Amerikanske soldater på vinter trening i Setermoen skytefelt

NATO ready to train on defending the Nordics

In just a few days, exercise Nordic Response kicks off. All across the Nordics, 20,000 troops from 13 countries will train on defending Northern Norway and our Nordic neighbours.

Les på norskPivdda nordsamegillii.

NATO's expansion also leads to changes in the traditional Norwegian military exercise Cold Response. With Finland and soon Sweden joining the world's largest military alliance, we are now expanding the exercise to a Nordic Response.

Important and necessary

In total, 20,000 soldiers from 13 countries are set to participate. On land, at sea, and in the air, they will train to defend the northern Nordics. In Norway, the exercise mainly takes place in Troms County and western Finnmark County – including the sea along Norway. The exercise lasts from 3 to 14 March, with some military activity before and after.

Vice Admiral and head of the exercise in Norway, Rune Andersen.

"The exercise is important and necessary. In today's security situation, it is more important than ever to train on defending our own areas, in addition to receiving allied soldiers and materiel. Equally important is strengthening our ability to cooperate and operate together with forces from NATO and partner countries," says Vice Admiral Rune Andersen.

He is the Commander of the Norwegian Joint Headquarters (NJHQ), which is in charge of running the exercise in Norway.

Defending and receiving NATO reinforcements

About half of the participants are on land. The rest will be on one of the over 50 vessels or over 110 aircraft involved in the major exercise. There will also be military activity in northern Sweden and Finland.

"With all the Nordic countries soon united in NATO, the exercise is an arena for Nordic integration and cooperation on the defence front. This helps to improve us, and to make the Nordics safer," says Andersen.

Dress rehearsal for Norfolk

Nordic Response is part of the record-large NATO exercise Steadfast Defender, that takes place across Europe this winter and spring. Soon, the NATO command over the Nordics will be transferred from the headquarters in Brunssum, the Netherlands, to Joint Force Command Norfolk in the USA. This makes Nordic Response a dress rehearsal for JFC Norfolk.

"Nordic Response is one of the key exercises that we look to participate in with all of our NATO allies – particularly all of our strong NATO allies here in the Nordic region”, said Vice Admiral and then-JFC Commander Daniel Dwyer during a visit to Norway last December.

Securing the transatlantic link

The then-commander said Nordic Response gives NATO an opportunity to train in a very dynamic and challenging environment. It also gives a chance to exercise on securing the transatlantic link between North America and Europe.

Daniel Dwyer, tidligere sjef for Joint Force Command Norfolk.
Daniel Dwyer, former Commander of Joint Force Command Norfolk. Photo by Torbjørn Kjosvold

“And to ensure that the transatlantic link remains secure, it must first start in the Arctic. And that is why we are working with Norway, Finland, and our partner Sweden", Dwyer said, adding:

"We can work alongside each other to better understand the challenges that the Arctic bring, and to form our decisions for future decisions on force structure and future military equipment that we might purchase in the future to ensure that we can operate in the Arctic and secure the transatlantic link.”

Reducing our impact

The Norwegian Armed Forces have put significant resources into reducing the impact on the local environment, wildlife, terrain, and reindeer herding. In addition, we are working closely with the organisers of the dog-sled race, Finnmarksløpet, which starts 8 March.

"We thank the local community for their patience, and hope everyone understands how important this exercise is for our security," says NJHQ Commander Rune Andersen.