Ready for winter warfare

– The starting gun fires for Northern Wind

The planning work has been going on for 18 months. Preparation, winter training, battalion exercises and transportation have been going on for over a month, and now the participating units are in place – the exercise can begin.
– Finally, it’s under way, it will be really exciting to launch this exercise idea with two brigades practising their tactics against each other in a free play exercise without pre-determined engagements," says Lieutenant Colonel Johan Skiöld, the Exercise Planning Officer from the Land Warfare Centre.

Ready for winter warfare. Soldiers from 192 Mechanised Battalion are ready – the Army Exercise Northern Wind starts now. Photo: Jesper Sundström/Swedish Armed Forces
”Good luck! May the best brigade win”. The two brigade commanders, Lars Lervik and Mats Ludvig, are ready for the “Battle of Eastern Norrbotten”. Photo: Mats Carlsson/Swedish Armed Forces
Lieutenant Colonel Johan Skiöld, the Northern Wind Planning Officer, chatting with Norwegian soldiers. Photo: Mats Carlsson/Swedish Armed Forces
One of 17 trains from Norway rolls in to the railyard in Haparanda. Photo: Mats Carlsson/Swedish Armed Forces
Lieutenant Colonel Stein Grongstad, CO of the Norwegian Combat Service Support Battalion. Photo: Viktoria Szakacs/Swedish Armed Forces
Tank transporters from 1st Heavy Transport Company of the Skaraborg Regiment, with Leopard 2 tanks from 192 Mechanised Battalion, crossing the Kalix river en route to the exercise area. Photo: Jesper Sundström/Swedish Armed Forces
Soldiers from the Finnish battalion battlegroup, which is part of the Swedish Brigade during Northern Wind. Photo: Emy Åklundh/Swedish Armed Forces
Norwegian soldiers unload yet another train at the Haparanda railyard. Photo: Mats Carlsson/Swedish Armed Forces
Vehicles from the Norwegian Brigade in Haparanda. Photo: Mats Carlsson/Swedish Armed Forces

The biggest unit participating is the Norwegian Brigade North, which is reinforced with British and American forces and has nearly 5 000 soldiers and officers. During Monday and Tuesday, the Brigade will come up to full strength in its starting location in Haparanda. The Norwegian Combat Service Support Battalion has had the challenging task of moving an entire brigade from Norway to Sweden.

Three times round the Equator

– This is a massive logistics operation, which we've been working on since December last year. We started the planning work immediately after the end of Exercise TRIDENT JUNCTURE. We've been doing the actual transport and movement work for about a month. First, two weeks of road movements mainly to Narvik where most trains were loaded with vehicles and equipment, then two weeks of transportation by train and road here to Haparanda. The entire operation involved 17 trains, 59 vehicle convoys and 75 bus loads. All in all, the Battalion has driven about 130 000 kilometres, which corresponds to about three times round the equator, says Lieutenant Colonel Stein Grongstad, Commanding Officer of the Combat Service Support Battalion.

Challenging free play exercise

The idea of two brigades getting to practice their tactics against each other in a free play exercise, without pre-determined combat engagements, combined with a combat simulator system, also gives the exercise an added dimension.
– The exercise is almost fully instrumented, which means that nearly 5 000 soldiers, vehicles and other units will register hits and effects via sensors in combat vests and modems. This in turn means that the outcome of all engagements can be followed up all the way. We can see the consequences of all the decisions taken, both bad and good. Commanders and units will learn a great deal and a lot of experience will be gained, explains Johan Skiöld.

"The Battle of Eastern Norrbotten"

The two brigades are now carrying out their final preparations and finalising their plans ahead of the coming combat that begins on Wednesday, 20 March. The two brigade commanders met on Sunday and shook hands before the "Battle of Eastern Norrbotten".
– It's great for us to exercise in our actual wartime terrain and take on an equally high-tech opponent. In addition, we get to exercise in a large area that gives us the opportunity to manoeuvre our units over a large area of inaccessible winter terrain," says Colonel Mats Ludvig, Commander of the Swedish brigade, which is reinforced with a Finnish battalion battlegroup.

The Norwegian Brigade Commander, Lars Lervik, is also looking forward to the exercise start.
– This will be very exciting for us. We will be exercising in an area that we've never been to before; that in itself is a big challenge. In addition, we have never had British and American units so closely integrated in our units. We are really looking forward to an interesting exercise, says Brigadier General Lervik.

Swedish Army Exercise 2019

The Swedish Army Exercise - Northern Wind - is taking place in northeast Sweden in March 2019.

The exercise has a total of 10 000 participants, of which approximately 7 000 come from our priority partner nations, Finland, Norway, the USA and the UK.

Contact: info-i19@mil.se