The United States military recently flexed its muscles in Europe. U.S. Special Operations Command hosted the biggest exercise that has ever been in Europe.
This was done for Russia to see as that country continues to rage war against Ukraine. There were more than 3,300 special operators from 30 countries that took part in what was called Trojan Footprint 22. This exercise doubled the size of last year’s version of the same, and it sent a message regarding the special-operations capabilities of NATO and its partners.
Trojan Footprint 22 highlighted mission command for special operations units that move between the Baltics and the Black Sea.
This exercise put in place the conditions necessary for increased interoperability between special-operations forces as well as conventional units. They prepared for combined, joint, and multi-domain warfare. Based on what is being learned from Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the exercise was based accordingly.
Derek Coker, the lead exercise planner, said in a press release, “It was designed to be a slow-boil — a low-intensity conflict that can span years but creates constant pressure in various ways. The adversary attacks certain nations’ ability to govern, creating internal dissonance and infighting that hacks away at the legitimacy of these governments, in essence trying to demonstrate that these nations are unable to govern themselves.”
Joining the U.S. Military, 3,300 special operators were commandos from Sweden and Finland, both of these nations have applied for membership in NATO.
Special Operations From NATO Militaries Come Together
Trojan Footprint 22 was not just unusual in its size, it was the first time that an exercise had combined joint force headquarters that provided a simulation of the joint command of a number of special-operations units from different NATO militaries.
The 10th Special Forces Group from U.S. special operations took the lead in the exercise. The Green Berets took their position on the front lines and trained and advised NATO allies. These Green Berets were also mainly responsible for training the Ukrainian special-operations forces that have given Russia chaos in Ukraine.
Trojan Footprint 22 has been in the planning stages for a year in advance. Even though the focus was on the United States, it significantly improved the interoperability of all the forces involved.
John Black, a retired Army Special Forces warrant officer, said,
“For America to work with its allies [and] with an ever-changing threat situation globally, it’s important for us to be able to work fluidly with another nation, and Trojan footprint provides a great base and foundation for that to happen.”
This exercise was needed because of the unprecedented war in Europe. Russia’s war on Ukraine is the continent’s biggest conflict since World War II.
“We just really wanted to work with our partnered nations to accomplish a large list of training tasks and improve our relationships with that country. It was great to see many nations that are very capable and have a fighting force. For me, this reinforced my belief in a safer tomorrow,” John Black, the retired Green Beret added.
Special Operations Command Europe is a constant presence in Europe. And linking with the U.S. European Command to train allies and partners should be a sign to Russia. Together building their capabilities to put down aggressive actions, like those of Russia, should create a deterrent.
No doubt, Russia is watching.