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05 Feb 2024

UK Commandos train in Arctic ahead of largest NATO exercise since Cold War

UK Commandos train in Arctic ahead of largest NATO exercise since Cold War
UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024
UK Ministry of Defence Press Release

Hundreds of Royal Marines and Army Commandos are conducting extreme cold weather training alongside allies in Norway ahead of Exercise Nordic Response.

  • Royal Marines and Army Commandos are conducting cold weather training alongside allies in Norway.
  • The Commando Force is based at Camp Viking – established last year as the UK’s main operations hub for the High North.
  • Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, met the commandos this week during a visit for bilateral talks on defence cooperation with the Norwegian Defence Minister.

Hundreds of Royal Marines and Army Commandos are conducting extreme cold weather training alongside allies in Norway, operating where temperatures can plummet below –50C, ahead of Exercise Nordic Response.

This year, they are based out of Camp Viking in Øverbygd, established last year as the UK’s main operations hub in the Arctic for the next decade. Around a thousand commandos are stationed at the camp, practicing cold weather and mountain warfare techniques and testing new equipment and tactics.

The Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, visited the camp this week to observe the training programme.

He was in Norway for bilateral meetings on Tuesday with Defence Minister Bjørn Arild Gram, State Secretary Anne Marie Aanerud, and Chief of Defence General Eirik Kristoffersen. The visit also provided an opportunity to discuss the situation in Ukraine, and Norway’s approach to maintaining security in the Barents Sea.

Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, said:

"The UK and Norway’s close alliance was forged through adversity in the darkest days of the Second World War, when British commandos were key to challenging the occupation of Norway by Nazi forces.

"Today our enduring relationship is more important than ever, and our joint activity in the High North both increases our collective readiness and sends a powerful message of deterrence to Putin’s forces."

Every year, members of the UK Commando Force travel to Norway, in partnership with personnel from other militaries, to rehearse cold weather fighting techniques in a range of training scenarios, from high-intensity warfare to terror threats and mass demonstrations.

Camp Viking is the focal point for delivery of Mountain and Cold Weather Warfare training and is strategically placed to support NATO operations. 

The skills and lessons learned in the mountains and fjords of Norway can be applied to any environment in which UK commandos may operate in the future – the idea being that if you can operate in the Arctic Circle, you can operate anywhere.

Exercise Nordic Response, a biannual training exercise in which the UK participates alongside Norway, Sweden, and Finland, will this year form part of the major multi-domain NATO exercise Steadfast Defender, which is the alliance’s largest exercise since the Cold War.  

20,000 personnel from the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force will be contributing to Steadfast Defender 24 alongside 31 NATO allies and Sweden – with the UK forming 40 per cent of the exercise’s land forces.

Enhancing the coalition between the UK and her NATO allies, Steadfast Defender 24 will bring NATO nations together to test and refine defence plans approved at the 2023 NATO summit in Vilnius.

 

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