Posts tagged ‘Norway’

FRIDAY FOTO (April 3-4, 2014)

Share the Road

Photo by  Anette Ask, Norwegian Armed Forces

Photo by Anette Ask, Norwegian Armed Forces

In this photo, a Norwegian Leopard 2 tank from the Telemark Battalion, prepares for battle on the busiest main road in North Norway.

Military exercises are normally conducted inside a restricted area far from populated areas. But during Exercise Cold Response, which recently concluded in Norway, soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines from 16 nations drove, marched and flew over two counties in the northern part of the country. The 16-day exercise’s area of operations included several towns and villages.

According to the Norwegian Defense Force, the folks of Nordland and Troms counties near the Arctic Circle, have no problem sharing their roads with the military visitors – in fact they welcome the “invasion” of foreigners. Military Police from eight nations helped the Norwegians maintain road safety and kept the Volvos and Saabs separated from the armored vehicles during the sprawling exercise.

Cold Response, which tests the operational ability of participating forces in extreme winter weather conditions, takes place in a geographic area about the size of Belgium. Norwegian troops have been doing this for years and say it prepares them for a rigorous arctic experience.

Click here to see the Swedish Defence Forces Cold Response website (in Swedish, but cool photos).

NOTE: Because the 4GWAR editor will be flying late Thursday/early Friday we are posting this week’s FRIDAY FOTO early.

 

 

April 3, 2014 at 3:58 pm 1 comment

ARCTIC NATION: Cold Response 2014

 Multi-National Exercise in Norway

A Swedish squad struggles through the weather on patrol. In the background is a Swedish CV90 infantry fighting vehicle.  (Photo credit: Lars Magne Hovtun, Norwegian Armed Forces)

A Swedish squad struggles through the weather on patrol. In the background is a Swedish CV90 infantry fighting vehicle.
(Photo credit: Lars Magne Hovtun, Norwegian Armed Forces)

For the sixth time since 2006, thousands of foreign soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen have taken to the skies, roads and waters of northern Norway for a large winter-weather military exercise: Cold Response 2014.

The goal is to conduct support and combat operations in harsh conditions while working together to create stronger bonds between the allied forces. By the Way, the above was shot in color. If you click on the image to enlarge it, notice the vehicle’s serial number and one of its tail lights are in color.

The Norwegian defense forces play host to the visitors – this year, 16,000 troops from 16 countries – during the 16-day exercise in Norway’s Arctic fastness, which ended March 22. In addition to Norway’s army, navy and air force, participants included units from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States, United Kingdom and Sweden.

American participants included Matines from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.

(Map courtesy Norwegian Armed Forces)

(Map courtesy Norwegian Armed Forces)

Why Norway? According to the Norwegian Armed Forces website, northern Norway in March “offers harsh weather which gives good training conditions and valuable experience for personnel from other countries. This part of the country is also well used to military exercises.” Unlike almost everywhere else in the world, Cold Response is held in populated areas with tanks and other armored vehicles sharing the road at times with civial cars and trucks. To help keep things running smoothly and safely, military police units from nine nations took part in the exercise.

The long-planned exercise took on additional significance with the Russia-Ukraine crisis in Crimea. Despite rising tensions among NATO member countries bordering Russia, previously invited Russian observers attended this year’s Cold Response, according to the Barents Observer website.  Norway borders Russia and the newly chosen civilian head of NATO is a Norwegian.

To see more photos from the Norwegian website, click here.

To see a short NATO video on he exercise, click here.

*** *** ***

ARCTIC NATION is an occasional 4GWAR posting on the High North. The U.S. “National Strategy for the Arctic Region” describes the United States as “an Arctic Nation with broad and fundamental interests in the Arctic Region, where we seek to meet our national security needs, protect the environment, responsibly manage resources, account for indigenous communities, support scientific research, and strengthen international cooperation on a wide range of issues.”

 

April 2, 2014 at 1:09 am 1 comment

FRIDAY FOTO (February 21, 2014)

Ride Hike the High Country

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie)

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie)

Lance Corporal Eleanor Roper hauls a Marine Corps Cold Weather Infantry Kit sled during a field exercise at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California.

Roper is a field radio operator with Ragnarok Company, 2nd Supply Battalion of the 2nd Marine Logistics Group.

The 228 Marines and sailors with Ragnarok Company, 2nd Supply Battalion of the 2nd Marine Logistics Group, conducted cold-weather mobility training at the Mountain Warfare Training Center between January 14 and 28.

