Britain will be opening a military in the far north of Norway as a hub for Royal Marine Commandos to strengthen NATO’s capabilities in the Arctic, the UK has announced. The announcement comes amid concerns following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The newly-established Norwegian site, called Camp Viking, is located around 40 miles south of Tromso, near the village of Øverbygd.
The base will be able to accommodate all personnel from the elite commando-led Royal Marines force which reacts to emerging crises in Europe.
Britain’s Royal Navy described the troops as “the tip of the Arctic spear”’ and “the unit the UK turns to when it needs troops able to fight in cold weather extremes”.
The commandos build on an Arctic warfare heritage going back to the Second World War but, with the re-emergence of the High North as a key theatre, needed new facilities for a modern era, the statement said.
A statement from the Royal navy on Wednesday stated: “The camp’s location is ideal for deterring threats in the region and situated so the UK can respond rapidly if needed to protect NATO’s northern flank and its close ally, Norway.
“The camp is strategically located next to a Norwegian Armed Forces base and near to the established air base at Bardufoss where the Commando Helicopter Force operates.”
The Commando Helicopter Force is the specialist aviation support for Royal Marines.
The navy added: “A new Arctic operations base will support Britain’s commandos for the next 10 years as the UK underscores its commitment to security in the High North.”
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Around 1,000 commandos have deployed to the base this winter, which can accommodate all personnel from the UK’s Littoral Response Group (LRG).
Major Kirk Allen, Officer Commanding of the Winter Deployment said: “As the UK Commando Forces’ ‘home’ in the High North for the next decade, ‘Camp Viking’ is the focal point for delivery of Mountain and Cold Weather Warfare training and, strategically placed as a Forward Operating Base to support NATO operations.
“Its use supports Littoral Response Group regional persistent engagement with key allies and partners as a collective conventional deterrent to adversaries.”
Major Allen said the base was “capable of logistically sustaining an LRG of Royal Marines, sailors and soldiers,” and that the location offers opportunities to train in local areas and for ‘amphibious operations’.
He added: “Impressively, Norway continue to invest in the site and the capability will only increase in its potential to support Commando Forces and wider UK Defence.”
Norway, which shares a 60-mile border with Russia, has provided Ukraine with a wide range of military equipment, including artillery and ammunition.