About 700 Marines out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, just kicked off the Corps’ largest yet deployment to Norway as part of its continuing rotational presence to train in cold-weather environments.

The Marines of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines are part of the Corps’ first expanded rotational presence to the Arctic country, spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway said in an emailed statement Monday. It’s also the Corps' fourth and largest six-month iteration to Norway.

Over the summer, the government of Norway agreed to expand the Corps’ footprint in the region, nearly doubling the rotation size to 700.

That decision set off a firestorm from Russia, who decried the move and vowed consequences.

Marines are in Norway learning how to survive and fight in extreme cold-weather environments and are working with partner forces on Arctic warfare.

“The Marine Corps rotational presence in Norway facilitates military exercises in the Nordic regions that: supports NATO and USEUCOM [US European Command] campaign plans; increases interoperability with Allies and partners; and improves the Marine Corps' cold weather and mountain warfare proficiencies,” Rankine-Galloway said.

Norway is currently gearing up for a major NATO exercise dubbed Trident Juncture expected to kick off near the end of October. That exercise will be NATO’s largest in nearly 20 years, with roughly 40,000 troops.

Marines with II Marine Expeditionary Force and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, or MEU, will be participating in the upcoming large-scale NATO exercise.

Last week II MEF Marines and the MEU loaded and embarked equipment to include trucks and armored vehicles for Trident Juncture.

The deployment to Norway was slightly interrupted by Hurricane Florence.

Marines with 3/8 will replace 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, who just wrapped up their nearly six-month deployment to Norway.

“The U.S. has a long and close relationship with our NATO Ally Norway on defense and security cooperation and through its continued rotational deployment, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines will continue this proud tradition,” Rankine-Galloway said.

Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.

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