It’s all in preparation for the upcoming NATO exercise, Cold Response 2014, next month in Norway. The biennial exercise, hosted by the Norwegian Armed Forces will run from March 10 to 21.Some 16,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen from 16 countries are expected to participate this year, according to the Barents Observer. Last time, participating countries included Belgium, Canada, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Britain and France.

“The main thing is getting used to operating in extreme cold-weather environments and getting the benefits of the opportunity to train in the mountains, train our basic rifleman skills and provide logistics for 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines,” said 1st Lt. Owen Trotman, a platoon commander and assistant operations officer with Ragnarok Company.

For more photos, click here.

BTW, we don’t know the significance of the Marine company’s name, except Ragnarok was Norse mythology’s version of the “Twilight of the Gods.” In short, the end of the world after a tremendous battle. And some believers say the Viking apocalypse will happen this weekend.

February 21, 2014 at 12:38 am 1 comment

ARCTIC NATION: Arctic Council Grows, U.S. Arctic Strategy

U.S. Arctic Strategy

“The United States is an Arctic nation,” begins the new National Strategy for the Arctic Region, released last week by the White House.

Coast Guard photo by Air Station Kodiak

Coast Guard photo by Air Station Kodiak

With the apparently inevitable melting of polar sea ice, areas of the Arctic previously locked in by thick ice will be open – at least in summer months – for maritime shipping, oil and gas exploration, commercial fishing scientific research and tourism. The mineral riches beneath the Arctic Sea – which is bordered by six nations, Canada, Denmark (which controls Greenland), Iceland, Norway, Russia and the United States — have prompted concerns about a “Cold Rush” of industries, corporations, speculators and governments hoping to take advantage of resources once thought inaccessible. But there are many more nations in Europe and Asia that want a say in how the top of the world is managed. [More on that in Arctic Council item below].

The brief (12-page) document released by the White House last Friday outlines where U.S. policy should be going in the High North. It calls for three strategic priority efforts:

  1. Advancing U.S. security interests in the Arctic, including operating vessels and aircraft through, over and under the airspace and waters of the Arctic. Providing for future U.S. energy security is also seen as a national security issue.
  2. Pursuing Responsible Stewardship of the Arctic, and that includes protecting the environment, conserving its resources and considering the needs of native peoples in the region.
  3. Strengthening International Cooperation to advance common interest and keep the region stable and free from conflict. The eight-member Arctic Council, which includes Sweden and Finland as well as the six previously mentioned Arctic nations, approved an Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement in 2011.The opening of sea lanes through Arctic nations’ territory and the extent of the mineral riches beneath the ice has raised concerns about who owns what and who controls territorial waters. A few years ago, a Russian underwater robot placed a Russian flag beneath the North Pole to assert Russia’s stake in the region. And Canada has been gearing up its defense forces and mapping its Arctic coastline to secure sovereignty over its portion of the region. The U.S. Continental shelf claim in the Arctic region “could extend more than 600 nautical miles from the north coast of Alaska,” according to the Arctic Strategy statement.

Scientists estimate that as much as 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered but recoverable oil and 30 percent of its undiscovered natural gas deposits – as well vast quantities of mineral resources, including rare earth elements, iron ore and nickel – lie beneath the waters of the Arctic Circle. Easier access has all sorts of implications. It could break the monopolies some nations like China have on resources such as rare earths (needed in advanced weapons systems and mobile devices). It could also take business away from transit points like the Panama and Suez canals and create all sorts of headaches for countries like Canada if all the world’s shipping starts taking unrestricted shortcuts through their backyard.

The United States will seek to enhance “sea, air and space capabilities as Arctic conditions change,” the new strategy says, adding that “We will enable prosperity and safe transit by developing and maintaining sea, under-sea and air assets and necessary infrastructure.”

The new Arctic Strategy also calls for eventual U.S. acceptance of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The United States is the only Arctic state that is not a party to the convention. The complex series of agreements defines the rights and responsibilities of national governments in their use of the world’s oceans. Despite the support by Presidents Bush and Obama, the Pentagon, State Department and several major business and industry groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, opponents in the Senate have blocked ratification of the treaty largely on sovereignty and national defense grounds.

Patricia F.S. Cogswell, the senior director for Transborder Security on the National Security Staff, an a special assistant to the president for Homeland Security, says administration officials will be hosting roundtable discussions in Alaska sometime next month to discuss the best ways for implementing the concepts laid out by the strategy.

