Pasvik: Here are the soldiers the USA wants to learn from. Ice bathing on the border with Russia is just one of the tough tasks young soldiers must complete.
In an interview with High North News the other day, U.S. Major General Peter Andrysiak argued that the USA would have much to gain from its European allies in its Arctic defense strategy. He stressed in particular the importance of training in cold climate, in particular together with Norwegian soldiers.
These are the very soldiers High North News meets on and along the banks of the Pasvik River, which also serves as border river between Norway and Russia.
Fredrik Hodnefjell is Chief of the military company in Pasvik and arrived in Pasvik for the first time in 2011. He then walked along the entire nearly-200-kilometers long border line.
“I have served here since the summer of 2014 and have been stationed both on the border line and in the camp at Høybuktmoen”, he says to High North News.
Hodnefjell is originally from Halden, near the Swedish border, but is nevertheless fascinated by the Arctic.
“One would often think that Norway starts in the south, though if you reconsider one could argue that Norway starts here, in the North. The Arctic, all the politics that go on here, big politics, the relationship between Norway and Russia, the Schengen area external border… I find this to be an incredibly interesting area in which to be and work, Fredrik Hodnefjell says.
20 inches of ice
Further out on the Pasvik River ice, the young soldiers get to prove themselves. Fully dressed and equipped, they dive into a crack in the 20-inch thick river ice.
Watch the entire interview with Chief Fredrik Hodnefjell and the bathing soldiers on top of this page. (Subtitles available in English.)
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This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.