Hundreds of UK troops have arrived in the Netherlands, as part of a 1,500-mile road move to Norway for NATO’s Exercise Trident Juncture.
More than 250 armoured vehicles and 500 soldiers from the British Army made the journey after stopping in the Netherlands.
Trident Juncture is the largest military exercise conducted by NATO in decades and will see 40,000 troops from 30 countries gather to practise their ability to operate and respond to threats together.
In the Netherlands, Major Stuart Lavery from 29 Royal Logistic Corps supervised the troops and vehicles as they arrived at the Hook of Holland and told Forces News:
“This week over the past ten days we’ve had 600 vehicles, with approximately a thousand people heading up towards Norway on Exercise Trident Juncture.”
Most had previously passed through Colchester Garrison to recuperate and clean their vehicles.
Major Cath Carter said, “What we’re providing with here is a 24 hour stop, so they can rest and recuperate ready to start the rest of that very long journey.”
For most troops, the scale of the operation is something they've never before experienced.
"This is going to be the biggest exercise that I’ve deployed on myself,” said Sapper Ross Read.
“I’m looking forward to firstly working with lots of different NATO countries, meeting new people, trying to see how everybody else operates as well because there’s going to be a lot of other engineers out there so we get to see what equipment they’re working with.”
Convoy support systems were once the backbones of armies across the world but as the nature of warfare has changed, they have become increasingly rare.
“Last time I did one was the deployment for Op Telic in Iraq,” recalled Sergeant Phil York of the Royal Logistic Corps.
“It’s a great opportunity, certainly for my soldiers, they’ve never seen it before. So it’s a new experience for them.”
One difference between Operation Telic and Exercise Trident Juncture, however, is the emphasis on the cleanliness of the vehicles.
Norway has stringent biosecurity standards and the Army has been told to make sure no soil from Britain enters the Norwegian ecosystem.
“All of these vehicles have to be incredibly clean before they’re allowed to travel on,” said Major Carter.
“These vehicles are probably the cleanest they’ve ever been!”
“Mud tends to stick in strange holes that they don’t normally see,” added Lieutenant Colonel Torgrim Aune, a veterinary inspector from the Norwegian Armed Forces sent to check the vehicles.
“There’s also traffic dust and oil on these vehicles. We don’t mind about that, it’s just the soil!”