BANAK AIR STATION, Norway --
BANAK AIR STATION, Norway --– Servicemembers from the Norwegian Armed Forces and U.S. Air Force 352d Special Operations Wing, participated in a week-long exercise Dec. 9-13, 2019, at Banak Air Station, Norway.
The training was part of a larger exercise that encompassed live ammunition fire, infiltration and exfiltration, and cold-weather training utilizing with the 352nd SOW’s CV-22B Osprey and MC130J Commando II.
"This exercise is designed as a 352nd SOW Winter Warfare trainer, to test all aspects of the 352nd SOW mission, from the airside to the maintenance side, as well as exercising all logistical functions that we expect to use in future operations," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jonathan Niebes, 352nd SOW mission commander for the exercise.
The 352nd SOW’s forward presence in Europe provides an opportunity for U.S. Forces and NATO allies and partners to work closely together to enhance air mobility operations in the Arctic region.
“The high north is unique because it is remote, it is sparsely populated, there aren’t a lot of built-up bases, and the weather is very extreme,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Shaun, CV-22 instructor pilot. “The 352nd SOW brings a unique capability of long-range infiltration and exfiltration through low-level penetration in all weather conditions. Here in the arctic, where half the year it is dark, and the weather is not the greatest, we can overcome those challenges through our unique tactics, techniques, and procedures. We’ve taken lessons learned elsewhere around Europe, Africa, and the Middle East and adapted them to the arctic environment.”
This training simultaneously gives Air Commandos from the 352nd SOW the opportunity to train missions in a challenging environment alongside their NATO partners as well as refining how to operate more safely and efficiently in day-to-day operations.
“As part of our standard equipment, our special tactics operators use ratchets in a variety of functions such as locking and securing objects. During this past week, we learned from the Norwegian ranger soldiers, that it is more effective to use ropes with friction knots for certain tasks as they don’t freeze over when you’re going through variables with the weather,” said a special tactics airmen with the 352nd SOW.
These engagements are opportunities for Norway and the U.S., to steadily build upon a strong bond, founded on shared values and desires for a robust Trans-Atlantic unity and stability in the European theater and the Arctic region.
“When working with the host nation, it is important to accomplish our training objectives, but more importantly, we are strengthening our already close relationship with our Norwegian Allies. These are the folks we are going to integrate with on the battlefield, so the comfortability with our two militaries is vital,” said Niebes.
As the 352nd SOW returns to their home station at RAF Mildenhall, U.K., they will take their lessons learned and build upon their techniques and procedures as they prepare for their next visit to the high north.
“This is an environment like nowhere else in the world, it could very quickly become a battlespace that would be a reality to compete in, and as special operators who can be any place, any time, we must be proficient in every environment,” said Niebes. “So for us to get the opportunity to train with experts in winter warfare is super important. The 352nd SOW truly appreciates the professional training with our Norwegian partners,” and the increase of relationships and skill we collectively received this week. We look forward to coming back and building upon our combined training in the High North.”