The agreement for stationing the American troops will last for at least a year. The contingent that has come this week will be rotated in six months. The Marines will be hosted at the Vaernes base of the Norwegian Home Guards near Trondheim, Norway's third-largest city.
The stated goal of the mission is to train the US troops in Arctic warfare.
“For the first four weeks they will have basic winter training, learn how to cope with skis and to survive in the Arctic environment,” said Rune Haarstad, a Home Guard spokesman, as cited by Reuters. “It has nothing to do with Russia or the current situation.”
In March, the Marines will take part in the Joint Viking exercises, which will also include British troops, he added.
Both Norway and the US deny the notion that the deployment is meant to irk Russia as part of NATO’s wider campaign to oppose what it calls “Russian aggression” in Europe, by sending additional troops and weapons closer to the Russian border.
A founding member of the alliance, Norway pledged not to host foreign forces to allay Moscow’s concerns that it could serve as a platform for a surprise attack. For decades the Scandinavian country stashed massive stockpiles of weapons in preparation for a possible conflict, but only allowed in other allies’ troops for training purposes.Oslo dismisses the notion that the deployment goes against the old commitment, saying that American troops would be rotated rather than stationed permanently.
ATO routinely applies the same reasoning to all its deployments in Eastern Europe as a way to circumvent the alliance’s agreement with Russia, which bans permanent deployments of “significant” forces near Russia.
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