Arctic Circle Nations

Arctic Circle Nations

Arctic Council Grows

The eight member Arctic Council held their biennial ministers meeting in Kiruna, Sweden this week and decided to admit six nations – five of them Asian – as permanent observers. Only nations with territory in the Arctic (Canada, Denmark [Greenland], Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States [Alaska] can be members. Permanent observers can’t vote or speak at the meetings but they can automatically attend, unlike non-permanent observers.

The start of the Arctic Council meeting in Kiruna, Sweden this week. (Arctic Council photo)

The start of the Arctic Council meeting in Kiruna, Sweden this week. (Arctic Council photo)

Added to the list of 26 existing observer nations were: China, India, Italy, Japan, Singapore and South Korea. No non-state entities, like Greenpeace, were approved. And the application of the European Union – which has a dispute with Canada’s Inuit people over trading in the skins, meat and other parts of seals – was put on hold.

Canada’s Health and Northern Development Minister Leona Aglukkaq took over the two-year council chairmanship from Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt.  The United States is slated to take over the chairmanship role in 2015.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told the council meeting that he looked forward to filling out the details of the new U.S. Arctic strategy “with all of you over the course of the next few years.”

May 17, 2013 at 2:12 am Leave a comment

ARCTIC: China or EU, or Both?

Arctic Council Meeting

The eight-member Arctic Council holds its ministerial meeting in Sweden later this month and, according to The Arctic Institute’s, Arctic This Week newsletter, observers are speculating about which countries/entities will be admitted as full observers at the session, which starts May 14 in Kiruna, Sweden.

The Stadshuset, site of this month's Arctic Council meeting.

The Stadshuset, site of this month’s Arctic Council meeting.

Participants at an academic conference in Montreal last month thought China would be tapped but the European Union wouldn’t, according to Nunatsiaq News. The eight permanent members (Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Canada, Denmark, Russia and the United States) each have, in effect, a veto over observer candidates, and some are unhappy with the EU’s ban on seal products.

But the EU’s ambassador to Canada is confident EU will get in despite objections about the ban from countries like Canada, which takes over as chairman for the next two years at the meeting in Sweden, according to iPOLITICS.

The council is an intergovernmental forum that tackles issues confronting Arctic nations and indigenous peoples of the Arctic. At the last ministers’ meeting, they agreed on an arctic search and rescue treaty.

May 10, 2013 at 12:32 am Leave a comment

ARCTIC: Food For Thought

Avoiding Cold War in a Cold Place

Food for ThoughtOnly eight countries have territory bordering the Arctic Circle: the United States, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Russia and Denmark (by virtue of its control of Greenland).

Together, these eight form the Arctic Council, an international forum created in 1996 to promote cooperation, coordination and interaction among the eight Arctic states and also involve the indigenous communities in the High North. Some of the topics of common interest include sustainable development and environmental protection.

In 2011, the eight Arctic Council members completed the Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement, the first binding treaty concluded under the Council’s auspices.

Rich oil and mineral deposits are believed to lie beneath the Arctic Sea and its underwater coastline. One of the world’s last great fisheries is also in Arctic waters. All of these valuable resources will become more accessible at climate change and other factors melt more and more summer ice in Arctic waters. That will open up sea lanes for transporting cargo and passengers as well as oil and natural gas exploration.

arctic-circle-svg

While the Arctic states have worked out agreements dealing with these natural resources little has been done to prevent or adjudicate conflict, says Paul Arthur Berkman, a biological oceanographer at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Writing in the New York Times opinion pages today (March 14), Berkman says the potential for conflict is high – even if tensions now are low.

“How, for instance, will each nation position its military and police its territory?” asks Berkman, adding: “How will the Arctic states deal with China and other nations that have no formal jurisdictional claims but have strong interests in exploiting Arctic resources?”

It’s an important topic to mull. To read more, click here.

March 14, 2013 at 11:54 pm Leave a comment

ARCTIC: Exercise Cold Response 2012 (Updated)

“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)

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

FRIDAY FOTO Extra (March 23, 2012)

Arctic Ambush

Photo by Cpl Stuart MacNeil, copyright 2012 DND-MDN Canada

Two Reconnaissance Platoon corporals from the 1st Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment prepare to “ambush” a combat vehicle with an 84mm rocket launcher during Exercise Cold Response 2012 in northern Norway. The 800 soldiers from the 1st Battalion were among 16,000 participants from 14 nations — including a company of U.S. Marines — in the Norwegian-led invitational military exercise, which just ended.

