“Speed and prepositioning are the primary means of overcoming the tyranny of distance.” - U.S. Transportation Command Headquarter
OSLO, Norway - Recently a contingent of logistics officers from Marine Forces Europe led a group of Army, Navy, Air Force and United States Embassy officials traveled to Trondheim, Norway, for briefs and a site survey of the Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway facility.
The MFE logistics officers teamed up with Norwegian logisticians and U.S. Embassy officials to deliver briefs outlining the history of the program and unveil the Marine Corps’ intent for the future.
Ambassador Barry B. White, United States ambassador to Norway, was present for the briefs and accompanied the service members on a tour of the caves.
“The Marine Corps, with the help of our Norwegian partners, has worked hard to ensure that the equipment stored in this facility is not a relic of the Cold War, but responds directly to today’s security and crisis response needs,” said Ambassador White.
In the late 1970s, the United States needed a place to stage vast amounts of equipment and Norway had a need for a security partnership due to Cold War tensions with Russia. This developed into a friendship and partnership between the Norwegian military and the United States Marine Corps.
The result was the establishment of the Norway Air-Landed Marine Expeditionary Brigade which after extensive research was declared operational in 1990. For the next 15 years, NALMEB operated and supported the Marine Corps until the shift to the Marine Air Ground Task Force became the primary model for deployments and operations across the board. The staff took this shift in stride and NALMEB morphed into what is now known as the Marine Corps Prepositioning Program–Norway.
“The United States Marine Corps has maintained a strong relationship with the Norwegian military since the inception of the Norway Air-Landed MEB Program [NALMEB] and its redesignation as MCPP-N in 2004 which signified its change in focus to a theater and global responsive capability,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth Oldham, a logistics officer with MFE. “The Norwegian military provides us access to modern climate controlled storage facilities and a highly skilled and motivated workforce. This, coupled with the significant burden-sharing contribution provided by Norway, who pays for 50 percent of all operating costs, and access to modern multimodal transportation hubs for quick deployments, make this a cost-effective program for the Marine Corps, with proven operational value for our forward-deployed forces.”
The MCPP-N facility is comprised of seven locations totaling more than 900,000 square feet of storage. The actual caves make up 471,445 square feet of climate controlled storage, regulated to between 45 to 55 percent humidity and a regulated temperature of between 45 to 50 degrees. This precise regulation allows tents, vehicle tires and other climate sensitive equipment to be stored safely, and maintain a high level of readiness to be readily deployable for any contingency that may arise.
“There are common items in our inventory that can and will continue to support any service, as well as other nations. Our program provides sustainment as well as unique Marine Corps equipment. Whether it's sandbags, MREs, or ammunition, our total package concept has cross-service capabilities,” said Mr. Neil Hagen, prepositioning analyst, Headquarters Marine Corps. “But our primary goal continues to be supporting a Marine Air-Ground Task Force.”
One of the main goals of MCPP-N is the rapid deployment and issuance of equipment in support of the Marine Corps, regardless of the contingency. The caves house vehicles, rations, ammunition and other assorted equipment, enough to support approximately 13,000 Marines for thirty days.
With the sun setting on combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, MCPP-N is posturing to transform itself for the post Operation Enduring Freedom battlefield and continue to support emergency, disaster relief and annual exercises as needed by U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command, MARFOREUR and Marine Forces Africa.
Recently, MARFOREUR was called upon to provide humanitarian assistance to the earthquake victims in Turkey. Together with their MCPP-N counterparts, Marines from Stuttgart, Germany, flew to Norway to withdraw more than 300 tents and space heaters to palletize and ship to Turkey. In the space of about 72 hours from notification to completion the Marines prepared more than 91,000 pounds of equipment and shuttled it off to help in the relief effort.
“Because it works as it did in Turkey and elsewhere, and because it is a visible symbol of our mutual security commitment, MCPP-N is enormously important for U.S.-Norway relations,” said the ambassador.
Humanitarian relief isn’t only one piece of the operational puzzle; there are a host of annual exercises with partner nations who receive gear to support their training.
“Equipment is pulled from the caves every year to support ongoing operations and exercises. There are more than 350 items standing ready for receipt by Marines of the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Black Sea Rotational Force,” added Oldham. “This equipment will be inspected and signed for next week by BSRF Marines, then transported to both Georgia and Romania to support their operations during their six-month deployment. Equipment will also be pulled in March to support Marines, participation in the upcoming Norwegian Exercise Cold Response 12 in as well as during the summer to support Exercises Sabre Strike and BALTOPS in the Baltics,” explained Oldham.
As combat operations wind down this becomes a pivotal year for the MCPP-N program as the Norwegian and U.S. military logistics, and plans communities put their heads together and attempt to forecast how MCPP-N factors into future operations. For the past 40 years this solid bond has weathered not only the icy chill of Norway, but the often short-fused and vital logistic support tempo that requires a high state of vigilance and a readiness to deploy equipment to not just Europe and Africa, but virtually anywhere in the world.
“The attendees from both the EUCOM and AFRICOM staffs left with a much greater appreciation of what MCCP-N does and how it can enable operational capabilities for both theater security cooperation activities and crisis response throughout their areas of responsibility while also assuring our Northern European partners of our continued commitment to their national security,” added Oldham.
This work, US ambassador, MFE Marines tour supply caves in Norway, by Matt Lyman, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.