Pooing troops, empty bars, sinking frigate and other takeaways from NATO largest drills

From traffic accidents to troops relieving themselves in public places and bars left without beer, this year’s edition of NATO-led Trident Juncture drills has every chance to leave lasting memories in Norway and beyond.

Trident Juncture 2018 was by far the largest exercise hosted by Norway since the end of the Cold War and the largest NATO has held in decades. Involving some 50,000 troops from 31 countries, about 10,000 combat vehicles and 250 aircraft, the Trident Juncture was to hone the troops’ combat skills in harsh Nordic climate – the one that probably led to some embarrassing setbacks.

‘Sh**ty job’

Residents of Norway have filed hundreds of complaints with their country’s military, drawing attention to human waste left by foreigners in public places. NATO troops – mostly Swedes and Americans – were reportedly caught relieving themselves near kindergartens, schools, and sports facilities, according to Norway’s broadcaster NRK.
Other complaints came from local farmers who were angry about their property being damaged by armored vehicles. Norwegian Major Marianne Bo, responsible for damages and environmental protection during the NATO exercise, said the army usually has “a system for treating this” but something apparently went wrong.

“This is terrible, it’s about having common decency,” the officer lamented. “We have to clean up after soldiers who have relieved themselves. It’s literally a s****y job.” The news was met will little praise from Trident Juncture HQ either, which promised to take all the complaints seriously.

Full ammo, low beer

Norway wasn’t the only country to be adversely affected by the drills. It emerged that some 7,000 US troops heading for the Trident Juncture drank bars in Iceland – where they made a pit stop – dry in a single weekend. The complaints said thirsty American soldiers were especially keen to try local beverages.

At some point, Brewery Olgerdin Egils Skallagrimsson in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, which makes the popular Icelandic Gull, had to send emergency supplies to various pubs and bars.

Collisions: On land & at sea

Slippery Norwegian highways saw several NATO vehicles collide or veer off the road. The crashes occurred in different parts of the country, involving American, Swedish and Italian troops. Those incidents left no fatalities but disrupted traffic and required ambulances to transport the injured to local hospitals.

Dangerous collisions happened not only on land but also in Norway’s uneasy waters. The Trident Juncture came to a spectacular end on November 7, but the next day a Norwegian Navy frigate Helge Ingstad collided with a Maltese tanker Sola TS, near an island chain off Norway’s western coast.

The vessel, which had received a long tear in the hull started to take on water, prompting the crew of 137 to abandon ship. Helge Ingstad deliberately ran aground to prevent capsizing, and a race is now underway to save the frigate from sinking.

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