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NATO Arctic exercise includes Finland as new member, elevates US Marine Corps' command role

US marines conduct cold-weather training in preparation for NATO Exercise ‘Nordic Response 2024' in Setermoen. (US Marine Corps)

With the kick-off of Exercise ‘Nordic Response 2024' in February in the Norwegian Arctic, NATO is including Finland forces for the first time as a new official allied member and has transferred the Land Component Command headquarters for the exercise to the US Marine Corps' II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF), another first.

The component, including Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish division forces, will exercise under II MEF by, with, and through the Norwegian hosts.

“This is the first time we're doing this exercise with [a] new NATO ally, and that to me is significant,” Lieutenant Colonel Charles Nash,the deputy chief of plans for the expeditionary force and a lead planner for the component, told Janes during a 1 March interview.

“It allows us to look at battlespace differently – to take a fresh look at it, and develop more interdependence and integration with our allies,” Lt Col Nash said.

He said he had some “unique conversations” with Finnish force leaders that helped him reframe how he perceived the Arctic and conducting operations there.

“It's difficult to think of this environment, of those who live here and operate here,” he said. “We are accustomed to bending the environment to us, to fight and live within the environment of our choosing. One of the big lessons learned is learning to work with the environment as it is – to exist in the environment and not try to bend the environment.”

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