Norway and Sweden Work Together During Exercise Northern Wind
(Source: Norway Ministry of Defense; issued March 20, 2019)
(Unofficial translation by
This article, jointly written by Defense Ministers Frank Bakke-Jensen (Norway) and Peter Hultqvist (Sweden), was published by Nordlys on March 20, 2019.

The Northern Brigade, reinforced by NATO Allied British and American units, participates in exercise Northern Wind. In total, nearly 10,000 soldiers from Norway, Finland, Sweden, the US and the UK will participate in the exercise.

That is why Norway and Sweden are working together during this exercise.

The Nordic countries are closely linked to each other through geography and history. We have common values and largely equal interests. The development of security policy in our part of Europe in recent years has meant that we have begun to cooperate more closely in the field of defense. It is impossible to imagine a major security crisis in the region that would not affect us all.

In order to take joint responsibility for the security of our region, we must become better at interacting. Therefore, our defense forces must be able to train with each other and with others.

During the month of March, the largest exercise in the Nordic countries in 2019 will be completed. Army forces will train in the Northern Wind exercise, on the border between Sweden and Finland. The large international participation in the exercise means that it differs from the ordinary annual Swedish military exercises. About 1,500 Finnish soldiers and officers and 4,600 Norwegian soldiers and officers from the Northern Brigade, together with soldiers and officers from the United States and the United Kingdom, will practice and train with parts of the Swedish army. Altogether, around 10,000 soldiers and officers will participate in the exercise.

Exercise and training with each other and with others gives us the opportunity to practice greater scope and more qualified opponents than we can handle ourselves. This type of exercise develops our national defense capabilities and our ability to cooperate.

The large participation from Norway and Finland in Exercise Northern Wind is a good example of how Nordic defense cooperation can look in practice. In recent years, we have had extensive Nordic participation in a number of major exercises in the region, both national exercises and exercises under NATO leadership. Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish aircraft co-operate every week over the North ice cap, and the Nordic exercise Arctic Challenge will this year be developed into an even more advanced version.

Our assigned financial resources provide a framework for how much we can practice. In order to achieve maximum effect, we must find ways to avoid exercise activities that compete with each other. Therefore, in the coming years we will develop how we coordinate the exercise activity between our countries in cases where this is relevant.

The Nordic defense cooperation, Nordefco, has grown in strength and importance in recent years. The deteriorating security policy situation in our immediate vicinity has meant that several countries in the Nordic countries have reconsidered parts of the defense and security policy. We have strengthened our defense forces to once again focus on the defense of our countries. Defense cooperation between the Nordic countries has become natural.

Security policy radically changed with Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in spring 2014. This was also reflected in the Nordefco cooperation.

National security and defense policy motives became increasingly central. The conditions for closer operational cooperation between our countries have been strengthened. In recent years, we have seen concrete results from this work. We have established secure communication between our respective defense ministries and defense leaders. We have reduced the bureaucratic hurdles to refer military forces between our countries. We have created the conditions to be able to exchange airspace data with each other, first in peacetime, but we agree to look at the possibilities of eventually expanding the co-operation to apply also in crisis and in worst case conflict.

Nordefco this year celebrates ten years in its current form. In 2018, we adopted a new vision for defense ministers with a view to the development of cooperation until 2025.

The vision states that Nordic cooperation covers all levels of conflict from peace cooperation to cooperation in crisis and conflict. We want to ensure a close Nordic dialogue on defense and security issues, among other things by developing the cooperation for a platform for crisis consultations, establishing a strategic dialogue on prosperity development and developing our capacity building work to support peace and security in conflict areas.

Our countries have made various security policy choices. Norway is a member of NATO, but not a member of the EU. Sweden and Finland are members of the EU, but not members of NATO. But we are united in the perception that security is best built with others. And in common responsibility for security in our part of Europe.


Ready for Winter Warfare– the Starting Gun Fires for Northern Wind
(Source: Swedish Armed Forces; issued March 19, 2019)
The planning work has been going on for 18 months. Preparation, winter training, battalion exercises and transportation have been going on for over a month, and now the participating units are in place – the exercise can begin.

“Finally, it’s under way, it will be really exciting to launch this exercise idea with two brigades practising their tactics against each other in a free play exercise without pre-determined engagements," says Lieutenant Colonel Johan Skiöld, the Exercise Planning Officer from the Land Warfare Centre.
The biggest unit participating is the Norwegian Brigade North, which is reinforced with British and American forces and has nearly 5 000 soldiers and officers. During Monday and Tuesday, the Brigade will come up to full strength in its starting location in Haparanda. The Norwegian Combat Service Support Battalion has had the challenging task of moving an entire brigade from Norway to Sweden.
Three times round the Equator

“This is a massive logistics operation, which we've been working on since December last year. We started the planning work immediately after the end of Exercise TRIDENT JUNCTURE. We've been doing the actual transport and movement work for about a month. First, two weeks of road movements mainly to Narvik where most trains were loaded with vehicles and equipment, then two weeks of transportation by train and road here to Haparanda.

“The entire operation involved 17 trains, 59 vehicle convoys and 75 bus loads. All in all, the Battalion has driven about 130 000 kilometres, which corresponds to about three times round the equator,” says Lieutenant Colonel Stein Grongstad, Commanding Officer of the Combat Service Support Battalion.

Challenging free play exercise

The idea of two brigades getting to practice their tactics against each other in a free play exercise, without pre-determined combat engagements, combined with a combat simulator system, also gives the exercise an added dimension.

“The exercise is almost fully instrumented, which means that nearly 5 000 soldiers, vehicles and other units will register hits and effects via sensors in combat vests and modems. This in turn means that the outcome of all engagements can be followed up all the way. We can see the consequences of all the decisions taken, both bad and good. Commanders and units will learn a great deal and a lot of experience will be gained,” explains Johan Skiöld.

"The Battle of Eastern Norrbotten"

The two brigades are now carrying out their final preparations and finalising their plans ahead of the coming combat that begins on Wednesday, 20 March. The two brigade commanders met on Sunday and shook hands before the "Battle of Eastern Norrbotten".
– It's great for us to exercise in our actual wartime terrain and take on an equally high-tech opponent. In addition, we get to exercise in a large area that gives us the opportunity to manoeuvre our units over a large area of inaccessible winter terrain," says Colonel Mats Ludvig, Commander of the Swedish brigade, which is reinforced with a Finnish battalion battlegroup.

The Norwegian Brigade Commander, Lars Lervik, is also looking forward to the exercise start.

“This will be very exciting for us. We will be exercising in an area that we've never been to before; that in itself is a big challenge. In addition, we have never had British and American units so closely integrated in our units. We are really looking forward to an interesting exercise,” says Brigadier General Lervik.


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