Trident Juncture 2015, NATO’s largest exercise in over a decade, which took place in Spain, Italy and Portugal, comes to an end today. The exercise demonstrated NATO’s interoperability, transparency, strength and capacity to bring together many Allied and partner nations and organizations to respond to a wide range of security challenges.
While on board the USS MOUNT WHITNEY, Ambassador Sherman said, “The United States and its NATO partners share common values. Trident Juncture has served as a prime example of how 28 countries who share these values can work together so successfully.” More than 36,000 troops from over 30 countries participated in the Trident Juncture 2015 exercise, and included more than 230 units, more than 140 aircraft and more than 60 ships.
During his visit to Portugal, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute noted: “Fundamentally, NATO’s approach is a balance, a careful balance between strength and doing what NATO was founded to do 66 years ago, which is the defense of the 28.” “One of the strengths’ of NATO is that it is a collection of 28 democracies, (…) so there is diversity not only in the military sense, but in the political sense” Lute said, adding “There is real strength in diversity.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that from what he and other senior officials saw during the November 5 demonstration, “NATO is up to the test” and added that “while our aim is to train and exercise, we are also sending a clear message, to our nations and to any potential adversary. NATO does not seek confrontation, but we stand ready to defend all Allies.”
Trident Juncture also shows that NATO is committed to transparency and predictability. For this reason, NATO invited observers from all member nations of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and from other nations around the world to the exercise.
The live military training element of Trident Juncture 2015 opened on October 19, and included various different kinds of exercises on land, air and sea. The following highlights a few of the activities that included U.S. participation in Portugal during Trident Juncture:
Combined Amphibious Assault
On October 20, as part of the Trident Juncture 15 exercise, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), Portuguese Marines (“Fuzileiros”), and the United States Marines Corps demonstrated cooperation and interoperability as they conducted a Combined Amphibious Assault simulation exercise at the Pinheiro da Cruz training range in Portugal.
140 Portuguese Fuzileiros and over 180 U.S. Marines Corps, as well as personnel and assets of the USS ARLINGTON, under the coordination and direction of STRIKFORNATO, conducted a live Combined Amphibious Assault at Pinheiro da Cruz, in Alentejo. During the simulation exercise, two Landing Craft on Air Cushion (“LCACs”, or large hovercrafts) embarked from the USS Arlington on a ship-to-shore assault. On shore, Marines and Fuzileiros completed the assault, including off-loading vehicles and equipment and the patrol of helicopters from the USS ARLINGTON. U.S. Ambassador Robert Sherman, Portuguese Chief of Defense Staff Vice Admiral Pereira da Cunha and STRIKFORNATO Rear Admiral Roy Kitchener were among the many officials who participated in the exercise.
Ambassador Robert Sherman thanked STRIKFORNATO for organizing this exercise, described the performance of the Fuzileiros as “exemplary” and stated that “the world is complicated and often times our problems can only be solved in the first instance when the military creates the time and space for political solutions to take root.” He also described the exercise as “an unforgettable experience.” Rear Admiral Roy Kitchener noted that the Marines and Fuzileiros succeeded in overcoming the challenges they faced and noted that “everything is always a challenge” but that the exercise is still a message that the “NATO alliance is a strong alliance.” Vice Admiral Pereira da Cunha also underscored the importance of Trident Juncture to ensure the interoperability of NATO as well as Portugal’s role as a host country for the exercise.
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Lt.Gen. Hodges and Tennessee National Guard Participate in Canadian High Visibility Day
On November 2, U.S. Army Europe Commander Lieutenant General Ben Hodges participated in the Canadian High Visibility Day of Exercise Trident Juncture 2015, hosted by the Portuguese Army and in the presence of Chief of the General Staff of the Portuguese Armed Forces General Artur Neves Pina Monteiro at Troncos, Arripiada and Santa Margarida. The Canadian led multinational brigade, operating out of Santa Margarida, consisted of 2442 military and civilian personnel from Portugal, Canada, United States, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria and Italy. Participating nations proved their high readiness and interoperability during a river crossing with participation by the Portuguese Army and other member countries, using equipment supplied by a German bridge engineering company, while the Tennessee National Guard, Portuguese and Bulgarian Military Police provided security and controlled vehicle traffic at key points during the exercise. Polish and Portuguese servicemen conducted a decontamination exercise as part of a simulated response to a chemical attack. The exercise concluded with the rapid assembly of a temporary floating bridge at Arripiada by Canadian and Portuguese Armed Forces, allowing 140 vehicles to cross, simulating what may be constructed in a combat scenario.
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Trilateral Exercise with U.S. Marines from SPMAGTF-CR-AF, Spanish Marines and Portuguese Fuzileiros on board the Spanish Juan Carlos I
U.S. Marines from the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa (SPMAGTF-CR-AF), Portuguese Fuzileiros and Spanish personnel on board the Spanish JUAN CARLOS I jointly conducted a trilateral exercise, as part of Trident Juncture 2015, from October 30 to November 6, and in Portuguese territory beginning November 3. More than 150 U.S. and Spanish Marines and Portuguese Fuzileiros participated in air lifts on sea and on land using two U.S. MV-22 Ospreys. The trilateral exercise was implemented in Pinheiro da Cruz on November 3 and Vila Nova Milfontes on November 4 with simulated raids and extraction exercises. These exercises served as preparation for a final exercise in Troia on November 5. The training, as part of Trident Juncture 2015, demonstrates a significant increase in cooperation between the three countries showcasing important capabilities to plan and execute combat operations together. The ongoing training between U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa and NATO amphibious ships also represents continued experimentation, security cooperation, and relationship-building to make the allied force better prepared for world events. The Navy and Marine Corps will continue to support these training events to improve shared maritime capabilities and add crisis response options for the geographic combatant commanders.
USS Mount Whitney Visits Portugal
The USS Mount Whitney visited Portugal during Trident Juncture during the final days of the exercise. Distinguished visitors and VIPs were invited to attend a reception on board the USS MOUNT WHITNEY at the concluding of the High Visibility Day on November 5. Among those attending included Rear Admiral James Foggo, Ambassador Robert Sherman, U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO Ambassador Douglas Lute, and many others. The USS MOUNT WHITNEY also hosted several visits by youth and media to tour the ship and to hear from ship personnel on the mission of the U.S. naval vessel. Personnel from the USS MOUNT WHITNEY also participated in volunteer community relations outreach activities at the ATL Galiza School in São João de Estoril, Ronald McDonald House and ENTRAJUDA in Lisbon.
Allied Special Operations Forces in Portugal
Allied Special Operations Forces have been training alongside their land, sea and air counterparts in Trident Juncture 2015, as part of the NATO Response Force. Over 1,000 Special Operations Forces personnel and different special operations aircraft participated in Trident Juncture 2015, coming from Allies Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and the United States, as well as partner Finland. In Portugal, the Special Operations Forces trained in Portugal, this training took place in the Setubal area, Sado River and the Escola de Fuzileiros. “Often seen as a force working primarily in the shadows and isolated from other troops, this exercise saw a strong emphasis from the special operations forces to execute interoperability with the land, maritime and air components,” said U.S. Navy Commander Erick A. Peterson, Chief of Staff for the Special Operations Component Command (SOCC).
Media outlets interested in receiving more information should contact the Press Office at the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), or telephone 21 770 24 39.