BODØ, Norway --
Supporting Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), Marines and Sailors with 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB), II Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), and Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2 began Exercise Trident Jupiter in Bodø, Norway, Nov. 5, 2019.
Exercise Trident Jupiter brings together NATO nations to assess their ability to conduct high-end, NATO-level mission planning and execution in a simulated scenario against a peer adversary. It also trains and evaluates the ability of STRIKFORNATO to command and control high-end joint warfare operations including the integration of U.S. naval, carrier, and amphibious forces into NATO operations.
The Marines and Sailors participating exemplify a continuing partnership between the Navy-Marine Corps team under a NATO Amphibious Task Force (ATF) construct. Employment of II MEF and ESG 2 service members as a combined ATF builds on the successes of Exercise Trident Juncture held in Iceland and Norway in November 2018.
“Trident Juncture was the largest live exercise NATO conducted since the Cold War; it allowed II MEF to lay the foundation for partnership with 6th Fleet, specifically Strike Force NATO,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Neary, commanding general, 2nd MEB, and deputy commanding general, II MEF. “We worked closely with the Navy to explore how we best fight in the littorals to support Fleet operations. Participating in Trident Jupiter allows us to further expand on our lessons learned and increase our lethality as a naval expeditionary team as we reassure our allies and partners and deter adversaries.”
Previously, as part of Trident Juncture, 2nd MEB and ESG 2 operated as commander, landing force and commander, amphibious task force respectively. Trident Jupiter offers an opportunity to work as a combined staff to increase integration and identify areas for improvement under the command of STRIKFORNATO.
“One of the most important things coming out of this exercise, aside from the opportunity to work with our partners and allies, centers on improving how the Navy and Marine Corps work together in the future,” said Capt. Ethan M. Rule, operations officer, ESG 2. “Every day we learn something new and this informs what we take back with us to improve integration and operation as a scalable command element.”
Trident Jupiter also requires close coordination between U.S. and allied service members who speak differing languages and possess varying backgrounds and experiences.
“Deploying to allied countries and working side-by-side with their militaries increases our understanding of interoperability. The importance of this cannot be overstated,” said Col. Garrett L. Benson, operations officer, 2nd MEB. “As II MEF renews its focus on the European theater, the relationships we develop now will pay huge dividends if we must fight together in the future.”
This exercise represents the most recent example of II MEF’s commitment to serve as the European theater’s Marine expeditionary force supporting 2nd and 6th Fleets. II MEF Marines regularly deploy as part of Marine Rotational Forces – Europe and Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Africa. Both deployments contribute to enhancing interoperability between the Marine Corps and our allies and partners.
II MEF routinely hosts NATO allies for training, exercises, and planning conferences to increase interoperability and build relationships too. However, reassurance, interoperability, and trust is best when practiced in the environment.
“Trident Jupiter shows the ability of the Blue-Green Team to deploy, employ, and redeploy a staff capable of commanding and controlling multi-national forces in support of NATO operations in Europe,” said Neary. “Rehearsing our ability to send a small, capable staff forward to disparate locations allows us to prepare for real-world operations and the facilitation of follow-on forces supporting our regional allies and partners and deterring aggression.”