During Cold Response, which will be carried out from 18 February to 5 March, the Swedish Army Ranger Battalion will form the foundation of the battalion's combat group, which is the largest Swedish contingent in the exercise.
The service training that is currently in progress is split up into different lines. They are communications specialist, medic, marksman, snowmobile operator, artillery observer, truck operator, tracked vehicle operator and ranger mechanic, among others.
The marksmen are divided up into two groups – snipers and Barrett M82A1 marksmen. The Barrett M82A1 is a weapon mainly developed to destroy equipment and target vehicles at distances of up to 1,500 metres. The ammunition has a calibre of 12.7 millimetres.
“Today, we’re firing at distances of 300 and 600 metres in order to get going again after the break. It’s almost six weeks since we last fired the weapon. We’ve started with some range-finding and calculations in order to see how the hit rate is. We devote a lot of time to ballistics. Differences in temperature and wind velocity have a huge impact when firing from long distances. At the starting distance of 300 metres, I’ve set the requirement that the shot must be within 15 times 15 centimetres,” explains Captain Fredrik Andersson, who is responsible for the Barrett M82A1 training.
Precision and patience
Precision is of course the main focus for the eight snipers that are being trained at the battalion.
During Thursday’s first exercise, there was the firing of three shots at one’s own pace at a distance of 100 metres.
“Here, the requirement is max. two centimetres between the outer shot, but in order to become a good sniper, it’s not only the firing itself that’s important. These soldiers are selected during a special recruitment process after reporting for active service where many different qualities are considered. Here, judgement skills, orientation ability and patience are important,” explains Sergeant Ludvig Johansson, instructor.
Snipers must also be good at mathematics, have great patience and have very good eyesight and hearing.
“Patience and the ability to observe are extremely important qualities, as a sniper can be alone and waiting for long periods,” continues Ludvig Johansson.
Snowmobiles must work
During Cold Response, the Swedish Army Ranger Battalion will often be faced with extreme mountain terrain that will naturally place huge demands on the ability to move on. In addition to skis and snowshoes, the battalion has the assistance of thirty snowmobiles. Snowmobile training is in progress in the garage area and a total of 32 operators are being trained.
“We start with 4-5 days of engineering training. It is essential that the operators know all about the machines in case something was to happen out in the mountain terrain. One of the requirements is that they must be able to perform simple repairs in the field. The training also involves at least 5-6 days of operating the snowmobiles,” explains Lieutenant Per Hansson, snowmobile instructor.
The service training now continues in Arvidsjaur for a further two weeks. After that, the battalion heads off to Hemavan for two weeks’ preliminary exercise in mountain terrain linked to the tasks that the battalion must solve during Cold Response.
“The training that was carried out during the autumn and the service training that we are now involved in provides a very solid foundation prior to Cold Response. We can look forward to the exercise with confidence,” says Lieutenant Colonel Urban Edlund, Battalion Commander.