Mission ready as rapid response force

Cougar Sword – over fiords and mountains

Cougar Sword – over fiords and mountains

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“Mission accomplished, Tromsø is freed!”, the commander of 37 Armoured Infantry Brigade, Alexander Krone, reports upon the end of Cougar Sword exercise. In this exercise, the brigade obtained the certification for its mission as Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force ) of NATO and passed the CREVAL test (Combat Readiness Evaluation).

Two officers are standing in a hut in front of maps spread out on the window sill and negotiate with each other.

As a result of negotiations, Brigadier General Alexander Krone (right), commander of the future VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force Brigade Land, succeeds in persuading the commander of the adversary troops to give up the city of Tromsø without any fighting.

Bundeswehr/Christoph Frischat

For two weeks, about 2,200 servicemen and women from the Netherlands, Norway and the Bundeswehr, among others, have been practising combat in a national and collective defense scenario at the Army Warfighting Simulation Centre at Rhön barracks in Wildflecken. The aim of the exercise was to respond to an attack by the fictitious state of “Murinus” on northern Norway and restore the territorial integrity of the NATO partner. The German-Netherlands Corps from Münster was the designated Land Component Command of NATO and operated the command posts of the future VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force Brigade Land, of 21 Armoured Brigade “Lipperland”, the NLD 13 Light Brigade as well as a multinational CBRNchemical, biological, radiological, nuclear defence unit.

Successful certification

The difficult terrain in between numerous fiords and more than 1,000 m high mountains around Tromsø was quite a challenge for the operation planners. In addition, the Norwegian partners requested to spare the historic old town of Tromsø with its typical wooden buildings from heavy weapon fire, if possible. The forward brigades, however, succeeded in persuading the adversary to give up. The scenario, which was practised merely on the basis of maps in the digital battle command systems, followed events that were recently observed during the war in Ukraine.
Major General Ruprecht von Butler was responsible for the certification. “2022 is a special year in many repects”, the commander of 10 Armoured Division points out and refers to what has happened in Ukraine. This has also had an effect on the Bundeswehr since it “forces us to focus, more than ever, on national and collective defense again.” Against this backdrop, 10 Armoured Division is fully oriented towards obtaining immediate cold-start capability. Von Butler’s division HQHeadquarters carried out the exercise evaluation from Veitshöchheim in Frankonia and certified the VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force brigade as mission ready.

Between reality and simulation

  • Three combat vehicles are standing, rear to rear, on an asphalt area.

    During the Cougar Sword exercise, Boxer MRAVs are used as the forward command post of VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force on the premises of the Rhön barracks in Wildflecken.

    Bundeswehr/Sven Fischer
  • A dispatch rider is driving his bike through gravelled terrain.

    Driver training on the terrain training track: The dispatch riders of the future VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force brigade practise their skills on their bikes.

    Bundeswehr/Sven Fischer
  • A reporter in a black parka is standing in front of a soldier, wearing helmet and protective vest, asking him questions.

    VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force determines the situation in the information environment: Colonel Tjeerd Blankenstijn (centre), deputy commander of VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force , is interviewed by the journalist Dickon Hooper from the fictitious TV station “Crown News”.

    Bundeswehr/Jannick Ruhl
  • Photographed from behind: Three combat vehicles are driving on an asphalt road.

    Combat is simulated, but the command posts and military planning are real. Boxer MRAVs of the future VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force brigade are on their way into the Porta Camp in Wildflecken.

    Bundeswehr/Sven Fischer
by Karsten Dyba