The Norwegian government has approved further Marine Corps rotations to Norway through 2018.
"Our Marines in Norway are demonstrating a high level of cooperation with our allies," Maj. Gen. Niel Nelson, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe & Africa, said Wednesday in a statement. "The more we train together alongside one another the stronger our alliance becomes."
About 330 East Coast Marines have been training in Norway since January as part of a pilot program. They are expected to be replaced by a similar number of Marines later this year.
"We are pleased to announce that — following an initial evaluation of the limited trial-period — we are extending the USMC rotational presence for another year," Norwegian Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide announced on Wednesday.
So far, the rotation has yielded significant benefits to both the Marines and Norwegian military, Søreide said in a news release.
"The [Marine Corps] has been doing cold weather exercises in Norway for several decades, and this longstanding practice will now be continued and developed further," she said in the news release.
For the Marines in Norway, the rotation has allowed them to learn how to survive in the harsh Arctic climate, where physical exertion is much more difficult.
Since arriving in Norway, the Marines have trained at Vaernes Garnison and other spots that are closer to the border with Russia, which has strongly objected to the rotation.
But Søreide has said the British military and other allies have been coming to Norway to train for decades, she said.
"The Russians are very well aware of what it is and what it isn't," Søreide told Marine Corps Times in May. "Of course, they are using it in their propaganda and we are countering that as best we can because this is something that is not new."