ExercisesNATOTactica Magazine

Junction Strike 21

I do not plan for failure

In the first part of November, Romanian Special Operations Forces (SOF) led the execution of JUNCTION STRIKE 21 (JUST 21), a critical multinational exercise with Allied and Partner SOF participation from Georgia, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, United Kingdom and United States of America. As one of the leaders in regional defense and SOF capabilities, Romania demonstrated reliable command and control during complex combined joint operations from the Joint Force Commander to Special Operations Component Command, and to Special Operations Air, Land, and Maritime Task Groups.

Combined training events enable NATO forces, and particularly SOF, to maintain high levels of readiness and responsiveness as a vital deterrent capability. The main goal of the JUST 21 exercise is NATO certification of the Romanian Maritime Special Operations Forces and the Special Operations Component Command.

The exercise also has as an objective to develop interoperability among participating structures, through planning and execution of missions and specific joint operations for special operations forces, harmonizing work procedures in the multinational environment, all of this having as an outcome the promotion of regional security, especially in the Black Sea area.

Almost 1.000 Romanian and foreign servicemen from allied or partner countries, with approximately 100 land, air and naval vehicles, have trained in facilities of the Romanian Army on a fictional scenario associated with hybrid warfare within an operation and tactical structure, in multinational and interinstitutional format.

The exercise started at the 164th Naval Forces Division in Mangalia, where Romanian and Portuguese soldiers trained for the NATO capability certification of a Special Operations Forces Maritime Group generated by the 164th SONF Division.

Highlighting the objectives of Just 21, Major Alexandru Ivanov, in charge of public relations within the Special Forces Command, said: An important objective of this exercise is to increase interoperability between the participating states, so in case we meet on the battlefield we know exactly that we are acting like brothers and that we know how to use each other’s abilities.

Speaking on behave of the Portuguese detachment participating in this phase of the exercise, their commander said: ‘for us it is a good opportunity to exchange experience and train with the Romanian military and the forces of other countries.

A unique moment for the Romanian FOS, the certification of the first Maritime Special Operations Forces Group generated by the 164th SONF Division, was the result of hard work that started in 2017, as the chief of the 164th SONF Division, commander Mihai Ghibu specified in an interview for the Army’s radio station (Jurnal Militar Constanța). We will be certified on all aspects, which means command and control component and all actions related to forces for special operations, like direct actions, special reconnaissance and of course actions in the maritime environment. The certification consists of two stages, a static evaluation that we have already gone through and a dynamic evaluation that will take place on a 5-day span. It will consist of demonstrating all the capabilities of the maritime group for special operations through dynamic exercises.

As most of the exercises the SOF operators participate in, this one also had an important component of hybrid warfare. Most of the scenarios of the exercises we train in include those of unconventional hybrid warfare. Which we had to prove in this exercise as well, being an evaluation criterion. We are trying to adapt to the current threats and the terrain in which we are fighting, and certain things that we have experienced and encountered in previous deployments no longer apply here.

But some are forever present, like night operations. During the night, one of the detachments within the group received a mission, planned and developed a concept of the operation and executed it during the night.

images courtesy of Romanian MoD, FOS, Ro Navy

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