An expert advisory group hired in by Norway’s defense ministry has confirmed what government and military officials themselves have been saying for months: Norway must boost its defense spending and strengthen its defense in the north, work more closely with its allies, and get more out of its military resources.
The group, led by Professor Rolf Tamnes of the Institute for Defense Studies (Institutt for forsvarsstudiar, IFS) handed over it report to Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide on Tuesday. Its contents likely came as no surprise.
“The Norwegian military is not well-enough prepared to meet the new risk and threat situation,” Tamnes said when delivering the report, His group pointed to the heightened threats of terrorism, cyber attacks and long-range missiles. The group also pointed to the crisis in Ukraine as marking the end of long-lasting peace in Europe, and that Norway’s relations to Russia must play a central role in military planning.
“Russia will be the central factor in Norwegian defense policy for the foreseeable future,” Tamnes stressed. “Norway must manage its neighbourliness with Russia wisely, based on common interests.”
His group’s report also stressed the need for much closer cooperation with allies. “It’s important to recognize that Norway is a small country that needs support from its allies,” Tamne said. “Sometimes that’s not recognized in the planning and debate around the Norwegian military. It can be presented as if Norway can go it alone. We advise Norway and its allies to work together towards common goals.”
The expert group made five specific recommendations:
** more resources for intelligence gathering and surveillance
** a more “robust” apparatus for leadership in crisis and war, in the form of tighter connections between the operative headquarters and the allies, and a team for handling a crisis that’s tied to the Office of the Prime Minister
** military deterrents in the form of more land-based troops, a more robust air force, new submarines and, again, more cooperation with allies
** better preparedness in the form of quicker response time, which the group claimed was too weak at present. It must be “pared down considerably,” with some forces put in a continual state of preparedness in vulnerable areas
** civilian and military coordination has been neglected. Special measures must be taken to make sure that Norwegian and allied forces receive the necessary support in a crisis and in war
The group claimed that the military must receive at least NOK 2 billion in additional state funding by 2017 in order to carry out the recommendations. Eriksen didn’t seem to blink at the amount, commenting that the group’s recommendations “pointed in the same direction” as the government, and adding that the group’s advice would be important “in the big picture that looms before us.”