On Monday, March 16, NATO Allied Maritime Command began its full operational capability (FOC) certification exercise TRIDENT JEWEL, testing the headquarters staff’s abilities to manage a joint multinational operation with a significant maritime component.

Exercise TRIDENT JEWEL marks the culmination of a two year period of transition for MARCOM, following the merging of the two maritime NATO headquarters in 2013 into a single HQ. During this period, MARCOM’s staff has grown dramatically, both in number and in capability. Months of planning have gone into this particular exercise, to include the development of complex operational plans, taking into account all aspects of joint military operations.

MARCOM, commanded by UK Royal Navy Vice Admiral Peter Hudson CB CBE, has a multinational staff of more than 300 that is augmented by an additional 70 personnel for the 11-day exercise. Additional capabilities were needed to execute the joint operation, and numerous NATO headquarters and Allied national forces provided active duty and reserve personnel to fill the gaps. Around 40 additional training and evaluation personnel will also be working in the headquarters during the exercise.

The scenario focuses on management of a non-Article V crisis in a fictitious non-NATO nation. The expanded MARCOM staff will be responsible for commanding air and land forces, logistics and Special Forces, as well as its regular maritime capabilities such as ships, submarines, and maritime patrol aircraft.

Vice Admiral Hudson said:

Exercise TRIDENT JEWEL tests our ability to manage a significant security challenge that will require seamless co-ordination between myriad military headquarters and civilian organisations in order to sustain a comprehensive solution.