Washington: The first surprise, for the Finnish conscripts and officers taking part in a NATO-hosted military exercise in the Arctic this spring: the sudden roar of a U.S. Marine helicopter assault force, touching down in a field right next to the Finns' well-hidden command post.
The second surprise: Spilling out of their field headquarters, the Finnish Signal Corps communications workers and others inside routed the U.S.
Marines the Finns' designated adversary in the NATO exercise and members of America's professional and premier expeditionary force in the mock firefight that followed.
Finnish camouflage for the Arctic snow, scrub and scree likely had kept the Americans from even realising the command post was there when they landed, Finnish commander Lt. Col. Mikko Kuoka suspected.
For those who years from now will doubt it, Kuoka, modestly stunned by the outcome of the random skirmish, wrote in an infantry-focused blog recording the outcome, of an episode he later confirmed for The Associated Press. That actually happened.
As the exercise made clear, NATO's addition of Finland and Sweden what President Joe Biden calls our allies of the high north would bring military and territorial advantages to the Western defense alliance. That's especially so as the rapid melting of the Arctic from climate change awakens strategic rivalries at the top of the world. (AP)