OSLO, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Norway said Tuesday it supports the idea that 700 troops of the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) can practice and train in the Nordic country for five years and the activity can be expanded.
The training of around 330 U.S. Marines at the Vaernes military base in central Norway was introduced in 2017 and is to be continued until the end of 2018, the Norwegian Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
In case the dialogue about continuation succeeds, the scheme will include up to 700 U.S. Marines from 2019, who will be distributed in the Inner Troms region of northern Norway as well as in the central part of the country, according to the statement.
The scheme will be evaluated by the end of 2022, the ministry said.
It noted that the training extension is in line with Norway's long-term plan to facilitate further interaction between Norwegian and allied forces and contribute positively to the development of Norwegian Armed Forces' operational capacity.
"The defense of Norway is dependent on support from our allies in NATO, as is the case with most other NATO countries. In order for this support to work in crisis and war, we are fully dependent on exercising and practicing together in peacetime," Norwegian Minister of Defence Frank Bakke-Jensen was quoted as saying.
"We must ensure that NATO soldiers from other allied countries get experience from Norwegian circumstances and that Norwegian and allied soldiers are trained together," he said.
However, this rotation-based training should not provide a valid reason for reactions from Russia, the statement said.
"If we work on defending Norway, that should not worry anyone, just as we accept that other countries train to defend themselves," Bakke-Jensen said. "The continuation of the U.S. Marine Corps scheme is in line with Norwegian base policy."
In another statement, the Norwegian Ministry of Defence said the U.S. authorities have also proposed to build deployment platforms for four combat aircraft at the Rygge base, some 65 km south of Oslo.
This plan is part of the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI) that the United States has designed with European allies to improve the readiness of forces in Europe, the ministry said, adding that it concerns the establishment of infrastructure and not about the deployment of combat aircraft.
"It is positive news that the United States will invest in military infrastructure at Rygge. This investment will facilitate increased preparedness and rapid transfer of NATO allied forces in the event of crisis and war," Bakke-Jensen was quoted as saying.
The plan at Rygge involves establishing a hangar area for four combat aircraft as well as a taxiway, a fire protection building, lighting and signage.
The U.S. authorities are taking into consideration use of fourth generation fighter aircraft in training at Rygge if needed in future, the statement said.