Reitan, Norway --
U.S. Marines and Sailors, service members of the Norwegian Armed Forces, and military members from NATO allies and partners participated in a ceremony commemorating the 244th U.S. Marine Corps birthday at the Norwegian Joint Headquarters (NJHQ), Reitan, Norway, Nov. 10, 2019.
The group celebrated the U.S. Marine Corps’ warfighting history while sharing military traditions during a short pause in Exercise Trident Jupiter. The exercise brings together NATO nations to assess their ability to conduct high-end, NATO-level mission planning and execution in a simulated scenario against a peer adversary.
Participating in the exercise presented the U.S. Marines from 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB), II Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), an opportunity to share an important tradition with U.S. Sailors from Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2 and enduring European partners.
“General Lejeune’s birthday message talks about the spirit and fire in Marines, and regardless of cloth or country, something in all of us here says, ‘We want to serve,’” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Neary, commanding general, 2nd MEB, and deputy commanding general, II MEF. “All of the young men and women in this room, from all of the countries, inspire the older generation as we look at the future of our services.”
While the ceremony included the customary cake-cutting, recognized the oldest and youngest Marines, and played Anchors Aweigh and the Marines’ Hymn, it also incorporated unique international elements.
“Gratulerer med 244. års dagen United States Marine Corps!,” covered the walls instead of the birthday greeting in English. Service members from across NATO stood at attention during the playing of the U.S. and Norwegian national anthems. And lastly, the hosts provided a Norwegian officer’s sabre to cut the first piece of cake.
“[The Marine Corps] was always there in winter exercises, we worked together in Iraq, and we fought side-by-side with the U.S. Army and Marine Corps in Afghanistan,” said Norwegian Army Lt. Gen. Rune Jakobsen, commander, NJHQ. “To see a Marine rotational force train in Norway and the Marine Corps’ participation in Trident Juncture and Jupiter demonstrates the importance of our nations’ alliance.”
The ceremony at NJHQ reinforced II MEF and ESG 2’s commitment to working with partners and allies in Norway's High North while also strengthen the bond of the U.S. Marines and Sailors in the exercise.
“Last month, we celebrated our own birthday, the birthday of the United States Navy, at the ESG 2 headquarters in Virginia Beach,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. John B. Mustin, commander, ESG 2. “The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have been stalwart partners for 244 years, operating when it matters, where it matters, to protect and defend our country and its allies. Today, I'm honored to be here at the Norwegian Joint Headquarters with my U.S. Marine brothers and sisters, reinforcing our naval integration - the world's most enduring and lethal maritime partnership - and furthering the deep camaraderie shared by our nation's sea services. Happy birthday, Marines.”
Aside from the uncommon opportunity to share the U.S. Marine Corps birthday with NATO partners and allies, Exercise Trident Jupiter also serves as the first time a Navy-Marine Corps team executed command and control from inside NJHQ’s mountain complex.
“The [NJHQ] operates day and night, and has the overall command and control of all military activity in Norway,” according to the command’s official website. “From its joint operation centre, experienced officers continuously monitor the activity in Norway's vast land and sea territories.”
With approximately a foot of snow outside and temperatures routinely below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, NJHQ provides an exceptional location to integrate a Navy-Marine Corps staff focused on commanding and controlling geographically disparate forces. Participating in Exercise Trident Jupiter also rehearses the ability of a small team to rapidly deploy and employ functions of command and control in any clime and place.
“A fly-in command element comprised of a professional and effective ESG-MEB team provides the combatant commander the ability to quickly support expeditionary operations in the High North,” said Capt. Ethan M. Rule, operations officer, ESG 2. “This capability reassures our regional partners and allies, deters adversary aggression, and demonstrates the warfighting prowess of the Navy and Marine Corps.”
The development of relationships with NATO further enhances the ability of the Navy-Marine Corps team to quickly integrate with those nations’ militaries in a time of crisis. This makes continuing partnerships with allies like Norway integral to deterring aggression in Norway's High North and expanding the ability of a naval expeditionary force to achieve victory under challenging conditions.
“Trident Jupiter demonstrates our ability to command and control forces spread across the expanses of the Atlantic, from an austere operational environment, and shoulder-to-shoulder with our NATO allies and partners,” said Neary. “We can rapidly deploy, employ, and redeploy a force capable of facilitating follow-on II MEF and 2nd Fleet forces to support and augment 6th Fleet operations in Europe, increase regional stability, and win in the unstable security environment of the future.”