Royal Marines on Exercise Cold Response 280220 CREDIT MOD

Exercise Involving UK Personnel Cancelled Over 'Out Of Control' Coronavirus

Exercise Cold Response in Norway has involved around 15,000 troops from 10 nations, including around 2,000 British personnel.

Royal Marines on Exercise Cold Response 280220 CREDIT MOD

A major military exercise involving British personnel in Norway has been cancelled over coronavirus.

Exercise Cold Response has involved around 15,000 troops from 10 nations, including around 2,000 UK personnel.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has confirmed to Forces News that there are no cases of COVID-19 among British personnel on the exercise.

Norway's military said Cold Response, which was due to run until 21 March, would be "terminated in a controlled manner".

The MOD says it is working closely with Norway to understand the impact of coronavirus upon the exercise and that British forces deployed in the area will continue with scaled-down training activities.

Bardufoss in Norway

Personnel from NATO members including the UK, Belgium, France and the United States have been in Norway since January conducting pre-training, ahead of the exercise.

The decision to cancel Cold Response comes just a day after Forces News was told measures were in place to contain COVID-19.

Commodore Ad van de Sande, Commander, Netherlands Maritime Force, told Forces News the exercise will gradually come to an end.

 "The priority for Norway now shifts to the protection of the civil population, and using its Armed Forces to assist in that protection.

"What that exactly will mean, we don't know yet. I'm awaiting further details on that later this evening and maybe tomorrow.

"Our crews are at sea, we have no cases on board, no suspected cases yet, and all our crews are instructed how to deal and how to make sure that it is the least chance of spreading and also minimise interaction with the civilian population."

Finland has already pulled out of the exercise due to coronavirus fears.

"Coronavirus is now out of control in the Norwegian society and that is a new situation to us," said Lieutenant General, Rune Jakobsen, chief of the Norwegian Joint Headquarters.

"Because of this, we have decided to start a controlled closure of the exercise."

United States European Command described the cancellation as a "precautionary measure" to "protect the health and safety of all participants and local population".

Cover image: MOD.