The Norwegian government has approved a limited rotational force agreement with the United States Marine Corps (USMC). The agreement involves a rotational force presence of approximately 330 Marines in Vaernes, Central Norway, from January 2017.
"This is important for Norwegian security, and for the expertise of the Norwegian Armed Forces", says Major General Yngve Odlo, chief for the Operational Division in the Norwegian Defence Staff.
"Norway is a small country, and it is vital for us that allied forces train and exercise under Norwegian weather conditions. The US has been a close ally and an important partner for many years, and this is a continuation of our long-lasting and excellent cooperation", Odlo adds.
American and other allied forces have long traditions for exercising and training in Norwegian climate, including multinational exercises like Cold Response.
"The USMC wants to re-establish and strengthen its Arctic expertise. The British Royal Marines have trained regularly in Norway in recent years, and their experience is 'if you master the Arctic, you will master anything'", Odlo says.
The centre of the US training activity will be Vaernes in Central Norway, but the Americans will also train in other parts of the country.
Following an initial evaluation during the trial-period in 2017, the Norwegian government will determine how to proceed with the USMC rotational presence beyond 2017.
A win-win situation
Major General Odlo points out that the Norwegian Armed Forces will benefit greatly from the rotational force agreement with the US. Norwegian and US personnel will exercise and train together, which will provide new and enhanced competence for both countries. The USMC is also a large organisation within the American military, and the rotation concept will ensure that many in the USMC get to experience the challenging Norwegian winter conditions.
"If we are to operate effectively along with American forces abroad and in Norway, we need to train and exercise with them in advance. We appreciate that they wish to come to us for training, and this is a win-win situation for both parties", Odlo says.