LAPLAND, Finland — Conducted north of the Arctic Circle, the Finnish Special Operations Forces Utti Jaeger Regiment hosted Exercise Talvikotka 23 from March 12-16, 2023, to enhance and exchange winter warfare tactics and techniques with U.S. Army 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
“Working with U.S. forces, I'm really (impressed) with how we went straight from shaking hands to conducting missions in a very short amount of time, which tells a lot about our forces being interoperable and well suited for combined missions together,” said a special forces soldier assigned to Special Jaeger Battalion, Utti Jaeger Regiment. “The mentality and the intensity with how we conducted these missions and how well we’ve actually been able to cooperate (speaks to that).”
Talvikotka means “winter eagle” in Finnish, a fitting name for the Arctic environment where the exercise was performed.
“We see (Utti Jaeger Regiment) as mentors because they operate in this environment, they live here; they're very good at winter warfare, so we look to them on how to do things the right way,” said an assistant detachment commander with 10th SFG (A). “That one mistake you made with your socks or your glove liners on day one is now making you combat ineffective come day five.”
The U.S. Special Forces team proceeded directly from a five-week winter warfare course at the Swedish Subarctic Warfare Center in Lomben, Sweden, to then applying those skills to tactical missions during the exercise.
“We became better Soldiers because operating in this environment requires a higher level of discipline and attention to detail,” the assistance detachment commander continued. “The facilities procured were some of the best I've ever seen because … this whole area is basically a 360-degree live-fire range where you can patrol and snowmobile entirely within.”
The exercise served both as a proving ground for maneuvers in deep snow and an opportunity to refine standard operating procedures between nations.
“Our elements linked up and focused on interoperability and SOP synchronization,” said the 10th SFG (A) assistant detachment commander. “The exercise focused on deep strike operations, or neutralizing a target deep behind the front line.”
Like U.S. Special Forces, Finland’s Special Jaeger Battalion have the same core missions: special reconnaissance, unconventional warfare and direct action.
“I'd consider us to be a Leatherman (multi-tool), more or less…a solution to many problems,” said the special forces soldier with Special Jaeger Battalion. “(Talvikotka) ensures our interoperability in bilateral operations — either in training or real life — for the future.”