SPECIAL OPERATIONS (updated March 11, 2010)

March 10, 2010 at 8:13 pm Leave a comment

War in a Cold Place (Click on photos to enlarge)

Marines with 2nd Battalion, 25th Regiment open fire upon a mock enemy force during a raid. U.S. Marine Corps Photo: Cpl. Tyler J. Hlavac

Cold Response 2010, the multi-national, cold weather military exercise hosted by Norway above the Arctic Circle recently ended. More than 8,500 troops from 14 nations participated in the 16-day exercise in and around Norway’s northern coast and a sliver of neighboring Sweden.

The exercise – one of the coldest ever with temperatures plummeting to 30 degrees below zero Celsius (-22 Farenheit) – saw U.S. and Royal Marines hit the beach in landing craft and rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs). During other segments of the exercise, Norwegian tanks rumbled across the border with Sweden — another exercise participant. Austrian Kiowa OH-56B attack helicopters took part with U.S., Dutch and Norwegian units in maritime interdiction and assault operations. And Finnish NH-90 helos supplied tactical transport in mountainous areas. Beneath the fjords’ waters Dutch and Norwegian submarines hunted each other while shadowing surface vessels.

Norwegian Leopard II tanks cross Swedish border. Swedish Defense Forces photo by Mats Carlson.

The military contingents ranged in size from Britain’s 2,000 sailors and Marines and Sweden’s 1,000 troops – most of them from the Jaeger (hunter or ranger) Battalion — to six Polish officers who helped plan tactical operations.

Naval vessels included a British task force with an amphibious helicopter carrier, a French korvette, Norwegian mine sweepers and supply vessels, and a Dutch amphibious warship.

The exercise, the first entirely above the Arctic Circle, tested cold weather amphibious operations, interoperability among expeditionary forces as well as conventional and special forces ground ops. Ground operations ranged from company-sized maneuvering to a brigade-sized beach assault near .

Royal Marines Commando 45 splash ashore in Norway during Cold Response 2010. Photo: Royal Marines. Crown copyright.

The exercise’s scenario: a response to the invasion of the fictitious country of Northland by troops of the equally fictitious Eastland to gain access to the port of Narvik and nearby oil and gas fields. The exercise culminated with an amphibious landing, with air and naval support.

Most of the participating countries belonged to NATO, but three — Sweden, Finland and Austria — participated through NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, that allows partner countries to build up individualized relationships with the alliance.

Austrian Kiowa helicopter and U.S. high speed assault boat at Cold Response 2010. Norwegian Defense Forces photo by Torbjørn Kjosvold. Forsvaret copyright

The U.S. Marines of the 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment – a reserve unit based in New York State – hitched a ride to the exercise on British and Dutch ships. Royal Marines from Commando 45, based in Scotland and headed for Afghanistan later this year, shared the HMS Ocean — Britain’s largest warship — with the U.S. Leathernecks. It was the first time U.S. Marines had participated in the annual Norwegian exercise since 2005. U.S. Marines also were carried aboard the Royal Netherlands Navy amphibious ship HNLMS Johan De Witt. In addition to the 2nd Battalion, Marines from the 4th Reconnaissance Battalion participated in the Norwegian exercise.

The Royal Netherlands submarine, HNLMS Dolfijn, in Norway for Cold Response 2010. Norwegian Defense Forces photo by Taral Jansen. Forsvaret copyright.

There are additional photo galleries at the 45 Commando website, as well as the webpages of the  Norwegian Armed Forces, the Swedish Armed Forces (translation tool:InterTran or google translate needed).

There are also videos on the Norwegian/Forsvaret site.

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Entry filed under: Arctic, Counter Insurgency, National Security and Defense, Special Operations. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

AFGHANISTAN FRIDAY FOTO (March 12, 2010)

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