300 US Marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, arrived in Norway
on Monday. The deployment signals a departure from the NATO member’s
decades-old policy of not hosting foreign troops on its soil.
agreement for stationing the American troops will last for at least a
year. The contingent that has come this week will be rotated in six
months. The Marines will be hosted at the Vaernes base of the
Norwegian Home Guards near Trondheim, Norway's third-largest city.
stated goal of the mission is to train the US troops in Arctic
the first four weeks they will have basic winter training, learn how
to cope with skis and to survive in the Arctic environment,”said
Rune Haarstad, a Home Guard spokesman, as cited by Reuters. “It
has nothing to do with Russia or the current situation.”
March, the Marines will take part in the Joint Viking exercises,
which will also include British troops, he dded.
Norway and the US deny the notion that the deployment is meant to irk
Russia as part of NATO’s wider campaign to oppose what it calls
“Russian aggression” in Europe, by sending additional troops and
weapons closer to the Russian border.
founding member of the alliance, Norway pledged not to host foreign
forces to allay Moscow’s concerns that it could serve as a platform
for a surprise attack. For decades the Scandinavian country stashed
massive stockpiles of weapons in preparation for a possible conflict,
but only allowed in other allies’ troops for training purposes.
dismisses the notion that the deployment goes against the old
commitment, saying that American troops would be rotated rather than
stationed permanently. NATO routinely applies the same reasoning to
all its deployments in Eastern Europe as a way to circumvent the
alliance’s agreement with Russia, which bans permanent deployments
of “significant” forces near Russia.
US Marine Corps touted the practical benefits of a full-time
deployment as the reason for the move.
been going to Norway for 25 years. So I don't really know what the
hype is about,” Maj.
Gen. Niel Nelson, commander of Marine Corps Forces Europe and
Africa, told Military.com
ahead of the deployment. “We're
just doing our job, from a more economical standpoint. I don't put a
lot of stock in people pointing back and forth.”
putting Marines in Norway and above the Arctic Circle for 30-60 days
at a time, that's a whole different environment,” Nelson
not only learn to survive, you are surviving. It's a harsh
environment; it takes a lot of tough lessons and we reinforce that by
the length of time.”
the rotational deployment of US Marines in Norway was confirmed last
year, Russia said it was puzzled by it.
into account multiple statements of Norwegian officials about the
absence of threat from Russia to Norway, we would like to understand
for what purposes is Norway so willing to increase its military
potential, in particular through the stationing of American forces in
Russian embassy said at the time.
and Russia share a small land border far in the north. The Vaernes
base is located 1,500km from any part of Russia, but the Arctic
training program involves traveling closer to it.