by: the Common Constitutionalist
In 2008, even before the dark ages of Obama, mankind was so concerned about the catastrophic effects of human-caused climate change that governments and scientific experts got together and launched a global network of storage facilities to house plants, sprouts and seeds of every possible kind on the planet.
These “seed banks” were placed in countries throughout the globe. But the central bank, called the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is located off Norway, a mere 600 miles from the North Pole. The central seed depository is some 500 feet beneath Norway’s permafrost and its entrance is both bomb and earthquake proof.
Although the Global Seed Vault is a man-made structure dug into a mountain on the Island of Svalbard north of Norway, it seems the country itself is alive with naturally occurring caves. These caves are a great place to store other things – like weapons and equipment.
Under the Surface of central Norway are six climate controlled caves totaling over 671,000 sq ft, capable of housing a wealth of military equipment. American equipment was first stored there starting in 1981, during the Cold War. It was the perfect place to house the equipment being that Norway shares a 122 mile border with the Ruskies.
After the Cold War ended it was thought that perhaps the Norway caves would not be needed, but events over the last decades or more has seen the storage facilities play an integral role in the deployment of military equipment.
The caves, which house well over $400 million worth of Marines Corps battle tanks, amphibious assault vehicles, artillery and logistic equipment, serve as a major hub to provide materiel support for as many as 15,000 U.S. Marines throughout the globe. Equipment from the “caves of Norway have seen action in places as diverse as the deserts of Iraq and mountains of Afghanistan in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.”
For years the caves have been used to store equipment for use in NATO military “High North” Arctic Challenge exercises and it’s become increasingly important, given Russia’s recent provocative behavior. Arctic Challenge training scenarios include strike delivery against ground and airborne targets, simulated anti-air artillery combat, low-level flying and midair refueling.
In 2015, the defense ministers of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland issued a statement saying that “The Russian military are acting in a challenging way along our borders. We must be prepared to face possible crises or incidents.” Neither Sweden nor Finland is currently part of NATO – they are considered neutral countries, but Russian aggression is causing both to reconsider their neutrality.
More and more Swedes are pushing for membership after Russia decided to conduct unscheduled large-scale maneuvers in response to the 2015 Norway-led Arctic Challenge exercises in the High North. They deployed over 12,000 troops and 250 aircraft, compared to the 115 aircraft and 4,000 troops taking part in the Arctic Challenge. The Russians called the deployment “a massive surprise combat-readiness inspection.” Sure it was.
In response to Russia’s recent aggressive behavior, this years High North Arctic Challenge, dubbed “Cold Response 16” will include some 6,500 pieces of equipment from the caves. The exercise will also include 12 NATO allies and partners and more than 16,000 troops.
Heather Conley, director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Europe Program, told CNN that “changes in the geopolitical landscape had once again made the caves a strategic asset.”