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U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Zachary Harper, a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear specialist and a NATO Winter Instructor Course instructor with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, teaches Marines how to build a fire in an arctic environment in preparation for the NATO exercise Nordic Response 2024 in Setermoen, Norway, Jan. 28, 2024. Nordic Response is a Norwegian national readiness and defense exercise designed to enhance military capabilities and allied cooperation in high-intensity warfighting in a challenging arctic environment. This exercise will test military activities ranging from the reception of allied and partner reinforcements and command and control interoperability to combined joint operations, maritime prepositioning force logistics, integration with NATO militaries, and reacting against an adversary force during a dynamic training environment. The U.S. stands firm in commitment and readiness to support Norway, allies and partners. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Joshua Kumakaw)

Setermoen, Norway. (January 28, 2024): NATO is welcoming its newest members in a big way by launching Nordic Response 2024, the alliance’s largest military exercise since the end of the Cold War. In this photo by Lance Cpl. Joshua Kumakaw, Sgt. Zachary Harper teaches fellow Marines how to build a fire in the freezing Arctic environment.

With Finland now a member and Sweden certain to join soon, NATO has expanded its annual Cold Response exercises to include Steadfast Defender in Germany, Poland and the Baltic states and another British-led marine exercise – Joint Warrior - which is being conducted in the sea areas between Scotland, Norway, and Iceland.

This year, over 20,000 servicemembers from fourteen countries will participate with Norway contributing around 8,000 troops, Norway adding 4,100 and 4,500 more from Finland. Other participating nations include the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, and Italy. The maneuvers will involve over fifty naval vessels, 110 aircraft , and more than fifty frigates and submarines. On the ground, some 11,000 troops will war game using tanks, artillery systems, and other tracked vehicles.

Nordic Response 2024 is designed to evaluate the alliance’s response to a simulated Article 5 attack by a hostile force. Under the NATO treaty, Article 5 states that “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all”. The NATO exercise will occur in three phases. The first is Steadfast Defender which involves moving reinforcements and their equipment from North America to Europe. This is followed by Joint Warrior, launched from the UK, which focuses on securing communication lines in the Northeast Atlantic. The final phase will concentrate on the reception of allies and joint operations in the face of a fictional invasion of Northern Norway.

The maneuvers are scheduled to continue through June and will include complex sea, land, air, cyber, and space operations across thousands of miles of NATO’s eastern front.