British troops deploy to northern Norway ahead of huge NATO Arctic exercise
The bi-annual winter wargame previously known as Cold Response has changed its name to Nordic Response. While Norway used to be a lonely NATO member above the European Arctic Circle, Finland and soon Sweden are now in the team of allied countries protecting shared freedom and democratic values.
About 20,000 soldiers will participate when the exercise kicks off in March.
British soldiers are already heading north, the Royal Navy informs.
Camp Viking, some 65 km south of Tromsø, serves as hub for the British soldiers’ winter training.
“The UK Commando Force remains the partner of choice for our Norwegian counterparts, and increasingly to new NATO member Finland along with Sweden, whose Special Operations Forces and Coastal Rangers will be working with the Royal Marines, says Spokesperson for the Commando Force, Major Ric Cole.
“Together, and with US and Dutch involvement, we seek to develop a potent force capable of Defending NATO’s Arctic flank,” he says.
About 1,000 British troopers will be at Camp Viking. Those already in place face freezing training in temperatures down to minus 25 degrees Celsius, honing their survival skills.
The Brits will also fly in helicopters like the Apache fighting aircraft first tested in Arctic Norway back in 2019.
Against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Norway and European neighbors have raised concerns about Putin’s Arctic rearmament. Before Putin ordered full-scale war, NATO membership was not on the agenda neither in Helsinki or Stockholm.
A core element during Nordic Response is to train cross-border defense and movement of military hardware between the northernmost parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland.
Air forces will be active with about 100 aircraft. Outside the coast of northern Norway, over 50 submarines, frigates, corvettes, aircraft carriers, and various amphibious vessels will be active, the Norwegian Armed Forces informs.
14 countries take part in Nordic Response with a total of about 20,000 soldiers. Unlike previous NATO exercises in northern Norway, core areas of operations are moved north to the Alta, Lakselv area, with corresponding sailings by warships off the coast of Finnmark.
Although still hundreds of kilometers from the border with Russia’s Kola Peninsula, the signaling effect to Moscow is not to be mistaken.