By Lisa Ferdinando, DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary James N. Mattis hailed the strong bond between the United States and Norway and commended the Nordic nation for its commitment to global peace and security in Oslo, Norway, yesterday.
The closeness is illustrated by the democratic ideals espoused in both nations’ constitutions, a bond strengthened by some 5 million Americans who claim Norwegian ancestry, Mattis said.
Mattis, who met with Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jense and Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide, said the United States and Norway have steadily built the strong bond over more than a century.
“It’s bolstered by strong shared values and our desire, our mutual desire for trans-Atlantic unity as demonstrated by the importance our two nations place on democracy, on individual liberties and the rule of law,” he said.
“In America, we do not take for granted the strong bond between our peoples,” he added.
Norway Reaffirms Commitment to Global Security
Mattis commended Norway for its recommitment at the NATO summit last week to spend 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense. NATO members pledged at the alliance’s 2014 summit in Wales to invest 2 percent of their GDP in defense programs.
The commitment, Mattis said, “lends credence to the reality that NATO is stronger today than it was yesterday, stronger than it was a month ago, stronger today than it was a year ago.”
Bakke-Jensen described the United States as Norway’s “closest and most important ally,” saying the relationship includes strong and broad defense cooperation. “Our soldiers operate together in conflict areas around the world, and they increasingly work together in Norway and the North Atlantic,” he said.
‘Standard-Bearer’ for Peace, Security
Mattis recognized Norway for its commitment to global peace and security, which includes its support of NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, and the coalition to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
“You generously contribute to global stability to increase support of NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan,” he said. “Your nation’s commitments to peacekeeping development are commendable,” he said, “because as we all know you’re a standard-bearer for the international responsibilities of peacekeeping, of development funding -- all those kinds of things that ultimately, we stand for.”
The professionalism, dedication and skill of the Norwegian forces have strengthened the defeat-ISIS coalition, Mattis remarked.
Hosting Hundreds of U.S. Rotational Forces
Further, Mattis thanked Norway for hosting up to 700 U.S. Marines on a rotational basis for rigorous cold-weather training.
“We’ve always benefited from our close relationship, and we have an almost assured mil-to-mil relationship ensured by the human beings who spend time in each other’s countries,” he said.
The talks in Oslo were aimed at discussing ways to advance the militaryto-military relationship and finding ways to further deepen the already strong bond the countries share, Mattis explained.