Marines on a six-month rotational deployment to Vaernes Garrison in Norway will return with authorization to wear the Navy Arctic Service Ribbon. Nearly 300 Marines have been at the small Norwegian base near the city of Trondheim since January as part of the newly created Marine Rotational Force-Europe. The Marines share the Norwegian Ministry of Defence’s goal of improving collaboration with European allies amid rising regional and global tensions. The Marines will practice their ability to move and fight in the cold—a skill that has not been used too much during the emphasis on desert fighting in recent years.
About 200 Marines, including much of the rotational force’s infantry element, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, earned the ribbon. To qualify for the award, a sailor or Marine must spend 28 days training or operating above the Arctic Circle over the course of a career. While Marines traditionally participate in the biennial Exercise Cold Response in Norway, that exercise extends only two weeks and would not alone qualify them for the award. Time spent in the Arctic can be nonconsecutive, and yet, Marines rarely have the opportunity to earn the ribbon during a single deployment.