On April 17, 2020, the Norwegian government released its Long Term Defence Plan.
The plan reaffirmed Norway’s commitment to increased defense spending and joint force modernization.
But it also underscored the continued efforts on national resilience which the current Coronavirus-19 crisis has underscored as a key requirement for national defense and security.
At the very beginning of the Long Term Defence Plan, the centrality of the resilience factor in national defense was highlighted.
“The complexity of threats and risks requires stronger and more flexible civil-military cooperation.
“We will continue to build resilience and civil preparedness in order to strengthen the ability of the nation to withstand and recover from attacks and incidents.
“The defense of Norway is dependent on a modern Total Defence framework, which enables relevant civilian assets to support the national and allied defense efforts during peacetime, crisis and armed conflict.”
And later in the report, the salience of the Total Defence approach and whole of government crisis management was underscored as well.
“Our overall defense effort relies heavily on a whole of government approach. The strategic environment necessitates an increased level of civil military cooperation to safeguard both societal and national security. The private and public sectors need to work together to strengthen resilience towards existing and emerging threats. Societal resilience is a key element in the defense of Norway.
“Civil-military cooperation will be further modernized within the framework of the concept of Total Defence. The modernized Total Defence concept encompasses mutual support and cooperation between the Norwegian Armed Forces and civil society. This includes contingency planning, crisis management and consequence management across the entire crisis spectrum – from peace to security policy crisis and armed conflict.
“The principle of extensive civilian support to the Norwegian Armed Forces in crisis and in war is the core of the Total Defence concept. If necessary, all national resources can be mobilized in the defense of Norway. A modernized and prepared Total Defence concept provides a whole of society approach to current security issues and builds resilience and civil preparedness to counter com plex security challenges.”
This Norwegian and more generally Nordic approach underscoring national resilience as a key building block for 21st century defense certainly seems to be re-enforced by the challenges of managing the Coronavirus crisis.
In an April 17, 2020 press release, the Norwegian government announced the release of its new long-term defense plan in these words:
A challenging strategic environment constantly reminds us that our freedom and security cannot be taken for granted. The Government continues to invest heavily in defense and security, to ensure that Norway remains a reliable, responsible and capable partner on the northern flank of the Alliance, says Norwegian Minister of Defence, Mr. Frank Bakke-Jensen.
The new Long Term Plan details a budget increase in the coming eight years. In 2028 the defense expenditure will increase to a level of 16,5 billion NOK above the 2020 budget.
We will also continue the work of identifying cost effective solutions wherever possible, both when conducting daily operations and when acquiring new equipment, says Mr. Bakke-Jensen,
Strengthened allied dimension
The defense of Norway starts outside our territorial borders and Norwegian participation in NATO operations and readiness forces is an integral part of the overall defense effort.
Norway plays an important role in NATO by operating in and monitoring the Arctic region, by providing situational awareness to the transatlantic security community. The strengthening of NATO’s maritime posture is an integral element of the ongoing adaptation of the Alliance and crucial to Norwegian and allied security.
Allied presence, training and exercise in and close to Norway are of fundamental importance. The Norwegian Armed Forces will continue to train and operate with key allies such as the USA, the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, and other units. The government will also continue the development of Norwegian host nation facilities.
Norway will continue to develop the army. Brigade North will be developed with four maneuver battalions and with tactical and logistical support. The maneuver battalions will be equipped with new main battle tanks, mobile air defense systems and long-range precision fire. Increased firepower, higher readiness and increased sustainability will ensure that the Norwegian Armed Forces remain relevant in the new security environment.
In addition, the modernization of the Home Guard will continue, including an increased capacity to forward stage weapons, ammunition and other supplies.
Norway will strengthen the Navy with increased personnel volume. The frigates and submarines will undergo necessary upgrades. In addition, three new Coast Guard vessels will be introduced in the period 2021-2025. In order to preserve the maritime operational capability after 2030 the government will start the planning of replacement surface vessels. A decision concerning type and number of vessels will be made in the next planning period.
It is our ambition to acquire and implement future Navy capabilities in collaboration with close allies, says the Norwegian Minister of Defence.
The introduction of new aircraft systems will have priority for the Air Force during the years leading up to 2025. The implementation of the F-35 Lightning II continues. P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will replace the fleet of P-3 Orion.
To improve air defense capability, the NASAMS II air defense system will be upgraded with modern sensors, as well as the introduction of complementary capacity with shorter range.
This will contribute to countering threats against bases, and protect allied reception areas, says Mr. Bakke-Jensen.
In the long term, it will be assessed how long-range air defense systems can be introduced.
The modernization of the Home Guard will continue, including an increased capacity to forward stage weapons, ammunition and other supplies.
The ability of the Special Forces to contribute to both national and international operations will improve with increased personnel volume and one additional operations task group. The Bell 412 transport helicopters will be replaced by a new capacity that is better suited for the Special Forces.
Personnel and new technology
The highly skilled and dedicated military and civilian personnel of the defense sector is the backbone of the Norwegian force. The number of personnel will gradually be increased in order to strengthen the readiness and availability of the Armed Forces, and gradually generate enhanced combat power.
The current focus of personnel reforms is on diversifying the personnel structure in order to strengthen the capability and the readiness of the Norwegian Armed Forces, and on the further restructuring of the training and educational system.
Norway will also strengthen the system for innovation in the defense sector and adapt a comprehensive approach to technology exploitation.
The development of the Armed Forces is an ongoing and long-term undertaking. In 2016, the Government set out the course towards a more capable and sustainable defense force, better able to face the changing security environment. This new Long-Term Plan builds on that foundation. The Norwegian government continues to strengthen the capability and readiness of the defense of Norway, says Mr. Frank Bakke-Jensen, Norwegian Minister of Defence.
Also, see the following:
As well as our 2018 report on Nordic defense modernization:
Featured photo: Prime Minister Erna Solberg during The NATO exercise Trident Juncture in 2018. Credit: Ole-Sverre Haugli, Forsvaretlong-term-defence-plan-norway-2020---english-summary