Norrland Rangers and UK Rangers side by side

“I´ve got your back!”, the UK ranger shouts, carrying a Swedish wounded ranger. In a unique exercise in northern Norrland, Sweden and the UK have tied closer ties and sharpened their capabilities in the rapid reaction force JEF.

Soldater i terräng
Soldater i terräng
Ranger soldiers from UK Rangers advance in the Lapland terrain. Photo: Philip Svanberg/Försvarsmakten

Since 2017, Sweden has been a member of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) – a British framework for a rapid reaction force with the task to operate independently in crises. Ten nations take part in the cooperation and the force can operate autonomously or jointly with Nato.

For about a week, British rangers exercise with ranger soldiers from the Norrland Dragoon Regiment.

“This exercise is unique in the way that we have integrated Swedish and British soldiers for the first time. In that way, we have shared knowledge, efficiently and in a short period of time”, says Teddy Larsson, Chief of Regiment at the Norrland Dragoon Regiment. He continues:

“I’m impressed by the professionalism among the soldiers of both nations and by their ability to directly create cohesion and a spirit of cooperation.”

Small units with long endurance

Similarly to the Norrland Rangers, the UK Rangers are so-called backpack units. The soldiers operate in small groups and carry everything they need with them in order to conduct their tasks in territory dominated by the opponent. They are able to spend long periods of time behind enemy lines, to conduct reconnaissance and eliminate the opponent’s main resources – such as logistics, command and communications functions.

During the past week, the units have exercised ambushes and reconnaissance, but there have also been features of medical aid and advanced movements in the sub-Arctic terrain. The environment has been a new experience for the British soldiers.

“In the third battalion, we have had an excellent exercise with the ranger battalion. It has been such a great experience for us, learning from experts how to operate in this type of environment. We look forward to returning for winter training”, says Captain Patrick Howard at the Ranger Regiment.

Looks forward to future cooperation

On Wednesday, the exercise received a visit from the Chief of the Army’s Planning Section, Stephan Sjöberg, and the British defence attaché Martin Moore.

”This is one of several bilateral and JEF exercises planned this year, and working together with an equally advanced force such as the Swedish force provides excellent opportunities for sharing knowledge and enhancing our interoperability. It is a pleasure to work together with like-minded colleagues and we really look forward to additional chances to cooperate”, says Martin Moore.