Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Shawn Snow / Marine Corps Times – 2018-09-05 22:50:58
US Marines in Sweden to Prepare Major NATO Exercise
Fall Wargames Will Be Largest
Amphibious Exercise in Over a Decade
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
US Marines and Swedish Forces Attack:
Footage from Aurora 17 Joint Exercise. December 5, 2017
(September 5, 2018) — The latest in a series of major NATO wargames aimed at Russia, US Marines are in Sweden to gear up for the Archipelago Endeavor, an amphibious wargame across Sweden and Norway which is being described as NATO’s largest in over a decade.
The exercise spans an area full of small islands and coastal areas. Officials say an expected 40,000 NATO troops will take part, and dozens of warships. Exactly how much US presence there will be is unclear, but in preparatory stages, it is only a small number of Marines.
Either way, big NATO wargames in Scandinavia are seen as another hostile action toward Russia. Russian Foreign Ministry officials complained the exercises are meant to practice amphibious landings and offensive capabilities of NATO forces.
NATO doesn’t appear to really be disputing this, having presented the operation as simulating a “high intensity conflict” with a “comparable enemy” in “northern latitudes.” The only such enemy in northern latitudes would, of course, be Russia.
Marines Are on Sweden’s Coast
Preparing for Largest NATO Exercise as Russia Grumbles
Shawn Snow / Marine Corps Times
(September 4, 2018) — About 75 US Marines are training with Swedish counterparts to conduct raids and amphibious operations in Sweden’s complicated coastal terrain, which consists of thousands of small islands known as the Stockholm archipelago.
The exercise, dubbed Archipelago Endeavor, is a run-up to one of NATO’s largest exercises in more than a decade, known as Trident Juncture, slated to kick off later this fall. The Norway-hosted exercise is expected to include nearly 40,000 NATO forces and dozens of ships.
But views from Moscow see the impending large-scale offensive and defensive NATO maneuvers in the Scandinavian region as a potential header for a war with Russia.
“The troops and equipment of the alliance members and individual partner countries will be used on land, at sea and in the air to improve the skills of defensive and, crucially, offensive operations in the northern latitudes in case of a ‘high intensity’ conflict with a ‘comparable enemy,'” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in an Aug. 30 briefing.
“This demonstration of military potential will unfold in the immediate proximity to Russian borders and has a clear anti-Russian nature,” she said.
Tensions in the region already are on edge following a decision this summer by Norway to double the US Marine rotational training presence to 700. Moscow warned of consequences and even described the move as an attack.
While Sweden is nonaligned country and not a NATO member, the country will be participating in the upcoming Trident Juncture exercise. Archipelago Endeavor affords the US and Sweden to hone various skill sets before the coming large-scale NATO training evolution.
In May, Finland and Sweden both signed onto a letter with the US pledging to build upon a security relationship such as increasing exercises and training.
The push for more formal ties with the US came in reaction to Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine.
Currently, about 75 US Marines and 170 Swedish marines are training in the Stockholm archipelago working on raids and amphibious operations using Sweden’s CB-90 assault craft, according to Marine spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway.
The exercise also allows Marines to get their hands on Sweden’s Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle. The Corps plans to equip its grunts in the coming year with the Gustaf as it phases out the Mk 153 Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon, also known as the SMAW or SMAW MoD 2.
The three-week training event is scheduled to last to September 8.
“Archipelago Endeavor stands as a prime example of partners working together, and the growth of the mutually-beneficial defense relationship between the US and Sweden,” Rankine-Galloway, said in an emailed statement to Marine Corps Times. “These engagements improve the US military’s ability to support our allies and partners, and rapidly respond in times of threat or crisis.”
Russia Argues the Marine Corps’ Beefed-up
Presence in Norway Is an Attack
Shawn Snow / The Marine Corps Times
(June 18, 2018) — Russia just can’t let it go that Norway recently decided to invite several hundred more Marines to the region for cold-weather training.
Last week, the Russian Embassy in Norway warned of consequences and on Friday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed the Corps’ presence in the Arctic country may, in fact, be an attack.
Norway recently agreed to boost the number of Marines in the country from 330 to 700 and opened a second training area closer to the Russian border in the Troms region.
Russia argues Oslo’s decision is in violation of agreements the Scandinavian country made when it joined NATO in 1949. Norway agreed not to base permanent foreign forces in the country unless threatened or attacked.
“But what attack is it possible to talk about today? As is known, top-level Norwegian officials have repeatedly noted that Russia presents no threat,” Zakharova said. “Considering the fact that US Marines are deployed in Norway, perhaps it is the United States that has attacked this country?”
The Marine Corps has been sending a small rotational force of about 300 Marines to the Arctic country for extreme cold-weather training.
The Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller, has often said that the Corps has been out of the cold-weather business for a long time, and the top Marine has openly pursued increasing cold-weather training opportunities in Norway.
Currently, a handful of Marines with 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment are in Norway for a six-month rotation. It is the Corps’ third iteration to the Arctic nation since re-starting cold-weather training in the region.
On June 12, Neller told audience members at the Naval War College in Rhode Island that the Corps would send 300 Marines currently in Romania to Norway.
“Arguments that US forces are rotated, rather than permanently deployed, should mislead no one because service personnel will, nevertheless, be permanently stationed on a rotation basis. This should be clearly understood,” Zakharova said.
Analysts contend the Corps’ presence in Norway is a deterrence force should Russia decide to launch an attack. The Corps has been storing gear in a series of caves in Norway to equip a Marine Air-Ground Task Force if a war were to break out on the European continent.
In the fall, Norway will host one the largest NATO exercises known as Trident Juncture. The exercise will involve up to 40,000 participants.
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