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Right now, thousands of soldiers are gathering in northern Norway for the military exercise Cold Response. But behind the scenes, Grieg Strategic Services (GSS) has already been working hard for months to make sure everything goes smoothly.

“While the exercise itself only lasts for a few weeks, the logistics required to transport and organize all personnel and materials is extensive. The first shipments arrived before Christmas, and the last will leave in May,” Hans Peter Kibsgaard, COO of GSS, explains.

The Norwegian-led exercise is held every second year. Cold Response 2022 will test air, sea, and land elements and gathers more than 30,000 soldiers from 27 countries. In addition to units from all the branches of the Norwegian Armed Forces, a number of civilian directorates, units, and organizations are set to participate.

Making sure everyone arrives when and where they should and that they have the right equipment, accommodation, and food, is no small task. That means that help from strategic partners, such as GSS, is crucial.

“A lot of our contributions are connected to maritime activities, such as receiving, unloading, and loading vessels. For us, it’s important to help promote Norwegian interests and security. We benefit from having allies here, training for efficient operations in our environment. Contributing to facilitating that is in our best interest,” Hans Peter says.

Combining civilian and military experience

One of GSS’s strengths is having project managers with both civilian and military experience, providing a unique ability to deliver tailor-made solutions.

“I was used to just being served excellent logistics without even thinking about all the work that laid behind it. Experiencing the other side of it in my job in GSS is very interesting. And I think that having experienced both sides is definitely beneficial, knowing what is needed and what is noticed.”

As COO, Hans Peter oversees the strategic partnership with the Armed Forces. He has spent more than ten years as a soldier in the Naval Special Operations Commando and has participated in the Cold Response exercise several times.

Having signed the strategic agreement with the Norwegian Armed Forces in 2017, this is the third Cold Response exercise GSS contributes to. They also contributed during the 2018 Trident Juncture exercise, which was NATO’s largest exercise since 2002, hosting 50,000 participants from 31 nations.

Supporting the Armed Forces

However, GSS’ agreement with the Norwegian Armed Forces goes beyond exercises. The aim is to strengthen the Armed Forces’ operational capability and preparedness through logistical support of operations and exercises nationally and internationally, including the support of allied forces.

Polish military vessel with Polish vehicles arrives at Borg Havn, in Fredrikstad in connection with the winter exercise Cold Response 2022. Photo by the Norwegian Armed Forces.

GSS will also provide civilian coordination and management of strategic logistical cooperation in peace, crisis, conflict, and war.  In addition, they cover the Armed Forces’ need for support in planning and implementing maritime operations and maritime support for visiting units.

The company has security-cleared project managers co-located with the Norwegian Joint Logistic Support Group, who use the Grieg Group’s expertise, resources, and network to deliver its services.

One of them is Odd Are Sletten, who has been leased to the Armed Forces as acting Chief Planning and Production and Project Manager for all maintenance of the Navy’s surface vessels since June last year. You can read more about his experiences working in GSS and with the Armed Forces here.