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Winter soldiers – UK troops train in Estonia in freezing temperatures

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NATO forces need to be able to operate in any environment and in any weather. That’s why UK soldiers have been conducting cold weather training in Estonia, where temperatures can drop as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius. During Exercise Winter Camp, troops practised in deep snow and freezing conditions. UK troops also took part in a three-day cold weather operations course, learning how to build shelters and survive in conditions well below freezing – including a jump into icy water.

The UK troops, from the 5 RIFLES infantry battalion, are serving in NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup in Estonia. All NATO eFP Battlegroup Estonia training for Winter Camp was conducted in line with Estonian national COVID-19 policy. The Battlegroup is currently operating as a ‘bubble’ in order to achieve maximum output from this training, while protecting personnel.
Exercise Winter Camp 2021 ran from 1 until 12 February.

Footage includes various shots of UK infantry taking part in cold weather exercises.


Would you brave the cold? UK troops trained in Estonia this winter, where temperatures can drop below -25 degrees Celsius. The training included a jump into icy water – brrrrrrrrr!


Lance Bombardier Bickerton Green, 5 RIFLES infantry battalion
“Well, I don’t want to state the obvious but it’s very cold.”
Lance Bombardier Bickerton Green, 5 RIFLES infantry battalion
“The terrain we’re in is very diverse and the weather is pretty, pretty horrific and I think to be ready for anything, to deter any threats, we need to be trained how to operate in this country come what may.”
Lance Bombardier Jones, 5 RIFLES infantry battalion
“The snow has been so hard to track through but everyone’s just dug in deep and literally just gone for it.”
UK soldier about to lead a charge
“One two foxtrot, wait out, I’ll tell you when.”
“Prepare for rapid!”
“Rapid fire!”
Colour Sergeant Keenan, Royal Marines
“Soldiers need to be exposed to cold weather so that they can learn that they can rewarm themselves. They don’t need the assistance of anyone. And they will get cold hands, they will get cold toes, they will get frost nip but all of that can be treated on the ground and I think this training teaches these soldiers that, right down at the sort of most basic of levels.”
Gunner Clowes, 5 RIFLES infantry battalion
“For us, we’ve now come on to the survival phase where we’ve got limited kit, limited food, limited resources and we’ve just got to survive for 24 hours. The shelter, the fire, the chicken and veg, and that’s all we’ve got. And the clothes we’re wearing now.”
Bombadier Tawake, 5 RIFLES infantry battalion
“You don’t want to be grumpy all day because then you’ll make the other person grumpy and then the next one and then you’ll hear all the complaints but then you don’t want that in your little group.”
UK instructor talking to soldier about to do ice jump
“You alright yeah? Yeah?”
“When you’re ready, that’s it, good lad.”
Colour Sergeant Keenan, Royal Marines
“The training culminates with this which is a water immersion or ice breaking serial and this is where we expect the soldiers to come forward, go through the ice, come out, go back to their tents and rewarm with nothing more than the equipment they’ve got in their bergens.”
“And it just goes to reinforce to them that they can operate in any environment and particularly in the winter, out in the Baltics, when things get really tough, using only the clothing and equipment they’ve got.”
UK instructor talking to soldier about to do ice jump
“That’s it. Nice slow deep breaths.”
Gunner Clowes, 5 RIFLES infantry battalion
the body works is when you start getting cold, it wants to protect your vital organs the most so straight away it’ll start bringing the blood from your feet and hands and therefore your hands and feet are going to go cold and you just need to get the blood pumping.”
“It definitely brings a couple of songs to mind.”
“Which ones?”
“Walking in a Winter Wonderland.” (all laughing)
Name of the Game by McClusky and Westlake
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