Four U.S. soldiers were killed during a routine NATO exercise in Norway when their aircraft went down. The soldiers, all Marines, lost control of their Osprey aircraft near the Arctic circle. According to authorities, their mission was completely unrelated to the current war in Ukraine.
At a glance
- Four Marines died during a regular training exercise in Norway
- No cause for the crash has been reported, but officials say that the weather likely played a part
- The Norwegian Red cross assisted with rescue efforts
- Over two dozen countries participate in this NATO drill every two years
Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere tweeted the news of the soldiers’ deaths. Authorities have not reported a cause of the crash, yet, but local police reported bad weather in the area that same day.
The Marines, assigned to 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, II Marine Expeditionary Force, were participating in an exercise called Cold Response. The Defense Department must first notify relatives of the deaths before releasing their names to the general public.
The MV-22B Osprey had a crew of four and was out on a training mission in Nordland County, Norway’s armed forces department said. The Marines were en route north to Bodoe. Flight records revealed a 6 p.m. Friday scheduled landing. But the Osprey crashed in Graetaedalen in Beiarn, south of Bodoe. Police launched a search and rescue mission immediately, finding the remains well after midnight. At 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning, Norway police confirmed that all four soldiers had been killed in the crash.
The Cold Response drill includes around 30,000 troops, 220 aircraft, and 50 vessels from 27 countries, including non-NATO members Sweden and Finland. According to Norwegian armed forces, the drill will commence as planned, with special measures in place to try to account for the weather.
Bad weather likely contributed most to the soldiers being killed in Norway
Norwegian newspapers reported that local Red Cross members drove close to the crash site with scooters and marked the trail with GPS for police. The papers said the search and rescue proceeded under “extremely difficult weather conditions” early Saturday.
“It was a special night, it was a real storm. There were five of us driving towards the scene of the accident. There was one meter of visibility, then snow and storm in the mountains, ” Red Cross team leader Oerjan Kristensen said. “I guess it was a wind gust of 30-40 meters per second. When it blows like that, it is difficult to stand upright.”
Other external factors like mountainous landslide risk and general remoteness of the crash site also hampered rescue efforts, according to the Red Cross.
“The weather is very bad in the area to complete work at the scene; but police will take it up again as soon as the weather conditions allow it,” Norland police operations manager Ivar Bo Nilsson said.
Lt. Gen. Yngve Odlo, head of the Norwegian Armed Forces’ operational headquarters, also echoed those same sentiments.
“Right now we are focused on ending the rescue operation, taking care of the people and then [executing] a normal procedure with causation,” Odlo said.
Cold Response exercises take place every two years in Norway dating back to 2006.