Eight NATO countries will be conducting exercises in anti-submarine warfare off the coast of Troms and Nordland in Northern Norway over the next two weeks. One US admiral told state broadcaster NRK that the exercises should send “a strong signal” to Russia.
Sabre-rattling aside, the exercise takes place annually and Russian officials have already reacted negatively. The US Navy warship USS Bainbridge arrived in Oslo late last week and the exercises also involve US surveillance aircraft that recently have been raising eyebrows at the Norwegian air station at Andøya. Other NATO allies participating include Denmark, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey, with two submarines, seven surface units and what NATO calls three “maritime patrol aircraft.”
The NATO exercise, called “Dynamic Mongoose,” is taking place this year just as the US military is expanding its presence in Norway. That’s not occurring without controversy and concerns that it will further provoke neighbouring Russia. NATO claims the aim of this year’s exercise is “to provide all participants with complex and challenging warfare training to enhance their interoperability and proficiency in anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare skills.”
“They (the Russians) should see this as a strong signal that we (NATO allies) are solid partners,” Admiral John Richardson of the US Navy told NRK. Richardson, a member of the US’ Joint Chiefs of Staff and an adviser to US President Donald Trump, received Norway’s defense minister, Frank Bakke-Jensen of the Conservative Party, on board the warship on Monday.
“We’re seeing more (Russian) activity in the northern areas,” Bakke-Jensen told NRK. He said the NATO exercises in the area were “a desired development,” and he’s glad NATO “has a focus on Europe and the old alliance.”
Russia has also been conducting exercises in the Arctic this summer, including one of its largest in decades that involved 36 Russian battleships earlier this month (external link to the Independent Barents Observer) that it did not announce to Norwegian authorities in advance.