Police departments all over Norway are raising their levels of preparedness to the so-called Alfa level. All police officers have been told to be on the alert to hinder espionage in advance of this autumn’s largest NATO exercise ever.
More than 40,000 soldiers and support staff from more than 30 countries will be in Norway to take part in the operation called “Trident Juncture.” It’s described as the largest NATO exercise in Norway since the Cold War, and will involve 130 military aircraft, 70 vessels and more than 10,000 vehicles.
The first batch of soldiers will start arriving as early as August. Jørn Schjelderup, a divisional director at the state police directorate, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that it was “completely natural” for the police to implement special precautions and procedures in line with “such a large event.”
He said the general public isn’t expected to notice any visible difference and he stressed that the overall terror threat has not been raised. “But on a general basis, we can say that such a large (military) exercise will attract attention from, for example, other countries’ intelligence agencies,” he told NRK.
Norway’s defense department (Forsvaret) and the state police intelligence service PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste) are also preparing for increased espionage activity directed against Norway.
“The Norwegian defense and preparedness sectors are intelligence targets for foreign states,” Trond Hugubakken, communications director for PST, told NRK. “It’s therefore natural that foreign intelligence services will gather information on such a major NATO exercise in Norway.”
Police are told to watch out for signs of people observing areas where exercises will take place, and to signs of information being collected through various electronic means. The NATO exercises can also be used to test new systems that are likely to be of interest to foreign intelligence agencies.
“The spying threat against Norway has already been evaluated as high, and we expect activity to increase in connection with the exercise,” Commander Hans Kristian Herland, chief of the defense department’s security division, told newspaper VG during the weekend. Police departments in the southeast and inland areas plus the counties of Møre og Romsdal and Trøndelag will be particularly affected by the NATO exercise.