The Carolina Marine Air Ground Task Force hosted Norwegian Ambassador Kåre R. Aas during his visit to North Carolina, April 22-24, 2019.
The ambassador toured Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River to help ensure the relationship between Marines and Norwegians can continue to develop.
“I always think that working in Washington D.C., you can get an impression or idea of a topic or issue but to better understand something I believe you have to come see it for yourself,” said Aas. “I’ve heard so much about the Marines and I have also spoken to the commander several times but I wanted to see with my own eyes.”
The ambassador, along with his defense attachés, began their visit at MCAS New River and met with Col. Robert Morgan, Marine Aircraft Group-29 commanding officer, before touring multiple units within the 2nd Marine Air Wing. He paid a visit to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 366, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365.
“I have been on base for less than a day and I have learned so much,” said Aas. “To hear directly from the pilots about command and control, what can be improved as well as the conditions they operated under, it is important to me.”
The ambassador departed New River and headed toward Camp Lejeune to meet with the Lt. Gen. Robert F. Hedelund, II MEF commanding general, to discuss future training opportunities between the U.S. Marines and the Norwegian Army.
“What I heard from [Lt. Gen.] Hedelund, and his closest advisors, is the continued interest to work with Norway and learn how to operate in arctic environments. Hearing that from them personally is important and it is something I can tell my superiors about,” said Aas. “Having the Marines there on a rotational basis is important in our bilateral relationship between the United States, Norway and the Marines but also as a deterrence measure.”
Toward the end of his visit, Aas emphasized the importance of the relationship between the Marines and Norway, elaborating on the success of Trident Juncture and the approval of the Norwegian people.
“We have to recognize that the Marines in Norway behave in a very positive manner when interacting with Norwegians. [Respect] is a two-way street and we have worked very closely together, which is why I believe it is so successful,” said Aas. “We are not only exercising [with the U.S.] in Norway, we have been standing shoulder-to-shoulder in Iraq and in Afghanistan. There has always been mutual respect from both countries about the integrity and professionalism of U.S. Marines and Norwegian soldiers.”
A video interview is available on DVIDS: https://www.dvidshub.net/video/675093/interview-with-norwegian-ambassador-kare-aas and on the II Marine Expeditionary Force Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/IIMEF/. You can also find them on Twitter and Instagram.