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Army prepares for worst on trip to Arctic Circle

THE Army are preparing for the worst possible weather conditions as they excercise with the Nordic Battlegroup in Sweden.

Up to 150 soldiers have been undergoing training in remote, heavily forested areas over the past month.

Battlegroups are a key part of the EU's military capabilities but training also helps in Arctic conditions here.

They are comprised of a national or multinational force of 1,500 troops with associated combat supports. Each battlegroup has its own headquarters and transport and supply arrangements.

"The Defence Forces will be on-call for the first six months of next year and the Irish officers will provide the ISTAR element to the Battlegroup," a Defence Forces spokesperson told the Herald.

"The strength of the Irish presence will be around the 150 mark.

"Overall command of the group is held by the Swedish army. We will be on standby to be deployed in areas outside the European Union within five days of the order to deploy."

The force headquarters for the Nordic battlegroup is in Enkoping in Sweden, and the operational headquarters is in Northwood in Britain.

There will be about 15 Irish personnel split between the two locations and a further 15 ready to deploy.

The ISTAR element of the mission -- that the Irish contingent will provide -- stands for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance.

ISTAR is a practice that links several battlefield functions together to assist a combat force in employing its sensors and managing the information they gather. The Nordic Battlegroup (NBG) is one of 18 EU battlegroups and has military personnel from Ireland, Sweden, Estonia, Norway and Finland.