Cold Weather Operations Conference 2021
American Major General came from Alaska to learn more about operations in cold weather
November 2-4, a conference on cold weather operations was arranged at Terningen Arena.
- The purpose was to actualize and put the spotlight on the relevance of cold weather operations - also in a future relevance perspective. The conference gives us the opportunity to share expertise and best practice with NATO allies and partner nations.
Says Colonel Jo Haugom. He is head of the Norwegian School of Winter Warfare and NATO's Center of Excellence Cold Weather Operations (COE-CWO), which was the host of the "Cold Weather Operations Conference 2021".
In total, more than 300 people from 20 nations participated in the event. The conference was divided into three different tracks where the main themes were; operational / strategic approach and joint operations, education and training, as well as cold weather medicine.
In addition, the Defense and Security Industry Association had an exhibition with equipment and materiel.
- The idea has to arrange a conference that NATO allies and partner nations travel to Norway to be part of - due to the academic benefits, says Haugom.
Experiencing increased interest
This is the first time the conference has been held. It happens just a few months before this year's big winter exercise Cold Response. Around 30,000 soldiers are expected to arrive in Norway at the end of March / beginning of April 2022.
- There are few nations in NATO that are well trained to operations in cold climates. Therefore, Cold Response is an important arena for training and practice. During the conference, we strengthened the network and updated Norway's expertise in winter subject matter, says Haugom.
He says that in recent years there has been an increased interest in cold weather operations among NATO countries. This is due to geopolitical factors such as developments in the High North and increased military activity in the region.
Several countries have established their own strategies for the Arctic and military capabilities to operate under these demanding conditions, he says.
Participants from the US Army Alaska
Among the participants at the conference was Major General Brian Eifler. He is the commander of the US Army Alaska and has traveled from the northernmost state of the United States to attend the conference.
- They are very interested in cooperating and looking at what experiences Norway has with operations in our areas, including when it comes to equipment. Eifler stated that much of the equipment they have today is not particularly suitable for operations under demanding winter conditions. This applies to vehicles, among other things, says Haugom.
He emphasizes that the challenges of cold weather operations also apply elsewhere than in the High North. As part of the conference, the participants heard a lecture by a lieutenant colonel from the Ukrainian special forces.
Among other things, he spoke about the effect of implementing NATO standards in logistics and medical service, joint operations and shared experiences from sharp assignments in a demanding climate.
Colonel Haugom believes the conference is an important arena for exchanging experiences.
- This is the first time the «Cold Weather Operations Conference» is organized. According to the plan, this will continue every two or three years. Based on the feedback from the participants, the conference has been a success, Haugom concludes.