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Discussion in 'RM Operational News' started by Rover, May 7, 2019.

  1. Rover

    Rover Moderator

    Oct 23, 2008
    Inside the West’s Plans for Arctic War Against Russia

    Moscow is growing belligerent in its quest to pry open the icy route to the Atlantic. The U.S. and Britain are racing to catch up, but is it too late?

    Nico Hines

    05.07.19 5:09 AM ET

    BARDUFOSS, Norway—On the slope of a snow-covered hill deep in the Arctic Circle, some of the world’s best-trained commandos are struggling to complete an ambush exercise knee-deep in the snow. Britain’s Royal Marines make painfully slow progress during a slow-motion pastiche of a chase.

    The conditions here—where temperatures routinely plunge to -22 F (-30 C) and snow drifts cloak the treacherous terrain—have dominated battlefield strategy above the Arctic Circle for centuries.

    “The environment is as much your enemy as anybody else,” says Maj. Jim Lawson, the officer commanding of Charlie Company, 40 Commando. “If you just stand here and do nothing, it will kill you.”

    Tall and eloquent, Lawson raises his voice slightly to be heard over the rat-ta-tat-tat gunfire of the Royal Marines to explain that NATO’s military leaders in the Arctic had been hitting the history books. In order to meet the threat posed by Vladimir Putin’s resurgent Russia, they’ve been studying past incursions by the USSR and defense plans drawn up to counter aggression from the east stretching back from the Cold War to the German strategy for defending Nazi-occupied Norway against Russia during World War II.

    For the full article click below....

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  2. Rover

    Rover Moderator

    Oct 23, 2008
    Inside the Royal Marines' sub-zero Arctic war preparations
    As climate change melts the ice, the Arctic Circle is attracting the attention of military powers – particularly from Russia – and the UK is stepping up its presence to help defend the region

    By Victoria Turk
    5:00 AM

    Tuesday 11 June 2019
    In winter in northern Norway, hundreds of Royal Marines undergo cold-weather training in response to a growing threat to peace in the region: climate change.

    As the Arctic Circle warms and the ice recedes, new shipping routes are opening up and resources such as gas and minerals are exposed. As a result, the Arctic is attracting new interest from governments with a stake in the region. “Shipping lanes are opening up and ships are able to operate up there for far longer periods during the year than they've ever been able to do before, but in response to that you're seeing an increased militarisation,” says Gavin Williamson, the former UK Secretary of State for Defence, who announced an increase in British forces deployed to the Arctic in February 2019.

    The main perceived threat is Russia. As one of the largest Arctic states, Russia has a lot to gain from the increased accessibility caused by climate change. In August 2017, for the first time, a Russian tanker travelled from Norway to South Korea across the Northern Sea without a separate icebreaker escort – a journey that took almost a third less time than the usual route via the Suez Canal.

    Around 800 Royal Marines underwent Arctic training this February near Bardufoss, Norway, where temperatures can drop to -30°C. Much of this training is dedicated simply to survival and includes an “ice breaking drill” in which the Marines must ski into a hole in the ice before rescuing themselves and their kit from the water. They must also learn to operate vehicles and equipment in Arctic conditions. In March, they took part in a war games exercise in Sweden, in which British, Norwegian and US forces played the role of an invading “force from the east”.

    Captain Sam Moreton, who made his second trip to Norway this year, says that frostbite is the biggest risk. The key to surviving in the inhospitable environment, he says, is speed and aggression: “You seek shelter where possible, and where shelter has to be broken you move fast, move hard, move with purpose.”

    The Viking armoured vehicle is designed to be all-terrain, with the same model used in Norway as in desert environments such as Oman or Afghanistan. The 7.6-metre-long articulated twin-cab vehicle is driven by rubber tracks, which Sergeant Andy Lowry of the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group says move well across the frozen ground. “It’s quite light on the snow and allows us to get to lots of places we wouldn’t normally be able to get to,” he says. The main function of the Viking is to transport Marines safely across the battlefield, and the troop-carrying variant can transport 10 personnel at a time. It has a GPMG, or general purpose machine gun, mounted on top.

    The smaller, more manoeuvrable Wildcat helicopter is used for battlefield reconnaissance, usually sent as a scout to collect intelligence, such as the location of enemy forces or potential landing sites for larger aircraft. The helicopter has three cameras on the front: a regular colour camera, a black-and-white camera with zoom and an infrared sensor for low-light conditions. It can also track objects such as moving vehicles. The helicopter actually performs better in cold than hot temperatures, says Wildcat pilot Lt Mike Pengelly of the 847 Naval Air Squadron, but ice poses a big threat. “As ice builds up on the aircraft it gets heavier,” he explains. “Eventually you don’t have enough power and you fall out of the sky like a big ice cube.”

    Merlin Mk3 cockpit
    The Merlin Mk3’s rotor blades have a built-in thermal anti-icing system, which Lt Ben Lilley (pictured) says functions similarly to under-floor heating to prevent ice build-up. POAC Ben Fagan, an air crewman on the Merlin, says that marines often expect the cabin to be nice and warm when they get in, but they purposely keep it cold; otherwise, the snow and ice on the troops’ clothing would melt, and then freeze again when they next went outside. “It just puts them in a worse situation,” he says.

    Landing craft

    A Norwegian G-Wagen disembarks from a British LCVP Mk5 amphibious landing craft. One aim of the joint exercise is to check that the two forces’ equipment and vehicles can comfortably interoperate (the Royal Marines normally use Land Rovers instead). When it’s not transporting a vehicle, the 16-metre-long LCVP can carry 32 Royal Marines with kit, plus three crew. The craft has a night-vision camera to help navigate and surveil in low light, as they often operate under cover of darkness. On approaching a beach, the ramp drops so that troops can immediately traverse from sea to land.

    Ice diving

    Diver Sgt Vegard Lauritsen of the Norwegian Army’s Brigade Nord emerges from the water of the Gratangen fjord, where Norwegians are working alongside the Royal Marines to conduct reconnaissance on a beach. He uses a wrist-mounted depth gauge to track the fjord floor and searches visually for obstacles that may prevent landing craft from dropping vehicles or personnel here, especially if the tide is low. “The good thing about diving is it’s always at least 1°C in the water,” says diving instructor Sgt Steinn Mar. A closed communications line – the orange cable – connects the diver to a buddy on the shore.

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