Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced the new UK defence strategy to maintain stability in the Arctic Region, and a brief with those participating in COLD RESPONSE 22.
Plans to protect critical underwater infrastructure have been announced in Norway by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, as the UK’s Defence Contribution in the High North outlined, alongside plans to ensure freedom of navigation through international seas and Exclusive Economic Zones in the Arctic region.
The UK’s commitments to NATO involve a heightened presence of UK training and operations, with Allies as well as international partners. There’re also plans for the UK to invest in research and development in the area in the aims of future-proofing the Defence capability.
To achieve this there will be periodic Royal Navy presence in the High North – the goal is to also demonstrate support for the Arctic Allies and maintain the security of the Arctic region.
“The High North and the impact of climate change affects us all whether we like it or not. The North Atlantic will always be the UK’s ‘home beat’ and so it is vital that we strengthen both our interoperability and our force integration with NATO and non-NATO partners in the region.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace MP
During the time the Defence Secretary met Odd Roger Enoksen, he also met those involved with COLD RESPONSE 22, a Norwegian-led exercise with 35,000 troops from 28 participant nations.
From the UK, the exercise saw six Royal Navy ships and 2,000 UK personnel carrying out cold-weather training in northern Norway. An important part of training, of course, but it was also another display of the UK’s commitment to Allied forces which must be ready to be deployed and work effectively under any conditions in whatever environment they are needed.
Norway provides the perfect landscape for NATO Allies to refine their processes and operations in extreme weather and rough terrain. Around 900 Royal Marines have been deployed to the Arctic since January in advance of preparations for COLD RESPONSE 22, so they can fine-tune how to operate in arctic weather.
Among the personnel being trained, the Defence Secretary met with the crew on board one of the two UK aircraft carriers, HMS Prince of Wales, which has been the prime contribution by the Royal Navy to exercise COLD RESPONSE 22. While there, he was briefed on what its role there was (NATO command platform) and how the ship is ready to respond in order to command and control Allied ships at sea.