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Arctic Yearbook 2012
participants came from the 27
Brigade of the Mountain Infantry (République française,
2011). The largest participants came from Canada, France, The Netherlands, Great Britain,
Sweden and the United States.
‘Cold Response 2012’ gathered soldiers in a “NATO
mission scenario under a UN mandate […] to balance the use of diplomatic and military
force, helping soldiers learn to train in an international environment where they have to
master a common language and procedures” (National Defence Canada, 2012).
Later on in 2012, France and Russia held PACEX naval drills in the Barents Sea. The French
deployed their navy warship
De Grasse
up to Severomorsk to carry out military exercises with
Russia’s large landing ship
Aleksandr Otrakovsk
part of the Northern Fleet. Officials note that
the purpose of the Arctic exercises was intended to “practice interoperability between
warships of the two countries in order to act jointly in critical regions worldwide”.
navies had undertaken similar joint exercises in the Barents Sea in 2010. At that time,
Russian nuclear-powered missile cruiser
Petr Veliky
had visited Brest in France, its main
naval base on the Atlantic coast (Pettersen, 2012).
Projecting power and preparedness in Russia’s northern neighborhood implies that the
Arctic should be a zone where the French are capable to intervene in any kind of scenario.
In a 2008 White Paper, the Ministry of Defense stated that “France posses military
capabilities that function in extreme climatic zones.” Two years later, in a letter of response
to an earlier National Assembly inquiry, the minister of Defense outlined France’s Arctic
defense policy by specifying that, as a military power, the French have “Arctic-friendly“ (or
extreme climate capable) military capabilities and cold climate troops that could be deployed
in any northern crisis. The notion of French preparedness for a probable crisis in the High
North was elaborated as follows (Assemblée Nationale, 2010; Huebert, 2011):
French navy ships and nuclear submarines are deployed in Arctic waters
for defense preparedness purposes and to maintain French nuclear
deterrence. Navy units are required to carry out cold climate deployment;
The French army has a contingent of 6 000 men (the 27
brigade of the
mountain infantry, the “
27e BIM
”) who are trained for “
grand froid
” (very
cold) interventions;
The army also continues to participate in military exercises in the Arctic,
like Cold Response in Norway every two years. It trains 400 soldiers;
As of 2012, new military capabilities will be acquired and tested in polar