HAIA, Norway (March 1, 2005) -- The depth of the snow near the field training area during Exercise Battle Griffin stands nearly 2 meters. The temperature is a crisp, steady, 12 degrees Fahrenheit - brrrrr!
Although the sun is lengthening its daily routine in and around central Norway, dangerous conditions are extreme. Teams have been out testing the snow and electronic transmitters have been issued to all land force participants in case of an avalanche.
In these conditions, just getting to the training ranges is a success.
The Marines of Marine Air Ground Task Force 25 assembled near the city of Trondheim in preparation for the 180-kilometer road march to the field-training site near the town of Bodo. The 1,200 Marines arrived in Norway, departing from 31 cities and 20 states to support the exercise. They married up with equipment stored in caves in the region, spent a few days adjusting to the climate, and started the drive north.
The Command Element for MAGTF 25 is Headquarters Company, 25th Marine Regiment, led by Col. Joseph L. Osterman, based out of Worcester, Mass. The bulk of the Ground Combat Element is 2d Bn, 25th Marine Regiment with Marines from Company D, 4th LAR in support.
The Aviation Combat Element consists of six F/A-18s from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 112 and two KC-130s from Marine Aerial Refueling Squadron (VMGR) 234. Supporting units belong to Marine Air Control Squadron 23 and Marine Air Support Squadron 6. Combat service support is provided by Marines from 4th Force Service Support Group.
"We must take every opportunity to capitalize on the multinational dimension of the exercise to improve interoperability, while ensuring that safety is paramount," said Osterman. "No training objective is worth unnecessary risk and the loss of personnel and equipment."
For the next several weeks, the area of Bodo, Norway, will play host to nearly 10,000 military members from 15 nations, participating in an exercise testing a multinational task force's ability to respond to humanitarian crises in a cold weather environment. There will be several more thousands of military persons at sea, conducting simulated embargo control and mine operations.
The scenario developed for the exercise is similar to what NATO forces experienced during the Kosovo campaign. Ethic tensions boil to a point and the UN delivers a Security Council resolution to send NATO troops to establish security and stabilize the area.
"My intent is to maximize our training opportunity in a joint and combined environment, focusing on MAGTF doctrine and the full spectrum of warfare", added Osterman.
Battle Griffin is a Norwegian invitational exercise conducted yearly, rotating from different regions of the country. The exercise is scheduled to conclude March 9, when the Marines will retrograde to their stateside-based units.