U.S. Marines have kicked off a training operation in Iceland, conducting an air assault drill and battling the elements in the island nation’s picturesque environment.
Approximately 2,000 Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit are participating in the Iceland operations, which started Wednesday as part of Exercise Trident Juncture.
The Marines are joined by as many sailors, serving aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima, amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall and amphibious transport dock ship USS New York.
Together, the combined force plans on highlighting the power of the NATO alliance when it comes to amphibious operations.
“Trident Juncture is all about showcasing NATO as a defensive alliance, demonstrating our credible capability and deterring potential adversaries,” said Marine spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway.
“Ultimately, we want to demonstrate the Navy-Marine team’s ability to respond faster from longer ranges with greater capabilities across the range of military operations than other conventional forces.”
During the air assault portion Wednesday, Marines loaded into CH53E Super Stallion helicopters and MV-22 tiltrotor aircraft aboard ships, landed near the coast of the island and secured the area by setting up a bridgehead for further operations.
Next the Marines are heading inland to conduct cold weather training among Iceland’s jet-blue glaciers.
As Iceland has no standing armed forces of its own, Americans troops are being aided by Icelandic police and coast guard.
“[Iceland’s] landscape provides us with distinctive training opportunities, and we are appreciative to the government of Iceland for allowing us to conduct this portion of Trident Juncture in their country.” Rankine-Galloway said.
The Navy and Marines plan to continue amphibious operations in conjunction with Exercise Trident Juncture later this month in Norway, where a mock amphibious assault is planned.
About 50,000 NATO troops are taking part in this year’s exercise, the alliance’ largest exercise since 2002.
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