Saturday, July 7, 2018

Dynamic Mongoose ASW Exercise

Norway is hosting a NATO ASW exercise, called Dynamic Mongoose 2018, described as the year’s largest ASW exercise in the North Atlantic.  Participants include Norway, Denmark, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, and the United States. Good thing, right?  Well, maybe not so right.  Look at the lineup for this exercise. (1)

  • 7 surface ships
  • 2 submarines
  • 3 aircraft (one each from Germany, Norway, and US)

That’s the lineup for the “year’s largest NATO anti-submarine training in the North Atlantic”?  Three aircraft for the “year’s largest NATO anti-submarine training in the North Atlantic”?  Two subs?  Seven ships?  That’s a pretty pathetic effort.

Take away the token US contribution and the lineup is just 6 ships, 2 subs, and 2 aircraft from seven countries.  Seven countries could only muster two aircraft for the “year’s largest NATO anti-submarine training in the North Atlantic”?  That’s appalling.

This also highlights the weakness of many of the participating NATO members.  Norway’s entire navy, for example, consists of 5 frigates.  And so it goes.

I realize that most of these countries are fairly small but given their proximity to a militarily expansionistic and extremely aggressive Russia, I would think these countries would be wise to have much larger military forces.  I’m sure their thinking is that the US will defend them so any significant defense investment on their part is unnecessary.  That’s an attitude that the US needs to change.  We need to insist that they get serious about their own defense and this exercise is a perfect example of the problem.

I also realize that there are many exercises throughout the year and this may be a simple case of having to pick and choose which to attend but, really, is there any better use of time than actual, semi-realistic exercises?  Unless there are competing, concurrent exercises then there's no good reason not to attend this exercise in force - unless it's constraints imposed by operational budgets which would, again, go back to the degree of seriousness with which these countries are taking their defense responsibilities.

Now, any semi-realistic training (don’t know if this or not) is better than none but contrast this effort to a Russian exercise in the Barents at about the same time.

“A total of 36 warships and support vessels are currently on their way out to the Barents Sea. Also, about 20 aircrafts are in the air. Along the coast of the Kola Peninsula, more than 150 different rocket- and artillery weapon systems and special equipment are deployed.

Larger areas in the Barents Sea are now closed off for civilian shipping and overflights by civilian passenger aircraft. The drill will last until the end of next week. 

Among the warships are the missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov [Slava class], anti-submarine ship Severomorsk [Udaloy class], the destroyer Admiral Ushakov [Sovremenny class], the large landing ships Kondapoga, Georgy Pobedonosets and Aleksandr Obrakovsky.

Without specifying classes or names, the Northern Fleet says both nuclear-powered and diesel submarines participate.” (2)

Who’s more serious about combat readiness, Russia or NATO?  Seems obvious.


(1)The Barents Observer website, “Photos from NATO's anti-submarine warfare exercise outside Harstad”, Thomas Nilsen, 4-Jul-2018,

(2)The Barents Observer website, “Alarm-drill: 36 Russian warships sail out to Barents Sea”, Thomas Nilsen, 13-Jun-2018,


  1. There was also Dynamic Manta, a similar sized exercise in the med.
    But again, at best, all thats really going to be tested is that a French Frigate can talk to a German ASW fixed wing and a Dutch Helicopter

    No ones actually learning how to hunt Russian Submarines, certainly not fleets of the things.

    Certainly looks like the Russians have gamed, and are now practicing how to seize Svalbard or Iceland or Greenland.

    1. "No ones actually learning how to hunt Russian Submarines, certainly not fleets of the things."

      Spot on!

      "Certainly looks like the Russians have gamed, and are now practicing how to seize Svalbard or Iceland or Greenland."

      Russia is conducting serious exercises while NATO is conducting political exercises.

      Good comment!

  2. Norwegian Navy
    5 Frigates (oldest commissioned 2006)
    , 6 SSK, 6 LCS (armed), 8 MCM

    So more working LCS and almost as many MCM assets
    as the USN. Harrumph.
    And the Oscarsburg fortress has a full stock of Whitehead torpedoes.

