The extremely successful event in Norway was also held under the motto “NATO and the High North”. Thus, the focus of the main programme was on the High North, while in the panels the various procurement projects of the coming year were presented by representatives of the NCI Agency to the participants, mainly from
industry, including for example “Maritime Systems: from Manned to Autonomy”, “Business Opportunities: Joint Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance, Cyber Security, Education & Training”, “Business
Opportunities: Air & Missile Defence Command and Control, Service Support and Business Applications, Command & Control”,
“Business Opportunities: Network Services & IT Infrastructure, Core Enterprise Services”, “NCI Agency‘s new E-procurement
System”, or “Business Opportunities: Network Services & IT Infrastructure, Core Enterprise Services”. In each panel, the various sub-programs were presented with the required technologies, the budget, the timeframe as well as contact persons and project managers.
In addition, the participants had the opportunity to reserve background discussions with the speakers via the app. The most important aspect of the congress took place in the panels and reserved meetings. After all, the NCI Agency plans to award €1.4 billion to several contracts within the next 18 months. Nevertheless, the main programme also featured many highlights. The necessity
for NATO to prepare technologically and in training for a conflict in Arctic waters is mainly due to climate change and the resulting new opportunities around the North Pole. The speakers were unanimous in their message that many actors want to take advantage of these opportunities.
“China and other nations are showing increased
interest in the High North,” said Norwegian Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen in his introductory speech. Russia is also steadily increasing its military presence in the region. At the same time, the Arctic regions are characterised by special technological conditions. The northern lights, for example, is a challenge for communications. Bakke-Jensen sees Norway’s role in providing the necessary
infrastructure should NATO troops become necessary. “At the moment, the High North is the only place in the world without
broadband. Among other things, Norway will make this broadband available to its military allies in the event of a deployment.”
“Climate change also poses challenges for NATO, as the melting ice opens up new shipping routes,” stressed Kevin J Scheid, General Manager of the NCI Agency. This Last week in Oslo, Norway, the NCI Agency‘s annual congress “NITEC” took place. Organised by the NATO Agency together with AFCEA Europe, this event brings together NATO representatives and industry. The aim is to better inform both sides, the industry about the procurements and NATO about technological possibilities on the existing markets. “We are here to keep our edge. We want to be a smart buyer. We want to learn from industry, see what is going on and make sure that you know how to engage with NATO and the NCI Agency,” stated NCI Agency General Manager Kevin J. Scheid at this year’s conference.
This might potentially lead to new conflicts.
“Last year, China declared itself an Arctic state. They want to enforce this with icebreakers and local stations. China also
wants to open up new fishing grounds in Arctic waters.” However, the High North is deserted, but not without an owner, since
the territories belong to a large extent to NATO nations as well as Russia. China, however, apparently already seems to be asserting
its claims with power. “China is currently building two nuclear icebreakers,” says Scheidt.
The participants at the conference agreed that exercises such as Trident Juncture 2018 are absolutely necessary, especially in challenging areas, in order to prepare NATO soldiers for possible deployments on the northern flank as well. Even though temperatures have risen as a result of climate change, they remain far below the temperatures and weather conditions that are common in other NATO countries.
“During Trident Juncture we found that for some countries logistics was a challenge, for some clothing was a challenge and for others the weather,” said Commodore Arne Morten Grønningsæter, Project Coordinator, Joint Force Command Norfolk, NATO.
In addition, there would be – depending on the season – the long darkness or brightness as well as the effects of the increasing Russian presence. “In the Arctic we have a very large network of denial systems aspart of the Russian BASTION programme,”
Grønningsæter described. Accordingly, there is a compelling need for NATO to prepare for the High North. After all, the territorial independence of Denmark and Norway must at least be guaranteed,
whose territorial waters and land masses, including Greenland and northern Norway, extend into the areas of interest to
Russia and, more recently, China.
However, the conditions of an operation in the High North should not be underestimated. It has little to do with the familiar winters at
home. Rear Admiral Thomas Engevall, Director Governance Policies and Plans Office and Deputy National Armaments Director, Swedish Defence Materiel Administration, also described his experiences with Trident Juncture as follows: “The crew of the US
carrier fleet USS Harry Truman was slightly surprised how it is to work in the High North.”
(Source: ESD Spotlight)