Norway shares a 120-mile land border with Russia. And at the same time a heavily-armed Russian convey draws ever closer to eastern Ukraine — raising the possibility of another escalation in the Ukraine’s already-restive east — the U.S. Marine Corps is re-supplying a vital pre-positioning site in central Norway.
The Norwegian pre-positioning program began in 1981, after Norway’s leaders decided that the deterrent effect of a U.S. weapons stash was worth the potential complications of becoming such a close adjunct of the U.S.’s Cold War defense policies. This was a particularly tense period of the Cold War, just after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Today, the Marines still store weapons and materiel in six climate-controlled caves in Trondheim, in central Norway. The Trondheim complex is designed to support a “notional” battle-ready contingent of 16,000 Marines and sailors with 30-days worth of supplies.
The Trondheim stash was a Cold War development, and a relic of a time when Norway was one of NATO’s front-line states with the Soviet Union. A 1991 Rand corporation report reviewed a number of Soviet invasion scenarios of Norway and determined that along the country’s rocky and easily-garrisoned coastline, a single NATO brigade could hold off an entire Soviet division.