U.S. military could return to Iceland

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work recently visited Iceland to discuss future operations at Keflavik Air Base with Icelandic officials, Reykjavik Grapevine reports. (iStock)
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work recently visited Iceland to discuss future operations at Keflavik Air Base with Icelandic officials, Reykjavik Grapevine reports. (iStock)
Keflavik Air Base outside Reykjavik could once again become base for U.S. military, nearly ten years after the last forces left the country.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work recently visited Iceland to discuss future operations at Keflavik Air Base with Icelandic officials, Reykjavik Grapevinereports.

“Iceland has become increasingly concerned with the Russian activity,” Work said in an interview withDefense News. “The Russians have long done transit flights where they pass close by Iceland, but they’ve recently made several circumnavigation flights – flying completely around the island nation. As a result, “Iceland is interested in increasing military cooperation.”

Long relationship with Iceland

The United States has a long relationship with Iceland, and by treaty since 1951 continues to be responsible for the defense of the country. Iceland has no military, but the country’s coast guard fulfills most military missions, and is responsible for maintaining Keflavik as a military installation.

The last U.S. forces left in 2006.

U.S. aircraft occasionally still use the base’s facilities. Two F-16s landed there recently when they experienced mechanical difficulties flying across the Atlantic. A US Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance and patrol aircraft also visited the base over several days in April to assess the feasibility of operating the aircraft at Keflavik, from where P-3 Orions regularly flew missions during and after the Cold War.

Formal talks not yet started

Iceland’s Foreign Ministry confirms that the U.S. military has expressed an interest in having the possibility open of returning to Iceland, but underlines that no formal talks between the two nations have started.

Since 2008, Iceland’s air space has been patrolled by NATO allies as part of the Icelandic Air Policing operation. Right now four Danish F-16 are operating out from Keflavik, according to Defense News.

Related stories from around the North:

Asia: Asia ahead on preparing for polar climate change, says U.S. Arctic rep, Eye on the Arctic

Canada:  Arctic Council Ministerial – Winners and Losers, Blog by Heather Exner-Pirot

Denmark:  Nordics to step up security cooperation on perceived Russian threat, Yle News

Finland: Finland confirms 6th Russian airspace violation in just over a year, Yle News

Norway: Norway must ramp up military in response to Russia: report, Barents Observer

Russia: Russian governor praises role of Barents Cooperation, Barents Observer

Sweden:  New security landscape in the Arctic, Radio Sweden

United States:  U.S. general says Alaska military cuts not final without Arctic plan, Alaska Public Radio Network

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