The Norwegian Defense Ministry Wednesday, Aug. 15 released a press statement stating that the United States will implement plans to more than double its military presence in Norway and possibly open a new military base as early as this year.
The ministry press release says “U.S. & Norwegian authorities recently agreed to extend & increase the rotational training & exercises in Norway for units from the U.S. Marine Corps.’ –
NEW BASE EXPECTED
“As a result, the arrangement will continue beyond 2018 and may include up to 700 US marines. In addition to planned activity at Vaernes, a 2nd location at Setermoen will be added, with additional US marines at Setermoen slated for the fall of this year,” said the ministry release.
Of the American military increase, Norway’s Defense Minister Frank Bakke Jensen commented Wednesday, saying “The US authorities have recently confirmed that they’re happy to continue and increase the rotation-based training & practice within Norway for units from the U.S. Navy Marine Corps.’ –
“This means that the scheme will continue beyond 2018 and could include up to 700 soldiers, distributed at Værnes in Trøndelag and Setermoen in Indre Troms,”said minister Jensen.
The purpose of the U.S. military extension & continuation of the training-scheme is to improve communications and interactions between the Norwegian military and Norway’s military allies.
But the increased American military presence has also met criticism. Norway’s Socialist Left Party (SV) believes that “Norway is best-served byhaving a strong Norwegian military presence in the North, not American soldiers.”
Norway’s Labor Party (Ap) has emphasized that an increased American military presence in the north must not be at the expense of Indre Troms’ Norwegian soldiers.
Critics are also questioning if an increased American presence really contributes to increased security for Norway at a time when America’s relationship with Russia is seemingly cooling.
Russia’s embassy to Norway complains that this military agreement between Norway & the U.S. contravenes the assurances that Norway gave the Soviet Union in 1949 that no foreign combat troops would be stationed in Norway.
The stationing of US troops “contravenes the Norwegian promise to Russia in 1949 when it joined NATO,” stated Oslo’s Russian embassy.
NO PERMANENT U.S. BASE
Norway’s foreign minister Ine Eriksen Søreide (H) dismisses these Russian claims, reaffirming the Norwegian government position that the U.S. marines training within Norway shouldn’t be seen as a permanent U.S. military base.
“The Russians are very well aware of what this is and isn’t,” minister Søreide told Marine Corps Times in May, 2018. “Of course, they’re using this in their propaganda and we are countering that propaganda as best we can.’ –
“That Norway concurrently trains with her military allies isn’t something new.”- concluded minister Søreide.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today