Arctic Littoral Strike 2021 In Northern Norway
by U.S. Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Kayla Olsen
U.S. Marines and Sailors with Marine Rotational Force-Europe 21.1
(MRF-E) enhanced their warfighting ability above the Arctic Circle
during exercise Arctic Littoral Strike in Northern Norway from March
“This exercise demonstrated the battalion’s
capability to operate inside actively contested maritime spaces, in
this case arctic littoral spaces, and to provide support to joint
fleet operations,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Gordinier, the MRF-E battalion
commander. “The Marine Corps has demonstrated an interest in
developing expeditionary advance basing capabilities in the Pacific,
and we took advantage of the opportunity to exercise those concepts
in the Arctic.”
Exercise Arctic Littoral Strike enabled
elements from MRF-E 21.1 to experiment with emerging defense
concepts and to confront the challenges of anti-access, area-denial
capabilities posed by a notional peer adversary. The Camp
Lejeune-based Marines and Sailors of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine
Regiment conducted experimentation of the future force by supporting
simulated sea-denial operations in arctic littoral terrain.
U.S. Marines with Marine Rotational Force Europe 21.1 (MRF-E), Marine Forces Europe and Africa, buddy rush down range during a company live-fire attack as part of Exercise Arctic Littoral Strike in Blåtind, Norway, March 28, 2021. MRF-E focuses on regional engagements throughout Europe by conducting various exercises, arctic cold-weather and mountain warfare training, and military-to-military engagements, which enhance overall interoperability of the U.S. Marine Corps with allies and partners. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Patrick King)
“I’m satisfied that our allies have achieved success on their
training while in Norway,” said Maj. Gen. Lars Lervik, chief of the
Norwegian Army. “A complex exercise like this, including other
Norwegian branches as well, will always increase the alliance’s
ability to implement complex operations and strengthen the
collective defense of NATO.”
Joint naval integration was the
first focus of the four-stage exercise. Exercise Arctic Littoral
Strike enhanced sea-denial capabilities by pairing mobile MRF-E
elements with Norwegian naval forces in the Arctic fjords.
MRF-E’s Light-Armored Reconnaissance (LAR) Company received a
training mission that required the unit to “secure the bridge” by
observing along routes that could be used by an adversary, and then
reporting their observations in order to allow a Norwegian submarine
the ability to move without being impeded by notional enemy forces.
MRF-E’s LAR Company conducted integrated training with the Norwegian
Submarine Command Course that enhanced their interoperability with
combined naval forces.
“Because of the terrain, the tactical
scenario placed the Norwegian submarine in a position of
vulnerability,” said Capt. Joe Tortorici, LAR company commander.
“Our efforts to conduct effective over-watch were critical to the
survival of not only our Marines, but also to the joint force’s
ability to operate within the adversary’s weapons engagement zones.
Our ability to do that in the future will ultimately enable us to
integrate directly with naval assets, as we have done in this
exercise with the Norwegian submarine, and support larger naval
The exercise culminated with a second focus:
company reinforced live-fire attacks simulating the isolation and
destruction of a notional, adversary integrated air defense system.
Both day and night, the Marine contingent exercised a combined-arms
approach, integrating Javelin anti-tank missiles, tube-launched
optically-tracked wire-guided missiles, artillery, explosive
ordnance, and heavy machine guns with maneuver elements.
U.S. Marines with Marine Rotational Force Europe 21.1 (MRF-E), Marine Forces Europe and Africa, fire a TOW missile system during a company live-fire attack as part of Exercise Arctic Littoral Strike in Blåtind, Norway, March 29, 2021. MRF-E focuses on regional engagements throughout Europe by conducting various exercises, arctic cold-weather and mountain warfare training, and military-to-military engagements, which enhance overall interoperability of the U.S. Marine Corps with allies and partners. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Patrick King)
Lima Company Commander, Capt. John McNamara, explained how this
exercise demonstrated the battalion’s commitment to training in “any
clime or place”.
“A combat-credible force is a company that
can conduct a company-reinforced, non-illuminated live-fire attack
anywhere they are deployed,” said McNamara.
strategic location in the U.S. European Command area of
responsibility, especially along Northern Norway’s arctic coastline,
offers unique opportunities for the Marine contingent to apply
concepts from the U.S. Marine Corps Commandant’s force design, which
2d Marine Division’s training objectives support.
ability to conduct this training has shown not just 2d Marine
Division, but the Marine Corps writ large, that we can fight and win
in any clime and place,” McNamara added.
Littoral Strike followed a sequence of arctic cold weather training
events led by Norwegian instructors. The Marine contingent spent
weeks leading up to the exercise honing their ability to live,
thrive, and fight in the Arctic.
“We appreciate the
graciousness of the Kingdom of Norway in allowing us access to the
training facilities,” said Gordinier. “The battalion benefited
greatly from the instruction of our Norwegian Armed Forces
instructors and this exercise would not have been a success without
them. They are truly among the best in the world in arctic cold
weather training. This opportunity to continue to build
relationships with our allies has been exceptional.”
focuses on regional engagements throughout Europe by conducting
various exercises, arctic cold-weather and mountain warfare
training, and military-to-military engagements, which enhance
overall interoperability of the U.S. Marine Corps with allies and
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