Right now NATO is in the midst of Trident Juncture, its largest military exercise in Norway since the Cold War. This is an exercise for a new era of warfare, featuring battlefield 3-D printing, tactical cyber ops, and remotely operated armed ground vehicles, among other technologies that have emerged in the decades since Tom Clancy and Larry Bond wrote RED STORM RISING.
But what if this was not an exercise, and Norway was indeed under threat from a dynamic and unconventional Russian incursion designed to redraw the borders on NATO’s northern flank?
Based on a trip to Norway last fall, including visiting the strategically vital Arctic region bordering Russia, I wrote a future-war short story in the spirit of GHOST FLEET, ANGRY TRIDENT, that imagines such a scenario…
Small mountains of bicycles marked the Norwegian-Russian border at the Storskog crossing, piled high like shimmering haystacks in the November moonlight. Alongside them on the Russian side were cars and buses dusted with days of dirty snow, abandoned by refugees pressing toward safety without a backward glance. Norwegian police and Border Guards watched warily as the tens of thousands of people flowed into the Norwegian town of Kirkenes . The canvas tents at the airport reached capacity 12 hours ago, so the refugees carefully sought out the nooks and alleys amidst the Arctic town’s traditional brightly painted homes and bland modern buildings. The crowd’s panic dissipated in the cold and dark, replaced by resolve to not only escape but to stay away, perhaps forever.
The coffee was cold and bitter, as if brewed right out of the barren Arctic plain’s dirt and rock. US Marine Corps Sergeant Sylvia Hammer drank it out of a tiny black plastic cup that she balanced between sips on the rangefinder in front of her. She studied the refugees, moving with a river’s unstoppable energy between the rolling hills. They moved with steady urgency and few belongings, all on foot or on bicycles now, as they pushed through the dark along the Russian E105 road to its terminus where land and fjord met in Norway.
“You take your pills?” said Hammer.
“Think we are going to get sick?” said Harald Solberg, a corporal in the Norwegian Border Guard who was four months in to his six-month rotation at the nearby Sør-Varanger Garrison.
“Yes,” said Hammer.