Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg went on national TV Monday morning to mourn the deaths of four Norwegian soldiers in Afghanistan, but also to renew Norway’s commitment to the NATO operation there and its fight against international terrorism.
Stoltenberg, flanked by Defense Minister Grete Faremo and military chief Harald Sunde, said that while “gruesome and tragic,” the loss of Norwegian life won’t have “any direct consequence” on Norway’s involvement in Afghanistan.
He repeated that Norwegian troops “won’t be there one day longer than necessary,” but noted that “we are there to fight international terror” and help make Afghanistan able to secure its own future.
Stoltenberg noted that Norway is among the countries active in Afghanistan that has had a unified Parliament behind its operation.
“We are proud of our Norwegian soldiers,” said Stoltenberg, who visited the troops on Norway’s Constitution Day, the 17th of May, last month. He said his government will maintain their presence in Afghanistan, to help keep it from “once again” becoming a center for the organization of international terrorist activity.
Sunday’s attack on a Norwegian armoured personnel carrier resulted in Norway’s biggest single loss of military personnel since World War II. Four soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb for which the Taliban has claimed credit.
“The fact that we suffer losses will not change Norway’s strategy,” Stoltenberg said, stressing that Norway is most involved in educating and training Afghan forces. “We will maintain our forces, but we will also continue to have ongoing discussions about that strategy and ways to improve it.”