At 230 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the days are short and the nights can linger up to 6 months. During the long winter, temperatures average nearly 30 degrees below zero Celsius, and the few roads in the region are often buried deep beneath accumulated layers of snow and ice. Extreme cold weather is the rule only 800 miles from the North Pole.
Arctic Express commenced on 27 February 1994 in Troms, Norway, and concluded nearly a month later. Unilaterally declared a resounding success by the participating NATO partner nations, the exercise provided an effective demonstration of the capabilities of Army pre-positioned stocks (formerly called Army war reserves).
Adventure Express 97
Exercise ADVENTURE EXPRESS 97, which was held in TROMS County, Norway, between 25 February and 21 March, was the latest in a series of EXPRESS exercises that have been held in North Norway every third year since 1964. In AE 97, the Allied Command Europe Mobile Force Land (Land), or AMF(L) for short, exercised joint operations together with NATO and Norwegian forces - deploying, conducting deterrent activities and simulated combat operations, and redeploying.
Exercise ADVENTURE EXPRESS 97 was a winter Field Training Exercise (FTX) being held in a joint, combined environment with participants from Belgium, Canada, Denmark , Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Approximately 15,000 ground troops, 30 naval vessels, 80 aircraft and 40 helicopters took part. The exercise was notified in accordance with the 1994 Vienna Document and so far about 40 observers from OSCE nations signified their intention to attend. The exercise, which contains many interesting and challenging elements, put into practice NATO strategy, which focuses on smaller, forward-based standing forces, with the emphasis on multinational structures and enhanced flexibility.
The exercise simulated a conflict between BLUELAND and WHITELAND. The forces on either side exercise as NATO forces, using actual weapon systems and operating in accordance with current NATO doctrine. BLUE forces primarily included HQ 6 DIV, NCF, AMF(L) and BLUE air and maritime forces, while the WHITE forces included Brigade 15, the Telemark Battalion and WHITE air and maritime forces. The conflict between the two imaginary countries was based on historical territorial claims to areas rich in natural resources - oil and fish play an important role in the paper play leading up to a military confrontation. UN Observers have been stationed in the area since 1963, when the UN established a demilitarized zone along the common border. During the exercise, the border between BLUELAND and WHITELAND was represented by the county line between MÅLSELV and BALSFJORD.
The AMF(L) is a highly mobile, conventionally-armed brigade-sized multinational force, designed to move quickly and assert a presence in order to demonstrate the resolve and solidarity of the Alliance to react speedily and cohesively to a perceived crisis, and to operate alongside Host Nation Forces. It exercises annually in its role as part of NATO's Immediate Reaction Force. AE 97 also involved the NATO Composite Force (NCF) through Exercise AFFIRMATIVE ALERT and is linked with Exercise COLD WINTER, the Norwegian 15 Brigade's refresher training exercise. The Officer Conducting the Exercise was Commander Joint Task Force North Norway, Lieutenant General Per Bøthun, Norwegian Air Force, and the Director of the FTX was Commander Land Forces Northern Norway, Major General Odd Vincent Skjøstad.
The Field Training Exercise (FTX) took place in TROMS County from 6 to 13 March. From 27 February to 5 March, the AMF(L) will conduct deterrent activities in accordance with the concept of operations. During this phase, Norwegian and other Allied units conducted a live firing exercise, code name ADVENTURE BARBARA. The main combat actions, involving some 15,000 ground troops, took place in the area between SETERMOEN and OTEREN. The forces will be divided into two parties: the BLUE forces were commanded by Commander 6 DIV, while the WHITE forces will be commanded by Commander 15 Brigade. AMF(L) and NCF took part on the BLUE side, while 15 Brigade and the Telemark Battalion were on the WHITE side. Although part of the combat action was directed by Umpires/Directing Staff, most of the FTX was consist of free play between the two parties. Combat action started with a WHITE attack a cross the border into BLUE territory on 8 March. BLUE's mission is to restore the integrity of the border between the two imaginary countries and force WHITE to the negotiation table by destroying their offensive capacities.
Air operations took place from 3 to 13 March. The operation areas stretched from the TRØNDELAG in the south to TROMS in the north. Air activity was coordinated with the land and naval operations in progress. During 3 to 7 March, the Crisis Management phase, all air units were utilised to achieve the highest possible training level (Combat Enhancement Training (CET)) for all participating forces. After the CET, the air participants were split into two forces for the Joint Combat Phase, which was conducted as a free play based on the actions taken by the two fighting parties. ADVENTURE EXPRESS 97 provided training in a number of operations aspects: offensive and defensive operations, anti-invasion/anti-shipping (including Norwegian Penguin operations), electronic warfare, reconnaissance, surveillance, maritime air patrol and support of ground forces. Air operations were mainly be conducted from Bodø in the south to TROMSØ in the north.
