The Corps is calling it quits on its year-round presence in Norway, opting for more spread out and potentially larger deployments instead.
The new deployment cycle will be shorter and spaced out, attempting to line up deployments with Norwegian exercises and provide more flexibility within the Corps, Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a spokesman for U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, told Marine Corps Times in an emailed statement.
“Marines will deploy from the United States to Norway for shorter deployments in order to better synchronize their training with Norwegian forces and to allow for increased opportunities for large-scale exercises of Marine Corps tactical units,” Rankine-Galloway said in the statement. “We are not drawing down and, at times, will have a greater number of Marines here than before, within the terms of the agreement between the United States and Norway.”
The deployment of nearly 700 Marines to Norway is the Corps' first expanded rotation to the region.
Norway as a NATO ally plays a key role in the U.S. current defense posture that focuses on the “near peer” competitors like Russia and China.
In 2018, when Norway invited more Marines to the Arctic country for training, Russia issued threats.
Russia warned that the increased number of Marines in the nation could “increase tension, and cause an arm’s race destabilizing the situation in northern Europe,” Marine Corps Times previously reported.
Later in 2018 700 Marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, deployed to Norway.
The new deployments will have a less consistent size than those currently in the country.
The first, scheduled for mid-October, will only have roughly 400 Marines, Rankine-Galloway said.
But a second deployment scheduled January 2021 to March 2021 will see roughly 1,000 Marines sent to the country, Rankine-Galloway said.
Though the timing of the announcement comes as the U.S. is removing nearly 12,000 U.S. service members from Germany, Rankine-Galloway said the Norway changes are completely unrelated.
Instead, the move is meant to align with Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger’s plan to increase the Corps’ integration with the Navy.
“This change in deployment models will enable U.S. Marine Corps forces to achieve the appropriate balance between arctic warfare training in Norway and large-scale unit training as a naval expeditionary force,” Rankine-Galloway said.
“Central to the Commandant’s Planning Guidance is an increased emphasis on integration with the U.S. Navy, with Marine Corps operations firmly in support of naval campaigns,” he added.