As Russia watches: U.S. conducts artillery exercise in Norwegian Arctic as part of 50-day drills
Rick Rozoff

U.S. Army Europe and Africa is conducting a series of field artillery exercises as part of 50-day drills in Europe and Africa “to exercise the rapid deployment of long-range precision fires and joint forcible entry fires across two continents from the Baltics to Black Sea, and from the Arctic to North Africa.”

Starting on May 2 and ending on June 18, the drills are subsumed under the code name Fires Shock.

U.S. Army’s 41st Field Artillery Brigade (FAB) is currently participating in Exercise Thunderbolt in Norway in an artillery exercise that will end with a live-fire drill on June 10. This is the first time the 41st FAB is involved in an exercise in Norway since the unit was reactivated (in Grafenwoehr, Germany) in 2019 and the first time in twenty-five years U.S. Army has conducted a Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) live fire in Norway.

According to a U.S. Army press release: “This type of training in the Arctic increases the Army’s ability to operate in extreme cold-weather, mountainous and high latitude environments and supports the Army’s Arctic strategy.

The Thunderbolt war games also include the participation of U.S. Marines from the 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company and the Norwegian Army Brigade North and Finnmark Land Component. Norwegian F-16s will be integrated with the American artillery brigade to process precision targets. Again from the U.S. Army press release: “These exercises stress and demonstrate our resolve in securing national interests in the Arctic and our ability to command and control long-range fires across Europe and the Arctic, using a variety of networked and multi-domain communications platforms, to include observing and controlling joint fires from the land and the air.”

Norwegian Army Commander Lieutenant General Lars Lervik expressed satisfaction over employing the 41st FAB in the broader military exercise, stating, “Our cooperation increases NATO´s interoperability and secures our common interests.”

The Fires Shock artillery training has been and will be conducted within the following exercises:

  • Swift Response in Estonia (May 1-15)
  • Dynamic Front in Germany and Poland (May 2-24)
  • Saber Guardian in Bulgaria (May 30-June 14)
  • DEFENDER-Europe 21 Command Post Exercise in Germany (June 1-14)
  • African Lion in Morocco (June 7-18)
  • Thunderbolt in Norway (June 1-14).

In the words of the 41st FAB’s commander: “In the past month and a half our 41st FAB Soldiers have bounced all across Europe and into Africa conducting long-range precision fires missions. Throughout the Fires Shock exercises, we have proved our ability to expertly to plan, deploy and execute multiple missions simultaneously across the globe at the time and place of our choosing.”

Referring to the Fire Shock activities, the commanding general of 7th Army Training Command, Brigadier General Christopher Norrie, provided this overview of their purpose and scale:

“From towed artillery to long-range rocket systems, U.S. Army Europe and Africa has the organic ability to rapidly deliver precision fires to support our joint force and NATO allies anywhere in Europe and Africa. These exercises demonstrate our ability to command and control long-range fires across continents, using a variety of networked and multi-domain communications platforms.”

A report on Fires Shock over a month ago in The Army Times was aptly titled Army fires are at the center of a major NATO exercise – as Russia watches.