The responsibilities of a superpower are many, as are the potential hotspots where American war-fighters might need to fight in the future. Consequently, in the modern multi-domain battlefield, allies and partners are essential to achieve mission success. Be it in the mountains of Afghanistan, the deserts of the Sahel, or the fjords of Scandinavia, American units will always benefit from partnerships with local forces, which have an unsurpassed understanding of their given battlespace.
One of the best ways to forge relationships with nations and units that you might find yourself fighting alongside is through realistic training. Recently, the Reconnaissance Marines of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division and Force Reconnaissance Company, 2nd Marine Division deployed to Norway for a month-long training tour with the Norwegian Kystjegerkommandoen (KJK), or Coastal Ranger Commandos. The training trip, dubbed Exercise Platinum Ren, was intended to improve bilateral training, interoperability, and familiarization with the unforgiving Norwegian environment.
During their stay in Norway, the Recon Marines and their KJK brethren were blended and formed small reconnaissance teams. They conducted patrolling, which is a staple for any reconnaissance unit; marksmanship drills, with the U.S. Marines shooting the Norwegian CB-90 rifle; and cold-familiarization exercises—that is, diving into freezing water and then trying to stay warm.
Alongside Norway’s special operations forces, which are comprised of the FSK—a unit based on Delta Force—and MJK—a unit based on the U.S. Navy SEAL teams—the KJK have been deployed numerous times to Afghanistan in support of the coalition effort.
The Marine Corps began sending units for readiness and cold-weather exercises in Norway in 2017. Russian aggression in Ukraine and in the Baltics has made it necessary for the Scandinavian country, which shares a border with Russia, to prepare, as it could very well become a future battlefield.
Sergeant Joseph Ortiz, the team leader of 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, had some inspiring words to say about the training and the Norwegian commandos: “You always hear these terms ‘brotherhood’ or ‘esprit de corps’ get tossed around, and in some units it is artificial, there isn’t much depth to it,” he said in a statement to DVIDS. “What I think is different about the reconnaissance community is we are such a small unit and you spend so much time with your team, your platoon and your company, you get to know people on a different level. It is actually like family with the love-hate relationships and it’s cool. You can joke around, talk, and fight, but on the flip side you know for sure you can count on that person on a deployment, in training, and even on a Saturday night when you need to talk. You know they are willing to drop whatever they are doing to help you. It’s never a 0900 to 1600 thing; even outside of work we spend most of our time together. The way the Norwegian Coastal Ranger Commandos (KJK) are with each other, just on a personal level and the way they conduct business, I honestly felt like I came to another reconnaissance battalion when I came here.”
Exercise Platinum Ren took place in Fort Trondennes, Harstad, Norway.