Norway Cancels Major Drill Joint Viking for Fear of Mutated COVID Spread

The main goal of the drill Joint Viking numbering some 10,000 soldiers, including Norway’s NATO allies, was to practice the defence of the country. The drill would have taken place in late February and March 2021 in northermost Norway, including the border area.

The joint winter exercise Joint Viking in northern Norway will not be carried out due to the infection situation in the country, Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen has announced.

Around 7,000 Norwegian soldiers would have participated in the drill at the end of February, together with some 3,000 foreign soldiers from the US, the UK, and Germany to name a few, and some of them were already in place in northern Norway, national broadcaster NRK reported.

Earlier in January, it became known that the decommissioned naval base Olavsvern outside Tromsø was to be used again by Dutch soldiers. The Dutch, too, were already in place, scheduled to conduct winter training there.

Frank Bakke-Jensen announced that Norway won’t receive any new allied forces and those units already present in the country will be sent home.

“It is not critical, but we would have liked to have been able to complete the exercise as planned”, Bakke-Jensen said.

Earlier this month, a total of 45 soldiers from the US and the UK tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Norway. Furthermore, at least 65 cases of the mutated British variant were detected in Nordre Follo, spurring strict infection control measures in ten municipalities in the Oslo…

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