Airmen from the 426th ABS support NATO exercise

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jennifer Zima
  • 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

Exercise TRIDENT JUPITER 19-1, one of the largest NATO exercises in recent history, concluded at ten different locations across Europe Nov. 14.

Three thousand military and civilian personnel gathered together as participants, evaluators and observers. Thirty NATO members and partner nations participated.

TRJU19-1 was sponsored by NATO Allied Command Transformation and planned and executed by the NATO Joint Warfare Center to test NATO’s defense capabilities, interoperability, and demonstrate the shared commitment in maintaining the continued security of Europe. The exercise tested and evaluated the ability of land, maritime, air and special operations component commands of the NATO Response Force 2020 and the Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO as the NATO Expanded Task Force.

The JWC is located at the Jåttå Military Compound in Stavanger, Norway, along with the 426th Air Base Squadron. The mission at the 426 ABS is to provide base-level support to U.S. service members, U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of State civilians and their families, along with those assigned to the NATO JWC and the U.S. Embassy in Norway. In addition, the 426th ABS ensures successful movement and customs clearance of all DOD cargo in Norway.

“Our Airmen collectively execute a mission that serves to enable combat operations, engage joint and international partners, and enhance quality of life,” said Lt. Col. Shawn Beskar, 426th ABS commander. “We enable combat operations by serving as the U.S. National Support Element to the NATO JWC and acting as the provider of Common-User Logistics for the DOD in Norway. We engage joint and international partners by maintaining daily working relationships with the U.S. Embassy in Oslo, NATO JWC, Marine Coordination Element-Norway, Norwegian Ministry of Defense, and a number of Norwegian civil authorities. We enhance quality of life by the support we deliver to the 16 Allies represented at JWC and through our internal efforts to build resiliency among Airmen.”

During the ten day, twelve-hour exercise, the 426th ABS continued to provide support to participants. Tech. Sgt. Kevin Joslin, 426 ABS chief of cyber systems, volunteered to participate directly in the exercise. This was his third year participating. His responsibilities in the JWC Media Cell included daily pushing out 30-80 accurately timed media pieces, to include social media postings or videos and fake news articles.

“The purpose of the media cell during the exercise is to push the exercise narrative,” said Joslin. “They tell the narrative beforehand and during the exercise. Then the media cell responds to what the Training Audience does in their exercise, and then publishes news in response to it, exactly as would happen in real life. Some of the news sites are pro Blue Forces, some are pro Red Forces, and some are just completely neutral and pointing out pure facts. We publish all that throughout the exercise. The entire point is: can the audience sift through and figure out what is happening? Can they take what is being created as noise and toss it out and take out what’s actually happening, and can they respond to how media responds to their actions?”

TRJU19-1 involved military and civilian personnel from all NATO Member Nations, partner countries Finland and Sweden and fourteen Training Audiences at ten different exercise locations across Europe.

“I’ve worked with Turkish forces, British forces, Spanish, German, Norwegians, Canadians, U.S.,” said Joslin. “The difference is the similarities among multiple militaries. I’m a huge fan of working with this exercise. It’s interesting how the different forces relate and are similar at the very same time.”

According to Joslin, working together with NATO personnel and supplementing this exercise has provided the opportunity to see the bigger picture in how the 426th’s efforts affect the JWC. Not everyone may be directly involved in the exercise, but everyone in the squadron provides a service in conjunction with the exercise.

“The Pathfinders in the 426th ABS represent a small but nevertheless significant enduring American presence in the Kingdom of Norway,” said Beskar. “We are guests here and I personally feel fortunate for this rare opportunity to serve with Airmen—military and civilian—in our ally Norway’s pristine and incomparable natural environment.”