A new Arctic operations base will support Britain’s commandos for the next 10 years as the UK underscores its commitment to security in the High North.
Newly-established Camp Viking in northern Norway will serve as the hub for Royal Marines Commandos as they continue to be the ‘tip’ of the Arctic spear; the unit the UK turns to when it needs troops able to fight in cold, extreme weather.
The commandos build on an Arctic warfare heritage going back to WWII, but with the re-emergence of the High North as a key theatre, they needed new facilities for a modern era.
The new purpose-built Camp Viking, which is located in the village of Øverbygd, approximately 40 miles south of Tromsø, can accommodate all personnel from the UK’s Littoral Response Group (LRG), the commando-led Royal Marines force which reacts to emerging crises in Europe.
The camp is strategically located next to a Norwegian Armed Forces base and near to the established air base at Bardurfoss where the Commando Helicopter Force operates, the specialist aviation support for Royal Marines.
The camp’s location is also ideal for deterring threats in the region and situated so the UK can respond rapidly if it needs to protect NATO’s northern flank and its close ally, Norway.
Around 1000 commandos have been deployed to Camp Viking this winter as they exercise alongside Joint Expeditionary Force and NATO allies across the environment. The commandos deploy annually to Norway for winter training.
“As the UK Commando Forces’ ‘home’ in the High North for the next decade, ‘Camp Viking’ is the focal point for delivery of Mountain and Cold Weather Warfare training and, strategically placed as a Forward Operating Base to support NATO operations,” explained Major Kirk Allen, Commanding of the Winter Deployment. “Its use supports Littoral Response Group regional persistent engagement with key allies and partners as a collective conventional deterrent to adversaries.
This year’s winter deployment is designed to sharpen commandos’ Arctic warfare skills – surviving, moving and fighting – building up to Exercise Joint Viking, which is part of the wider Exercise JEF Warrior, which sees UK personnel working closely with Norwegian and other partner forces.
At its heart, Joint Viking is designed to demonstrate how Norway would defend itself in harsh winter conditions and its ability to cooperate efficiently with allies. Joint Viking is part of the regular cycle of exercises in Norway which takes place in between the large-scale Exercise Cold/Nordic response.
“Impressively, Norway continue to invest in the site and the capability will only increase in its potential to support Commando Forces and wider UK Defence,” added Major Kirk Allen.