BRUSSELS-U.S. Admiral James Foggo has spent months planning for NATO's biggest exercise since the Cold War. His first goal is…
BRUSSELS-U.S. Admiral James Foggo has spent months planning for NATO’s biggest exercise since the Cold War. His first goal is to get all 50,000 troops in place when the drill starts on Thursday.
Relocation forces from 30 countries to Norway for Trident Juncture maneuvers have been almost as big as the pursuits themselves. Ten thousand vehicles, 250 aircraft and 65 ships were shipped, with the bulk of matérial targeted to southern Norway.
Getting everything in place “is a serious logistical challenge,” said the American Admiral, who orders the exercises and usually oversees the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Naples, Italy. A NATO spokeswoman said that all troops and equipment “will be in place as planned” for the start of month-long exercises.
johan falls / epa / shutterstock
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday that all forces are in place.
President Trump has repeatedly reviewed NATO’s European members to not spend enough on the defense area. One more immediate problem is that Europeans are struggling to move equipment that they already have.
Logistics features that were different during the Cold War have deteriorated. Mobility barriers include narrow rail and road tunnels, varying meters of railways and legal restrictions on maritime borders across borders. Many European road and rail bridges are too low for military vehicles to drive below or too weak to support a convoy of 100 tons of tanks, officials say.
Mobilization is run in parallel with the efforts of the Alliance to rebuild its arsenals, which is caused by Russia’s Crimean seizure from Ukraine in 2014. Military spending from NATO European members has increased by 14% in fixed dollars since the post-war warfall was around 2014.  “With a more independent Russia, we are now more focused on military mobility in Europe for a long time,” said Stoltenberg.
The campaign for restoring logistics features includes both military equipment, such as modular bridges and civil infrastructure, including ports and waterways, officials say. Improved mobility can be more net traffic than buying weapons because of the civilian element. Politicians rarely associate rail wagons and customs regulations with the national defense, but they can be critical. And because NATO is a coalition, major exercises that are crucial for combat preparedness require international cooperation.
“People underestimate campaign logistics,” said Elisabeth Braw, an associate colleague at Royal United Services Institute, a tanker in London. “We are still far behind Russia when we move a large number of troops.”
A case case: The British Army sent over 70 armored passenger carriers and Land Rovers to the Netherlands earlier this month to drive to Norway to test mobility. Before entering the country, all traces of British soil must be removed to avoid potential pollution of Norwegian farms.
A Norwegian veterinary specialist “found dirt in places we did not know existed,” says Lt. Harry Busby, who helped to monitor the convoy. The vehicles used public roads, driving in groups of nine and separated 20 minutes apart to avoid overload along the 1,500 km long journey.
Mohssen Assanimoghaddam / Zuma Press
Equalization logistics not only means moving troops to a battle zone or exercise. It can also ward off attacks, says Retired Director General Ben Hodges, who spent four years rebuilding capacity as the master of US Army forces in Europe. He worries that Russia or any other opponent may be more adventurous if they think NATO can not respond quickly.
“The Russians would have to believe that the Alliance is able to defeat all they can bring,” said General Hodges, who retired in December. Quick action he said that “our politicians have options other than a liberation campaign.”
<img srcset = “https://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/B3-CD263_NATOMO_D_20181023145617.jpg 140w,
https://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/B3-CD263_NATOMO_M_20181023145617.jpg 1260w “sizes =” (max-width: 140px) 100px,
(max-width: 540px) 500px,
(max-width: 620px) 580px,
(max-width: 700px) 660px,
(max-width: 860px) 820px,
1260px “src =” https://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/B3-CD263_NATOMO_H_20181023145617.jpg “data-enlarge =” https://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/B3- CD263_NATOMO_M_20181023145617.jpg “alt =” A polished Bundeswehr transport vehicle will be cleaned on September 16th in the German harbor Emden, Lower Saxony, September 16th. 19659022] A polished Bundeswehr transport is being cleaned on September 16th in the German harbor Emden, Lower Saxony, September 16th.
Mohssen Assanimoghaddam / Zuma Press
After the Crimean attack, NATO and its members understood how far their logistics capacity had lost as the alliance’s territory was expanded. A dozen ex-communist countries had joined since 1999, shooting the eastern border of NATO far closer to Russia. But NATO planners had “zero knowledge” of their physical infrastructure as bridges, said a NATO official. To fix it, the official said, NATO launched a survey involving “a huge amount of work”.
Officials also identified hundreds of regulations around Europe that could slow troop movements, from traffic laws to environmental regulations on hazardous substances. Efforts begin to change laws, which limit transport at peace time, but would be interrupted during wartime.
NATO and the European Union in 2016 agreed to deepen cooperation in many areas, including mobility. The EU, which spends billions of euros annually, assists members to fund infrastructure projects, adds Nato requirements to their standard specifications and allocates $ 6.5 billion ($ 7.45 billion) of their next seven-year budget, starting from 2021, to ensure Strategic transport facilities meet military needs.
At a NATO summit in July, leaders approved the creation of a new command to monitor logistics, largely in Europe, and another to ensure that the Atlantic and Arctic seafarers are open to delivering Europe.
robin van lonkhuijsen / epa-efe / re / shutterstock
Alliance troops routinely test mobility, as with the latest British convoy. The US Army’s Iron Horse Armored Brigade, based in Fort Hood, Texas, rotated in May for a deployment in Eastern Europe via the Belgian port of Antwerp. Logistics specialists used the move to try barges and mission carriers, and not just trains as in two previous recent implementations. Several modes of transport made it possible for equipment to leave the port faster, a spokesman for the army said – exactly what kind of operational lesson planners are now hungry to learn.
“There are significant signs of improvement” to move troops across Europe, said spokesman.
Europe’s next step will arrange trucks, ships and railway wagons that can be called at short notice, officials say. During the Cold War, European state railways kept thousands of flat cars ready to transport thoughts at short notice. Since 1989, they have been deprived of privatization and cost savings. Purchase of civilian military equipment is not counted against the expense obligations of NATO members, so deciding who to pay for assets that are often unused is still a topic for debate.
Avg. Hodges said buying transport equipment has the advantage of being less controversial than acquiring weapons. “We do not ask for more German thoughts. We ask for more German trains,” he said. “Just go buy it.”
Write to Daniel Michaels at [email protected]