Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Concept Testing

Just as the NATO CoE for Littoral Warfare (I don't think they really expect anyone to say "operations in confined and shallow waters") in Germany is slowly starting work and establishing itself, Germany already engages in the first maneuver coached and inspired by this CoE.

And what a maneuver it is. Probably one of the biggest joint maneuvers in years. And by big I really mean big. I'm rather surprised at the numbers, so i better repeat that.

The name is Northern Coasts, short NOCO, and this will be a new ongoing multi-national exercise series happening annually. For Germany, the deployment for this multi-national exercise will replace the national SEF training exercises. The focus will be on large-scale interoperability between Allied navies and land and air forces, just as the new Navy doctrine prescribes.

In 2007, the focus is joint navy-airforce operations , with some ground force involvement as well, in a realistic scenario (deployment on UN ticket in a interstate conflict background). The scenario will involve certain component tasks of "Basis See", e.g. embargo enforcement, convoy escort and humanitarian assistance. And, from the ships involved, there'll also a rather hefty MIW and ASW part. The exercise will take place in the Western Baltic Sea and last a full two weeks (October 12th to 25th).

The line-up on the German side includes one F124 AAW frigate, one F122 ASW frigate, one ELINT ship, two minehunters (one of which has been refitted as a "guard ship" - a gunboat if you want - for boarding ops), one tender, two submarines (one 206A and one 212A), one FAC and five "local" auxiliary units (high-sea tugs, small tankers and such - probably "bait" in the exercise).

In Seabase terms that means the deployed German Seabase will at least have a command ship with AAW capability, a full-spectrum ASW capability (as there's also a P-3C deployed), two RAS- and VERTREP-capable supply ships, large recon assets, and boarding/interdiction assets with minehunting capability.

The second large contribution will be by Sweden - two corvettes/FACs, a submarine, no less than six minehunters, and three auxiliaries (including a minelayer).

Of course however, the German and Swedish Navy won't be alone. Denmark commits Esbern Snare, the second ship of their new Absalon multi-purpose class. Denmark, Finland and Latvia will also each send two FACs/patrol boats as well. The UK and Poland will each send in a frigate (a Type 23 and a OHP).

The airborne component of this exercise will be provided with two MPAs, four fighter jets and eight helicopters. Additionally, both Sweden's and Germany's contributions include special forces, in particular mine divers, and Germany uses some MSK naval infantry as well, presumably as MPE units. France provides some staff personnel for exercise planning.

Looks like the new NATO CoE is getting some good introduction here. And, with "about 40 ships" involved officially (Hm? Did i miss five?), this is probably one of the biggest exercises worldwide for 2007. It will be interesting to see results of this exercise.

And btw, the German Navy really should work on their press releases a bit. While the English-language article reads rather dry and technical, it has a lot more info on the procedures that will be trained in this exercise. The German version is sort of short and informative - but it lists all participating units down to the number of UH-1D helos deployed.

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