US Marine Corps, Charlie Company, 2nd Law Enforcement Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, foot patrol, Norway

Exercise Cold Response

Cold Weather Warfare Training for Multinational Exercise

Cold Response 2020 is a biennial exercise hosted by Norway focusing mostly on operations at the tactical level in cold-weather environments.

US Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Hermesmann, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, said during a news conference at NATO headquarters in Belgium that Exercise Cold Response would train NATO allies in “high-intensity warfighting in a challenging Arctic environment with rugged terrain and extreme cold weather.”

The USA, Norway, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark, Finland and Sweden are expected to participate in Cold Response 2020, seeing upwards of 15,000 military personnel operating in northern Norway.

British Helicopters Training Ahead of Cold Response

Royal Marines and Royal Navy aviators are working alongside the British Army’s Apache attack helicopters during winter exercises in the Arctic Circle.

Commandos on the ground are able to call in air support from the potent Apaches, which have been working alongside Commando Helicopter Force Wildcats from 847 Naval Air Squadron in the build up to more sorties on Exercise Cold Response.

In the prelude to Cold Response, commandos worked closely with the Apaches of 656 Squadron on close air support training, while CHF Wildcats used their reconnaissance skills set to track down targets for the Army fliers to come in and destroy.

After making its Arctic debut in 2019, the latest landmark in the Apache’s Arctic missions have seen them fire their Hellfire missiles inside the Arctic Circle for the first time.

For 656 Squadron, the deployment has been focused on proving its warfighting ability after the Apache made its Arctic debut in early 2019 and leaning on the Arctic flying experience of Commando Helicopter Force.

Officer Commanding Major Huw Raikes said: “Last year the squadron learnt how to operate the Apache in the Arctic.

“The extreme cold presents unique differences to the way we operate but we developed ways to overcome the human, engineering and flying challenges.

“This year we have developed news way to fight the aircraft. This has relied immensely on the support of the Royal Navy’s Commando Helicopter Force, who have a long experience of operating in the Arctic that has been generously shared.

“Firing Hellfire missiles for the first time is a significant milestone in proving the capability of the aircraft in this environment; it’s an achievement that everyone in the Squadron has contributed to and can be rightly proud of.

“We’re now looking forward to flying in support of the Royal Marines and our NATO partners on Exercise Cold Response.”

Surveillance Reconnaissance Squadron Parachute Drop

The elite Surveillance Reconnaissance Squadron of 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group were training alongside the Americans in capturing positions from the air from an adversary, giving allied forces a foothold in enemy territory.

This is all part of the Norwegian-led Exercise Cold Response, which 15,000 troops from ten nations are involved in, including more than 2,000 Royal Marines and Royal Navy sailors.

These Arctic exercises are designed to test the ability of allied nations in fighting in one of the most unforgiving regions on earth.

The elite SRS Commandos and airmen from the United States Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) boarded an American C-130J Super Hercules from the 37th Airlift Wing at Bardufoss Air Station in northern Norway.

The crack SRS force were then dropped into Kiruna Airfield, Sweden, where they were tasked with seizing the area from an enemy force.

Sources: Royal Navy; DoD.

Image: U.S. Marines with Charlie Company, 2nd Law Enforcement Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, participate in a foot patrol during cold-weather training at Bjerkvik, Norway, Feb. 23, 2020. Marines are in Norway preparing for Exercise Cold Response, a Norwegian-led exercise designed to enhance military capabilities and allied cooperation in high-intensity warfighting in a challenging arctic environment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Isaiah Campbell)