U.S. Marines with II Marine Expeditionary Force, Norwegian service members and federal employees of Norway stage vehicles after off-loading them from the ARC Resolve in preparation for NATO exercise Trident Juncture in Hammernesodden, Norway, on Sept. 23, 2018. Photo by U.S. Marine Corps
Oct. 2 (UPI) -- About 700 Marines have deployed to Norway, the first deployment of a larger Marine Corps presence in the country following a request earlier this year.
The U.S. Marine Corps announced the deployment on Tuesday, which Norway announced it was anticipating in August.
The expanded rotational presence in the country was marked by a transfer-of-authority ceremony in Setermoen, Norway. The ceremony was presided over by Maj. Gen. Russell A.C. Sanborn, the commanding general of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa.
"The success of Marine Rotational Force -- Europe has enabled Marines to receive world-class cold weather and mountain warfare training, participate in a host of valuable exercises and solidify close working relationships with their Norwegian counterparts," Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway, director for communications and strategy operations for USMCFEA, told UPI.
"The United States is grateful to the Kingdom of Norway for this opportunity to extend our rotational deployments beyond 2018," Rankine-Galloway added.
The number of Marines in Norway on a rotational presence will increase from about 330 to about 700, and will aid military exercises in the Nordic area that support NATO and USEUCOM, increase interoperability with partner nations, and improve Marine Corps cold weather and mountain warfare capabilities.
In addition to learning from Norway's experts on cold weather operations, the deployment also allows the Marines to maintain a presence in several different locations -- Værnes and Setermoen, chief among them -- as well as to train with larger units, which allows for more advanced and complex training objectives to be achieved.
"As a result of continuous rotational training, U.S. Marines are better prepared to operate in the harsh Arctic climate and mountainous terrain, and to adapt and thrive in those operational environments, despite those challenges," Rankine-Galloway said.
The deployment is part of a boosted U.S. presence in order to counter potential threats from Russia. The Marine Corps has also reinstated Cold-War-era supply depots for vehicles and other supplies prepositioned for war in dug-in caves in Norway.
Norway will host a major military exercise, Trident Juncture, this fall composed of over 40,000 personnel, 130 aircraft and 70 vessels according to NATO, with the Marine Corps and Norwegian army starting to offload equipment for the exercise last week.
Trident Juncture will take place in Norway, Sweden and Finland throughout October and November.