Computer-based exercise joins U.S., Norway

Sailors aboard a Navy ship conducted a four-day computer-based training exercise last week with Norwegian counterparts thousands of miles away.

Capping more than a year of preparation, about 50 sailors from USS Mount Whitney, sailing off the U.S. Atlantic Coast, participated in the exercise with an equal number of personnel from the Defense Command of Northern Norway, said Lt. Cmdr. John Kropcho, Exercise Endeavor North planning officer with the 2nd Fleet in Norfolk, Va.

Exercise Endeavor North, conducted Nov. 13-16, was one of the first such exercises between two North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries, according to U.S. and Norwegian officials.

The war game's premise had Norwegian and U.S. forces allied against the fictional country Grayland, which had an economic dispute with Norway.

The Navy sailors used dual-processor Hewlett-Packard Co. Unix workstations running the HP-UX operating system. They sent small data packet messages to the Tactical Training Group Atlantic in Dam Neck, Va., via the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, to show the moves they made in the war game, Kropcho said.

The data packets were translated to the NATO command and control systems interface and were sent to the Norwegians through the NATO Secret Wide Area Network, he said.

Since the Cold War's end, the Navy hasn't done any deployments near Norway, Kropcho said. The $100,000 simulated war game could "foster a strong working relationship between the U.S. and Norway," in the absence of any agreements between the two countries to allow deployments near Norway, he said.

After some initial problems with U.S. VHF and commercial satellite circuits, Navy officials had "surprisingly good connectivity to Northern Norway," said Senior Cmdr. Morten Groenningsaeter, the senior Norwegian national representative aboard Mount Whitney. Officials also used video teleconferencing to communicate with each other throughout the four-day exercise.

The exercise gave commanders a common operational picture of aerial, surface and submarine ships, Groenningsaeter said. "We would like to see such exercises, perhaps every other year, with other countries also involved."

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