Thousands of soldiers train on defending Norway
Joint Viking – Norway’s largest military exercise this year – kicked off on Monday 6 March. During the exercise, thousands of Norwegian and allied soldiers train side by side on defending NATO’s northern flank.
NATO is the cornerstone of Norway's defence, and the Norwegian Armed Forces must train regularly with NATO troops in Norway. The war in Ukraine and a tense European security situation make exercises like Joint Viking 2023 more important than ever.
“The war in Ukraine has shown us that you cannot take good preparedness for granted. Preparedness is a fresh commodity, and must be maintained regularly. We do that every day through our daily operations and exercises like this”, says Lieutenant General Yngve Odlo, Chief of the Norwegian Joint Headquarters and exercise Joint Viking.
Norway’s defence concept is based on allied reinforcement. To deploy, receive and host allied troops efficiently, the Norwegian Armed Forces need to exercise and operate together with allied forces in Norway.
“Together, we strengthen our ability to operate in our sometimes harsh arctic climate. This knowledge can only be acquired by being here in proper winter conditions. Gaining this experience, provides security for Norway and for our population”, Odlo says.
Several connected exercises
Joint Viking is the most important arena in Norway this year for joint training with allied forces on land, at sea, and in the air.
In the next couple of weeks, 20,000 Norwegian and allied troops will train to defend Norway. Of these, 12 000 take part in Joint Viking, while the remaining 8,000 participate in the ongoing British naval exercise Joint Warrior outside the Norwegian coast. The two exercises are closely connected to each other. The Norwegian Home Guard exercise Jøssing in Southwest Norway, is also connected to Joint Viking.
The field exercise takes place from 6 to 16 March. However, military activity has already been going on for some time, and there will be some activity after the exercise until the participating forces have returned home.
Most of the land-based activity takes place in the Troms region in northern Norway, particularly along the axis Bjerkvik–Setermoen–Bardufoss–Nordkjosbotn. In addition, there will be substantial activity at sea and in the air.