Norway opposition leaders addressed country’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg, demanding answers about the United States’ Marine Corps’s presence in northern parts of their country.
“There are questions for the government to answer here. It is clear the defense forces needs more funding to improve capabilities and adequately defend Norway. One wonders if US troops are going to be used to plug gaps and weaknesses in Norway’s defenses,” said Liv Signe Navarsete, the Centre Party’s spokesperson on defense.
Earlier in July, Defense Minister of Norway Ine Eriksen Søreide announced that, after the initial test period launched in January, the presence of the US Marines in Norway will be extended.
“We are pleased to announce that — following an initial evaluation of the limited trial-period — we are extending the USMC rotational presence for another year,” she said at the time, according to Business Insider.
This relocation of United States troops was the first time a foreign soldier with weapons was stationed on Norwegian soil since World War II.
Curiously, it was also the first time 330 Marines were deployed outfitted with suppressors on every single weapon.
Needless to say, Russia vehemently criticized such demarche as a step toward raising hostilities between Russia and NATO even further.
“We consider that this step contradicts Norwegian policy of not deploying foreign military bases in the country in times of peace,” the Russian Embassy in Norway wrote in June in a statement to Reuters. Indeed, despite being a NATO member, Norway has always preferred to abstain from deploying foreign troops on its soil in peacetime.
Norwegian politicians are also skeptical about this change of government policy.
“There has been no real debate about the role of US forces. There is concern that we may be looking at a significant shift in Norwegian defense policy without an informed debate,” says Audun Lysbakken, leader of the Socialist Left party, according to Defense News.
The inquiry of the Socialist Left party is also supported by Centre Party and the Red Party, another left-wing party.
The Socialist Left Party has repeatedly criticized the decision to station US Marines in Norway. In June, Lars Haltbrekken announced the party’s stance to national broadcaster NRK:
“The deployment… shows the government [is] more concerned with being well-liked by the Americans and in NATO than by conducting responsible security policy,” he said in an interview, according to Newsweek.
However, newly appointed Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen referred to the deployment as part of “force-strengthening measures” that are supposed to serve as “evidence of the government’s long-term commitment to robustly “defending Norway’s borders.”