Alaskan soldiers will fly across North Pole and jump over northern Norway

By - March 12, 2024 The Independent Barents Observer

Amid the final days of Nordic Response, the northern leg of NATO’s large-scale Steadfast Defender exercise, soldiers from Alaska will head towards Bardufoss in northern Norway in the most untraditional way.

The drill is named Arctic Shock and consists of around 150 U.S. soldiers from the 11th Airborne Division and some 100 Norwegian soldiers. Airborne interoperability and Arctic capabilities will be trained, with a focus on how to bring U.S. soldiers into northern Norway as fast as possible without using airports.

With take off from Alaska, the soldiers will fly the short-cut directly over the North Pole and come in over Troms region in northern Norway from the north. Here they will jump out over the snowy landscape and demonstrate cold-weather warfare.


Soldier with the U.S. 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 11th Airborne Division carrying his weapon and gear after a jump in Alaska in February this year. It is the same soldiers that will jump near Bardufoss in Norway to take part in the exercise from March 18 to 22. Photo: Spc. Abreanna Goodrich / U.S. Army


Last month, the Norwegian government signed an expanded defense agreement with the United States allowing the Americans to build military infrastructure for own troops. In the north, the agreement includes Andøya, Bardufoss and Setermoen. The US has signed a similar agreement with Finland. Sweden, who became NATO’s 32nd member on March 7, are as well opening their doors for American cooperation, including in the north where two B-1 strategic bombers in February were depolyed to Kallax air base in Luleå. 

There are currently several thousand Finnish and Swedish soldiers exercising in Finnmark on the coast to the Barents Sea. This weekend, a larger landing operation took place west of Alta, aimed at training NATO allies reinforcement of the strategic important region for Norway in case of a Russian military attack from the east. 


Norwegian and Italian forces in landing exercise as part of Nordic Response in Kvænangen, northern Norway this weekend. Photo: Ingvild Ekrol / Norwegian Armed Forces


As previously reported by the Barents Observer, Russia’s Northern Fleet has sailed out some of its largest warships for training in the Barents Sea simultaneously as the Norwegian-led NATO exercise takes place in Finnmark and Troms regions. 

The Northern Fleet now has at least five surface vessels at sea; the two frigates Admiral Gorshkov and Admiral Kasatonov, the anti-submarine ships Admiral Lavchenko and Vice-Admiral Kulakov, as well as the large landing ship Ivan Gren. There are likely a few Russian submarines active in the Barents Sea.