USAF to Continue Large Exercise, Increase Training With Five Arctic Nations

Acting Air Force Secretary John P. Roth and the defense leaders of five other Arctic nations signed a letter of intent supporting one of the continent’s largest air exercises and outlining additional steps to expand collaboration.

The letter—signed by Roth and the defense ministers of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden—continues the Arctic Challenge Exercise, which was last held in 2019 and included more than 140 aircraft and 4,000 troops from nine countries. The letter also expands on the Air Force’s first-ever Arctic Strategy, released last summer. The strategy called for increased interoperability with key allies in the region, according to a Feb. 18 release.

“We have a common vision and shared set of values in upholding security and stability in the Arctic region,” Roth said in the release. “Strong, enduring relationships with our allies and partners are essential to safeguarding peace in the region.”

The next iteration of the biennial exercise will be in June.

“The Arctic Challenge Exercise demonstrates the integral role combined exercises play in deepening ties with our allies and partners,” said Kelli L. Seybolt, deputy under secretary of the Air Force for international affairs, in the release. “These activities simultaneously strengthen cooperation, enhance interoperability, and support collective defense and deterrence.”

The letter comes as the Air Force deploys B-1B bombers to Norway for the first time. The bombers, from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, will operate out of Orland Air Base, U.S. European Command announced earlier this month. Airmen deployed to the country in early February and were quarantining for 10 days, before preparing for the aircraft’s arrival later this month. While in Norway, the bombers will conduct training in the “high north.”

“Operational readiness and our ability to support allies and partners and respond with speed is critical to combined success,” Gen. Jeffrey L Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander, said in a release. “We value the enduring partnership we have with Norway and look forward to future opportunities to bolster our collective defense.”