Allied key leaders at NATO's outer border

This week, military key leaders from the NATO Command Structure visited NATO’s northernmost border – the Norway–Russia border.

Chief of the Norwegian Joint Headquarters, Lieutenant General Yngve Odlo, hosted the Commander’s huddle in Finnmark, Norway ­– close to Norway’s border to Russia.

“NATO starts here. It is important that our allied commanders actually get to see this region themselves, including the challenges and opportunities that are here”, says Lt-Gen Odlo.

Among the guests were Rear Admiral Tim Henry (Deputy Commander at NATO Joint Force Command Norfolk), Lieutenant General Luis Lanchares (Deputy Commander at NATO Joint Force Command Brunssum) and Lieutenant General Carl-Johan Edström (Chief of the Swedish Chief of Joint Operations). Also present were Odlo’s counterparts from Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and the USA.

Meeting place

The purpose of the huddle was to create a meeting place for the various headquarters of NATO countries and partner nations, and to exchange experiences and challenges. The huddle was held in connection to exercies Joint Viking 23 and Joint Warrior – gathering some 20,000 Norwegian and Allied soldiers.

“For us, it is important to present the Norwegian perspective as a neighbour to Russia. We want to our partners and allies to get an insight on how we handle our day-to-day relationship with Russia – in the current security situation”, explains Odlo.

Snowmobiles along the border

On Thursday, the commanders visited Pasvik Border Station and got to see how the Norwegian Armed Forces solve the border guard mission. They met with the military border guard, that mainly consists of Norwegian youth in their initial military service. The commanders were transported along the border by snowmobiles and learned how the border guards train and operate under demanding climatic conditions at NATO's outer border. They were also briefed on Norway's historical relationship with its eastern neighbour, Russia.

“Being up here is for me an opportunity to talk to General Odlo and the other force commanders in Norway and NATO. Up here, I get to see the climatic and geographical challenges, far away from where NATO normally operates”, says Rear Admiral Henry.

The JCF Norfolk deputy commander describes Northern Norway as ‘rough and challenging’, and says NATO ‘needs its troops to be ready’ in order to successfully operate here and support Norway.

“And that we learn that from the Norwegian Armed Forces”, he says.