Six military Norwegian caves currently house hundreds of U.S. tanks. These are the same classified caves that were used during the Cold War. Military gear now fills the Norwegian caves for what the U.S. Marine Corps say will be used in any upcoming crisis, as well as in training exercises.
According to the Week, the Marine Corps have been stashing military equipment in the Norwegian caves for the last 35 years. Since the early 1980s, more than 30 years after the start of the Cold War, Norway began working with the U.S. to stockpile the caves full of weapons, artillery, and tanks. The goal of this more recent military logistics operation is to simply resupply the caves with material that was used during a training exercise in early 2014.
Having equipment stored inside the Norwegian caves and so close to Russia’s border will help to speed up the U.S. military’s response time to any new tension that may occur between Russia and the Ukraine. What’s being called the Marine Corps Prepositioning Program is Washington and NATO’s response to Russia taking control of Ukraine’s Crimea region earlier this year.
Haaretz explains why Crimea was recently annexed by Russia and why Russia has a military presence in Ukraine. Even though the Crimean peninsula is currently recognized as part of Ukraine, it’s actually an independent territory that is considered pro-Russia. One arm of the Crimean island extends nearly to Russia, and Russia has future plans to build a bridge connecting itself to Crimea.
Crimea has been the home of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet of warships since the 18th century, shortly after the Crimean peninsula was absorbed into Russia. Russia then formally annexed the Crimea territory on March 18, 2014, using military force. This annexation of Ukrainian territory into Russia was considered illegal by not only Ukraine but also several world leaders.
Conflicts continue between Russia and Ukraine over ownership of the Crimean territory. Since Norway shares a border with Russia that’s over 100 miles long, the U.S. uses the military Norwegian caves to stash easily accessible equipment. Operations officer Colonel William Bentley, with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, says the cached equipment saves money and time in the event of a military confrontation with Russia.
“Any gear that is forward-deployed both reduces cost and speeds up our ability to support operations in crisis. We’re able to fall in on gear that is ready-to-go and respond to whatever that crisis may be.”
The U.S. military almost abandoned the Norwegian caves after the Cold War. But during the 1990s, the Norwegian government saved the caves by offering to maintain them at Norway’s cost, a move that has since been beneficial to NATO and the U.S., as Russia has shown to use military force to get what it wants. Norway and the U.S. hope their pre-positioning strategy will help to deter Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
Staffed by both U.S. and Norwegian personnel, the six caves are scattered throughout central Norway. The caves are modern, climate-controlled, and currently house enough military equipment for thousands of Marines. Maritime Prepositioning Force ships keep the Norwegian caves stocked with battle tanks, humvees, weapons, and artillery.
Last year, the Pentagon began updating military equipment inside the Norwegian caves. Restocking will probably continue; President Obama announced earlier in February that he plans to quadruple military spending in Europe. CNN reports that the new $3.4 billion spending plan will allow the U.S. to increase participation in future NATO military exercises, such as Norway’s own Cold Response 16 exercise, and deploy additional vehicles and supplies to parts of Europe, including continuing to increase the stash inside the military Norwegian caves.
[Image via YouTube/Military HD Videos]