US, Norwegian forces in Lapland for rapid reinforcement exercise

PFC Aaron Cox on guard during exercise Ryske in Lapland. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

About 2,000 US soldiers, nearly 300 Norwegian and 4,500 Finns take part in the international brigade level exercise dubbed Northern Forest 24.

This week’s war-games at Rovajärvi training area deep into the forest between Kemijärvi and Sodankylä is the largest above the Arctic Circle in Finland this spring.

The backdrop is bleak. War in Europe with Russia’s horrific attack on Ukraine and tensions that affects border areas also up North. Finland joined NATO in April last year, and Sweden followed in March this year.

This winter and spring has seen the one multinational military exercise following the other. Reinforcement of the Nordic and Baltic countries in case of crisis is core to defense.

Finnish armoured vehicle and Norwegian soldiers training together at Rovajärvi, Lapland. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Northern Forest 24 will last until Sunday. A significant airlift of soldiers into the area takes place and the troops will be supported by long-range artillery systems, battle tanks and anti-aircraft missiles.

The goal is to ensure that when the smoke clears, the giant forest area will be under control, deputy commander of the Jaeger Brigade in Sodankylä, Colonel Ari Mure, says.

Spokesperson Arnfinn Sjøenden with Finnmark Land Defense says to the Barents Observer that some 250 to 300 Norwegian soldiers have entered northern Finland, ready for the final battle training.

“This is a good arena to train together with allied forces and develop our interoperability. Together we create a safer and stronger NATO,” Sjøenden says.

US Airborne forces train together with Finland’s Jaeger Battalion in Sodankylä.. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

US Army earlier this spring unloaded more than 200 armored vehicles in the north Norwegian port of Narvik which drove across the snowy mountains into northern Sweden before continuing to Finnish Lapland for the large scale Immediate Response 2024 exercise.

Northern Forest 24 is the northern arm in the last days of the Immediate Response exercise.

In March, Finland and Sweden sent thousands of soldiers into Norway’s Finnmark region in the 13 nations big exercise Nordic Response.

Cross-border movement of thousands of soldiers inside the Arctic Circle has become a new normal as NATO shows deterrence. Prevent war by telling the Kremlin that any attacks will be met with credible retaliation.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Canada pledges billions for defence, falls short of NATO’s 2%, CBC News

Denmark: Denmark’s Arctic, North Atlantic focus: Canada among new defence attaché posts, Eye on the Arctic

Faroe Islands: Parliament passes Faroe Islands’ Arctic policy, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Nordic-Baltic countries discuss building of ‘drone wall’ along border to Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Olenya bombers’ missiles shot down in overnight attack on Ukraine, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedes must mentally prepare for war, says military top brass, Radio Sweden

United States: White House releases U.S. Arctic strategy implementation plan, Eye on the Arctic

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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