Concerns about increasing global tensions were not eased when recent remarks by the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps became public this week.
As The Hill reported, Gen. Robert Neller was in Norway addressing Marines stationed there when he delivered a grim forecast of the international climate.
“I hope I’m wrong, but there’s a war coming,” he said.
Neller was stressing the geopolitical importance of a presence in Norway during his visit, according to Military.com.
He indirectly pointed to Russia, among other global actors, as possible threats in the near future. That would possibly put any battalion stationed in Norway, a recently introduced rotation for the Marines, in position to respond to the “big-a– fight” Neller believes is coming.
While he also mentioned the Pacific theater as a likely global hot spot, much of his rhetoric seemed to reference Russia.
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps @18thSMMC and I visited Marines training in Norway today. Disciplined, fit, and well-led Marines and Sailors who are representing our Corps and Nation with honor. Stay ready! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Semper Fidelis pic.twitter.com/F4QrTtQ8Zm
— Robert B. Neller (@GenRobertNeller) December 20, 2017
That narrative was repeated by Marine Corps Sergeant Major Ronald Green, who said the situation on the ground for those stationed in Norway could change without notice.
“Just remember why you’re here,” he said. “They’re watching. Just like you watch them, they watch you.”
The small Marine footprint in the nation could easily increase should circumstances warrant it, Green said.
“We could go from 300 to 3,000 overnight,” he said. “We could raise the bar.”
Video footage shows the training exercises Marines in the battalion are using to remain ready.
— DVIDSHub (@DVIDSHub) October 24, 2017
The notable avoidance of directly referencing Russia continues a trend Military.com first identified in previous conversations with the Marines in the Norway rotation. They reported being instructed not to mention Russia by name in any public statements.
In addition to permitting the Marine Corps unit to be stationed in the country, the Norwegian government also has deep economic ties to neighboring Russia. Some officials in Norway have expressed concern about the scope of the American mission in their country, though the arrangement has generally been met with approval.
As for Russian officials, there has been overwhelming rejection of U.S. presence on the Norwegian side of the border.
“They don’t like the fact that we oppose them, and we like the fact that they don’t like the fact that we oppose them,” Green said, again avoiding use of the word “Russia.”
He went on to say that, despite the size of the force on the ground in Norway, he likes their odds.
“Three hundred of us, surrounded by them, we’ve got them right where we wanted, right?” he said. “We’ve done this before.”
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