    Alt for Norge

  3. Norway population: 5M
    Warships: 25
    One warship on 200 000 citizens.

    US population: 325M
    Warships: 480
    One warship on 677 000 citizens.

    1. Sounds like Norway needs to get its birthrate increased in order to match the US 677,000 citizens per ship. Or the US should go to an all small ship Navy so we can match the 200,000 citizen per ship.

    2. "Warships: 25"

      Where do you get 25 warships? Wiki lists five frigates and 6 subs plus some patrol boats which are decidedly not warships. So, I'm seeing 11 warships, not 25.

    3. 6x Skold class, 8x Kongsberg NSM, 76mm Super Rapid. Nice stealthy missile corvette.

      Alte for Norge

    4. USN has 280 warships, not 480.

    5. I just summed the numbers in the comment above me. I did not check it on wiki. So, the correct ratio for Norawy is 5M/11 ≈ 450 000.

      Anyway, population size is probably not a good start for general calculation of the ideal fleet size. Is there a better one? Aparently, it is not the coastline length. It would be an interesting subject for an article.

    6. "ideal fleet size"

      This is easy to answer. The answer is you need whatever size fleet meets your geopolitical/military strategic needs. If you want to be a global policeman then you need a massive fleet, like the US. If you want to be neutral and non-confrontational regardless of the circumstances then you don't need any navy. Or, any scenario in between. Tell me your country's geopolitical/military strategy and I'll tell you what size fleet you need.

      It's not related to coastline or any other physical attribute. It's just related to strategy.

    7. Well, I am Czech. We do not have navy, because we do mot have sea. Our Ideal fleet size is 0, which we meet :-) I just like to read this blog, because I've been sailing since childhood and read books about ships. I really like this blog!

    8. All sailors are welcome! Interestingly, the US Navy often gets recruit sailors who have never seen a body of water before. You just never know who will have an innate attraction to the sea!

    9. So true. I came from the middle part of the US. Two of my uncles and I were in the Navy. Don't think they ever saw the ocean before they joined. I had only seen the ocean once during a family vacation. On that trip we visited the USS Alabama battleship museum, must have sealed my fate.

    10. Nothing like a battleship to enhance recruitment! The Navy should fly plane loads of kids to see the battleships. Of course, they'll be disappointed to find that Navy doesn't actually have any battleships anymore!


    Only 5 countries in NATO besides the U.S. meet the 2% of GDP on defense they agreed to. All of Germany's subs are inop. They are free riders on U.S. defense. I say if they don't meet the 2% goal they are in breach of contract and article 5 rights are suspended until they are current on spending.

  5. I do believe that for countries like Norway (relatively low population and high HDP) the best solution for defence are nuclear weapons.
    If Russia occupy some areas from Norway (or Estonia for example) will the nuclear powers of NATO send some nukes to Russia?
    Or it will be "Why die for Danzig?" again?
    The nordic countries each on their own, Poland and the baltic countries ( all three countries together) can from a economic and scientific pow support a nuclear program. From a political pow that is another story...

    1. Well, that's an interesting philosophy. I suspect that would just encourage Russia to hit harder right from the start (nukes).

      First use of nukes by Norway, even in defense, would make it very difficult, politically, for the US to justify stepping in with its own nukes.

  6. Trump should pull all US assets out of countries that don't spend the 2% and re-locate them to those who do. US forces are huge contributors to local economies and this might have an impact.

    1. Without agreeing or disagreeing, what would your position be if we did that and Russia invaded a country that wasn't contributing enough? Would you advocate letting Russia have that country or would you defend it which would negate the original premise?

    2. Countries like Germany and Spain, two of the worst offenders, are unlikely to be invaded if the US removes troops as the Russians have to get through other countries to get to them but it will hit them economically and politically. That said, I'm not sure NATO would really go to war over Latvia if push came to shove - maybe sanctions?

  7. We are diminished.
    I remember going there for Northern Wedding with 3 US carriers and many surface ships culminating in an a sim attack on the Kola peninsula. Fighting through the gap and around that Arctic Circle corner....

    All the answer lie in what went on back in that period when we were hitting on all cylinders militarily...
    Of course they always ignore that era to their own foolish detriment...



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