Thursday 13 June, 2024
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UK opens new military base in Northern Norway

The UK has recently opened a new military base in Northern Norway, called Camp Viking, to strengthen its presence and capabilities in the Arctic region. The base will serve as a hub for Royal Marines Commandos, who are trained and equipped to operate in extreme cold weather conditions. The base is part of the UK’s commitment to NATO and its close ally Norway, as well as a response to the growing security challenges posed by Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere.

Camp Viking is located in Øverbygd, about 40 miles south of Tromsø, and can accommodate all personnel from the commando-led Littoral Response Group (LRG) (North), which is designed to operate alongside NATO and UK Joint Expeditionary Force partners in the High North and Baltic Sea regions. The base will remain open for 10 years, as Norway does not host permanent bases for foreign soldiers. The facilities will be used to support mountain and cold weather warfare training, as well as act as a forward operating base to support NATO operations.

The UK Royal Navy said that Camp Viking’s location was ideal for deterring threats in the region and situated so that the UK can respond rapidly if needed to protect NATO’s northern flank and Norway. The camp is strategically located near the Norwegian Army’s Skjold Base and the airbase at Bardufoss, where the Commando Helicopter Force that supports Royal Marines in their operations is established. Around a thousand commandos have deployed to the base this winter.

Norway’s defense ministry said that the camp was Norwegian and financed through Norwegian infrastructure and operational funds. It also said that the facility had previously been used by NATO allies and then Dutch Marines. Norway, which shares a 123-mile border with Russia, has provided Ukraine with a wide range of military equipment, including artillery and ammunition. It also regularly hosts allied troops for combat training in extreme cold.

The opening of Camp Viking comes amid heightened tensions between NATO and Russia over Ukraine, where Moscow has launched a full-scale invasion since January 2023. The conflict has prompted Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership in May 2022, turning away from their policies of military non-alignment. The UK has also increased its military presence and cooperation with other allies in Eastern Europe, such as Poland, Romania, and Estonia.

The UK’s defense secretary Ben Wallace said that Camp Viking demonstrated the UK’s “unwavering commitment” to NATO and its allies. He also said that it showed that “the Royal Marines are ready for anything”. The commander of LRG (North), Colonel Simon Rogers RM said that Camp Viking was “a game-changer” for his troops. He added that “it gives us an enduring presence here on NATO’s northern flank – allowing us to train harder than ever before alongside our Norwegian counterparts”.

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