Broader NATO naval focus reflected in ‘Dynamic Mongoose’ exercise

NATO air, surface, and sub-surface assets prepare for Exercise ‘Dynamic Mongoose’ in the Norwegian Sea in June. The exercise demonstrated NATO’s broad focus on naval presence and combined arms capability across the Euro-Atlantic theatre. (Portuguese Navy/NATO).

NATO’s broadening strategic focus on increasing naval presence and demonstrating naval capability across the entirety of the Euro-Atlantic theatre even in the face in the Ukraine conflict was demonstrated in the alliance’s ‘Dynamic Mongoose’ exercise, which took place in the Norwegian Sea in June.

Since the development of its Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area (DDA) concept, which was finalised in 2020, NATO has been building presence and capability to deter and defend against threats across the theatre, from the High North on the alliance’s northern flank to the Black Sea at the eastern end of its southern flank.

Moreover, while NATO naval presence in the Eastern Mediterranean may contribute to maintaining maritime security and wider stability in that region during the Ukraine crisis, the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) focus in ‘Dynamic Mongoose’ demonstrated that NATO is maintaining focus on preparing for potential higher-end contingencies even while the Ukraine conflict continues.

‘Dynamic Mongoose’ is NATO’s annual North Atlantic ASW exercise, based around Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1). Its ‘southern flank’ counterpart is the Mediterranean-based ‘Dynamic Manta’, based around SNMG2.

The training conducted in ‘Dynamic Mongoose’ reflected the alliance’s wider focus on improving combined arms integration for ASW, when set against growing instability across NATO’s area of responsibility (AOR). “ASW is an all-arms mission. The co-ordination between ships, submarines, and aircraft can be difficult but is the most effective way to detect and track submarines. ‘Dynamic Mongoose’ gives our ships the opportunity to train these skills,” Commodore Ad van de Sande, a Royal Netherlands Navy officer and the outgoing Commander SNMG1, said in a NATO Maritime Command (MARCOM) statement on 24 June.

“[‘Dynamic Mongoose’] provides an opportunity for our forces to work together as a team within the alliance, practicing and improving our interoperability in the ASW domain. The exercise further demonstrates that the alliance stands ready to defend against these threats across the AOR,” added Rear Admiral Steve Mack, a US Navy officer and Commander Submarine Forces NATO (COMSUBNATO), based at MARCOM headquarters, Northwood, UK.

Nine NATO countries provided surface ships, submarines, aircraft, and personnel for the exercise.

by Dr. Lee Willett, London