Vikings return to Norway as Royal Marines train Americans

Vikings in Norway? Surely not…

Not the longboat pillagers from the Dark Ages, but the Royal Marines’ armoured battlewagon, thrashing around on the ranges outside Bardufoss.

Vikings return to Norway as Royal Marines train AmericansThe commandos of the Viking Squadron, normally based at the home of the tank – Bovington in Dorset – are teaching their American counterparts how to operate the all-terrain vehicle which has been a mainstay of operations by the Corps for more than a decade.

Viking is similar to the long-serving BV tracked vehicle – except it’s armed and armoured, providing both firepower and protection for the ten Royal Marines transported in the rear cab. It also keeps them warm and spares them exhausting marches, especially in the Arctic.

For the past few weeks, the Viking Squadron have been teaching the US Marine Corps how to operate their armour under Project Odin, as the ‘Semper Fi guys’ look for a vehicle suited to such extremes as they expand their cold weather warfare capability.

Viking is the vehicle of choice, it’s capable of crossing undulating deep snow, steep slopes and swimming in water

Colour Sergeant Alex Hayden, Royal Marines Viking Squadron

Part of that expansion has involved the commandos teaching the Americans the art of Arctic survival and combat a part of Exercise Cold Enabler.

For 2nd Battalion 2nd Marines, that’s also included driver training on the Viking, first in the UK, then in northern Norway.

“Viking is the vehicle of choice,” explained C/Sgt Alex Hayden, in charge of the armoured training in Norway.

“It’s capable of crossing undulating deep snow, steep slopes and swimming in water, it can also be mounted with a heavy machine-gun and has white phosphorous smoke. This makes it a formidable but manoeuvrable vehicle.

“Since being in the Arctic, the US Marines are realising the true benefits of this vehicle and the capability it can offer to their commanders.”

US Marine Sgt Scotty Lyall is one of those who’s received Viking training under the Royal Marines.

“The instruction has been fantastic,” he said. We don’t have a vehicle like this, and this is exactly what we need in this environment.”