NATO’s ‘Dynamic Mongoose’ ASW exercise demonstrates alliance deterrence capability

NATO’s ‘Dynamic Mongoose’ exercise
NATO’s ‘Dynamic Mongoose’ exercise is designed to develop anti-submarine warfare capability for alliance surface ships, submarines, and air assets alike. Pictured is the photo exercise serial from ‘Dynamic Mongoose’ in 2022. (Credit: NATO)

NATO navies completed on 5 May the alliance’s ‘Dynamic Mongoose’ anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercise in the North Atlantic.

‘Dynamic Mongoose’ is NATO’s long-standing annual North Atlantic ASW exercise, based around Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1). As the ASW challenge has returned in recent years, so ‘Dynamic Mongoose’ has become increasingly important as an exercise for rebuilding and refining NATO ASW capabilities and skills. Its importance would have been further underlined by recent reports, for example from UK officials in April 2023, that Russian submarines present in North Atlantic waters are operating in increasingly unusual ways.

For 2023, ‘Dynamic Mongoose’ covered an area of 200,000 square miles, “spanning in strategic location from Iceland to Norway”, NATO Maritime Command (MARCOM) said in a statement on 5 May. With SNMG1 providing the bulk of NATO surface forces for the exercise, 12 surface ships were present, alongside a collection of submarines and maritime patrol aircraft. SNMG1 is currently under command of the German Navy, with the navy’s Type 123 Brandenburg-class frigate FGS Mecklenburg-Vorpommern as flagship and Rear Admiral Thorsten Marx as task group commander.

With the exercise reinforcing NATO ASW capability and integration, “It served as an excellent opportunity to highlight the warfighting role of NATO’s maritime assets, contributing to the deterrence of potential adversaries, and proving the ability to defend and reassure allies,” said Rear Adm Marx, in the MARCOM statement.

SNMG1 is one of NATO’s four standing naval forces. SNMG1 and Standing Mine Counter Measures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) are focused on the North Atlantic region; SNMG2 and SNMCMG2 focus on the Mediterranean Sea region.

Following the outbreak of the Russo-Ukraine war in February 2022, NATO activated its graduated response plans for the first time: this elevated the SNFs to operating as High-Readiness Maritime Task Forces within the NATO Response Force and Very High Readiness Joint Task Force constructs.

The MARCOM statement noted that, in this geostrategic context, SNMG1 is “carrying out a broad range of tasks throughout the area of responsibility across the maritime domain of Northern Europe. In doing so, the group exploits the inherent agility of maritime assets by constantly maintaining a balanced, proportionate, and credible defence posture.”

by Dr. Lee Willett