Norway establishes ‘Arctic Battalion’
A year after Russia informed that it will establish military units specially trained for operations in the Arctic, Norway announces plans to reequip one of its units to an ‘Arctic Battalion’.
The ‘Arctic battalion’ is not going to be created from scratch, it is more of a renaming of an already existing unit - the 2nd Battalion at camp Skjold in Troms county. This battalion is a mechanized infantry unit in Brigade Nord, Norway’s only army brigade.
Norway’s Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide (Right) talking to Commander of 2nd Battalion Lieutenant-Colonel Håkon Warø. (Photo: Ministry of Defense)
Today’s 2nd Battalion serves two roles, primarily being organized for Norway’s defense, however, during Norway’s engagement with NATO in Afghanistan, 2nd Battalion also contributes substantially to ISAF forces in northern Afghanistan. The battalion is divided into four companies, including three unites equipped with Patria Pasi, M113 and heavy infantry, as well as a combat support company including recon, medical and mortar units.
The ‘Arctic battalion’ will be equipped with snowmobiles, ATVs and other light vehicles to be able to move and operate quickly and easily. The battalion will consist of conscripts and enlisted personnel.
In March 2011 Russia announced that the 200. motorized infantry brigade in Pechenga, some 10 kilometers from the Russian-Norwegian border, would be reorganized as an Arctic brigade. The original plan was to have the unit ready by the end of 2011, but in February this year, Commander of the Russian Ground Forces Col.Gen. Alexander Postnikov said that the first brigade will be established in 2015, when Russia receives new vehicles designed for operations in the Arctic, BarentsObserver reported.
On March 23 the Norwegian Ministry of Defense released the new Long Term Plan for the Norwegian Defense Sector. Improved operational capability is one of the main factors in the plan, with strengthening of the Army and the Home Guard as two important factors.
“We are interested in finding the right solutions for our time. Our ambition is to be world leading on operations under Arctic conditions”, Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide said during a visit to the military camps in Troms recently, the ministry’s web site reads.
According to the plan, the army will get more enlisted personnel than today, as the same time as the general conscription will continue. The two other mechanized infantry units in Brigade Nord - Panserbataljonen (The Armoured Battalion) and Telemark Battalion will both continue to operate like they do today today, only with more enlisted personnel.