We’ll have a full report Monday on the fifth iteration of this massive exercise — the largest yet — which saw Swedish fighter jets, Norwegian tanks, British helicopters, Dutch landing craft and Canadian armored all terrain vehicles roaming the seas, skies and woods near the Arctic Circle.

The exercise was marred by the crash of a Norwegian C-130J transport plane, killing all five on board.

March 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm Leave a comment

ARCTIC: Ice-Free Polar Waters by 2030?

On Thin Ice

Arctic sea ice is melting at such a rapid rate that officials warn Arctic waters may be ice free during the summer months by 2030.

Polar bears need ice to hunt (NOAA photo by K. Elliott, 2005)

Mark Serreze, director of the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center, says sea ice is melting at a record pace – as much as 150,00 square kilometers per day. Not only is the area of ice-covered waters decreasing, but the ice is thinner making it more susceptible to melting. “We are on track to see an ice free summer by 2030,” Britain’s The Guardian newspaper quotes Serreze.

That’s good news for some seafaring countries like China that would like to take a shorter route across the Arctic Sea to deliver manufactured export goods to Europe. But it is a concern for other countries like Canada, worried about retaining sovereignty over its Arctic coast and the mineral wealth projected to lie beneath the frigid waters.

Large deposits of oil, natural gas and minerals – including rare earths needed to manufacture high tech equipment – are believed to lie beneath Arctic waters. Canada and the U.S. are concerned that untapped wealth could spark a “Cold Rush” by other Arctic countries trying to claim large underwater tracts based on the extent of continental shelves beneath the sea.

U.S. and Canadian authorities are also worried about oil spills and possible shipping disasters in the remote region. The U.S. Coast Guard says it has no rescue ships or helicopters in the High North to handle such emergencies, Reuters reports. There is no permanent Coast Guard station that far north. It would be extremely difficult to mount an emergency response to an Arctic oil spill on the scale of BP’s oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp told an Arctic ice symposium in Washington recently.

Eight Arctic nations – including the United States, Canada, Russia and Norway – signed an agreement in May to cooperate in search and rescue operations above the Arctic Circle. (See May 12 4GWAR Blog post)

July 13, 2011 at 10:11 pm Leave a comment

ARCTIC: Report Says Denmark to Press Claim

Has Arctic Circle Land Rush Started?

Just days after the nations of the High North met in Greenland to discuss common problems and approve an Arctic search-and-rescue treaty, comes word that one of them plans to lay claim to the land under the North Pole.

CIA World Factbook via Wikipedia

The report comes just days after leaders of the eight countries that make up the Arctic Council – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the United States – met in Nuuk, Greenland to approve the search-and-rescue treaty and begin addressing such issues as oil and natural gas drilling.

But reports of a leaked Danish government document, first reported by Danish news media, say Denmark plans to make a claim for part of the land beneath the North Pole and elsewhere in the Arctic before a 2014 United Nations deadline.

The report on Denmark’s plans also comes shortly after leaked U.S. diplomatic cables reveal the Arctic states are rushing to stake claims to the region, which is believed to be rich in minerals. As much as 25 percent of the world’s untapped petroleum fields are believed to lie beneath the Arctic’s ice ans frigid waters. The cables, released by Wikileaks, indicated most of the Arctic nations – including Denmark – are anxious to stake a claim before the ice melts.

Scientists say climate change and global warming could melt much of the polar ice, making the waters around the North Pole navigable – and more accessible for oil and gas exploration and drilling.

In a token gesture, Russia asserted its land claims in 2007 when it placed a small metal Russian flag in the sea bottom beneath the pole. Canada, which asserts is has sovereigity over any Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans – should the ice melt prediction come true – has conducted military exercises (some with U.S. and Danish participation) to assert its sovereignty in the region. Norway has also hosted multi-national wargames in the Arctic — the most recent had a defense-of-North Sea-oil fields as part of its scenario.

The U.S. Norway and Denmark – through its rule over Greenland – are the only other countries that border the Arctic Ocean. Here is a Russian publication’s take on the controversy, including an explanation of why Denmark thinks it has a claim on the North Pole.

The attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22). U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Timothy Aguirre

Most of the Arctic nations conduct military exercises and scientific missions in the region’s seas and skies. In the photo above, the Seawolf-class attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) returns to port at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton after participating in Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2011 in the Arctic Circle.

The Connecticut and the Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Hampshire (SSN 778) worked with the Navy’s Arctic Submarine Laboratory and the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory to test new equipment and train for under-ice operations in an Arctic environment.

May 17, 2011 at 11:04 pm Leave a comment

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