British soldiers at the NATO Allied Training Center in Porsanger, Norway will not be taking part in Arctic training because the temperatures fall outside of health and safety guidelines for a safe work environment.
The training center on the northern coast of Norway is used by NATO to train its forces in winter warfare. Skills taught there include “cross-country skiing, setting up base camp, cooking in the extreme cold, constructing snow shelters and learning how to survive after falling through ice,” according to The Daily Mail.
Porsanger’s commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Trond Thomassen told The Daily Mail that “British officers are not in a position to train with large divisions at Porsanger, where the temperature drops to 25 degrees below zero.” That’s minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Basically, it’s a waste of time if they go there as it’s too cold,” he continued. “The British have rules for health and safety. They would be sitting in the barracks, and receiving no training at all, whenever the mercury dropped below -20C.”
While NATO considers anything below 46 degrees Fahrenheit to be “cold winter training,” the 4,000 locals of Porsanger who raise reindeer well inside the Arctic Circle consider the concept of staying inside because it’s too cold a source of amusement.
“Eight degrees in Porsanger means a fine autumn day, but I tell them we have to remember that NATO includes nations like the Germans, Spaniards and Italians, who have a completely different climate,” Thomassen said.
Local politician Ida Kathrine Balto says she was stunned when she heard the news: “I wonder what the British would do if there was a war in winter. To my mind, you would think that a little extreme weather would provide better training for soldiers.”
The British Health and Safety Executive, which was established in 1974, is responsible for the regulation and enforcement of workplace safety. In recent years, however, it has often been derided for its kill-joy attitude and pervasive “nanny state” mentality about seeing danger in everything
Other mocked regulations include graduating students not being allowed to throw their hats in the air because somebody might be injured and banning the renting of inflatables at swimming pools out of a fear that they would spread bacteria.