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May 8 2020

week 19 - Northern Europe Operational Update

Brunssum, the Netherlands, Friday 08 May 2020

This week, the Estonian-led annual exercise ‘Spring Storm’ came to an end. ‘Spring Storm’ tests levels of integration of NATO troops with the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF), strengthening their ability in times of crisis. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s exercise was modified and scaled down, with around 3,200 troops participating, compared to 9,000 last year. ‘Spring Storm’ started with a field exercise where units of the EDF and the NATO multinational enhanced Forward Battlegroup Estonia (eFP BG EST) tested their readiness. Later, a live-fire exercise took place where the synchronisation of infantry and battle support units was trained. On Tuesday, 05 May, two US B-1 bombers escorted by Danish F-16 fighter jets participated in a training exercise with Estonian forces plus British and Danish units assigned to the eFP battlegroup. The US bombers flew to Estonia from the continental United States as part of a non-stop 24-hour mission, demonstrating unique and advanced capabilities the US could bring to Europe in a crisis scenario.

In the icy waters of the Arctic off the coast of Norway, a bilateral US-UK naval exercise focused on cold-weather training took place this week. Composed of the American Arleigh Burke-class destroyers USS Donald Cook and USS Porter, the British Type 23 Duke class frigate HMS Kent, the American fast combat support ship USNS Supply, and supported by a submarine and maritime patrol aircraft NATO Allies demonstrated their readiness to conduct maritime security operations in the Barents Sea. Thereby, the partners demonstrated their ability to deter any potential aggressor(s) even in the harsh weather conditions in the far north. The five NATO Allies that are Arctic countries - Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and the United States - and the Alliance as a whole have a clear interest in enhancing/sustaining stability, security and cooperation in the Arctic region.

Any potential adversaries should know that NATO forces are able to respond promptly and effectively to contingencies in all regions of the Alliance, even in times of the Coronavirus pandemic. For example, this week, on five separate occasions, allied fighters scrambled from their bases in Estonia and Lithuania, in the frame of their NATO Baltic Air Policing mission, to intercept aircraft approaching Baltic airspace that failed to comply with the international rules of safe aviation.

British frigate HMS Kent conducting a replenishment-at-sea with American fast combat support ship USNS Supply on exercise in Arctic waters.

Story by JFC Brunssum Public Affairs Office

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