NATO to Hold This Year's Largest Drill in Norway

CC BY 2.0 / Soldatnytt / Cold Response military exercise Cold Response military exercise
 Cold Response military exercise  - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.03.2022
While the Cold Response 2022 drill featuring 30,000 soldiers from 27 nations has been officially billed as a defensive exercise, a Norwegian professor has called it "an important deterrent against Russia".
The Norwegian-led biannual NATO drill Cold Response 2022 will commence in full on 14 March, with some events already underway.
The main land-based activity will take place in areas between Bodø and Tromsø in northern Norway. There will also be massive maritime activity in the sea areas off the Norwegian coast.
The gigantic drill featuring 30,000 soldiers from 27 nations is billed as this year's largest for the North Atlantic alliance and will continue for an entire month. Of these, 14,000 are land troops, 8,000 are sailors and navy troops, while the remaining 8,000 participants are air force troops and various staff officers based at various military bases in Norway.
Among others, the drill will feature the British Navy's largest ship, the HMS "Prince of Wales" with accompanying forces. The aircraft carrier will be supported by a group of warships, a nuclear-powered attack submarine, and a military supply ship, according to the Royal Navy.
The aircraft carrier leads the NATO Maritime High Readiness Force, tasked with handling global events. This is the first time the aircraft carrier is participating in this role in the far north.
During the exercise, Norway's military will practice the transition between sea, coast, and land. For NATO, the drill is also important in terms of training the deployment of rapid reaction forces, and for Norway to train reception, transfer, and relocation of the incoming forces.

"It is a defensive exercise, where we practice defending our country, and it is a long-awaited exercise", the Norwegian Armed Forces' operational headquarters in Bodø said, as quoted by national broadcaster NRK.

Yet, Professor Katarzyna Zysk at the Department of Defence Studies called the drill "an important deterrent against Russia".
Remarkably, Russia has refused to send military observers, despite being invited, as has been common at all major NATO exercises in Norway.
In the coming weeks, the exercise will affect traffic and the local environment in 39 municipalities across the country. And even before the drill has started in full, it has sparked controversies. Deputy mayor of Åsnes municipality Rune Sørlie ventured that local children will be scared as armoured vehicles and soldiers will take over the town's streets.

"They are not used to seeing soldiers and military vehicles in the streets. And with the situation we have in Europe today, it is important that they are well informed in advance. I fear that many may become anxious", Sørlie told NRK.

The northern nation of Norway has for many years been a natural platform for winter and terrain drills for NATO, including massive exercises such as Trident Juncture 2018 that featured 50,000 participants.
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