The new Future Commando Force programme, made up of around 4,000 British Royal Marines, is paving the way for Arctic operations for the entire service, according to the effort leader.
“We are the UK’s Arctic experts [in] consideration for electronic warfare specialists and elements,” Brig. Mark Totten said Tuesday at the Modern Day Marine exhibit. “And we can use ship-to-shore maneuver and sea maneuver to support routine operations in this theater.”
For the most part, the service previously focused on the Arctic theater for “training and environmental development,” Totten said, but that will change. He added that the Future Commando Force wanted to strengthen its resources in the region and was ready to position other readiness forces near the Suez Canal.
The program is comprised of two Littoral Response Groups and aims to have forces deploy immediately to accomplish a range of tasks, from combat operations to humanitarian missions.
These forces form a littoral strike group that works alongside an aircraft carrier strike group, designed to bolster the capabilities of the carrier strike group, Totten said. “What we’re really looking to do in this context is support carrier operations much more than the navies did before.”
The UK has recently stepped up operations in the Arctic and called on NATO allies and partners to “take a more proactive approach to the High North”, according to a MoD strategy paper released in March.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace also warned that the region faced new threats – in particular increased militarization in the region from Russia and China’s infrastructure capabilities.
“British Armed Forces will do more with our close allies and Arctic partners, across NATO, bilaterally and through other multilateral groupings such as the Joint Expeditionary Force,” Wallace said in a statement. a March press release. “The Royal Navy, including our dedicated Littoral Strike Group (North), will periodically operate in the High North alongside Allies and partners, the Army will expand its cold weather training and the RAF will deploy maritime patrol aircraft P8A in the area and continue to participate in the Icelandic Air Force.
The strategy document coincided with more than 3,000 sailors and marines taking part in Exercise Cold Response in Norway to focus on cold water training with NATO allies and partners in March and April. During the exercise, the Royal Marines took part in a small boat raid from an Astute-class hunter-killer submarine using inflatable raid craft to carry out reconnaissance missions while avoiding the enemy , according to a press release from the Royal Navy.
The British aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales operated as one of 25 ships in the exercise, functioning as NATO’s chief maritime high-readiness force.
“As we continue to operate in and around the Arctic with our allies and partners, the sailors of HMS Prince of Wales continue to learn the skills and gain the experience that enable the Royal Navy to push the boundaries of British carrier operations in the cold and harsh environment,” the ship’s commanding officer, Captain Steve Higham, said in a Royal Navy press release.
U.S. Marines from II Marine Expeditionary Force also participated in the exercise, conducting arctic vehicle operations, avalanche prevention and response, aerial operations and casualty evacuation drills in austere weather conditions. , depending on the service.
In total, Cold Response 2022 included approximately 30,000 troops from 27 countries. Norway hosts the exercise twice a year.