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Can We Move The Men And Equipment To North Norway In Time?
AUTHOR Major Micheal J. Vrabel, USMC
CSC 1988
                    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
I.  Purpose:  To show that the Marine Corps Prepositioning
program provides deterrence to Soviet aggression and aids in the
Defense of NATOs northern flank.
II. Problem:  Because of Norwegian concerns about prepositioning
U.S. Marine Corps equipment in north Norway, close to the Soviet
border, the equipment was prepositioned in central Norway 400
miles from the designated employment area.  Can we move the men
and equipment to north Norway to provide the desired deterrence.
III. Data:  Norways geographic position on the left flank of
NATO and the strategic location of the airfields and ports in
the north offer a significant advantage to whoever controls them
in war.  Because of this fact and to deter Soviet aggression,
NATO will reinforce Norway in times of crisis.  The requirement
to preposition equipment in central vice north Norway added some
obstacles in the path of timely employment of the MEB and may
have had a negative effect on deterrence.  The major area of
concern in relation to deterrence was the limited LOCs for
movement to northern Norway.  Specifically, the limitations of
the roads and ports in and around Trondheim and in the
employment area, the security for the movement north, and the
problems of cold weather on movement.  The staff planning that
has been accomplished by the 4th MEB and DKT in evaluating the
capacities of the roads and ports in the reception and
employment areas and the coordination of the mobilization of
assets and movement during redeployment has allowed the timely
movement to be accomplished.  The combination of quickly
mobilized Norwegian personnel, prepositioned Norwegian combat
equipment, and the availability of commercial equipment allows
Norway to provide initial security for the MEB and move
personnel and equipment in any weather.
IV.  Conclusion:   Because of the detailed staff planning, the
Norwegian mobilization concepts, and the successful testing of
the redeployment concepts, the reception and redeployment of a
MEB does provide the deterrence that it is required to provide.
     Because of the limited LOCs that exist in central and north
Norway it seems doubtful that this force of 13,000 Marines can
be deployed north fast enough to provide a creditable deterrence
to the Soviets.
I.   Purpose of prepositioning equipment in Europe.
     A. Soviet/Warsaw Pact threat to NATO countries.
     B. Deterrence.
II.  Reason for prepositioning in central Norway.
     A. Nordic balance.
     B. Other option areas.
III. Disadvantages of prepositioning in central Norway.
     A.  Redeployment problems
         1.  Road and rail limitations.
         2.  Port limitations.
         3.  Air transport limitations.
         4.  Movement interdiction.
     B.  Distance from the employment area.
IV.  Value of Norways strategic location.
     A. Guards left flank of NATO.
     B. Possess valuable airfields.
     C. Overwatches major Soviet access to the North Sea.
V.   Norwegian mobilization concept.
     A. Mobilization of civilian assets.
     B. Small standing army that expands in crisis or war.
VI.  Solution to the redeployment problems to the north.
     A. Staff planning.
     B. Evaluate capacities of road and ports.
     C. Coordinated mobilization.
     D. Coordinated movement.
     E. Concepts tested
VII. Example of deployment, reception, redeployment.
VIII.Solution to security requirements during redeployment.
     A. Initial security from Norwegians.
     B. Subsequent security from deploying unit.
IX.  Solution to weathers effect on redeployment.
X.   Conclusion.
                   by Major Michael J. Vrabel, U.S. Marine Corps
     The Soviets are massing troops and equipment along the
borders of the Eastern Block countries in central Europe.  They
are also massing along their border with Norway, the county that
guards the strategic northern flank of NATO.(1:180)  But the
western powers have nothing to fear, NATO has U.S. forces that
are earmarked for the defense of Europe, their equipment and
supplies already prepositioned near their arrival airfields in
Norway and West Germany.  The airlifted U.S. forces quickly
arrive and marry up with their equipment; their presence
shifting the balance of forces and deterring the Soviets.  The
crisis is thus defused.
