What’s in a name? According to Shakespeare a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but for NATO, a name says a lot.
If it’s a NATO exercise, quite a lot! NATO exercises follow a specified naming convention to delineate the responsible headquarters and the focus of the exercise. This convention can occasionally lead to some interesting exercise names, but there is a method to the madness.
The first word in the name of a NATO exercise identifies the responsible headquarters. For example, any exercise starting with the word STEADFAST is run by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). There are also set “code names” for a variety of Ally elements, such as French, Italian, Spanish and U.K. maritime forces.
Exercise Naming Conventions - First Word
|HQ SACT - Allied Command Transformation||TRIDENT (TR)||1 GNC - German-Netherlands Corps||SWORD (SW)|
|SHAPE - Supreme Heaquarters Allied Powers Europe||STEADFAST (ST)||ARRC - Allied Rapid Reaction Corps||ARRCADE (AR)|
|JFCBS - Joint Force Command Brunssum||BRILLIANT (BR)||EUROCORPS - European Corps||COMMON (CO)|
|JFCNP - Joint Force Command Naples||NOBLE (NO)||NRDC ESP - NATO Rapid Deployable Corps - Spain||VALIANT (VA)|
|JFCNF - Joint Force Command Norfolk ||FORCEFUL (FF)||NRDC ITA - NATO Rapid Deployable Corps - Italy||EAGLE (EA)|
|JSEC - Joint Support and Enabling Command ||COMBINED (CO)||NRDC GRC - NATO Rapid Deployable Corps - Greece||GORDIAN (GO)|
|AIRCOM - Allied Air Command||RAMSTEIN (RA)||NRDC TUR - NATO Rapid Deployable Corps - Turkey||EURASIAN (EU)|
|LANDCOM - Allied Land Command||LOYAL (LO)||RRC-FRA - Rapid Reaction Corps France||CITADEL (CI)|
|MARCOM - Allied Maritime Command ||DYNAMIC (DY)||MNC-NE - Multinational Corps Northeast||GRIFFIN (GR)|
|UK JFAC - United Kingdom Joint Force Air Component||SILVER (SI)||MND-NE - Multinational Division Northeast||AMBER (AM)|
|TUR JFAC - Turkey Joint Force Air Component||VULKAN (VU)||MND-N - Multinational Division North||KNIGHT (KN)|
|FRA MARFOR - French Maritime Forces||CATAMARAN (CA)||MND-SE - Multinational Division Southeast||DACIAN (DA)|
|ITA MARFOR - Italian Maritime Forces||MARE APERTO (MA)|
|ESP MARFOR - Spanish Maritime Forces||FLOTEX|
|UK MARFOR - United Kingdom Maritime Forces||JOINT WARRIOR (JW)|
JOINT HORIZON (JH)
JOINT VENTURE (JV)
The second word in a NATO exercise communicates the function, domain or capability of the exercise. This is the purpose of the exercise, what NATO teams will practice and build proficiency in. So, if SHAPE is running a maritime domain exercise it might be named STEADFAST MONKEY, because maritime domain exercises will always start with M. Similarly, if it was a SHAPE commanded military engineering exercise it may be called STEADFAST ENIGMA, since names for exercising the function of military engineering start with EN.
Exercise Naming Conventions - Second Word
Joint exercises are multi-domain and cross-functional. 2nd word starts with a J like Joint.
|Functional Area activities focus on one Functional Area. The second word starts with the letter bolded below.||Domain activities four on one domain and are cross functional. The second word starts with the letter bolded below.|
|Civil Military Cooperation and Civil Military Interaction||Air Operations|
|Consultation, Command and Control||Cyberspace Operations|
|Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices||Land Operations|
|Education, Training, Exercises and Evaluation||Maritime Operations|
|Intelligence (including Meteorology and Oceanography)||Nuclear Operations|
|Joint Targeting||Space Support to Operations|
|Medical Support||Capability Development|
|Military Engineering||Ballistic Missile Defence|
|Military Policing||Federated Mission Networking|
|Operations Planning, Operations Assessment and Alternative Analysis||Mission Execution Enhancement|
|Strategic Communications||Building Integrity|
|Weapons of Mass Destruction / Chemical Biological Radioactive Nuclear Defence||Counter-Terrorism|
|Gender in Military Operations|
|Military Contribution to Peace Support|
Does NATO ever stray from this naming convention? Yes. But why would we do that?
For SHAPE-led exercise STEADFAST DEFENDER the traditional naming convention for the second word wasn't followed. The second word should have begun with a J as it was a joint exercise. This decision was made to identify the close alignment of NATO Exercise STEADFAST DEFENDER with U.S.-led Exercise DEFENDER EUROPE.