Geographic Prepositioning Force
Norway Air-Landed Marine Expeditionary Brigade (NALMEB)
Norway Air Landed Marine Air Ground Task Force (NALMAGTAF)
The Norway Air-Landed Marine Expeditionary Brigade (NALMEB), also called the Norway Air Landed Marine Air Ground Task Force (NALMAGTAF), is the Marine Corps' only land-based prepositioned stock. Global sourcing is provided by the Geographic Prepositioning Force, formerly the Norway Air-Landed Marine Expeditionary Brigade located in Norway.
The program consists of pre-positioned Marine Corps gear within six tunnels in central Norway, such as at Bjugn Cave Orland Main Air Station in Norway. The Norway Air-Land Marine Expedition Brigade was established in 1981. It was initiated as a cost-effective deterrent to assist in the protection of NATO's northern flank.
The Norway Prepositioning Program is a Department of Defense (DOD) directed, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) initiative for the rapid reinforcement of Norway. A U.S. / Norway bilateral study was conducted in 1970 to determine how best to enhance the defense of NATO's northern flank, protect key defense areas, and reinforce North Norway. From these meetings, a Bilateral Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Governments of the United States and Norway: which provides for the storage, maintenance, procurement, and periodic replacement of designated equipment and supplies in Central Norway storage sites.
The $420 million worth of Marine gear that can outfit up to 17,000 Marines at once or 13,000 Marines for a month. The list of equipment is impressive: 7,000 tons of ground and aviation ammunition, 1,000 vehicles, 40,000 cases of rations and 18 Howitzers. The NALMEB does not preposition armor assets due to Norway's policy on "non-provocation" and the Conventional Forces Europe (CFE) treaty. The storage comes with a $12.2 million price tag. For that money, the equipment is stored in 80,000 square meters of climate-controlled caves, kept at 55 percent humidity at 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and protected by electronic security and guards.
During the Cold War, the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) was designated to reinforce northern Norwegian airfields and support a naval campaign for the initail defence of Norway and the north Atlantic in the event of a Soviet attack. The expeditionary force flies into Norway using a minimum amount of strategic airlift, marries up with the equipment and supplies, and redeploys throughout Norway as needed. The Battle Griffin exercise is designed to test all aspects of NALMEB (deployment of forces from CONUS, withdrawal of equipment and supplies from cave sites, redeployment of equipment and supplies, integration of U.S. and Norwegian forces, etc.).
The NALMEB land prepositioning program is a DoD directed, NATO initiative which was established to provide NATO with a rapid reinforcement capability on its northern flank. The program was designed to significantly reduce strategic airlift requirements, forces closure time, and to provide wider strategic options for rapidly reinforcing the northern flank with a potent, sustainable force. Through burden-sharing agreements with Norway (renewed in 1997), the program cost is minimal and the agreement serves as a tangible reaffirmation of US commitment to NATO and to Norway.
Although the threat that rationalized the program no longer exists, the program has remained intact, continuing to consume over $7 million annually and an additional $6.1 million of Norwegian funds. It is slated to receive over $90 million in procurement funding to modernize the equipment stored in the caves between 2003 and 2008. Additionally, there are over 5,000 pieces of Marine Corps equipment devoted to the program not available for use elsewhere in the Marine Corps.
Skeptics suggest that the political and military benefits attributed to the program are overstated and the costs of the program are understated in its annual O&M appropriation. Although the program may provide minimal contributions to the U.S. national military strategy, a revised mission statement and other major program changes could significantly increase its utility.
In autumn 1994, Canada decided unilaterally to withdraw its prepositioned equipment required for the NATO Composite Force (NCF). This Force which, apart from Canada, includes contingents from the US, Germany and Norway, was the only allied force with Norway as its only operational area. The Norweigian Government therefore attached great importance to finding a replacement for the unit withdrawn by Canada and efforts were made to resolve this inside NATO. During 1995 the United States, for its part, completed the prepositioning of the materiel for the US artillery battalion which forms part of the NCF.
In 1994, on the initiative of the United States, the COB agreement governing the reinforcement of Norwegian airfields in the event of crisis or war was renegotiated with the result that the number of airfields covered is now 5 rather than 9. Revision of the agreement also meant that Norway would now meet a greater proportion of the cost of maintaining the stockpiled equipment.
In 1995 the NALMEB agreement governing the prepositioning of materiel for the US Marine Brigade was also renegotiated, again following a US initiative. The result was that Norway will now pay a larger share of the operating and maintenance costs for the stockpiled materiel. At the same time, however, the US obligations remain uncurtailed. In light of new strategic and defense realities, in June 1995 Norweigian Minister of Defense Joregen Kosmo expressed the willingness of Norway to take on a larger responsibility for Allied defense in the North. Accordingly, the Minister and US Defense Secretary Perry agreed that Norway would assume all costs previously borne by the United States that are directly associated with the storage of NALMEB equipment in Norway. Furthermore, Norway agreed to assume the costs of related domestic transportation, aviation ground support, and other items, bringing the total Norwegian contribution to $6.1 million per year. The United States and Norway agreed, in principle, that NATO should cover operation and maintenance costs for the NALMEB program, and both countries will work together in order to implement this as NATO policy.
