Between February 17 and March 4, Norway hosted the Cold Response 2010 military exercise in Troms county, above the Arctic Circle. More than 8,500 troops as well as 1,000 special forces from fourteen different nations participated, including soldiers from Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The exercise, the first of its kind to take place exclusively in the minus thirty degree Celsius temperatures above the Arctic Circle, tested cold weather amphibious operations as well as interoperability between expeditionary forces. Ground operations ranged from company-sized maneuvering to a brigade-sized beach assault. Both US and Royal Marines hit the beaches in landing craft, with air and naval support, responding to the “invasion” of fictitious Northland by the enemy from Eastland.
The different contingents ranged in size from Britain’s 2000 sailors and Royal Marines and several hundreds of Sweden’s elite Jägar units to a handful of Polish officers who aided in tactical planning.
Naval forces included the Dutch amphibious transport dock Johan de Witt, a British task force as well as the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, a French korvette and Norwegian mine sweepers and support ships.
Others segments of the exercise saw Finland’s brand new NH90 helicopters supplying tactical transport in the mountainous areas; Norwegian tanks rumbling across the border with Sweden and Austrian Kiowa OH-56B attack helicopters taking part with American, Dutch and Norwegian units in maritime interdiction operations. Dutch and Norwegian submarines also hunted each other in the icy waters of the country’s fjords while shadowing surface vessels.
Most of Cold Response 2010’s participators were NATO countries with the exception of Austria, Finland and Sweden. All three maintain individualized relations with the alliance and partake in its Partnership for Peace program.