NATO troops training in Northern Norway got a visit from Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon last week, who carries the rank of both admiral and four-star general himself. He needs to avoid any political stands, but made it clear that the huge Cold Response winter exercises are timely indeed.
“It’s important for Norway that we train, and exciting to see what comes out of Cold Response,” said the heir to Norway’s throne during his visit that began in and around Narvik. He started one day at sea, on board a Navy corvette that reminded him of his own naval training.
He also visited a Swedish-Norwegian brigade at the Skoglund base in Narvik. Sweden is not a member of NATO but is taking part in this year’s winter exercises and a Nordic defense force that’s been getting more attention since Russia attacked Ukraine a month ago.
Both Sweden and Finland have been showing a sharp interest in NATO, with public opinion polls indicating much more support for actually joining the military defense alliance. Finland, like Norway, shares a border to Russia and has maintained neutrality for decades but condemns Russia’s war against Ukraine.
“We have seen that Norge, Sweden and Finland have cooperated much more closely in recent years, and that’s very good,” Crown Prince Haakon told reporters during his visit to the troops. “They seem motivated and very competent, it’s great to have them here for the exercises.”
He added that he thinks it’s “very valuable” for all the Nordic countries to work together. The crown prince has visited NATO exercises in earlier years, too, not just now when war has broken out in Europe.
“One of the pillars of Norway’s defense policy is the NATO cooperation,” Crown Prince Haakon said. In order for NATO troops to come to Norway’s aid in the event of any hostilities, “they must come in and practice. That’s what they’re doing now at Cold Response.” He also traveled on to Bardufoss and to a marine infantry unit trained for rapid response.