National Geographic : 1971 Jul
We drove through the gates of brigade headquarters at Bardufoss, astride the narrow mountainous neck of Norway. Here stands the main line of defense against possible attack from the northeast, across the open wastes of Finnmark, which stretches to the border with the Soviet Union. It is also a training base for army recruits, most of whom spend 9 of their 12 months of compulsory service here. "Few of them like it," the brigade com mander, Col. Ivar Fr0ystad, told me can didly. "We are not a military-minded people, and this is tough country up here, especially in winter. But the troops accept it as a chore that has to be done." My arrival coincided with a brigade dress parade on the broad concrete airstrip at Bardufoss. As I watched Norwegian armor 28 and infantry pass in review, I was struck not by spit-and-polish elegance, but by a more impressive air of ease, the swing of confidence. DECK HANDS aboard Star III showed the same self-certainty as they cast off from the Skjelnan whaling station near Troms0. And for a week I lived the life of a Norwegian whaleman: in good weather, a life of numbing boredom spiced only by the infrequent glimpse of a distant, elusive spout. In unkind seas it is a cold, wet, pitching night mare of grasping for the next handhold. As the nightless summer days slid by, a vague sense of urgency grew aboard Star III. The ship was fueled and provisioned for ten days-a costly voyage if we should return empty-handed. I, too, found myself scanning the eternally silver sea for hours on end.