US Marines are considering Værnes as the main base in Europe
The US Marines will consider increasing their presence in Norway and may make the airport in Nord-Trøndelag a major European base.
The Norwegian Government has an agreement with the US authorities that up to 330 navy soldiers can run rotation-based deployment and training in Norway for 2017. From the Norwegian side it has always been stated that the stationing is not to be permanent.
Communications Consultant at the Ministry of Defense, Lars Gjemble, confirms to VG that Norway and the United States are now discussing the usefulness of continuing this agreement beyond 2017.
If Værnes becomes the main base in Europe for the US Navy forces, it may incur a doubling of today’s 330 soldiers.
– Our current strength in Europe is set to about 650 marines, and this force can be placed here, says Marine Corps commander of US forces in Europe, Gen. Niel E. Nelson to the website military.com, which first publicized the news.
Lars Gjemble wishes to defuse the issue. He emphasizes that no decision have been made yet, when asked by NTB
– The Naval Corps rotation-based training and practice at Værnes is a test scheme that works well today and is being evaluated. It is too early to comment on whether the scheme will be continued and what shape or form may be, he says.
When US forces landed in January there were major protests from Russia, which accused Norway to worsen security in Europe by allowing US troops in Norway.
Member of Parliament for the Socialists (SV), Lars Haltbrekken, fears that a stationing of US forces may worsen Norway’s relations with Russia, and is particularly concerned because Donald Trump is the American president.
– One of the things we fear with the rotational force that is that it will be turned into a permanent stationing.
– We will then get American soldiers on Norwegian soil under the leadership of Donald Trump, a rather unstable president.
– We fear that it will worsen the relationship with Russia, the MP told NRK
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today