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Multinational exercise Northern Challenge 2019 kicks off in Iceland

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Scott Bigley | Sept. 11, 2019

KEFLAVIK, Iceland —

Exercise Northern Challenge 2019 kicked off in Keflavik, Iceland, Sept. 9, 2019.

Exercise Northern Challenge 2019 is an annual joint funded, Icelandic Coast Guard-hosted, multinational explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) exercise aimed at preparing Partner for Peace, NATO, and Nordic nations for international deployments and defense against terrorism.

EOD technicians, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 8, operating in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility, joined service members from the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, and Poland.

New participants for Northern Challenge 2019 include service members from Australia, Croatia, New Zealand, Spain, and the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

“Exercises like Northern Challenge highlight the capability of the U.S. and our allied and partner forces, to rapidly respond to EOD crises,” said Lt. j.g. Samuel Stearney, platoon commander, EODMU 8.

During the opening briefs, the exercise leads welcomed all the participants, delivered safety briefs, and gave everyone a glimpse of what to expect over the following 11 days.

“This exercise has been designed to enable everyone here to operate on the ground,” said British Royal Navy Warrant Officer Class 1 Kim Hughes, GC, exercise lead for the land-based EOD evolutions. “Look around you, there will be guys who have literally just come out of your respective EOD schools all the way to experienced EOD operators that have been on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint and interagency partners in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.