More than 15,000 soldiers from 9 countries will participate in Cold Response 2020 exercise

Some U.S. forces stationed in Europe will head north March 2, 2020, to participate in Cold Response 2020, a biennial exercise hosted by Norway focusing mostly on operations at the tactical level in cold-weather environments. Norway is a leading nation in NATO when it comes to cold weather operations, and has extensive experience in this field. It is therefore natural that Norway is hosting winter exercises such as Cold Response.

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A light armored vehicle awaits transportation by rail at Hell Station in Hell, Norway, in advance of Exercise Cold Response 2016, Feb. 12, 2016. (Picture source U.S. DoD)

The Cold Response 2020 exercise takes place in an area of northern Norway that stretches from the town of Narvik to the Finnmark district. The main part of the exercise will be located in the district of Troms. While the U.S. military has areas available for cold-weather training, the environment in Norway is unlike anything else on Earth.

During the month of March 2020, more than 15,000 service members from 9 countries will be participating in the exercise primarily above the arctic circle from allied and partner nations including Norway, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Cold Response 2020 will enhance high intensity warfighting skills in a multinational environment under challenging geographical and climate conditions with a field training exercise incorporating maritime, land, and air events. The aim of the exercise is to retain and further enhance military capabilities and allied cooperation in high intensity warfighting in a challenging arctic environment on the tactical level. 

While the exercise has been in the planning stages for months, the units at the lowest levels will not get a real sense of that planning, said Norwegian Rear Adm. Sverre Engeness. Instead, he explained, "they will have all the challenges they require for tactical interoperability and integration and so forth."

Cold Response is the name given to Norwegian exercises with invited Partnership for Peace countries held in northern Norway. The first one was the largest military exercise in Norway in 2006. Around 10,000 soldiers from 11 nations participated. It was a national Norwegian exercise with all NATO states invited to participate. The second exercise was held in March 2007, and the third in March 2009. The fourth exercise was held in February–March 2010. Approximately 8,500 soldiers participated. The fifth exercise was held from 12–23 March 2012, where over 16,000 soldiers participated