November 6, 2018 – Trident Juncture 18, NATO’s largest exercise in recent years, is also the Alliance’s first military exercise to include substantial civil preparedness elements and to practice cooperation between the military and the civilian authorities. Norway, which is hosting the exercise, is using the collective defense scenario not only to train its armed forces, but also to build up its ability to respond to a crisis of any kind.
This is fully in line with the commitment that all NATO Allies have undertaken to increase national resilience, which is a key element of NATO’s collective defense. Resilience is rooted in the Washington Treaty. At the Warsaw Summit in 2016, NATO leaders also pledged to enhance national resilience, including by improving civil preparedness.
To meet this pledge, Norway added an extra challenge to Trident Juncture 18, in the form of close interaction between the military participants and civilian crisis responders, such as the health service, the police, the fire department, and non-governmental organizations. Specific events have been integrated in the exercise program, including simulated mass casualty incidents, evacuation drills, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) emergencies, taking care of evacuated civilians, and crisis management.
In addition to contributing to Norway’s crisis management capacities, this also contributes to interoperability with other NATO Allies. Some of the forces participating in Trident Juncture have been involved in these events as well – for instance, Danish and French CBRN soldiers, part of NATO’s Spearhead Force (the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force) in 2019, have been part of a simulation where they had to give first aid to victims of a chemical attack, and decontaminate the area.