Every two years, NATO puts on a Cold Response exercise. The stated purpose of this military exercise is to test NATO’s capabilities of working together within a cold environment. It just so happens that 2022 is another year that Cold Response is scheduled to begin, and it started earlier this week.
At the moment, you have roughly 35,000 NATO troops, a nuclear attack sub, around 200 aircraft, and approximately 50 vessels combined from roughly 28 different countries that are amassed in Norway for participation in Cold Response 2022. And just 130 miles from the Russian border.
The details of Cold Response 2022
Leading the entire exercise is General Yngve Odlo. The exercises will last until April 1, during which time, NATO will practice amphibious landings, aircraft support, and the logistics of arctic warfare utilizing allied forces from a number of different countries.
Cold Response is a training exercise for NATO countries to figure out how they would properly respond to Article 5 – the stipulation of the NATO charter that states an attack on one NATO country must be replied to with the entirety of NATO getting involved (If you’ll remember, this is how World War 1 started. International treaties kept bringing more and more countries into the fight.).
Norway is a NATO member. This is the largest military exercise to take place within Norway since The Cold War ended.
(Good time to check out our free QUICKSTART Guide on emergency evacuations?)
Things that don’t make sense about Cold Response 2022.
For starters, General Odlo invited the Russians to monitor the exercise if they would like. Everybody knows that the entire reason that NATO exists at the moment is to fight against Russia. So, why would you tell the people you are training to fight against, “Hey, would you like to come and take copious notes on how we plan to fight against you if you invade the northern countries of our alliance?”
Russia was actually given thorough information on all of the drills that NATO members were going to engage in throughout the area to prevent “unnecessary conflict.” Odlo told Admiral Aleksandr Moiseev, the Commander of the Russian Northern Fleet, about the continued plans for Cold Response 2022 – despite the absolutely terrible timing – back in January, well before the war went kinetic.
Perhaps even stranger is that Odlo has apparently regularly Skyped Moiseev for years. Skype just doesn’t seem like the most secure of means for two nations to communicate. Particularly for military commanders.
Why invite your enemy to watch you train on how you’re going to fight your enemy? And why did Russia turn down the invitation to monitor the training exercise? I have zero doubt that they’ll still be keeping an eye on things in Norway via satellite, surveillance plane, signals intelligence, and more, but it is strange that they didn’t want to have a public presence at the event.
While the exercise has been planned long before the Ukraine war ever began, it is interesting that this is the largest Cold Response exercise the world has ever seen. The timing of this could not be more suspicious.
And out of all the countries to choose to utilize Cold Response, why pick the country that has a border with Russia? There is currently a war going on between Ukraine and Russia. What stroke of genius led NATO to still conclude that running a “military exercise” (I’ve heard that line before) was a good idea right there, right now?
Iceland is a NATO member. Canada is as well. It seems to me that these would be less “combative” places to hold the drill if it was still to be held, rather than 130 miles from Russia. Perhaps it’s the logistics of moving thousands of men and millions of tons of equipment by sea? At the very least, couldn’t this have taken place much further south in Norway?
Odlo stated that Cold Response 2022 was “Not a military operation with an offensive purpose,” as he leads a military training exercise with amphibious landings in a NATO country with a border against Russia. These amphibious landings aren’t anything new to the exercise, but, again, the timing of this is atrocious.
The Nordic countries are a potential hot zone.
On March 2, 2022, a day after a Russian helicopter violated Japanese airspace, four Russian jets violated Swedish airspace, leading to Sweden sending its own jets up into the air.
Now, you have polls showing that more and more people amongst the Norse populations are culturing the notion that their countries should join NATO as well (resulting in even more NATO expansion). This discussion has seemingly increased ever since the Ukraine war has kicked off.
In response, the Russian Foreign Ministry tweeted out (you have to love how men of war now send their messages by ‘tweets’) that any attempt by Sweden or Finland to join NATO will be responded to with “serious military and political repercussions.” We’ve seen how that played out with Ukraine’s talk of joining NATO. Do you think that the Nordic countries would be spared?
This is a region of the world to pay attention to at the moment.
It’s hard to look at Cold Response 2022 and think this is a good location at the moment. It could be argued that the timing is perfect – NATO troops getting a last chance to iron out the wrinkles of their military alliance – but it is difficult for me to see why one would want to choose such an inflammatory location at the moment.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Is there more to the story here? Is there more you can add to the conversation? Let us know in the comments below.
Jeff Thompson is an avid fisherman who likes to spend time sailing on his boat and reading while at sea.