Arctic: U.S. Leads 16,000-Troop NATO War Games Near Russian Border
Marine Forces Europe and Africa
United States Marine Corps
March 16, 2014
USAG Stuttgart, Germany Unpredictable weather creates unique training adaptations during Cold Response 14
By Sgt. Tatum Vayavananda | Marine Forces Europe and Africa
BARDUFOSS, Norway: Cold Response 14 brings together nearly 16,000 troops from 16 different countries to northern Norway to train high-intensity operations in extreme cold-weather environments. But a training area filled with snow and Arctic-cold weather conditions was not what U.S. Marines and the multinational force, the majority of servicemembers from Norway, Sweden, Canada, Great Britain, and the Netherlands, were faced with the start of the exercise. It was a greater obstacle; warmer temperatures with wetter conditions.
“The rain has challenged the Marines who were expecting the snow,” said Lt. Col. Joel F. Schmidt, the battalion commander of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. “Thirty-three degrees and raining is always a challenge for Marines out doing patrols, maintaining health while they are moving around when it’s cold and wet. But I think the Marines have done extremely well.”
CR-14 is a multilateral exercise with more than 16 partner nations above the Arctic Circle to train as one. The exercise includes large-scale troop movements, maritime offloads and positioning, snow-covered foot and mechanized vehicle patrols, amphibious raids, an international brigade of simulated opposition forces, and multinational command-level synchronization in a training area half the size of Connecticut, from the city of Trondheim to the northern city of Bardufoss.
But the battalion-minus sized element of Marines have been aided by their host-nation’s proficiency and skill; Norwegian allies that understand the climate and how to survive and combat the elements at the tip of the Northern Hemisphere.
Cold Response 14 is indicative of the commitment of all participating nations to global security and worldwide stability that requires the capacity to operate in any clime and place, from arid deserts through dense jungles and in frigid glaciers.
“It’s really important to know how to operate in the cold,” said Lance Cpl. Ryan Dole, a Marine with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. “From our instructors and learning from the Norwegians, there are a lot of things you need to know to be able to survive and fight in combat if it ever comes to that situation.”
“This is a whole different ball game and it’s so important because it’s really hard; if you don’t know how to do it, you can die out here,” said Dole.
For the Marines and their allies, the exercise emphasizes their adaptability to situations and their ability to overcome unpredictable circumstances, even within a training environment.
Cold Response 14 is the sixth iteration of the exercise and has grown from approximately 10,000 international servicemembers since 2006. The exercise will continue to create a robust training environment that will not only build proficiency in extreme Arctic conditions but bolster cohesion, interoperability, and understanding between the 16 different nations while maintaining proven partnerships and alliances between the participating countries.
Northern Norway has experienced fresh, new snow for the remainder of the exercise, which will run through March 21.