The Norwegian government has decided that the scheduled winter exercises with allied partners in Northern Norway shall be cancelled, due to the current Corona infection situation in Norway.
“Norway is currently in a demanding situation. Infection control measures in Nordre Follo and other nearby municipalities [near Oslo] are the most invasive ones since the onset of the Corona pandemic. We must take precautious measures to try avoiding spreading the UK mutation of the virus, and after an overall assessment of the situation, we have decided to cancel the allied activities in Troms [Northern Norway], Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen says in a press release.
The decision means that the exercises Rein I and Joint Viking, both of which include extensive allied participation, are cancelled. New allied forces will not be brought to the Troms inland areas, and for the forces already in place, there will be a controlled departure.
“This will happen in close collaboration with our allies and the Armed Forces, and in a manner consistent with infection control. The Armed Forces are currently planning how to do this, and we will revert with further details at a later stage”, says Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen.
The Armed Forces will facilitate adjusted training for the period up to departure and within the framework of infection control regulations.
Winter training for 3,400 allied personnel has been scheduled. Up until now, a total of 2,900 allied personnel have arrived in Tromsø to conduct training and exercises. 1,000 of these are from the USA, just under 1,000 from Great Britain, some 600 from the Netherlands and approximately 200 from Germany.
“Allied training and exercise in Norway in winter is important for both Norway and our allies. It represents a specific expression of alliance solidarity and sends a clear signal about NATO’s will and capacity to assist Norway.”
The cancellation comes in addition to last year’s major exercise Cold Response 2020 was significantly reduced due to infection control considerations.
“I want to thank all allies who have demonstrated major flexibility and understanding in this demanding situation. We would also like to thank local authorities, health services and the Armed Forces. A great job has been done to mange the situation in the best way possible”, the Defense Minister says.
This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.