Marines sent to Norway

The Hill:
A rotational force of about 330 U.S. Marines will be sent to Norway in January, increasing the U.S. troop presence in Europe at a time of heightened tensions with Russia.

The move, deliberations for which were previously reported by multiple news outlets, was officially announced Monday by the Norwegian Defense Ministry.

“The U.S. initiative to augment their training and exercises in Norway by locating a Marine Corps Rotational Force in Norway is highly welcome and will have positive implications for our already strong bilateral relationship,” Norwegian Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide said in a statement Monday.
The Marines will be stationed at the Vaernes military base in central Norway. It will be the first time a foreign military will be posted in Norway since World War II, according to Reuters.

The Marines will participate in exercises and training at the base and elsewhere in Norway, according to the Defense Ministry statement.

The deployment is being described by Norway as a trial period, and Norwegian officials will determine whether to allow it to continue beyond 2017.

Norway shares a 122-mile border with Russia in the Arctic, and the base is about 600 miles from that border.

In response to the reports that Norway was considering allowing the Marines, Russia expressed surprise at the plans.
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The Marines have rarely been stationed in Europe since the end of World War I.  Most of their overseas operations have been in the Pacific, Asia, or the Middle East, although they have recently also stationed some troops in Australia.  Norway will be a good chance to test some of their cold weather gear and how their equipment holds up in that environment.

While the Marines can reinforce the Norwegian forces in a defensive effort they are not serious threat to Russia.  If the Russians are frightened by a relative small element of Marines, I would be surprised, but it would only enhance the reputation of the Marine corps around the world if they were.

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