Undersecretary, Deputy Secretary General, Generals, Admirals, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure and honour for me to be here today at the opening ceremony of the Trident Juncture 15 exercise. On behalf of the NATO Military Committee, I want to thank Italy for co-hosting NATO’s largest exercise for over a decade and for your continued commitment to NATO’s operations and missions. I recognise that Italy, along with the other two co-hosts Spain and Portugal, have gone to great lengths to accommodate the training requirements of the troop-contributing nations. You have also had to adapt your exercise ranges and training facilities to host the logistical support of the deployed elements, which is no small feat.
I also want to take the opportunity to thank General Mercier, his predecessor General Jean-Paul Paloméros and the ACT staff for their hard work in planning and all the developmental work associated with this major exercise. I would also like to thank General Breedlove and his staff at ACO for their operational support, specifically on logistics and communications planning. I cannot forget to thank Joint Force Command Brunssum under the leadership of General Domrose for the preparations and – most importantly – the execution of TRJE15.
Exercises of this scale do not just happen overnight. There has been a lot of effort throughout the NATO Command Structure put into planning, developing, preparing, and, since the 3rd of October, executing of the Exercise to make sure it meets NATO needs.
You may ask why NATO has exercises like Trident Juncture 15, what is their importance? The rationale for planning and executing military exercises, in general, is to prepare commands and forces for operations in peace, crisis and conflict. Exercises such as Trident Juncture make certain that forces from across the Alliance can work together effectively whenever needed. It is through exercises like Trident Juncture 15, where NATO Allied forces and also Partner nations and organizations can come together to train, exercise and learn from one another.
It is for this reason that Trident Juncture 15 has at the core of its planning NATO’s Connected Forces Initiative, or CFI. CFI enhances the already high level of interconnectedness and interoperability Allied forces have achieved on operations and with all our partners. It serves to build on the lessons learnt during operations such as ISAF and increase interoperability, which allows for NATO Allies and Partners who train to the same standards to easily join international security campaigns combatting terrorism and other global security challenges. This quick ‘plug-in’ ability is a much sought after skill in a multinational campaign when reacting to emerging security challenges.
It is through CFI that we can also deliver the training and exercise elements for the Readiness Action Plan which was agreed last year at the NATO Summit in Wales. An important component of the Readiness Action Plan is the enhanced NATO Response Force which has increased from 13,000 to up to 40,000 personnel. And the main purpose of Trident Juncture 15 is to ensure that the NRF has the capabilities to plan, prepare, deploy and sustain forces during non-Article V operations. Elements of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, better known as VJTF or “spearhead force”, will also be tested.
Events within the exercise will range from the effects of subversion and terrorism, to grand military manoeuvre on a large scale. From the conditions of chemical warfare to the battlegrounds of cyber and information; from the intricacies of tribal rivalries to the challenges of unpredictable and autocratic political leaders.
Trident Juncture 15 will boost readiness and responsiveness overall. It is an affirmation of our capabilities and our capacity to evolve rapidly.