The United States Marines plan to establish a military base in northern Norway as early as January 2017. Military officials hope to establish the presence of a rotational force of 300 Marines so that NATO may quickly and rapidly aggregate and deploy forces in northern Europe. Maj. Gen. Niel E. Nelson, commander of US Marine Forces in Europe and Africa, is currently discussing the possibilities of a U.S. Marine base in the area with Norwegian officials. He the told CNN:
“We enjoy a very close relationship with the Norwegian Armed Forces and a limited rotational presence in Norway would certainly enhance this relationship and our ability to operate together,”
Spokesman for the Norwegian Defense Ministry also spoke favorably about a possible American Marine base in Norway. He told reporters that military negotiations have been ongoing but politics have sidelined any progress. He stated:
“The United States is a long-term and close ally to Norway. US participation in military exercises and training in Norway is one element in this long-standing and close security policy relationship. Considerations about how to tailor allied exercise activity in Norway is a continuous effort. A limited rotational US Marine Corps presence in Norway is a possible option currently being considered. Even though dialogue has been ongoing at the military level, the process at the political level is still ongoing, and at this time it would be premature to discuss the possible implementation of such an activity.”
The announcement comes when Russian-American tensions are at the highest they have been in decades. American politicians have accused the Kremlin of being responsible for cyberattacks and hacking targets in the U.S. while Russian military officials have stated they will shoot down any American planes that they believe may be targeting Russian allies in Syria.
U.S. Marines are no strangers to Norway or the Norwegian military. Earlier this year the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade trained in Norway alongside troops from other NATO countries in Exercise Cold Response, an exercise meant to improve relations between NATO partners.