Photo Information

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Michael Joyner tries on a German service member's gear during Exercise Cold Response 2022, Bodø, Norway, March 20, 2022. Joyner is a combat engineer with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. Exercise Cold Response '22 is a biennial Norwegian national readiness and defense exercise that takes place across Norway, with participation from each of its military services, as well as from 26 additional NATO allied nations and regional partners.

Photo by 2nd Lt. Emily Stewart

Arctic Security: Marine Sentries in Norway

1 Apr 2022 | Lance Cpl. Kyle Jia The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

It’s Sunday morning, there is a mix of snow and rain pounding down from the sky, coming in sideways due to the raging wind. Marines are walking to work, as they do every day while at Bodø. As they enter large, green, rectangular warehouses turned into workspaces with covered windows, they are searched by II Marine Expeditionary Force Guard Force Marines, who provide security in the Arctic no matter what the weather brings.

The Guard Force Marines were among the first to arrive at Bodø Air Station, Norway, for Exercise Cold Response 2022. The Marines quickly assisted in setting up and establishing locations to work.

“When we got here, we started helping to set up the Command Operations Center and Air and Logistics Operations Center,” said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Chantz Nittler, a team leader assigned to Guard Force, II MEF Support Battalion. “After we finished setting up, we took in some Marines from other units and started to stand post in those same buildings.”

The guard force is primarily made up of combat engineers, who are trained in non-lethal crowd-control techniques and de-escalation methods. They are joined by Marines from other units and are responsible for preserving order, enforcing regulations and protecting areas of operations. One of the primary security concerns for the exercise is personal electronic devices, potentially leading to unintended data collection by foreign adversaries. The Marines also search for contraband such as weapons and explosives.

“Staying vigilant and making sure people aren’t bringing security threats into the building are things we take seriously.” Cpl. Chantz Nittler, II MEF Support Battalion Guard Force team leader

Guard Force Marines also had the opportunity to work with NATO Allies. Their integration included patrolling the base alongside Norwegian counterparts to enforce regulations and protect the air station by seeking unusual and suspicious activity. The guards were able to cross-train with German service members and exchange knowledge about their respective gear and weapons to strengthen relationships as allies.

According to Nittler, the long guard shifts have allowed the Marines to forge strong bonds with one another that extend beyond their shifts. When off duty, the Marines spend their time at the gym and eating chow together. Despite their different backgrounds and home units, Marines of the guard force have built a family-like bond.

“Especially with the Marines from outside the platoon that were brought into the guard force, it feels like we’re all from the same unit now,” said Nittler.

Security is paramount to a safe and successful exercise in the Arctic. Exercise Cold Response 2022 can run smoothly because Marines of Guard Force are prepared to protect the Marines and allies on Bodo, Norway.