U.S. Marines assigned to the protection of Europe and points north got a chance to get out of the barracks, have some fun, and meet their Swedish allies, all while training to kill Russians by the dozen. What could be better to a unit of soldiers than live fire exercises on a remote chain of heavily wooded micro-islands.
Marines love this training
U.S. Marines have long appreciated their deep relationship with Nordic partners in Scandinavian countries “to counter any Russian aggression” in the region.
Since 2018, we’ve been teaming up with the Swedes for a bilateral military exercise called “Archipelago Endeavor.”
This year, U.S. Marines assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, which forms part of the Rotational Force stationed in Europe, will be participating.
Along with their Swedish counterparts. In the past, that was the 2nd Swedish Amphibious Assault Battalion.
The first year the operation was held, First Lieutenant Daniel Burton called it an “integrated company exercise between Marines and Swedes.” Soldiers on both sides felt like kids on a playground as they went island hopping “on more than 30,000 wooded islands, islets and crags” which form an archipelago along the Swedish shoreline.
The training included practice firing “machine guns, 81 mm mortars, small arms and the Carl Gustaf 84 mm recoilless rifle.”
The best terrain
The Marines went back in 2019 but last year was canceled to to covid. This year’s training exercise runs from September 6 through September 28 and they’re thrilled to be back in action.
“This is the land of opportunity when it comes to amphibious operation,” Captain David Smith II exclaimed. “These guys give us a lot of experience and they have the best terrain for doing what we do.”
In all of the recent exercises, the troops have used Combat Boat-90 assault craft, built for “fast assault and coastal defense.” It was developed by a subsidiary of Saab specifically for the Swedish navy and its country’s defense.
Throw in “some mortars, machine guns a few shoulder-fired rockets and a company of Swedish and U.S. Marines and you get quite a show.”
This year, the joint forces “also conducted a 3 km obstacle course with extended rope wall and water obstacles,” First Lieutenant Paul Ortiz told the press. They have a tradition which they do when they finish.
“At the end of previous training exercises, Swedes have held the traditional burning of the unit’s regimental symbol the ‘Torlief.’ (horned viking helmet) The ceremony symbolizes strength and unity between the U.S. and Swedish Marines.”