     The possibility of the Soviet/Warsaw Pact border build up
described here was one of the factors that prompted NATO to
establish the army POMCUS program and the Marine Corps
prepositioning program. (1:187)  The idea was to provide a
creditable deterrent to any Soviet attack by having the ability
to move large forces quickly to areas of concern.  In order for
this prepositioning to provide the desired deterrence it must be
obvious to the Soviets that it will work and work in a timely
manner.  The army POMCUS sites located in West Germany near the
reception airfields and near extensive road networks provides a
deterrent to the Soviets.  That the Marine Corps prepositioning
provides the same level or really any level of deterrence could
be seriously questioned.
     The reason the Norway prepositioning program seems to lack
real deterrence relates to the prepositioning sites chosen for
the MEB (Marine Expeditionary Brigade).  During the initial
negotiations between the U.S. and Norway concerning
prepositioning locations, the Norwegian government expressed
concern about upsetting the Nordic balance if the Marine Corps
prepositioned equipment in North Norway close to the employment
area and the Soviet border. (1:189)  This Nordic balance consists
of a close relationship and interdependence which exists within
the Nordic region and although it does not include security
arrangements, each country is fully aware that any significant
step taken by one will affect the others. (2:3)  Because of these
Norwegian concerns the negotiators agreed that the MEB equipment
would be stored in central Norway near Trondheim and the Marines
would fly into Trondheim, marry up with their equipment and
redeploy to North Norway.  This redeployment was to be the
responsibility of Norway. (1:191)  Because of the limited LOCs
that exist in central and north Norway it seems doubtful that
this force of 13,000 Marines can be deployed to Norway, marry up
with their equipment, then redeploy north fast enough to provide
a creditable deterrence to the Soviets.
     Norway, North of Trondheim, is rugged country with high
mountains, deep valleys and many fjords.  The land routes that
could be used to redeploy the MEB to the north consist of one
road and one rail line.  Both pass through numerous tunnels and
deep valleys, cross many bridges and must cross two fjords that
can only be traversed by ferry.  Considering this, land
redeployment does not provide the kinds of trafficability and
dependability that would convince the Soviets that the MEB could
quickly move north.  Air transport of the MAB north also is not
considered a viable redeployment option because the MEBs heavy
equipment would require too many aircraft and too many sorties
to even get close to providing the timely movement necessary for
deterrence.  That leaves sea transport as the only practical way
to move the MEB, but the problem of timeliness for redeployment
still exists.  When the troops are airlifted into Norway they
must travel the roads in the reception area to staging areas,
marry up with their equipment, then move to the ports for
seaborne redeployment.  There is a limited road network in and
around Trondheim and most roads are only two lanes wide which
would limit the volume of traffic.  Can the road network handle
all this movement?  Roads are not the only difficulty, there are
also limited port facilities in both Trondheim and the
employment area.  Will these facilities be able to handle the
volume of traffic?  What are the odds that even if all of the
logistics problems could be worked out, that the ships carrying
the Marines would make it to the north considering enemy
submarines and aircraft and the weather?
     Why be concerned about the credibility of the deterrent
provided by this MAB?  Because of the strategic significance of
Norway.  Norway guards the left flank of NATO, and control of
her airfields and harbors can affect the resupply and
reinforcement of the entire NATO alliance.  Soviet control of
these assets, especially the airfields, would allow their Naval
air forces control of the skies above the Norwegian and North
Seas, providing cover for their fleet and denying the area to
NATO naval forces. (3.90)  The Norwegian airfields would also
provide fighter escort and refueler aircraft staging areas that
would extend the range of their long range bombers so that they
could more effectively interdict NATO shipping in the North
Atlantic.   Also, sixty miles northeast of the Norway - Soviet
border, on the Kola peninsula, is a major Soviet naval base,
Murmansk.  This base is homeport for more than 50% of the Soviet
Navy and provides the Soviet surface ships and submarines with
year around access to the North Sea and the North Atlantic via
the Norwegian Sea. (4:874)  In war, control of the fjords and
airfields in Northern Norway will allow us to bottle up a
significant portion of the Soviet fleet to keep them from
interdicting the U.S. - NATO resupply routes in the North
     We need to be able to reinforce Norway in times of crisis.
