September 19, 2018 -During exercise Trident Juncture, NATO will run its operations from one of the most advanced warships ever made.
NATO’s Trident Juncture 2018 is just a few weeks away, with Admiral James G. Foggo as its exercise commander. Normally, Foggo heads the Allied Joint Force Command Naples, but during the exercise he will be where he likes it the most:
“Afloat, on board my favorite ship, USS Mount Whitney,” he says.
The American warship will sail along the Norwegian coast, serving as the very heart of NATO’s largest exercise since 2002.
The ship’s commanding officer, Captain Robert Aguilar, is ready to sail the Norwegian waters.
“That will be interesting, I have never operated that far north,” Aguilar says, adding:
“But this ship will have no problem operating there. We are preparing accordingly to make sure we are equipped with the right clothing, berthing, foul-weather gear and all the things we will need to be operating in that challenging environment.”
The American ship was taken into use in 1971 and has served as a command ship for NATO since 2005. Unlike other warships she has few visible weapons on board. But she is equipped with other types of weapons.
“If you look around my ship, there are antennas everywhere”, Aguilar says.
Thanks to the antennas, the ship can communicate globally far away from any shore. This means that USS Mount Whitney can be off in protected areas – protected by the distance and other vessels and capacities.
The ship is also in contact with all the units and capabilities that participate in the exercise. Aboard the ship, Admiral Foggo can pick up the phone and practically talk to any individual sailor, soldier, marine, or airman.
“We are not only reaching forward, but also back to the civilian leadership for direction and guidance,” Aguilar says, adding:
“The commander should not notice a difference in communications being on my ship or being in his or her home headquarters.”
The greatest challenge will be to provide the commander with the correct and newest information – while operating the ship.
“It is very complex. In addition to providing the communications platform, I also got to maneuver the ship as part of the task force. This is a hotel, a communications platform, but also a warship, so I have to balance the requirements”, Captain Aguilar says.
And the Commander himself, Admiral James Foggo, is looking forward to being on board USS Mount Whitney during NATO’s largest military exercise since 2002. Foggo has a background as a submarine officer and has sailed in Norwegian waters several times before.
“Norway is an exceptionally great place for an exercise like this, and it will be an excellent opportunity to test our personnel and materiel. Exercise Trident Juncture is a clear sign of NATO showing unity”, Foggo says.
In August, the first equipment and vehicles arrived in Norway. More than 10,000 vehicles and over 40,000 soldiers from 31 countries will participate in the exercise in Norway.
“Our Norwegian partners have played a decisive role, and Norway has been a devoted actor in the planning phase. We are very pleased with the cooperation”, Foggo says.
One of the main challenges is the volume of personnel and materiel to be transported to and inside Norway.
“This will be a stress test for our logistics organization”, the Admiral says.
However, the real test for the Admiral and his Joint Force Command in Naples will come after the live field exercise. From 14 to 23 November, NATO will conduct a so-called command post exercise in Stavanger, Norway. This computer-simulated exercise will test the headquarters at various incidents and scenarios.