Home Europe Preparations ramp up for Norway’s largest exercise in 30 years

Preparations ramp up for Norway’s largest exercise in 30 years

Cold Response
Photo: Norwegian defense ministry

Allied forces have already landed in Norway where they have begun initial maneuvers that will culminate in the largest international exercise hosted by the Scandinavian country in more than 30 years.

Around 35,000 troops from 28 nations will eventually be taking part in exercise Cold Response 2022, which will show how a unified multilateral force would defend Norway and Europe’s northern flank from a modern adversary. Of the 35,000 troops, 14,000 are land forces, 13,000 are naval forces, while 8,000 are air forces and headquarters established at various bases.

In addition to personnel already on the ground and en route to the exercise, Cold Response will be joined by two NATO carrier strike groups led by the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman and Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales.

Officially running from March 10 to April 10, the drill will be largest of its kind inside the Arctic Circle since the 1980s. Russia’s Northern Fleet was already briefed by Norway on the maneuvers. It remains to be seen what kind of response the exercise will elicit in light of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, which began on February 24.

While the official part of the exercise is yet to kick off, maneuvers are already underway, with the NATO Response Force (NRF) is already conducting Brilliant Jump 22, an annual deployment exercise in southern Norway.

Approximately 2,500 troops from 12 NATO nations have been taking part in Brilliant Jump since February 28 and will remain in the country for Cold Response.

In Norway’s North, UK Royal Marines are on final preparations for the exercise, while the Royal Navy’s amphibious assault ship HMS Albion is underway to Norway with further 900 marines that will be joining the maneuver.

Cold Response 2022 will mainly take place in south-eastern Norway, central Norway and the northern parts of the country. Cold Response 2022 will test air, sea and land elements, and Norway offers excellent arenas to train realistically in all of these domains.

The participating troops will train in large areas both at sea, in the air and on land.

In the south, most of the activity will take place around Rena Base, Elverum, Flisa, Sessvollmoen close to Oslo Airport, and Jørstadmoen in Lillehammer.

In Central Norway, the activity will mainly take place in the vicinity of Fosen (Brekstad– Bjugn).

In North Norway, the activity will mainly take place between the village of Nordkjosbotn and the town of Narvik. The activity will take place both along the E6 highway and the coast. In addition, there will be practice activity related to CR 22 in the town of Bodø and at Porsangmoen Base in Finnmark.

This year, the exercise will focus on amphibious operations, facilitated by more than 50 vessels from standing NATO maritime groups, in addition to the two carrier strike groups, amphibious task groups, submarines and more than 200 aircraft.

During the exercise, allied forces will practice deploying military capabilities to and from sea, coast and land areas.

For NATO, this exercise is a central arena for testing the deployment of the NATO Response Force, and for Norway it is important to test its system of receiving, catering for and managing the allied reinforcements arriving in Norway. This work is done in close collaboration with civilian authorities, through the Norwegian total defense concept.