We need to be able to do it under the current U.S. - Norwegian
agreement which calls for deployment of forces to central Norway
and redepolyment to the north.  We need to do this to protect
this strategic area by providing a creditable deterrence to
Soviet aggression.  But the question is HOW can we do it.
     If we accept the fact that redeployment by sea is the only
practical way to move the MEB with all of its heavy combat
equipment, to answer this question we must address and solve the
following problems; the limitations of the roads and ports in
and around Trondheim, the security for the movement north, the
limitations of the ports and roads in the employment area and
the problems of cold weather.
     To better understand how these problems can be solved, a
further explanation of Norway and her mobilization concepts and
her industrial capabilities is required.  Norway is a modern
industrialized country about the size of New Mexico with a
population of only four million people.  This is the lowest
population density in Europe. (5.1)  The cost for a large well
equipped standing army to defend her extensive borders against
invasion would be prohibitive.  Therefore, the Norwegians
developed a total defense concept that takes into account the
fact that a modern industrialized society possesses vast
resources and a surplus of goods and services that can be
utilized in time of crisis or war.  Under this concept Norway
can activate ground transport firms, shipping companies, work
shops and stores; they can mobilize oil companies who deliver
their product right to the front lines and they can mobilize
civilian helicopter companies operating on the oil rigs off
shore to add 80 - 100 helicopters to the effort. (2:9)
     The active peace time strength of the Norwegian standing
Army is approximately 38,000.  This army operates under a
mobilization system that, in times of war or crisis, expands it
to a force of over 300,000. (2:14)  This mobilized force
represents 8% of the Norwegian population and they will fall in
on a significant amount of combat equipment already
prepositioned in critical areas of Norway as well as the
civilian equipment referred to above.
     The combination of quickly mobilized personnel,
prepositioned Norwegian military equipment, and the vast amounts
of commercial equipment available, makes the seemingly
impossible task of receiving and redeploying the MEB, while at
the same time deploying their own forces, possible.
     All of the pieces of the puzzle exist for the reception and
rapid redeployment of the MEB, but now do we put them together?
The 4th MEB and Defense Command Trondalog (DKT) - (The Norwegian
military district headquarters charged with planning the
reception and redeployment of the MEB) are hard at work today,
and have been for the last four years, developing and perfecting
the plans that will focus all the necessary assets on the job of
receiving, staging, equipping and redeploying the 13,500 men and
their equipment north from Trondheim in a timely manner.
     It is, admittedly, not an easy task to identify and
coordinate these assets and schedule the use of the limited
facilities that are available to handle this volume of men
and equipment.  What these two staffs are doing to accomplish
this task is identifying the shipping, material handling
equipment, busses and trucks, that will be mobilized during a
crisis and scheduling the mobilization of these assets to assure
that adequate numbers will be available when and where required.
They have also been taking careful note of the trafficability of
roads and throughput capacities of the ports, both in Trondheim
and in the employment area, designating routes, developing
movement schedules and testing all the plans on computer models
and during exercises.
     To coordinate this movement they utilize state of the art
equipment like the Logmar system which uses lasers to read
special markings on MEB equipment, similar to those used on
products at the check out counters at supermarkets.  With these
they are able to monitor trucks, mobile loads, etc. that leave
the storage sites enroute to the staging areas.  The system,
interconnected by computer to the staging areas and embarkation
areas, can note when equipment arrives at the staging areas and
when they go aboard ship.  This way the planned timelines for
movement can be monitored to assure that the equipment is where
it is supposed to be, when its supposed to be, and if logjams
occur they can be identified and handled quickly.
     As an example of how this deployment, redeployment would
work, the easiest unit to deploy, receive and redeploy, the
infantry battalion, will be used.  Other units like an engineer
battalion or an artillery battalion with their increased
equipment densities would be much more difficult to handle, but
the system can coordinate and redeploy them as well.  One other
point that needs to be recognized about this system is that the
storage sites are configured for specific type units at the
battalion level.  The trucks or other common types of equipment
will be prepositioned in the numbers required for all units
assigned to that site.  As the units arrive this equipment will
be issued out of a common stock.  This is done so that the
equipment issue has some flexibility.  The mobile loads
designated for the specific units are held in adjacent areas at
the storage site and are loaded on the trucks when required.
