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Major Hans Petter Loeken [left] and Capt. Kay Bjornar Oyas, both officers on the Norwegian defense staff, show their excitement before their first Osprey ride May 10, 2011. The visitors are departing from Miramar to the Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport for their annual orientation tour.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Dietz

Allies conduct annual tour of training areas

3 Jun 2011 | Lance Cpl. Sarah Dietz

The United States and Norway have been allies since 1949, working together to improve each other’s military, store and maintain each other’s equipment, and build stronger bonds between the nations through an agreement called the Marine Corps Prepositioning Program Norway.

In support of the MCPP-N, annual orientation tours are conducted to the training areas home to each partner nation.

Nine Norwegian officers, involved in the MCPP-N, were given the opportunity, May 7 to May 14, to see the multiple angles of training the Corps covered, such as the desert sands and Enhanced Mojave Viper of the Combat Center, a flight in an Osprey from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, the high altitude training of the Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport, and the very beginnings of a Marine’s journey in the Marine Corps, Recruit Depot San Diego.

“We are trying to give them an overall view of the Marine Corps,” said Kevin Finch, a prepositioning analyst for Headquarters Marine Corps. “We are also displaying capabilities that we have to honor our agreement to reinforce Norway should the [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] northern rank need reinforced.” The alliance the two nations hold is greatly beneficial for each country as they consider financial and defensive issues.

“It’s important to them because they are pretty dependent on NATO assisting them should they ever get invaded,” Finch said. “It’s important to us because we have about a [Marine Expeditionary Unit] worth of equipment prepositioned over there in Norway and they pay for half the program. It is very cost effective to us.”

On a deeper level, the visit went further than annual protocol. The visit encouraged camaraderie among the nations and an interaction that promoted a positive understanding of each other, a rare opportunity for the nations.

“It is very important to see a bolder perspective of what the U.S. Marine Corps is doing,” said Capt. Oystein Wemberg, a member of Norway’s defense staff. “It is also important to meet the people here to have a better connection and relationship. It is [beneficial] to see the facilities so we have a better understanding of the daily work [concerning] the prepositioning program for Norway. It has really been amazing here.”

The MWTC facility’s location held a unique appeal for the Norwegian officers.

The snow capped mountains and cold weather training courses ignited a certain interest and familiarity among them.

“Bridgeport was important because it is a mountain training and cold weather operations [environment], which are Norwegian specialties, so that was very interesting for us to see,” Wemberg said.

Wemberg also said the trip was very informative, and above all, very impressive.

“Everything we have seen so far is according to our expectations. The honor, pride and professionalism of the Marine Corps is great,” he added.

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