Royal Marines have completed six weeks of Arctic training with an all-out assault on one of the relics of Hitler’s vaunted Fortress Europe. The green berets of Arbroath-based 45 Commando, plus the Commando Logistic Regiment from North Devon and their supporting air power, the Commando Helicopter Force at Yeovilton, staged a three-hour attack on a wartime fortress near Harstad in northern Norway – as the climax of Exercise Cetus 13. The marines decamped from their bases in the UK to join the Norwegians at the small port, some 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle for Exercise Cetus 13. There is no harsher environment in which to live, work and fight – deep snow, ice, temperatures fall regularly below -30˚C (and take it down another 20˚C with wind chill). Such conditions test men and machines to the limit. Around 135 green berets from 45 Commando – currently the UK’s lead commando group, who are ready to deploy around the world at short notice should they be required – crossed the North Sea for Cetus 13, using the Norwegian Army camp at Åsegarden, just outside Harstad, as their base. Having mastered the arts of survival in the Arctic – living in snow holes (a man-made ‘cave’ carved out of the snow), skiing, marching on snow shoes for five kilometres (three miles) with 30kg (66lb) of kit on their backs, personal care (such as not touching exposed metal) – it was time to move on to the fighting element of the training.
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