Scotland set to host largest military exercise in Europe

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Scotland will host elements of the largest tactically-focused military exercise in Europe from 1 October, when Exercise Joint Warrior begins.

The tri-Service, multinational exercise, which is held twice a year, will see participation from 27 separate naval units, 40 aircraft and a variety of UK and allied land forces.

The headquarters for the exercise, planned primarily by Royal Navy and RAF personnel from the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff, will be at HM Naval Base Clyde, just outside Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute.

Around 150 Service personnel, many of them reservists, will descend on the naval base for Joint Warrior, setting up a Joint Warfare Operations Centre to co-ordinate and manage the massive exercise.

Taking part will be ships from the UK, the US, Belgium, Germany, Holland, France, Norway, Denmark and Estonia. And the Task Group leaders will be Commander Netherlands Maritime Force, deployed on board HNLMS Evertsen, and US Commander Destroyer Squadron 26 on board the USS Gettysburg.

Royal Navy ships involved include Type 23 frigates HMS Kent and HMS St Albans, and minehunters HMS Penzance, Cattistock, Hurworth and Bangor.

In addtion, military air participation will also be considerable, with up to 40 fixed-wing aircraft involved, including a detachment of Swedish JAS-39 Gripen jets, UK Hawks, Tornado GR4s and a Typhoon from RAF Lossiemouth, and eight maritime patrol aircraft from Canada and France, all operating from RAF Leuchars.

There will also be limited night-time and weekend flying from these RAF bases during the exercise.

Land troops will conduct military training across Scotland using Defence Training Estate range areas, commercial ranges, and Highland Agency and private land areas. This will enable training for 16 Air Assault Brigade, 3 Commando Brigade and 3 (UK) Division, as well as troops from the US, Sweden and Holland.

Exercise Joint Warrior allows the Armed Forces to practise the wide variety of skills needed by today’s military. Skills such as counter-piracy, counter-narcotics and insurgency operations, mine countermeasures, electronic warfare training and tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance are all included.

The scenario for the exercise involves multiple sovereign nations, disputed territory, and smuggling, piracy and terrorist activity. As it plays out the scenario will develop from a period of military and political tension to simulated war-fighting and state-on-state hostilities - all providing realistic training for the participants.

GPS-denial operations will also be conducted in a limited area of North West Scotland during Joint Warrior. The relevant authorities, including aviation and maritime communities, have been consulted and a risk assessment done to minimise the impact and put robust procedures in place for any unforeseen eventuality.

Some of the exercise areas overlap environmentally-sensitive conservation zones but the MOD recognises the impact of military activity and takes its environmental responsibility seriously.

During the planning of the exercise, environment impact assessments have been produced when required, such as for the use of active sonar and live weapons. The environment is always considered when planning exercises and remains a primary consideration throughout planning and execution.