Defense minister downplays US pullout

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Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen is downplaying local media reports about how the US Marine Corps is withdrawing around 700 troops from Norway. He admits the Marines will have “considerably fewer soldiers in Norway on a daily basis,” but will continue to send personnel to Norway in connection with joint military exercises.

“American forces will develop their training in Norway,” insisted Bakke-Jensen in a commentary in newspaper Aftenposten. He was responding to Aftenposten’s reports of a US troop withdrawal that it deemed “dramatic.”

“It’s important to stress that US forces have never been permanently stationed in Norway,” Bakke-Jensen said, repeating the government position that’s been used to counter Russian and also some Norwegian objections to the Marines’ near-constant presence at Værnes and in Northern Norway in recent years. He added the US Marines have rather been sent on a rotation basis, which also conforms with Norwegian base policy of not allowing foreign troops on a permanent basis in peacetime.

“They (the US military) will continue to send a considerable number of soldiers here in connection with exercises,” Bakke-Jensen stated, adding that the US military will also maintain storage of defense equipment in Norway that can be used in the case of crisis and when NATO needs support.

newsinenglish.no staff