By: Kyle James | 06-13-2018 | News
Photo credit: NTB Scanpix/Ned Alley

Norway - Government Wants To Double US Marines Presence

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Following the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the government in Oslo has become increasingly concerned about Russia. The fear prompted some 330 U.S. Marines to be stationed in Norway in January 2017 to train for fighting in the cold winter climate of the country. The Marine contingent was scheduled to leave Norway at the end of this year but now their departure is being reconsidered.

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The 300 U.S. Marines were the first foreign troops to be stationed in the NATO-member country Norway since World War Two. The initial arrival of the Marines didn't sit well with Russia and Moscow vowed it would only make bilateral relations worse and escalate tensions between NATO and Russia in the region.

Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said in a public statement that the decision did not mean the U.S. would be establishing a permanent base in Norway and was adamant the move was not intended to provoke Russia. The decision was largely supported by the Norwegian parliament, the Foreign Minister said, "There are no American bases on Norwegian soil." Oslo is expected to request an additional 700 Marines from Washington by 2019, a large jump from the current number of 330 troops in the country.

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To add to the tensions between Norway and Russia, the additional 700 Marines would be stationed closer to the Russian border in the Inner Troms region in the Norwegian Arctic instead of central Norway. The initial posting of the troops was scheduled to run for six months starting in January of 2017 but was updated to last for a five-year period last June.

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<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">NTB Scanpix/Ned Alley</span>

The U.S. is also planning to build infrastructure that would allow up to four U.S. fighter jets at a base 40 miles south of Oslo. The new fighter jet base is part of a European deterrence initiative that was prompted by Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014. Norway maintains the expanded invitation is about training and improving NATO fighting capability. Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen said, "Allies get better at training together."

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