The allied winter training continues in Northern Norway with forces from the US Marine Corps. "For Norway, this is a very important allied unit", says Lieutenant General Yngve Odlo, Chief of the Norwegian Joint Headquarters.
Even though the Norwegian-led NATO exercise Cold Response has officially ended, there will still be high Allied activity in Northern Norway.
On Monday, the first units from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (22 MEU) arrives in Tromsø and inner Troms, the Norwegian Armed Forces writes in a press release. The 22 MEU force consists of around 800 American soldiers and will train in Northern Norway in the weeks after Easter.
The Armed Forces states that this is part of the allied winter training that takes place in Norway and that it has been planned well in advance, long before the war in Ukraine.
"For Norway, this is a very important allied unit from the US Marine Corps, says Lieutenant General Yngve Odlo, Chief of the Norwegian Joint Headquarters (NJHQ).
"Reception and joint training with allied forces is very important for the Armed Forces and contributes to significantly increased operational capability. Norway, and especially parts of Nordland and Troms, are sought-after training areas for several of our allied countries' forces", Lieutenant General Odlo adds.
Aircraft carrier arrives
The exercise activity will mainly take place in inner Troms, at Setermoen and Bardufoss with associated firing ranges. The larger vessels will arrive at Grøtsund and Narvik harbor during weeks 15 and 16.
Lieutenant Colonel Ivar Moen at the NJHQ confirms to the newspaper Nordlys that USS Kearsarge is on its way to Grøtsund on Monday. The USS Kearsarge will be the largest warship that has ever been at the quay in Tromsø, the newspaper writes. The vessel is a full 258 meters long and has a flight deck of 41 meters.
As High North News has previously written in a number of articles, the US military has shown increasing interest in the High North in recent years. Much of the interest is about training in the cold and under Arctic conditions with allies, such as Norway.
The marine forces arriving in Norway will focus a.o. on winter training.
"With Norway as the Center of Excellence Cold Weather Operations (COE-CWO) in NATO, this is natural and desirable. The arrival and training 22 MEU will carry out in the coming weeks, is the start of a longer period of much allied training in Norway, with countries land, naval and air forces. The increased activity will last until the summer," the Armed Forces writes.
22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (22 MEU)
A rapid reaction force from the US Marine Corps
It is a land, sea and air composite unit consisting of several different amphibious vessels, including a landing helicopter dock (LHD), multi-role amphibious assault vessel, infantry units, several different types of helicopter, logistics and management
Number of soldiers: 800
Vessel: USS Kearsarge / USS Gunston Hall / USS gravely
Helicopter: MV-22, AH-1Z, UH-1Y
Source: The Norwegian Armed Forces.