NATO Quick Reaction Forces in Norway

NATO Quick Reaction Forces in Norway
By Adam Brooker

As a founding member of NATO, Norway always knew if the Cold War got Hot, that it would be one of the first targets for the Soviets, given the important Soviet naval bases and shipyards they had developed on the ice-free Kola Peninsula, the gateway to the North Sea for the Soviets.

The Norwegians had significant forces in the north of Norway, with the Nord (North) Brigade being the largest standing formation of their regular army stationed there, and would be deployed to the Finnmark border area immediately if there was a commencement of hostilities. But they knew they could only slow a Soviet push, they could not stop it, and NATO had put plans in place as early as 1949 to try to protect their Northern Flank and to protect valuable shipping lanes in the North Atlantic. If the Soviets captured the shipyards, airfields, and bases in Northern Finland they could strangle any reinforcements and supplies from the UK and North America and then work their way down the flanks of Sweden, Finland, and the Netherlands.

NATO Cold Response
NATO COLD RESPONSE – Modern QRF on Exercise

Norway is a cornerstone in the NATO defence plan, but Norway did not want any permanent NATO forces stationed in Norway, which could antagonise the Soviets and provoke a Soviet response that could be made to look like NATO aggression. The US and Norway have strong defence ties, and there is close cooperation even today between Norway and US armed forces. The US instead supplied funding for increased military infrastructure in the North, military bases, airfields, early warming systems, and modernising the Norwegian army, but there were only so many troops in the Norwegian Army. The answer in the case of Soviet aggression was an amphibious Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that would be rapidly deployed to reinforce the Norwegians in a matter of days, all the Norwegians had to do, was slow the Soviet spearhead to give NATO forces time to gather.

BF AAVP-7A1

BF AAVP-7A1 – US Marine Amphibious Transports (left has applique armour)

Over the years many exercises were carried out to help plan and streamline an amphibious response to a Northern Flank attack, the general plan was for a QRF to quickly deploy to northern Norway, consisting of the US Marine 4th Expeditionary Brigade, and the UKNLAF Battlegroup (United Kingdom Netherlands Amphibious Force) consisting of the British 3rd Commando and Dutch Marine Corps, as well as the Allied Mobile Force. They would quickly land forces via helicopter insertion from LPH (Landing Platform Helicopter) ships like the HMS Bulwark or USS Tawara a US Marine LHA (Landing Helicopter Assault) ship, to chokehold areas inland. Other amphibious forces would land either in a friendly dock or make a combat assault and land quickly on the surrounding Fjords and small towns.

USS Tarawa

USS Tarawa – Landing Helicopter Assault ship

US Marines would land in the AAVP-7A1s, and heavier equipment via LCU’s (Landing Craft Utility), with overhead aircraft cover from US Marine Harriers and Cobra Gunships. British Commandos and Dutch Marines would launch from landing ships and land via BvS 10 Viking tracked amphibious transports, these vehicles could carry 10 passengers in the rear cab. It had other variants including a Command variant, a mortar variant, as well as other support variants. But it was generally just armed with light or heavy machine guns. They can also be deployed via Chinook helicopter.

Dutch BvS 10

Dutch BvS 10 – Amphibious all-terrain vehicle

The troops could also be deployed via helicopter transport, like the Lynx or Chinook helicopter to forward areas like the US Marines. The British Commandos would be from 3 Commando Brigade which specialises in amphibious assaults and landings and had just had plenty of experience from the Falkland’s Campaign, and the Dutch Marines would most likely be from their 1st Marine Combat Group, which was their main contribution to the UKNLAF.

So why am I telling you about this?? Well, I think this will give you some great background to not only add allied Nations to your Norwegian Force, but also this could be a great modelling and hobby opportunity to convert up your own amphibious QRF.

Norwegian Allied Marines

The easiest way is to add the US Marine Allied Support that is in the Norway Support Diagram above to your Force, it allows you some of the units the US Marine Corps would bring in support. You have the Rifle platoon with amphibious transports, as well as M60 tanks and Cobra attack helicopters. But I do think it is lacking some units like HMMWV-TOW platoons and LAV platoons that may be more appropriate in a landing Force. You can add this by adding an Allied US Marine Rifle Company Formation to your Force. This adds the HMMWV-TOW platoons, as well as a HMMWV machine gun platoon and LAV platoon.

Marine Rifle Company

How to represent the British Commandos and Dutch Marines? The Commandos would have a mix of helmets and berets, an option could be to purchase some Flames of War metal LW Commando or Soviet VDV figures and head swap some of the miniatures, and file some of the foliage off the helmets of some of the others. You would probably not need to do all of them perhaps one or two figures a stand, and make sure all the platoon leader stands have the beret on. This will make them stand out from the others. But given the images we see from the Falklands conflict, they do seem very fond of their green berets, so maybe they all should??

British RM Commando

British RM Commando – Falklands

Now what about the Dutch Marines or Korps Mariniers, or as the British Marines affectionately called the Cloggies. The Dutch Marines have a long history and were formed in 1665, the 2nd oldest in the world, and have worked closely with the British since WW2 and the formation of NATO. You could do the same straight head swap here with the TY Dutch Infantry platoon, but give these ‘Black Devils a black beret instead of their helmets.

Dutch Marines

Dutch Marines – Korps Mariniers

The tricky part will be how to represent the BvS 10 Viking amphibious vehicles that both the British and Dutch use, the closest thing in game is just an FV432 in a British FV432 Mech Company, but it itself is not amphibious. Unless BF brings out a model, your best idea may be to just bring that Formation, but not bring the transports onto the table, and only bring the Milan platoon and the Rifle Platoons. The Dutch YPR-765 is amphibious but more for river crossings, not the open ocean, so it may be best to leave them out as well if you want. But that is entirely up to you. Or you could do the hard graft and make some from plasticard. Or just don’t, and bring a British Lynx Airmobile Company, and have them already there or being helicopter inserted, which that would be doing historically.

Next, how do I represent this in a Norwegian Force? I would probably take a Leopard 1 Tank Squadron, and add a Lynx Airmobile company, plus some US Marine M60 tanks, some Cobra Gunships and a Marine Rifle Platoon maybe? A good mix, also maybe some Marine Harriers for air support, but the Viggen would be a good anti-tank choice too with its Maverick missiles. But are the points there, that’s always the hard part...

Leopard 1 Tank Squadron

I ended up taking the full Lynx Airmobile Company to represent the air-inserted RM Commandos, which saves me trying to convert the BvS 10 Viking, but I still have to do the berets, but either would be an excellent hobby project….

I also added a Marine Rifle Platoon with the AAVP7 transports, which can also swap their transports for Huey Helicopter transports, and can be air inserted as well as an option, at no extra cost. Also added a Stinger Platoon, a M109 battery and one of my favourite jets of all time the US AV-8B Harrier II. I remember getting a book of fighter jets when I was a kid, and loved the look of this VTOL jet, and the BF model looks excellent as well!

AV-8B Harrier II

There are a lot more variations you could try, a full US Marine Rifle Company instead of the British Lynx Company, or a Dutch Mechanised Company, or a British Mechanised Company, the world is your oyster really and it is up to you and your imagination and hobby skills.

I do really like to see at events, players who have done a lot of work to really customise or convert their force, it adds so much more to the hobby and the game, you can really see the passion they have put into it. I am doing something similar to my own MW German SS list, and trying to convert figures to represent the SS Wiking during their 1942/43 push into the Caucasus on the Eastern Front. 

 

Hopefully this gives you some ideas to convert up your own Team Yankee Nordic Force!

 

Happy Gaming

~ Adam 

 

 

 

 
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