US Marines launch separate exercise in northern Norway ahead of NATO drill

The Northern Screen exercise is apparently not related to NATO's Trident Juncture exercises, which kick off later in another part of Norway.

By Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer - October 16, 2018
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U.S. Marines train in northern Norway. (Lance Cpl. Cesar N. Contreras / U.S. Marine Corps)

Residents can expect gunfire and military aircraft overflights from October 17 to November 6, the municipality of Bardu writes on its portal.

The municipality is home to Setermoen military camp where U.S. Marines and Sailors from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment were deployed two weeks ago as part of the Marine Corps rotational presence in Northern Norway. Some 700 Marines will be in Norway on rotational presence to get cold climate training.

The exercise in the north, named Northern Screen, is said not to be a part of Trident Juncture, NATO’s large-scale exercise in the southwestern and middle part of Norway kicking off on October 25 and lasting till November 7.

Some Norwegian soldiers are also participating in exercise Northern Screen, which will use the shooting ranges at Setermoen, Norway’s TV2 reported Monday.

USS Harry S. Truman belongs to the largest class of U.S. aircraft carriers. (Spc. 3rd Class Adelola Tinubu / U.S. Navy)

Local newspaper Fremover reports that the exercise will include air support from the carrier USS Harry S. Truman currently sailing north.

Press spokesman Lt. Col. Ivar Moen with Norway’s Joint Headquarters declined to comment on any planned route the huge American aircraft carrier might sail when asked by the Barents Observer about possible voyage to the waters outside Troms.

“We don’t comment on this,” Moen says. “It is not natural for military divisions to describe such movements up front, for reasons of predictability and security.”

Providing air support to soldiers on exercise in Troms would most likely mean that the American aircraft carrier would sail off the coast of Nordland or Troms in the Norwegian Sea. That is north of the areas where Trident Juncture is set to take place.

Speaking at a press-conference about Trident Juncture exercise on Monday, the Commander of Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, Admiral James Foggo, confirmed the participation of USS Harry S. Truman in NATO’s upcoming Trident Juncture.

“Today it is my privilege to announce that the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman and its strike group, including its ships and aircraft, will participate in Trident Juncture, adding about 6,000 personnel to the mix,” Admiral Foggo said according to the transcripts from the press-conference posted by NATO.

It is not publicly known if the carrier will support both exercises, the Northern Screen and Trident Juncture, at the same time or if the support to the US Marines in Troms will come to an end before Trident Juncture kicks off on October 25.

USS Harry S. Truman is of the Nimitz-class, the largest nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in the U.S. Navy. The ship has 90 planes and helicopters and a crew of about 5,000 people.

An American aircraft carrier last participated in a NATO exercise in Norway in 1989.