Preparing for the Arctic in the Slovenian mountain

Preparing for the Arctic in the Slovenian mountains

Royal Marines swapped the usual Scottish mountain warfare training ground for a rare venture into the wilds of Slovenia as they prepare for their Arctic deployment next year

Ministry of Defence
Sep 24 · 4 min read

Cold weather and mountain warfare specialists from Yankee Company, 45 Commando headed for the stunning Slovenian mountains for two weeks of intensive training to push themselves in preparation for a challenging winter on operations in Norway.

The marines based themselves at a NATO centre of excellence for mountain warfare, Bohinjska Bela Barracks. From there they headed on missions into the Triglav National Park, in the northwest corner of the Balkan state.

“Working at high altitude in arduous steep terrain is a challenge in itself. Operating tactically is another layer of complexity. Team leaders have been tested to ensure that they maintain a covert posture navigating through enemy lines, across huge obstacles where if they make a mistake the consequences are severe.”

— Major David Johnston, in command of Yankee Company

The commandos spent two weeks working closely with the Slovenian 132nd Mountain Regiment and the 157th Mountain Regiment of the US Colorado National Guard on exercises known as Triglav Star.

Yankee Company, 45 Commando conducting a brief from Slovenian Mountain Leaders before training Vertical Assault and abseiling techniques
Yankee Company, 45 Commando conducting a brief from Slovenian Mountain Leaders before training Vertical Assault and abseiling techniques

The commandos and allies focused on core skills like vertical assaults, river crossings and casualty evacuations, working at high altitudes across arduous terrain under the stewardship of Royal Marines and Slovenian Mountain Leaders.

The exercises ended with an attack on Blegoš Mountain, which is still home to old Yugoslav fortifications of the Rupnik Line that was designed to defend against attacks during the Second World War.

45 Commandos marines are held at constant readiness to deploy around the world at short notice. As the UK’s Arctic and mountain warfare specialists they must be ready to fight in the world’s most unforgiving environments.

Royal Marines from Yankee Company on a mountain march in the Slovenian mountains.
Royal Marines from Yankee Company on a mountain march in the Slovenian mountains.

“It has been challenging for the exercising troops and whilst learning new skills and techniques they have rose to the challenge and performed admirably. Yankee Company are now in an even better place to conduct operations in a mountainous environment.”

— Warrant Officer Second Class Ian Freeman, Yankee Company Sergeant Major

The Slovenia deployment was a prime opportunity to share knowledge with allies and better understand how fellow troops operate in the mountains to develop each other’s tactics and approaches.

Royal Marines from Yankee Company on a mountain march in the Slovenian mountains.
Royal Marines from Yankee Company on a mountain march in the Slovenian mountains.

“The Royal Marines provide the UK defence’s sole mountain and cold weather warfare capability. This has been an excellent testing ground before we deploy to Norway to push our capability even further.”

— Major David Johnston, in command of Yankee Company

45 Commando carrying out fixed line climbing in Slovenian mountains
45 Commando carrying out fixed line climbing in Slovenian mountains
45 Commando carrying out fixed-line climbing in Slovenian mountains

The Commandos seized the opportunity and in the second week of training carried out a challenging Situation Training Exercise, which put them through specific scenarios which they need to navigate through to achieve objectives.

The rest of 45 Commando will soon carry out their own arctic preparations in Scotland.

Find out where else the UK Armed Forces are deployed here👇

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