700 American Soldiers Join Arctic Drills in Norway

© Photo : Cpl. Rebecca Floto Marines participate in a platoon assault drill as a part of Exercise Cold Response 16 on range U-3 in Frigard, Norway, Feb. 23, 2016
Marines participate in a platoon assault drill as a part of Exercise Cold Response 16 on range U-3 in Frigard, Norway, Feb. 23, 2016 - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.05.2022
According to military officials from the US and Norway, the goal of the drill is to enhance cooperation and boost performance in the environment of the Arctic, and not to provoke Russia, which for its part had warned of potential clashes in the High North, citing increased activity from NATO's part.
A total of 700 US soldiers from Alaska have arrived in Norway to perform joint manoeuvres alongside other NATO allies as part of the Swift Response drill.
The six US transport planes landed at Bardufoss, a key town near Tromso and Finnmark in the northernmost part of the country, which hosts military camps as well as facilities run by the Royal Armed Forces Academy.

“Swift Response is a large airborne exercise that consists of five major operations. From NATO's perspective, it demonstrates the possibility of deploying large forces,” General Peter Andrysiak, deputy commander of the US Army in Europe and Africa, told national Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

Andrysiak pointed out that Alaska has the same environment and climate as northern Norway, which gives the parties ample opportunities to learn from each other.
General Brian Eifler of the US Army said he was happy to be in northern Norway and emphasised that the US military is mastering the Arctic conditions.

“For the past two decades we have focused on war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in the past year-and-a-half we have changed our focus to Arctic conditions. We go back to what we used to do in Alaska, and continue the operations with Norway,” he explained. “Snow, ice and cold are the same here as there. Extreme temperatures of 30 to 40 degrees below zero are the same. It is good to work with other Arctic nations with their skills and experience. We love it,” Eifler added.

Norwegian Army Commander Major General Lars Lervik emphasised that the drill is part of the planned activities to strengthen NATO's performance. He said it was important to show “muscle and unity”. He also suggested that it is important for NATO to avoid getting into a situation that could escalate. He stressed that Russia had been warned of the drill in advance and that Norwegian and Russian militaries maintain contact despite the conflict in Ukraine, which has led to an unprecedented divide between the West and Russia.
A similar sentiment was voiced by Andrysiak.
“We don't practise to provoke Russia. They may perceive the drill as provocative, but the exercise is not designed for that. We also have similar operations in Latvia and northern Macedonia,” he told NRK.
Женщины и мужчины-призывники во время базовой подготовки в Норвегии  - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.04.2022
Russia's Special Operation in Ukraine
Norway to Boost Military Activity in the North, Citing Russia's Ukraine Op
Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine on 24 February, with the intention of “demilitarising and de-Nazifying” the country, after Kiev had intensified its war - which has already lasted eight years - against the Russian-speaking breakaway republics of the Donbass region.
In response, the West launched massive military deliveries to Ukraine, ranging from simple defence gear such as helmets, to advanced equipment such as howitzers and aircraft. The West also retaliated by introducing several rounds of punitive sanctions against high-profile Russian individuals, organisations, the financial sector and the energy sector of Russia, as well as other fields including sports and culture.
In the wake of the stand-off, the US administration is now considering an enhanced presence in Europe, and where exactly the reinforcements should be located. Among others, the Norwegian government decided earlier in April that Andøya airport will be a permanent reception base for allied forces.
Earlier in April, Nikolai Korchunov, Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic Cooperation of the Russian Foreign Ministry, warned of risks of unintentional clashes with the NATO alliance in the Arctic, potentially causing serious damage to the fragile Arctic ecosystem. Among others, Korchunov cited NATO's massive international Cold Response drill held at the end of March in northern Norway with about 30,000 personnel from 27 states taking part.
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