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Royal Marines bring the heat to the ice during Arctic combat exercises

11 February 2022
Royal Marines at the very tip of the commando spear have been unleashed in the wild Arctic to hone cold weather combat skills.

By ski and snowmobile, the men of the Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron (SRS) have made the most of the mountainous Blatind Ranges in Troms County, northern Norway.

The squadron – drawn from Plymouth-based 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group – is a specialist team of commandos who forge the way ahead for their fellow green berets to follow.
 
They are trained to gather valuable information on the terrain, the enemy and suitable beach landing places for larger amphibious forces to come ashore.
 
The squadron comprises highly-trained Royal Marines Mountain Leaders – experts in reconnaissance, mountain and arctic warfare – who must keep themselves sharp for operations behind enemy lines, no matter how extreme the environment.
 
The SRS has used this deployment to the Arctic Circle to fine-tune cold weather skills and develop new techniques using snowmobiles – or Oversnow Reconnaissance Vehicles (OSRVs) to give them their full name – and skis.
 
The commandos have been unleashed on live firing exercises and focused on drills to break contact with an enemy, using their snowmobiles to quickly move across the snow-covered battlefield, focusing on speed, aggression and using the environment to their advantage.
 
Sergeant Cowell, who organised the training, said: “The squadron performed to an extremely high standard in horrendous conditions. Highlight of the week was the squadron putting their dry drills into practice and going live with break contact on the OSRVs.”
 
Mountain Leader 2, Corporal Edworthy, added: “The recent range package attended by 1 troop SRS proved pivotal in developing and enhancing our standard operating procedures in an extreme cold weather environment.
 
“The troop excelled in the transition from operating in a temperate environment to breaking contact on skis and OSRVs in extreme conditions.”
 
It’s just one phase of the squadron’s intensive Arctic deployment that will also see them carry out beach reconnaissance, which involves studying the rugged Norwegian coastline and the seabed to gather valuable information on the best landing places for amphibious forces to come ashore.
 
While on the coast SRS will also practise helicasting techniques – being dropped from a helicopter with their boats into icy waters and making their way to the beach.
 
The commandos will also trek long distances on ski patrols – known as long-range ski insertions – traversing the inhospitable terrain to gather information on enemy movements and positions.
 
This training comes ahead of the commandos’ involvement in Exercise Cold Response, which will see marines supported by a task group of Royal Navy ships and aircraft, including aircraft carrier and NATO command ship HMS Prince of Wales.

The Norwegian-led exercise, in March and early April, involves 35,000 troops from 28 nations, with allied warships and aircraft working closely together as the powerful task force tests its ability to protect Norway from modern threats. 

 

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