A major NATO exercise that was supposed to test the capability of thousands of allied troops to operate in the harsh Arctic environment was aborted by the host country Norway.
The reason for the premature end of the maneuver, that had been scheduled to run until March 18, is the Coronavirus which was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization.
The field exercise was planned to take place from March 12 to 18.
The Norwegian defense ministry justified the decision by saying that the country’s armed forces did not want to potentially contribute to the spread of the virus through additional interaction with international troops.
Cold Response, which saw the participation of a total of ten countries, with well over 10,000 personnel, had been officially underway since March 2. A majority of the equipment and personnel was in Norway weeks before the official start of the official start of the exercise.
Cold Response is led by the Norwegian Armed Forces and has been conducted every other year since 2006. In odd years, Norway organizes a small winter exercise.
“The Norwegian Armed Forces have decided to end the ongoing winter exercise in Northern Norway. The exercise will be terminated in a controlled matter,” Lieutenant General, Rune Jakobsen, chief of the Norwegian Joint Headquarters, said on March 11.
“The coronavirus is now out of control in the Norwegian society and that is a new situation to us. Because of this, we have decided to start a controlled closure of the exercise“, Jakobsen added.