Top Marine Corps commander General Robert Neller warned troops in Norway on Thursday to be prepared because “there’s a war coming.”
Military.com reports that Neller told them, “I hope I’m wrong, but there’s a war coming,” he continued, “You’re in a fight here, an informational fight, a political fight, by your presence.”
“Just remember why you’re here,” he added, “They’re watching. Just like you watch them, they watch you. We’ve got 300 Marines up here; we could go from 300 to 3,000 overnight. We could raise the bar.”
The commandant pointed to Russia and the Pacific theater as the next major areas of conflict, predicting a “big-ass fight” in the future.
Neller’s visit comes amid tensions between Russia and NATO allies. Russia warned neighboring Norway that the presence of American troops could hurt relations, after Norway decision to host a new unit of U.S. soldiers through the end of 2018.
The administration says the Marines are there to enhance ties with European NATO allies and train in cold-weather combat.
In a question-and-answer session with the troops, Neller said the U.S. could shift its focus after years of fighting in the Middle East to Eastern Europe, citing Russia’s conflicts with Ukraine and Georgia.
President Trump announced a new national security strategy on Monday that is designed to focus on threats from Russia and China.