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US Marine Corps commandant acknowledges ‘Cold Response 2022' more relevant amid Ukraine war

General David Berger, US Marine Corps commandant, says Norwegian expertise of Arctic operations makes High North training between the NATO partners invaluable. (Mike Fabey/Janes)

‘Cold Response 2022' – a major NATO exercise hosted this month in Norway – is taking on greater relevance given the Russian invasion of Ukraine, US Marine Corps (USMC) Commandant General David Berger said.

US marines participating in the NATO military drill realised how close they would be operating to the Norwegian border with Russia, Gen Berger told reporters during a press conference at the Norwegian Bardufoss Air Station during the exercise.

However, the commandant made clear that the service's main focus of the exercise was joint training with NATO in the Arctic environment, a skill Norwegians have honed and one that US marines need to improve.

Hosted by the Norwegian military, ‘Cold Response 2022' combines the forces of NATO allies and partner countries, with around 30,000 troops from 27 countries, 20 aircraft, and more than 50 vessels taking part in the exercise.

For the marines, the NATO exercise is a chance to learn, and in some cases relearn, the lessons of operating in the High North, according to Gen Berger.

“You cannot [just] be super tough and beat this environment,” he said. “The Norwegians are great teachers. We can learn from them if you humble yourself.”

Navigating the Norwegian terrain can be a humbling experience, Gen Berger said. For example, marines might look at a map and estimate it could take three hours to get from one point to another, without recognising the impact of the terrain, he explained.

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