More US Marines Heading To Norway in 2019.

The US Marine presence in Norway will be doubled from 2019. Breaking Defense (3 July 2018) quoted Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen as saying:

“The Norwegian government has decided to welcome continued USMC rotational training and exercises in Norway with a volume of up to a total of 700 marines for a period of up to 5 years.

 Marines were first deployed in 2017 for training and exercises with the Norway military in response to concerns over further Russian adventures after the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Russia was not happy about the initial deployment, and is no more pleased with this action, describing the move as destabilizing. Norway has a border of roughly 100 miles with Russia, and the US Marines will be stationed 250 miles from that border according to a CNN report.

The US and Norway have an equipment prepositioning agreement dating back to 2006. Massive amounts of equipment to be used by reinforcing troops in the event of a major crisis are stored in 7 underground locations.

Joint training has already provided “benefits” to the US side in the form of cold-weather equipment failures. Training exercises have shown US Marine equipment to be in need of major upgrades to deal with real arctic conditions such as those that exist in the Nordic countries. The Marine command has investigated the equipment failures and taken steps to get better and modified gear into the supply pipeline.

Not only equipment but US doctrine has focused on desert/mountain operations for the last decade, but now attention must shift to the Nordic countries and to Arctic warfare, very different from the heat and dust of the Middle East and Asia. 

NATO and Russia’s neighbors are maintaining vigilance, and the US commitment to “boots on the ground,” even if ostensibly just for training, must be a welcome development.

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