US Marines to Have a Long-term Presence in Norway amid Russian Provocations
Norway, which has close military ties to the United States, is expected to approve the latter's request it deploy a force of up to 300 U.S. Marines to be rotated out of bases some distance from Norway's border with Russia.
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The Marines are expected to be deployed to a military compound some 700 miles from the Russian-Norwegian border, said Norwegian media. The U.S. request still has to be approved by the "Storting," or the Norwegian Parliament.
The U.S. plan doesn't call for a permanent basing of U.S. troops in Norway. Instead, the Marines will be rotated so as to maximize training opportunities, as well as equipment storage.
The Marines already store tanks, artillery and other armored vehicles in climate-controlled caves in Norway as part of a prepositioning program dating back to the Cold War. Basing equipment in-country reduces logistics costs and also provides a readily available supply of weapons, ammunition and other military necessities.
The United States European Command sees building-up weapons stockpiles as a key part of its strategy to establish a more combat-ready force. United States Army Europe (USAREUR) is also pre-positioning tanks, artillery and other fighting vehicles at locations throughout Europe.
"It always takes time to deploy forces to a certain area. When you have the equipment pre-positioned, you can fly in the personnel and you will be faster and ready to conduct operations, so that's always the advantage of having (the stocks) in Norway," said Maj. Gen. Yngue Odlo, Chief of Norwegian Defense Staff Operations.
Over the past few years, Marines have relied on rotational units to enhance their forward presence in Europe, especially in the Black Sea region. In addition, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Forces are situated in Moron, Spain for crisis-response missions to Africa.
Norway is extensively used by NATO forces for cold weather training so its soldiers can survive and operate in harsh and freezing weather. Troops are taught practical skills such as skiing, using snowshoes, building snow caves and surviving avalanches.