UK commandos set up training Camp Viking in Northern Norway
Prepare to see more NATO troops inside the Arctic Circle.
“A new Arctic operations base will support Britain’s commandos for the next ten years as the UK underscores its commitments to security in the High North,” the press note issued by the Royal Navy reads.
What London calls a “new purpose-built Camp Viking” is not actually new, and, according to the Norwegian Ministry of Defense, it is not at all British.
It is a camp, not a base the Norwegian Ministry of Defence underlined to news agency NTB after the British press release started to make headlines in Norway.
Rebuilt a few years ago at the location of a former Norwegian military camp, it has been a training center for allied forces, for the most used for winter training by the Royal Marines from the Netherlands.
Camp Viking, though, is a new name chosen by the United Kingdom.
Why it matters? All since Norway became a NATO member in 1949, the country has tried to balance its security policy towards the Soviet Union (now Russia) with self-imposed restraints so as not to provoke the neighbor it shares a border with up north. Those restrictions include no nuclear weapons on Norwegian soil and no foreign military bases. On the other side, as part of the deterrence, Norway is frequently arranging larger NATO exercises, also in its northern regions. Since the early 1980s, countries like USA, United Kingdom and the Netherlands have had thousands of soldiers annually in northern Norway to train warfare in extreme Arctic climate conditions.
Winter training and Arctic warfare knowledge are also what Camp Viking is all about.
Around 1,000 British commandos have already deployed to the camp. Located at Øverbygd, some 40 kilometers east of Bardufoss military airport in the Troms region, the forces can rapidly get supplies if needed. Like in 2019, when British Apache attack helicopters were brought to northern Norway for the first time.
Camp Viking is also next to the Norwegian Army’s Skjold camp.
“The camp’s location is ideal for deterring threats in the region and situated so the UK can respond rapidly if needed to protect NATO’s northern flank and its close ally, Norway” the Royal Navy explains.
The commanding officer, Major Kirk Allen, says: “As the UK Commando Forces’ home in the High North for the next decade, Camp Viking is the focal point for delivery of Mountain and Cold Weather Warfare training and, strategically places as a forward operating base to support NATO operations.”
The Royal Marines force currently leading a larger navy exercise off the coast of Northern Norway, a drill that is coordinated with Norway’s largest exercise this year, the Joint Viking.
There are some 12,000 soldiers participating in Joint Viking and some 8,000 soldiers take part in the British-led Joint Warrior navy exercise.
“Base”, or “impermanent training camp for rotating soldiers”, the Royal Navy Commandos Camp Viking in Northern Norway will host British winter training for the next ten years.