Viking vehicles in Norway 170120 CREDIT ROYAL NAVY
Coronavirus

Allied Exercises In Norway Cancelled After COVID-19 Outbreak

Forces News understands there have been dozens of positive COVID cases amongst military personnel, including British troops, in Norway.

Viking vehicles in Norway 170120 CREDIT ROYAL NAVY

Two allied exercises in Norway have been cancelled after a coronavirus outbreak.

The Norweigan government announced on Tuesday that two cold-weather exercises in the country had been called off "in light of the COVID-situation in Norway".

It is understood there have been dozens of positive COVID-19 cases amongst British, American and Dutch military personnel in the country.

Both Exercise Rein I and Exercise Joint Viking have been cancelled and no new allied forces will be allowed to arrive in Indre Troms in the Arctic Circle, the Norwegian government said.

Frank Bakke-Jensen, Norwegian defence minister, said the country "must be one step ahead" in the fight against the spread of the "mutated and more contagious" variant of COVID-19.

Roughly 3,400 soldiers were scheduled to take part in cold-weather training in Indre Troms.

Approximately 2,900 allied troops had already arrived in the region, including around 700 personnel from 3 Commando Brigade who are currently in the High North undertaking winter warfare training in preparation for Exercise Joint Viking in March.

Bardufoss in Norway
Norway is used for cold weather training by allied forces.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said in a statement: "UK training on the Winter Deployment is expected to continue in the short term by troops who have been through a rigorous quarantine procedure. No new troops will be sent out to participate."

The spokesperson added: "A number of Royal Marines deployed in Norway are currently in quarantine after a small number of positive cases.

"Personnel were in a two week isolation period after travelling when they were tested, further precautionary measures are in place to allow this essential training to be conducted safely.

"The Armed Forces continues to deliver essential training for its personnel in order to fulfil operational outputs and protect national security."

The Norwegian government said there will be a "controlled and well-planned departure" for international forces in Indre Troms in line with "infection control".

It comes after last year's major exercise in the region - Cold Response 20 - was also impacted by COVID-19.

The Norwegian military is to continue training in Indre Troms but restrictive measures have been placed on personnel coming from "red zones" in the south east of the country.

The Norwegian army has also halted all scheduled leaves for its personnel until further notice.

Cover image: Royal Navy Viking vehicles in Norway last year (Picture: Royal Navy).