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UK Commandos land on frozen lake during daring Arctic parachute jump

20 March 2023
Royal Marines parachuted onto a frozen lake alongside Dutch counterparts as part of large-scale exercises alongside NATO allies in the Arctic Circle.

The elite Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron (SRS) of 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group have been honing their specialist commando skills during intensive allied training involving 20,000 troops in Northern Norway.

The SRS commandos – known as the eyes and ears of the UK’s Commando Force – jumped from a Dutch C-130 Hercules alongside Dutch Marines to mark the 50th anniversary year of the UK and Netherlands Amphibious Force.

The elite force were tasked with ‘attacking positions behind enemy lines’, providing a foothold for NATO troops involved in Exercise Joint Viking.

SRS are the sharpest point of the commando spear who are at the forefront of the UK’s expertise in Arctic warfare. They are highly trained to forge ahead of the main force to carry out covert missions or pave the way for larger forces to enter the area.

Captain Lansley, officer in command of Recce Troop, 24 Commando Royal Engineers, said: “As Commando Sappers we bring our specialist engineer capabilities to SRS.

“There are fewer activities that require more mutual trust than parachuting, so this is a great test of our interoperability with NATO partners.

“It is a privilege to work with the Dutch, parachuting with them has special significance for me as my grandfather participated in Operation Market Garden during the Second World War.”

Another of the commandos’ unique abilities is taking the enemy by surprise by navigating, climbing or swimming to places perceived as impassable by an adversary.

That is why SRS also undertook intensive ice climbing training in Norway, honing an unorthodox approach that would catch an adversary off-guard.

SRS 1 Troop, Team Leader, said: “Ice climbing is a unique capability which is retained by the Royal Marines.

“It allows reconnaissance teams, complete with full operational kit to overcome hazards, for example ascend frozen waterfalls, which they may encounter while transiting to targets, exploiting unpredictable approach routes and maximising surprise.”

SRS is primarily made up of Royal Marines Mountain Leaders who are at the epicentre of the UK’s Arctic and cold weather warfare expertise. They are also the instructors who teach new generations to survive, move and fight across this unforgiving terrain.

They are deployed alongside a thousand fellow Royal Marines, British Army soldiers and the Commando Helicopter Force on Exercise Joint Viking.

Joint Viking is a Norwegian-led large-scale training exercise, the largest allied exercise in the Arctic this year and designed to test NATO’s ability to defend its northern flank.

The parachute jump alongside Dutch forces was part of a year of exercises and ceremonial events marking 50 years of close cooperation as part of the UK and Netherlands Amphibious Force.

The force is the oldest joint force in Europe and has seen the two nations’ navies and marines share equipment, tactics and training since 1973.

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