Sweden announces arrival of US Marines taking part in huge NATO partner exercise
Stars and Stripes April 18, 2023
U.S. Marines crossed the Norwegian border into Sweden on Tuesday to join one of Scandinavia’s largest military drills in decades, involving troops from more than a dozen countries.
Swedish Brig. Gen. Stefan Andersson announced on Twitter the arrival of the Marines as part of the Aurora 23 exercise, which is focused on countering a large-scale attack on the prospective NATO member.
The Marines arrived as part of the Aurora 23 exercise, which is focused on countering a large-scale attack on the prospective NATO member, a Swedish military statement said Tuesday.
“Aurora 23 will be the largest national exercise of its kind in more than 25 years,” the Swedish military said.
Some 26,000 troops from 14 countries are taking part in maneuvers on land, at sea and in the air. Service members from the U.S., Britain and Germany are among those taking part. It wasn’t announced Tuesday what U.S. units were taking part.
The drills come amid Sweden’s ongoing push to join NATO, which earlier this month welcomed neighboring Finland as the security pact’s 31st member.
The historic decision was brought on by last year’s Russian invasion of Ukraine, which prompted the Nordic countries to seek NATO membership.
Initially, Sweden and Finland aimed to join the alliance simultaneously, but opposition from Turkey scuttled Stockholm’s hopes for a speedy accession.
The process has stalled over Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s allegations that Sweden has given refuge to Kurdish militants whom Ankara wants extradited.
Still, NATO officials say they’re confident that the impasse will be resolved and that Sweden will soon join the alliance.
In the meantime, Aurora 23 reinforces the close partnership between Sweden and allied militaries even as full NATO membership remains elusive.
The drills will be carried out on large swaths of Swedish territory until May 11, the Swedish military statement said.