US Marines conduct cold weather training in Iceland preparing to be the Elite’s cannon fodder in Norway.
Trident Juncture 2018 is the largest exercise hosted by Norway since the 1980s and the largest NATO has held in decades. Some 50,000 troops from 31 countries, about 10,000 combat vehicles, 65 ships and some 250 aircraft are taking part in the drills that kicked off last week and will go on till November 7, with the troops honing their skills on the land, in the air and at the sea.
The exercise is supposedly intended to send “a clear message” to both the alliance’s member states and potential“adversaries” that NATO is “ready to defend all allies against any threat,” its secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said last week.
The massive drills come shortly after Vostok-2018 exercise in Russia’s Far East was held in September. NATO bigwigs eagerly seized on the large-scale military maneuvers as proof of Moscow’s “aggressive” stance.
“Vostok demonstrates Russia’s focus on exercising large-scale conflict. It fits into a pattern we’ve seen over some time – a more assertive Russia significantly increasing its defense budget and its military presence,” NATO’s spokesman Dylan White said at the time.
While Vostok 2018 indeed showed Russia’s “military presence” – on its own territory – the official somehow missed the fact that Moscow has been actually steadily decreasing its military spending over the past few years.
Not everyone seems to be convinced by NATO’s rhetoric about the “defensive” nature of its exercises – and it’s not just Russia’s Defense Ministry. Trident Juncture 2018 was greeted in Oslo by protesters, who argued that such activities effectively turn Norway into a target and not contribute to country’s safety by any means.