Hearts and helicopters

Foreground | Prince Harry visits British troops deployed to Norway

A ghost of the past, or a soldier of the future?  (Photo: Sean Clee/UK defence ministry)

Kevin McGwin

Harry, the younger son of Prince Charles, Britain’s heir apparent, bears numerous titles. This week, it will first and foremost be in his capacity as an officer in all three of the branches of the country’s military, and ceremonial leader of the Royal Marines, that he visits the 800 British troops currently taking part in the annual Exercise Clockwork winter training in Bardufoss, Norway.

Bardufoss, located 100 kilometers south of Tromsø, has for 50 years served as the cold-climate training facility for British forces. Deployments there, begun in 1969 as a way for Britain to show it was committed to protecting Europe’s Northern flank, concentrate mostly on helicopter operations. By this point, the forces are familiar enough with each other that Commando Helicopter Force warmly refers to the Norwegian air-force station at Bardufoss as its home away from home.

After years of operations in warm, dusty places like Iraq and Afghanistan, such training has become increasing relevant as Britain and other Nato countries turn their military thinking northward. Late last year, the annual Trident Juncture military exercise sought to prove to alliance members – and to any potential adversary in the region (ahem, Russia) – that it still has what it takes to stop a potential invasion (as well, perhaps, as to find out where its operations are creaking).

Harry is scheduled to arrive in Bardufoss on 14 Feb. For the troops, and for their Norwegian hosts, he is being sent from Britain with love. For those they might be preparing to fight against, the UK sent something else ahead of time: for the first time ever, it deployed Apache attack helicopters to take part in Exercise Clockwork.

When: 14 Feb
Where: Bardufoss, Norway
WWW: Duke of Sussex to visit Royal Marines and Royal Navy personnel in Norway 

Related article
British attack helicopters arrive for winter exercise in Northern Norway

Foreground articles offer a preview of events related to the Arctic that will be taking place in coming week.

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