Norwegian Air-Landed Marine Air Ground Task Force (NALMAGTF) aviation support equipment (SE) provides tailored organizational-level (O-level) common support equipment (CSE), peculiar support equipment (PSE) and minimal intermediate-level (I-level) CSE to support the ACE's pre-assigned mix of Type/Model/Series (T/M/S) aircraft. When deployed, the ACE will provide tactical air support for a MEF Forward (FWD) size MAGTF. The MAGTF will have the capability for independent deployment or, if the situation dictates, the ability to join up and be composited to form a larger amphibious force.
ACE fixed-wing (FW)/rotary wing (RW) aircraft will be Flight Ferried (FF) directly to the theater of operations supported by either Marine organic or AMC aerial tankers and cargo aircraft. The remaining Fly-In-Echelon (FIE) will be moved to the theater of operations via Marine organic or AMC/CRAF aircraft. The ACE FIE includes squadron maintenance personnel, T/M/S Fly-in Support Package (FISP) of aeronautical replacement components contained in Mobile Facilities (MFs), O-level Individual Material Readiness List (IMRL) items, and minimal I-level IMRL items required for immediate aircraft operations.
Upon SE removal from storage facilities, the MEF (FWD) ACE tactical squadrons will take custody through their respective CSE/PSE required to operate and maintain aircraft. NALMAGTF ASE comprises a tailored IMRL for each T/M/S aircraft assigned to the MEF (FWD) ACE, containing IMRL custody coded-coded items P, L, and M. NALMAGTF and FIE SE comprises all CSE/PSE required to operate each T/M/S aircraft during the first 30 days of combat.
NALMAGTF SE also includes minimal Fix Wing (FW) and Rotary Wing (RW) Facility Equipment (FE). This FE, or I-level CSE, is used to support I-level maintenance functions common to both types of aircraft. The FE located in storage facilities designed to be operated by Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron (MALS) personnel. This FE capability is to support ACE aircraft until the arrival of the host MALS via the Aviation Logistics Support Ship (T-AVB). The designated host MALS will deploy with tailored I-level CSE, Common Contingency Support Package (CCSP), Peculiar Contingency Support Package (PCSP) required by each T/M/S aircraft as well as IMRL custody-coded E PSE items. With establishment of both a FW and RW host MALS in the theater, the MEF (FWD) ACE will be capable of sustained air combat operations (afloat or ashore).
HQMC has approved the use of equipment and supplies for exercises or operations outside of Norway but within the EUCOM AOR. The NALMEB Out of Area Use Policy allows for this by requesting the use of these assets from HQMC via the appropriate chain of command/national command relationships. HQMC has designated COMMARFOREUR as its Executive Agent for these matters once HQMC approval has been granted.
First used outside of Norway for Baltic Challenge 96 in July 1996, NALMEB equipment and supplies moved by air to Latvia for use during that exercise. In 1997, NALMEB materials were moved from Norway to Estonia by commercial ferry. The massive movement of equipment included a 5-ton truck and two field ambulances moved by rail from Norway to Sweden and by ferry to Estonia.
During Operation Allied Force, the NATO campaign against Yugoslavia, the caves saved the U.S. more than $2 million in transportation costs.
In June 2001 Marines emptied a 13-year-old storage facilities left over from the Cold War to help supply gear to Exercise Clean Hunter, which ran at Furstenfeldbruch German Air Force Facility, Germany, until June 27. About 80 Marines pulled out war-fighting equipment and supplied materiel to the NATO aviation exercise.
US cargo ship USNS PFC Dewayne T. Williams arrived in the small Norwegian village of Namdalseid on 10 August 2014, bringing heavy tanks, armored personnel carriers and landing crafts, the local Adresseavisen newspaper reporte. The cargo included third-generation main battle tanks of the M1A1 Abrams type. This new, heavier equipment will replace trucks and personnel carriers which were previously stored in the mountain bunkers of Central Norway. Local defense sources, cited by the Norwegian Aftenposten newspaper, said that the US’ decision to change war equipment stored in Norway was made on the basis of experiences from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Researcher Brett Ulriksen from the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs believes this new arrival to be a sign of the US grim outlook on the future of Europe. “This may well be related to the Ukraine crisis”, he told Aftenposten. The US had a total of six storage units located in the mountains of Norway’s central Trøndelag region. In addition to this, US war equipment is stored at two Norwegian Air Force stations in the area, one of them being co-located with Trondheim Airport Værnes, an international airport serving Trondheim, the country’s third-largest city.
The storage units were built during the Cold War and were the subjects of major controversy at that time. The first US ship containing military equipment arrived in the area in the mid 1980s and was met with demonstrations from local residents and harsh criticism from Soviet press. Now, however, there seems to be little controversy surrounding this issue, as even the NATO-opposing Socialist Left Party agreed to sign a renewal of the storage deal in 2006.
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