Battle the Elements in Norway on Extreme Cold Weather Training
RAF Reservists from 606 Squadron at RAF Benson participated in a joint exercise with the Norwegian Reserve Officers Federation to further develop their ability to operate under any conditions in any climate.
The arduous training took place near the town of Rjukan in Norway’s remote Hardangervidda region, an area made famous by the film ‘Heroes of Telemark’ which depicted the attack on the heavy water factory that was crucial to the Nazi’s ambitions to build an atom bomb.
Flying Officer Lis Foster (48) from Duffield in Derbyshire is a dairy farmer in her civilian life and has been a keen skier for a number of years. She said: “Having done WINTERMARCH before, I couldn’t wait to get back here again! The training is fantastic and the skills you learn in personal strength, teamwork and camaraderie are invaluable. I have pushed myself even further this week, and my crosscountry skiing skills are improving, not without a few bruises and scrapes though!”
15 Squadrons from around the UK representing the depth and variety of the trades in the Royal Air Force, including Intelligence, Force Protection, Supply, Logistics, Helicopter Support, Medics and more came together to enhance their operational capability.
Being introduced to standard NATO military issue skiing kit, they learnt to crosscountry ski, whilst also receiving lessons in mountain and avalanche awareness, rescue, first aid and personal care under extreme cold weather conditions.
Exercise WINTERMARCH 15 (WM15) demonstrated the Reserves capability of being able to carry out their job in a mixed role environment using the best combination of both their civilian and military skills in a unique environment. Squadron Leader Paul Chegwidden was the Project Officer for WM15 in charge of running the event and acknowledged that the RAF Reserves can provide the best of both worlds.
He said: “Exercise WINTERMARCH provides the chance for our personnel to challenge themselves beyond their normal capabilities in arduous conditions. It also contributes to the RAF’s aims to engage with reservists offering the best training possible.”
“From the individuals’ point of view, it gives them the opportunity to do things that they wouldn’t do in their civilian life; here they can acquire new skills, make new friends, and it provides an idea of the bigger picture of what the RAF Reserves are all about.”
Working closely with their Norwegian counterparts in a partnership that has continued to prosper and develop over the last 20 years, there is another element to the training: building upon and embracing longstanding cultural relations.
The RAF Reserves are an invaluable element of the Royal Air Force, and both regulars and Reserves continue to work together seamlessly to be able to deliver the UK’s air power at a world-class standard.