     The infantry unit designated as a Norway contingency
battalion would have its training especially tailored.  It would
receive more cold weather training to include ski and driver
training.  It would identify all the equipment not required for
deployment, because of the prepositioned assets already in
Norway, and it would have a plan to quickly turn over this
excess to the base or division supply system.  It would have
developed a plan to quickly take care of administrative
requirements, i.e. POVs and personal items to be stored, cold
weather equipment to be drawn, etc. and would have coordinated
with base transportation for transport to the air head. Airlift
Control Element (ALCE) teams would coordinate loading the
Military Airlift Command (MAC) and Civil Reserve air Fleet
(CRAF) aircraft for transport of the battalion to Trondheim.
     Upon arrival in Norway the Norwegians would meet the
aircraft with busses and take the majority of the troops to
predesignated staging areas.  The staging areas would in be
civilian facilities, like a school, and hot food for the Marines
would be provided while in the staging area by the Norwegians.
The responsible officers that would sign for the prepositioned
equipment and the drivers would be taken to the storage site.
The rolling stock allocated to the unit would then be mobile
loaded with the battalions organic equipment and driven back to
the staging area.  The supply Classes I (subsistence) and V
(ammunition) would be transported to the staging area where a
designated Basic allowance would be issued.  The battalion with
all its men and equipment would then be moved to a port, loaded
on intercoastal steamers and redeployed north.  This puts the
combat ready battalion with all its equipment in its assigned
area in a timely manner and provides the deterrent that the
prepositioning program is designed to provide.  All units of the
MEB have this type of detailed and coordinated deployment,
reception and redeployment plan to expidite movement north.
     The remaining problems to be addressed are those of
thesecurity of the force during reception and redeployment, and
the effects of weather on all phase of the operation.  It must
beremembered that the Norway prepositioning program is designed
for reinforcement in a benign environment not during
hostilities.(1:187)  But, realistically, we must look at our
vulnerabilities and try to limit the risk.  The Norwegian army
will provide the initial ground security in and around Trondheim
and the Norwegian anti-air assets and F-16s will provide the MEB
air security during the initial phases of reception, until its
own aircraft and anti-air assets can be utilized. (6:25)  In
addition, the U.S Air Force fighter aircraft scheduled for the
defense of the northern flank can be utilized, if available.
During the transit north from Trondheim, Norwegian and U.S
aircraft will provide air cover and the Norwegian Navy augmented
with available assets from the U.S. Navy will provide security
at sea.  The Navy will utilize mines and anti-submarine warfare
and the ships transporting the MEB will use the intercoastal
waterway to limit vulnerability to submarines.
     The remaining issue, the weather, is something that cannot
be controlled, but those tasked with the responsibility for the
reception and redeployment of the MEB live and operate in the
areas in question and can handle the movement of the MEB in any
weather.  The bus and truck drivers operate their equipment year
around, the ships operate year around and the snow removal
equipment is on hand in quantities that allow an industrialized
society to operate in any weather.
     Can we move the men and equipment to north Norway in time?
Yes we can.  It will take hard work by those responsible for
this task, but the organization of the equipment in storage, the
detailed planning with built in flexibility, the availability of
men and equipment to move the MEB and the successful testing of
the concept prove that the U.S. Marine Corps prepositioning
program can move the men and equipment in the time required and
provide the deterrent that is necessary to assure peace is
     1Joseph H Alexander, "The Role of U.S. Marines in the
Defense of North Norway," Proceedings, May 1984.
     2Fredrik V. Bull-Hansen, "The Strategic Position and
Defence Challenges of Norway,"  A lecture by the Chief of Defence
Norway, January 1986.
     3Richard C. Bowman, "Soviet Options on NATO's Northern
Flank," Armed Forces Journal International, April 1984.
     4Tomas Ries, "Defending the Far North," International
Defense Review, July 1984.
     5Norway Post Report, Department of Foreign Service Series
227, Department of State Publication 9178, April 1981.
     6Erling Bjol, "Nordic Security," Adelphi Papers, no. 181
(London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1983).

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