April 20, 2011: STRATEGY PAGE
With the growing oil and natural gas discoveries along Russia's northern border, the government has ordered the formation of a special brigade of arctic troops to patrol the vast region, and be ready to deal with any problems that might require military force up there. The 8,000 troops in the Arctic Brigade will be stationed in the Kola Peninsula, near the borders with Finland and Norway. The Kola Peninsula has long contained key air, naval and army bases. The new brigade will be ready for duty by the end of the year.
Russia has gone to other arctic military powers for ideas, and the best equipment available. This is part of a trend in Russia, to seek new military equipment wherever it can be found, and not depend on the, often second-rate, stuff produced by Russian defense firms. The brigade will be air mobile, and will possess vehicles that can move over snow and ice. Many of the communications will be satellite based, and everything will be able to handle the extreme cold found along Russia's northern coast.
All Arctic nations have specialized units like this, which often contain a large proportion of tribal peoples long native to the Arctic. The United States, for example, has a Winter Warfare School in Alaska, and a reserve brigade there organized and trained to deal with situations in the vast Alaskan backcountry. Canada also has an Arctic Warfare School, and troops recruited from native (Aleut/Eskimo/First People. Etc) populations. Finland has a similar system, and now Russia is apparently seeking to implement something similar.