MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga -- Foreign uniforms were visible on MCLB Albany Tuesday when 18 Norwegian officers visited the base as part of a week-long tour of Marine Corps installations.
The visit is part of an annual officer exchange program and makes it possible for Norwegian officers and Marine officers to share logistical information. It also updates Marine logisticians on supplies stored in Norway.
The tour began with briefs on Marine Corps Materiel Command operations and the operations of Marine Corps Logistics Bases.
The officers had lunch at the Crossroad Restaurant before touring the Maintenance Center and Fleet Support Center.
According to Brig. Gen. Kare Magne Dalen, deputy commander, Army Materiel Command, Norway, the annual exchange program is important because it develops positive relations between the Marine Corps and Norwegian military forces.
Norway and the Marine Corps have faced a lot of the same logistical problems, said Dalen.
By holding an officer exchange, we not only strengthen ties between our countries, but we also learn from each other.
The Marine Corps is very important to the defense of Norway, continued Dalen.
Having Marine Corps supplies stored in Norway serves as a deterrent to the aggression of some European countries. It also allows the Marine Corps to operate in Europe more easily because supplies are already in place.
Cmdr. Max Hermansen, a logistics officer at Headquarters Defense Command, Norway, said the Norwegian military stores enough Marine Corps supplies and equipment to support a 13,000-Marine brigade for 60 days.
According to Hermansen, the supplies are stored in Norwegian caves because the caves are secure, dry, fortified and hidden.
The roads leading to the caves are small dirt roads, but inside, the caves are about 70 meters across and several hundred meters long.
The caves are protected by an entire mountain, said Hermansen.
They store a lot of material and they are well-concealed. All the material is ready, available and can be out of the caves, headed to where they are needed, in fewer than two days.
Dalen said the supplies maintained in the Norwegian caves have been put to use several times in the past few years.
According to Dalen, supplies have been sent to Kosovo, the conflict in the Baltic States and other operations and exercises.
Dalen said the Norway Airlanded Marine Expeditionary Brigade Geo-Prepositioning System serves essentially the same function as the Marine Corps maritime prepositioning ships.
The supplies are ready for the Marines at any time, and the Norwegian military have 50 soldiers constantly maintaining the supplies.
In addition to storing supplies, the Norwegian military and the Marine Corps also have a small unit exchange program.
According to Dalen, Marines travel to Norway each year to conduct cold weather training, and have also participated in several large joint exercises.
We are continually training together and conducting exercises where we learn to work as one force, said Dalen.
We are prepared to work and fight side-by-side with Marines in the defense of Norway, or in any other UN or NATO (United Nations or North Atlantic Treaty Organization) operations.
Dalen said he believes the ongoing exchange programs and training operations bring the United States, specifically the Marine Corps, and Norways military closer together.
He said Norway highly values her American and Marine Corps alliance.
We are a small partner to the U.S., said Dalen. But we feel very strongly about the ties we have established.
During a luncheon at the Crossroad Restaurant, Brig. Gen. Richard S. Kramlich, commander, Marine Corps Logistics Bases, said that the United States and the Marine Corps also value the Norwegian alliance.
America cannot have enough allies, said Kramlich, a Whitehall, Pa., native.
It would have been very easy to sever our ties when the Eastern Bloc fell and threats changed in Europe.
I think it is a very good thing that we have gone in the other direction and further solidified our relationship with our Norwegian allies.
After a tour of the Maintenance Center and Fleet Support Division, the Norwegian officers left Albany, headed for Camp Lejeune.
It was a very good visit, said Lt. Col. Roy Grottheim, chief of Norways Plans Division.
It was very educational to see how American logistics operations work. We face many of the same problems with our logistics as Americans do and can learn from each other.