to Norway this autumn,it will face challenges.
“It is clear that with the arrival of so many people and so much equipment, it will be noticeable,” said Vice-Admiral Ketil Olsen to NTB news.
‘Trident Juncture’ will be the largest military exercise in Norway for decades. All in all, more than 40,000 soldiers from 30 countries will participate. The first forces will arrive already by August.
The soldiers will think well, emphasized Olsen.
“But we must try not to put too much pressure on the civilian population.We must try to make our footprint as light as possible.’’
The main part of the exercise will take place from 25th of October to the 7th of November.
Soldiers and equipment will flow throughout Northwest Norway and Eastern Norway and be transported by train, car and truck to the exercise areas (which will mainly be in Central Norway).
Olsen said people may expect to see soldiers at the store and in the community along the way. But the exercise will take place outside the towns, and hopefully people will not see soldiers in their own garden.
‘’Unfortunately, we have had some examples earlier. But on the road there will be congestion,’’ he said.
On Monday,Olsen was in place at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, together with American Admiral, James Foggo, to tell international press about the plans.
It was stressed several times that the exercise is defencive.
‘’NATO is a defence alliance. We are not waging battles,’’ Foggo said.
The scenario NATO is going to practice is a so-called Article 5 situation, that is,a situation where Norway needs help from its allies to defend themselves.
NATO’s military leaders have been clear that the exercise is supposed to scare Russia.
The Alliance is supposed to deter by showing what it is capable of.
But Russia is not formally defined as the enemy.
“I think that might be unnaturally provocative. In addition, the Alliance must be prepared to meet anyone at the other end. So it would be wrong to practice something as specific,as directly at Russia,’’ explained Olsen.
The exercise has already been discussed in the NATO-Russia Council. In addition, a delegation from the Ministry of Defence in Norway has been in Moscow to orient them. Russia has also been invited to observe during the exercise.
Waiting for reactions
So far there have been no strong protests. But the Russians will probably react, Defence Minister,Frank Bakke-Jensen of Høyre (H) believes.
“Here we can see a little of everything,” said Bakke-Jensen to NTB news.
“This is a great exercise and there will also be an opportunity for Russia to practice different methods of influence.So, we must be prepared to be exposed to false news and influences, both in advance,during the exercise, and afterwards,” he said.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today