Strategic Port Operation in Northern Norway: “Practicing Norway’s Role as a Transit Country Is an Historic Development”

Oberst May Brith Valen-Odlo er sjef for Trenregimentet i Hæren
Colonel May Brith Valen-Odlo is head of the Army's Trenregimentet. This unit is responsible for supporting the Army through operating the defense branch's bases. The unit also carries the main responsibility for looking after allied land and marine infantry units in connection with training, exercises, and operations. (Photo: Hilde-Gunn Bye)

Narvik (High North News): The exercise Immediate Response has commenced. Tons of US military equipment arrived in Narvik, Northern Norway, last week and is to be transported into the Nordic region for further military training. Now, Norway's role as a transit country is being practiced in light of NATO's Nordic expansion, says Colonel May Brith Valen-Odlo.

Norwegian version.

Last Wednesday, the enormous cargo ship Arc Integrity docked in the Port of Narvik in the Ofoten Fjord in Northern Norway.

The ship's arrival marked the beginning of the military exercise "Immediate Response 2024," which is part of  Defender 24, the largest U.S. Army exercise in Europe. The exercise will practice the dynamic employment of forces to Europe for NATO deterrence and enhanced readiness. 

Tons of US equipment and materials belonging to the US 10th Mountain Division have been shipped with Arc Integrity over the Atlantic to Narvik.

This is to be transported on roads and railway through Sweden and into the exercise "Northern Forest" in Finland, where the US soldiers will participate.

Immediate Response 24

Immediate Response 2024 consists of several activities from April 21st to the end of May.

During the exercise, American forces will train together with several other NATO countries.

There will be training activities in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Poland.

Frakteskipet Arc Integrity til kai i Narvik
The cargo ship Arc Integrity docked in Narvik on Wednesday morning.The Port of Narvik is a gateway to Northern Norway and the other Nordic countries in the North.

Norway as a transit country

"This operation is important within the NATO framework. It shows the Americans' ability and will to deploy rapidly and our ability to receive and be a transit country," Colonel May Brith Valen-Odlo tells High North News.

Valen-Odlo is the head of Trenregimentet in the Norwegian Army. The unit has been assigned responsibility for host country support for allies arriving in Norway if these are to operate in the Army's territory.

"In line with NATO's new plans, we could quickly become a transit country [in crisis or conflict, journ. note] to receive forces, prepare them, and send them through Sweden and Finland," she adds.

Oberst May Britt Valen-Odlo
During the port operation in Narvik, Colonel May Britt Valen-Odlo and Trenregimentet carried out host country support on behalf of the Army. (Photo: Hilde-Gunn Bye)


"And we have never really carried out this particular movement before," continues the colonel, referring to the American troop movement through the Nordic neighbor countries.

When the Armed Forces received allies at the Port of Narvik on previous occasions, the objective was training and exercising within the country's borders. Now, Norway is used as a transit country for movement into our neighbor countries that have become part of NATO," explains Valen-Odlo.

She also points out the increased significance of Ofoten and the Port of Narvik as logistic hubs in the High North, with Sweden and Finland becoming NATO members.

"We have built up a lot of infrastructure in this area and Inner Troms to receive allies here to support us, not just during training, but also in crisis and war. Thus, the Port of Narvik will be an important hub for us going forward," she says.

Humvees oppstilt utenfor frakteskipet Arc Integrity
Humvees, or High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, lined up outside the cargo ship Arc Integrity. 

The rest of the logistics operation that is being carried out in the days after the docking includes transporting large amounts of equipment by road and railway, as mentioned above.

"Between 300-350 containers and up to 250 vehicles will be transported. Some of this will be sent by train, but most of it will be sent by road," said Valen-Odlo and added:

"The Ofoten Line could easily play a bigger part. Transport by train is both cheaper and more efficient."

Major Vonnie Wright i 21st Theater Sustainment Command
Major Vonnie Wright is the Public Affairs Officer in the 21st Theater Sustainment Command in the US Army Europe and Africa (USAREUR-AF). The force contributes with support within military logistics in the US European Command's operational area.

"Setting the theatre"

Arc Integrity has sailed across the Atlantic for about two weeks. Another ship has also docked in Denmark to carry out a similar operation there. 

Most of the equipment on the Arc Integrity belong to the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division, which will participate in the exercise in Finland. This force is based in the state of Louisiana and is a CONUS-based force, which are forces based on the continental US.

Amerikansk militært materiall og kjøretøy på Arc Integrity
American military vehicles on the cargo ship Arc Integrity. The ship has equipment distributed over 8 floors.

Furthermore, the forces in question will be supported by the 21st Theather Sustainment Command of the US Army Europe and Africa.

The command sets the theater for operations, this time in the initial part of Immediate Response in Narvik.

"This entails gathering equipment and soldiers and distributing them out and further into the operational area. We are currently focusing on the High North," says Public Affairs Officer Major Vonnie Wright of the 21st Theather Sustainment Command to HNN.  

"The main portion of this part of the exercise practices how rapidly we can get the soldiers and the equipment into Europe if a crisis or conflict were to occur."

Defender 24

Defender 24 is the largest US Army exercise in Europe, and takes place from April 4th to May 31st. It is a U.S. European Command scheduled, U.S. Army Europe and Africa conducted exercise.

Involves more than 17,000 U.S. and 23,000 multi-national service members from more than 20 Allied and partner nations.

Exercise activities will take place in 13 European countries, including the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Moldova, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Romania, and Sweden.

Linked to NATO's series of exercises Steadfast Defender 2024, NATO's largest military exercise since the Cold War. The latter started on January 22nd and lasts until June. It functions as a umbrella for a series of large national and multinational exercises.

Oberstløytnant James Acevedo, sjef for 838th Transportation Battalion
Lt. Col. James Acevedo, Commander of the 838th Transportation Battalion, in the 598th Transportation Brigade of the US Army.

Cooperation and coordination

The historic movement from the US to Narvik has naturally required extensive planning on the part of the various actors on the American and Norwegian sides.

Lt. Col. James Acevedo is the Commander of the 838th Transportation Battalion, which belongs to the 598th Transportation Brigade of the US Army, and is one of the key actors in coordinating the port operation.

"I am in charge of all the ports north of the Alps in Europe. We are responsible for bringing in tens of thousands of soldiers and equipment in to support Defender 24," says the Lieutenant Colonel.

Fra frakteskipet Arc Integrity
Lt. Col. James Acevedo, Commander of the 838th Transportation Battalion, shows materials and vehicles loaded on the ship.

"Part of the mission is to make sure we are setting the conditions for the deployment of forces in support of the exercise. We have a port management team here along with a team of Port Support Activity, as well as personnel to safely drive the vehicles of the ship."

"And not least, we have support from the host nation Norway to ensure a successful deployment of the equipment and mission," concludes Acevedo.

Meanwhile, the railway tracks are just behind the ship, and the E10 into Sweden is not far away. Narvik and Ofoten are now set to become one of NATO's strategic hubs in the North.

The Norwegian Army's Trenregimentet

  • The unit is responsible for supporting the Army by operating its eight bases: Five in Troms and Finnmark and three in Eastern Norway. This includes, among other things, the operation of kitchens, infirmaries, welfare, sports, shooting and practice ranges, and occupational health services.
  • During exercises and operations, the Regiment supports the Army in the field and garrison with supplies, maintenance, and sanitation, among other things.
  • The unit is also responsible for looking after allied land and naval infantry departments in connection with training, exercises, and operations.
  • The department consists of 450 civilian and military employees and around 50 conscripted soldiers, who together make up the Army's logistics department.

Source: The Norwegian Armed Forces.

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