Kick-Off in the North for the Norwegian Army's Biggest Exercise This Fall

Panserbataljonen til Brigade Nord øver med bombekaster
In the coming days, soldiers in the Armed Batallion (pictured) will practice interoperability with other battalions in the Norwegian Brigade Nord (northern brigade). Another unit in the Norwegian Army and Home Guard soldiers will also take part in the exercise. (Photo: Ole Sverre Haugli/The Norwegian Armed Forces)

Today, the Norwegian Army, and the Norwegian Brigade Nord in particular, will commence the Arctic Bolt exercise in Troms. In total, around 3500 Army soldiers and 200 Home Guard soldiers will take part.

The military exercise Arctic Bolt starts today, Friday, and will last until the 29th of November, according to the Norwegian Armed Forces.

This will be the Norwegian Army and the Brigade Nord's largest exercise this fall – and it follows last week's extensive allied training activity in the North, with an emphasis on air operations.

The Army exercise will primarily take place in southern parts of Troms in Northern Norway. Around 1000 military vehicles will be in action and a lot of traffic is expected along the E6.

The Armed Forces refer in particular to the distances Setermoen-Bardufoss-Heia-Skjold-Nordkjosbotn. The vast majority of units will hit the road on Monday, while the combat part of the exercise will begin around midnight on Wednesday.

Military traffic during the large Norwegian-led allied exercise Cold Response 2022 in March, which largely took place in the North. Of the around 1,000 vehicles that will be in action during the Arctic Bolt exercise this November, there are 350 tracked vehicles, 570 wheeled vehicles and 80 light all-terrain vehicles. (Photo: The Norwegian Armed Forces)

Quick Reaction Force Participates

This time, the Army's Quick Reaction Force (QRF) of Brigade Nord will participate in brigade training in the North for the first time in three years.

This reaction force is built around the Telemark Batallion, a maneuver battalion in Brigade Nord, which is located in Rena, Østlandet, southeast of Norway. Now, vehicles and equipment for this force will be shipped from Rena to Setermoen and Skjold in Northern Norway, arriving on Monday.

"That three years have passed since the previous time, has to do with the economy. The extra funding we received from the government this summer has allowed us to train with [almost, ed. note] the entire Brigade Nord," says Major General Lars S. Lervik, Chief of the Norwegian Army.

As a result of the Ukraine war, the Norwegian Armed Forces received NOK 3 billion in extraordinary funding in May. Among other things, the funds are aimed at more training in Brigade Nord and Finnmark Land Command, as well as within the Home Guard.

Central objectives of such activity are to improve responsiveness and strengthen joint operational cooperation, also with allies. Relevant in this respect is that the British Royal Marines have recently conducted winter training in Troms. 

The transport of the Quick Reaction Force is also a very valuable deployment training.
Major General Lars S. Lervik, Chief of the Norwegian Army

Cooperation and deployment training

Arctic Bolt will include the vast majority of departments in the Brigade Nord, which during training and possible combat will work together as a large system.

In total, the exercise involves around 3500 soldiers from the brigade and Trenregimentet at Bardufoss, as well as approximately 200 Home Guard soldiers from the Claymore task force in the Nord-Hålogaland Home Guard district.

"The system training contributes to both increased ability, competence, and preparedness, and thus raises our overall ability to defend the country. The strategic transport of the Quick Reaction Force is also a very valuable deployment training before the QRF transitions into an increased NATO VJTF readiness in the new year," Lervik points out.

Very High Readiness Task Force (VJFT) is NATO's rapid reaction force and was established after the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. It must be ready for operations within 48 to 72 hours. The Norwegian contribution of the Army's QRF will be in such NATO readiness for a year, then as a part of a German-led brigade with units from nine countries.

As a side note, the Norwegian Armed Forces now operate with an increased level of preparedness. This was introduced on 1 November.

Facts about the units training during Arctic Bolt 2022

Brigade Nord is the largest department and the core of the Norwegian Army. It is located in Troms by the Bardufoss Garrison and Setermoen Camp, respectively in the municipalities of Målselv and Bardu, as well as in Østerdalen (Camp Rena).

The brigade consists of eight battalions: the Telemark Battalion, the 2nd Battalion, the Artillery Battalion, the Armoured Battalion, the Engineer Battalion, the Communications Battalion, the Medical Battalion, and the Combat Service and Support Battalion. The brigade also has its own military police company.

On a daily basis, the brigade consists of 4200 soldiers and commanders. With a mobilization supplement, it will be about 7000.

Trenregimentet, which is responsible for running the Army's camps, is also based at the Bardufoss garrison. This is Northern Norway's largest military camp.

The Claymore task force in Nord-Hålogaland Home Guard district (HV-16) is based in Bjerkvik, Narvik municipality. It operates primarily in northern Nordland and southern Troms.

This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by Birgitte Annie Molid Martinussen.

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