The US Marines' rotational training and exercises currently taking place in Norway have been extended by one year to 2018, the Norwegian Defence Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide has confirmed.
Approximately 330 marines have been stationed in the Norwegian village of Vaernes on a rotational basis since January. The new arrangement will see personnel continue to rotate beyond this year, with two rotations slated for both 2017 and 2018.
US Marine Corps (USMC) Forces Europe and Africa commander major general Niel E. Nelson said that the decision to extend the presence of the marine rotational force in Norway supports the US' commitment to Nato.
It is also expected to strengthen the partnership between the two countries on defence and security.
Nelson said: “Our Marines in Norway are demonstrating a high level of cooperation with our allies.
“The more we train together alongside one another, the stronger our alliance becomes.”
Norway is considered a close ally of the US, and is reportedly set to increase its defence budget and commit to the procurement of critical capabilities.
Both countries are focused on strengthening the development of joint leaders and teams who understand the synergy of air, sea, and land power as a potent asymmetric advantage in the battlefield.
The Norwegian Parliament approved the renewal of an agreement in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Governing Prestockage and Reinforcement of Norway in 2006, which paved the way for a considerable increase of US training and exercise presence in Norway.
The US Department of Defense also confirmed the establishment of the limited rotational force presence of American marines in Norway in October.
USMC's presence in Norway has offered improved opportunities for mutual exercises and enhanced interoperability.
Various other rotational training and exercise activities have taken place at other locations in Norway, in addition to the Vaernes-based operations.
Image: US Marines, Marine Rotational Force 17.1 sailors and soldiers with Norwegian Home Guard 12 during an exercise in Norway. Photo: courtesy of Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Emily Dorumsgaard.