NATO – Combat in the Cold

15 03 2011

Soldiers from NATO and partner nations take part in a course in Norway to give them the skills to survive and fight in a winter environment. Soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard spend the day patrolling on skis in the Norwegian mountains.


NATO Naval Arctic Manual – 2007

25 11 2010

Naval operations in high latitudes provide unique challenges to planning, seamanship, ingenuity, endurance, and foresight. The elements, always dangerous, become hostile. Mountainous seas, stormforce winds and near-zero visibility for days on end put tremendous strain on men and material.

The Arctic has been defined in a variety of ways. For naval considerations, it is considered to be the area surrounding the geographic North Pole consisting of a deep central basin; the peripheral shallow seas (Bering, Chukchi, East Siberian, Laptev, Kara, Barents, and Norwegian); ice-covered portions of the Greenland and Norwegian Seas; Baffin Bay, Canadian Archipelago, Seas of Japan and Okhotsk; the continental margins of Canada and Alaska; and the Beaufort Sea.


1. For the purposes of this manual, the term “Arctic” will be used to indicate the terrestrial basin which is filled by the Arctic or Polar Ocean. “Arctic” will also include the seas contiguous to the Arctic Ocean, shores surrounding these seas, and in some cases the navigable rivers which flow into these seas and the Arctic Ocean. The criteria commonly used for defining the Arctic regions are discussed below.

2. The word Arctic is a derivation of the Greek word “Bear”, which connotes that area lying under the “Big Dipper”. Astronomically it is the whole area lying north of 66° 33′ N (the Arctic Circle). If this definition is used, some areas of temperate climate are included and some areas of very intemperate climate excluded.

3. Some scientists have suggested that the boundary of the Arctic be defined northward of the isotherm in which the average temperature of the warmest month is below 10°C. This closely coincides with the tree-line. Because it is peculiarly a polar phenomenon, the auroral zone has also been advanced as a criterion for a geophysical definition of the Arctic. The Aurora Borealis, observed in high latitudes as a luminous circumpolar feature, is centred about a point where the geomagnetic pole intersects the earth surface, and its zone of maximum frequency of occurrence can extend south as far as Fort Churchill.

4. The US Army’s definition, accepted by the quadripartite countries, is: that portion of the northern hemisphere characterized by having an average temperature of less than 0°C and an average temperature of the warmest month of less than 10øC. This roughly coincides with the southern boundary of the zone of discontinuous permafrost.

5. Oceanographers consider the Arctic to be that region in which only pure “Arctic water” is found at the surface, at or near 0°C, and with a salinity of approximately 30 parts per thousand. This water is formed by a combination of:

a. Water from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
b. Water drained from surrounding land areas.
c. Water resulting from the melting of sea ice.

The most important feature is that this water flows out of the Arctic Ocean on the surface, along the east coast of Greenland, through the Arctic Islands, spreading over Foxe Basin and Baffin Bay, and is carried as far south as Newfoundland by the Labrador current. Using this as a criterion, a line can be drawn north of which all waters may be considered as Arctic waters and which encompasses much of the Subarctic and Arctic, but which excludes the northern coasts of Norway and the Barents Sea.

France Preps for Conflict in “Arctic Zone”

24 11 2010

Jean-Marie Collin

27e brigade d'infanterie de montagne

For reasons largely historical, the French presence is very important in the South Pole with different scientific bases and territories like Adelie land and Kerguelen islands. In the Arctic region, France has no territory, thus his presence is very low and only scientific (archipelago of Svalbard, with a permanent research base Jean-Corbel established in 1963). However various elements, shows that now, France is implied in the Arctic and are interested more and more, in the future political, environmental and military of this area

Seen of France, since long years, the Arctic zone appears very far and the reserved domain of the United States, Russia and Canada. However, due to the global warming and the new French position in different political and military organizations (NATO), it’s clear that France want to play a real role in the Arctic region (that’s why President Sarkozy appointed the former Prime Minister Michel Rocard as ambassador of Arctic and Antarctic zone) and will participate directly in this Arctic crisis (if it arrives) both as:

–          NATO member, France will be in the obligation (article 5, North Atlantic Treaty) to react, alongside its allies (Canada, Denmark, Norway, United States), against any military crisis: “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them”.

–          Member of the EU, the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty (entered into force on 1st December 2009) strengthens the defense and solidarity links among members of the EU (so between France and Denmark, only EU state to have Arctic territories). The treaty establishes, among Member States two new clauses: A mutual defense clause (article 42.7) in that it states if a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power”. The second clause is the solidarity clause (article 222) is applicable in relation to a crisis within the EU (so in Greenland[1]) if a Member State is the object of a terrorist attack, victim of a natural disasters or a man-made disaster (like an oil spill caused by tanker accidents).

–          Nuclear Weapon State: this area is strategic for the French nuclear deterrence particularly for its submarine component. The Strategic Oceanic Force, comprises four nuclear submarines, though currently only three are operational (Le Triomphant, Le Téméraire, Le Vigilant) deploying nuclear missiles and also includes six Rubis class nuclear attack submarines. The Defense ministry recognized that each year, the French submarines carry out missions in Arctic.

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Norway’s King Harald Opens New Joint HQ in Arctic Circle

9 11 2010

King Harald receives a tour of the military equipment at the harbor in Bodø during the opening of the headquarters

His Majesty The King opened Norway’s new Joint Operation Centre (1 National Joint Headquarters) outside Bodø today (November 9, 2010). The Operations Center is a part of the Norwegian Armed Forces’ operational headquarters and the only NATO headquarters north of the Arctic Circle.

The operational headquarters will be responsible for planning and managing the Norwegian Armed Forces in peace, crisis and war. In addition to being responsibile for operations abroad, the headquarters will focus on the North.

The king opened the operations center by unveiling a plaque and with the press the button launched a film presentation highlighting operations in Norway and abroad. After the presentation the King also took a tour of the new plant.

Source: Norwegian Royal Family

Hat Tip to Mr. Lars Gyllenhaal

EU Clashes with Greenland over Arctic at NATO Conference

15 10 2010

Arctic Council told it is failing to safeguard the region, while EU accused of ‘panic reactions’ over deep-water drilling ban

The European Union has clashed with Greenland and other Arctic nations over their perceived failure to ensure wider international stewardship over the far north.

Diana Wallis, the vice-president of the EU, said she could see “people on the streets” protesting if this fragile environment was not seen to be safeguarded properly.

In response, a Greenland foreign minister accused European countries of “panic reactions” in pushing for a deep-water drilling ban after the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

At a workshop under the aegis of Nato held at Cambridge University, Wallis said she was bored by continuing talk rather than immediate action over wider participation in the Arctic Council.

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NATO: Climate Change Could Lead to Arctic Conflict

12 10 2010

Cold Response 2010

Global warming and a race for resources could spark a new ‘cold war’ in the Arctic, US naval admiral warns ahead of key talks on environmental security

One of Nato‘s most senior commanders has warned that global warming and a race for resources could lead to conflict in the Arctic.

The comments, by Admiral James G Stavridis, supreme allied commander for Europe, come as Nato countries convene on Wednesday for groundbreaking talks on environmental security in the Arctic Ocean.

The discussions, in the format of a “workshop”, with joint Russian leadership, are an attempt to create dialogue with Moscow aimed at averting a second cold war.

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