The live maritime play of Exercise ADVENTURE EXPRESS 97 took place from 3 to 13 March. Maritime units rendezvoused off TRONDHEIM and continue northwards, being just south of TROMSØ at the end of the exercise. The fjords and skerries of North Norway are known to be demanding, particularly during winter conditions; by the same token, they make for excellent training for maritime operations. The exercise was divided into two phases, deterrence, which lasted from 3 to 7 March, and free play. Phase Two in particular was designed to support BLUE forces. During the deterrent phase, maritime units exercised in accordance with a program of serials, including Combat Enhancement Training (CET), protection and interruptions of Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC), and exercise operations under various Rules of Engagement (ROE). During the CET, a broad range of maritime operations was exercised. Live Naval Gunfire Support (NGS), Mine Countermeasures (MCM), Anti-Air Warfare (AAW) and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) were the main topics to be trained. Naturally enough, as AE 97 is being held in Norway, most of the serials took place in littoral waters. A highlight that took place during free play was a small scale-scale amphibious landing following an opposed transit north from SØRREISA. This operation, being three service, involved most of the maritime units.
Adventure Express 2000
For the soldiers of ACE Mobile Forces (Land), Wiesbaden, Germany; United States National Support Element, Mannheim, Germany; 54th Engineering Battalion, Bamberg, Germany; 18th Military Police Brigade, Mannheim, Germany; 5th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, Wiesbaden, Germany; 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, Giebelstadt, Germany, and eight other NATO nations, the 21-day cold weather training exercise Adventure Express 2000 finished the final week of training in Norway, March 17, 2000.
Training in an environment like this with the NATO countries is vitally important. Multi-national training is the wave of the future. The exercise started on Feb. 29 with a 24-hour stay at the personnel holding area, Ramstein, Germany, where all United States personnel met to catch a flight to Bardufoss, Norway.
After a three-hour flight, the soldiers landed in Bardufoss, Norway, ready to begin the task at hand-unload all equipment from the barge docked in Bergeneset, Norway. Upon arrival at the designated training areas, units found setting up camp a lot more difficult than expected. Even with the difficulties of an arctic environment, the mission of setting up camp was completed.
The next phase of training for Adventure Express 2000 consisted of cold-weather training and multi-national demonstrations. This training was arctic engineering techniques, firing Norwegian, German and U.S. weapons, surviving an avalanche, making a snow cave and a static display of Norwegian, German and U.S. equipment.
The Norwegians demonstrated their mobile carpet machine and reconnaissance dive techniques. The Germans showed how they deal with the threat of Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical weapons. The United States showed off the M11A3 tracked vehicle, the mine clearing line charge vehicle and the Volcano mine laying system in Overbygd, Norway, March 8.
Once the training week of Adventure Express 2000 had ended, the soldiers were prepared to take their training and use it in a simulated war scenario involving a dispute over the rights to an oil refinery.
Unfortunately, the week began with tragedy and the realization that training in an arctic environment can be dangerous. Five were confirmed dead, 10 were critically wounded and 20 more were injured with the collapse of the roof at the multi-national force building in Bardufoss, Norway. "The accident occurred, because snow had built up on the roof. The roof didn't collapse slowly, it fell so quickly the compression of air from the roof caving in threw people out of windows. Another incident occurring during the week was a large avalanche, which left roads covered in snow and driving conditions impossible. The avalanche occurred between Skibotn and Bergeneset. The avalanche caused 500 meters of road to be closed for a 36-hour period.
With March 17th being the last day of the exercise, soldiers began the next task at hand, re-deployment.
The Warrior Preparation Center (WPC) in Kaiserslautern, Germany, hosted the HQ, Allied Mobile Force Land (AMF-L), Adventure Express '00 Computer Assisted Exercise (CAX), from 4-7 December, 2000. The CAX was a Peace Support Exercise (PSO) which is NATO's equivalent to a US SASO exercise. They used Albanian terrain, and typical Balkan-type realistic PSO scenarios. The US and 17 European countries participated in this exercise designed to train HQ AMF (L)/IRTF (L) and TG Headquarters in procedures required to conduct joint operations within a multinational PSO environment. This exercise was part of the final planned trial for the IRTF (L) concept.
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