Some 120 military personnel from Austria, Germany, and the US are in the midst of building up a “tent city” at Zaragoza AB, Spain, which will eventually serve as a NATO Joint Task Force Headquarters to support Exercise Trident Juncture 2015, the Alliance’s most sprawling and ambitious exercise since the end of the Cold War, according to NATO officials. A total of 392 containers with equipment arrived at the site in late July, and since then the NATO Exercise Support Group in charge of the project has worked to make the headquarters operational by September. Plans for the headquarters were drawn up a year ago and approved last December, said Royal Navy Lt. Philip Morrison, commander of the ESG, but implementing the plan during the hot Spanish summer has proved a difficult task. “We are encountering challenges that we did not anticipate, but the lessons we learn will be valuable for NATO,” Morrison said. Other locations in Spain, Italy, and Portugal are preparing for the exercise, but north of Zaragoza lies the San Gregorio training area, where more road construction and preparation for the exercise is under way. When complete, 650 staff from NATO Joint Force Command Brunssum will command and control the exercise—which will feature some 36,000 troops—?when it begins in late September.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.