ARCTIC: Exercise Cold Response 2012 (Updated)

March 27, 2012 at 12:48 am Leave a comment

“War” Near the Top of the World

New photos and information on air operations.

Canadian troops from the Royal Canadian Regiment fire a mortar during Exercise Cold Response. Canadian Defense Forces photo.

More than 16,000 troops from 14 countries just completed a weeks-long exercise in the frozen hinterlands of Norway and Sweden training in winter warfare skills such as infantry maneuvering and amphibious landings in extreme temperatures.

Called Exercise Cold Response 2012, the biennial training exercise – hosted by the Norwegians – is in its fifth iteration. In addition to Norway, the largest troop contingents among NATO countries included Canada, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. Other participants included Sweden and Finland, two non-aligned Nordic countries, who belong to NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.

The exercise began March 5 with a week of acclimation for troops not used to Norway’s harsh winters. Operations ran from March 12-21 with a few clean-up and departure duties beginning March 21.

U.S., British and Dutch Marines conducted joint amphibious assault operations along the northern Norwegian coast near Bardufoss. The Royal Netherlands Navy’s landing ship platform Hr. Ms. Rotterdam served as a base for the U.S. British and Dutch marines. The HMS Bulwark, a British amphibious assault ship, served as headquarters for the joint staff.

U.S. Marines disembark a Dutch landing craft near Harstad, Norway for Exercise Cold Response 2012. (Dutch Ministry of Defense photo)

Other land operations were conducted mainly in Troms County along the northern coast. Maritime operations also covered parts of Nordland County. And air operations were conducted from Andøya, Bardufoss, Bodø, Evenes and Ørland air bases in Norway, and Luleå in Sweden. Those ops covered most of Northern Norway and parts of Swedish air space.

Smaller forces and air assets operated in the border areas from Narvik in Norway to Kiruna in Sweden, and Swedish military aircraft flew in Norwegian territory from Swedish air bases.

CIA via University of Texas Libraries (Click on map to enlarge)

Other units taking part in the exercise included about 800 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment and some 215 Finnish soldiers from a Jager (ranger) company.

For the first time the exercise included air operations that crossed national borders. A Royal Norwegian Air Force cargo plane flew a transport run from Norway to Sweden and back again. Norwegian F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets supplied air cover over Norway with Swedish JAS Gripen 39 fighters taking over in Swedish airspace. But tragedy struck on March 15 when the Norwegian C-130J Hercules cargo plane crashed into a mountain just over the border near Kiruna in Sweden, killing all five crewmen on board.

A Swedish fighter jet refueling during Cold Response (Photo Louise Levin, Swedish Forsvarsmakten)

Air operations concluded with a large force engagement exercise with 36 aircraft participating including Norwegian and Belgian F-16s and Swedish Gripens. A Swedish pilot served as mission commander in the exercise, which tested coordination and aircraft management, including air refueling.

To see a video of the troops, ships, planes, helicopters and tanks in action, click here.

To a video of Norwegian tanks and troops, click here.

Two Royal Norwegian Navy Combat Boat (BC90s) underway during Exercise Cold Response 2012. (Dutch Ministry of Defense photo)

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Entry filed under: Arctic, Counter Insurgency, National Security and Defense, Naval Warfare, Photos, Skills and Training, Special Operations, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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