In the centuries that have passed, Norway has continued to rely on its citizenry to serve when called – but society’s collective tax revenue, not individual communities, now pay for the equivalent of the leidangskip, the Fridtjof Nansen-class frigates, or the Ula-class submarine. And Norway’s role in an increasingly globalized world extends far beyond the defence of its coastline. The realities of a post-9/11 world require Norway to respond in a variety of roles, with a variety of equipment, virtually anywhere in the world, says Norwegian Minister of Defence Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen.
“Action in Afghanistan and Sudan, Asia and Africa are serious reminders of how involved we are in matters of international security, and of how little significance geographical distances now have where our own security is concerned. There is no longer any such thing as ‘far away’,” the Minister says in a broad brush outline of Norway’s military strategy given to the Oslo Military Society in early January, 2008.
Ready to Respond
While Norway is a country of just 4.6 million people, its military is nevertheless well armed with modern weaponry, communications and transportation designed to manage the nation’s unique challenges as an Arctic land with international responsibilities.
Norway’s institutes and industry also play an important part in this successful readiness, whether through the development of new composites to protect soldiers, as is being done at Norwegian University of Science and Technology’sSimLab, or new composites and light metals for components and reinforcement, as are provided by Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace AS, Devold AMT AS, and TotAL-gruppen in Raufoss, to the production of traditional products like ammunition, by companies such as Nammo AS. The industry also has strong representation through the Norwegian Defence and Security Industries Association (FSi), which represents more than 100 companies across Norway.
Research is also a priority. The country’s primary defence-related research is conducted at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI), an administrative agency subordinate to the Ministry of Defence that acts as the chief advisor on defence-related science and technology to the Ministry of Defence and the Norwegian Armed Forces’ military organization.
The country has allocated roughly NOK 31.5 billion for defence in 2008, and has an annual procurement budget of approximately NOK 14 billion for the purchase of equipment, goods, services and buildings, as well as various construction projects. About NOK 6 billion of this is spent on new equipment, including cutting-edge technologies, developed and supplied in part by Norwegian-based companies. Roughly NOK 6 billion goes to the purchase of goods and services related to the running of the Armed Services. Another NOK 2 billion is used for building maintenance and new construction projects.
This purchasing power, coupled with willing contractors and cutting-edge research, enables the country to answer a call to aid – or arms – with well-trained, fully equipped soldiers, whose foremost goal is protecting the nation and supporting peace abroad.
Afghanistan, Kosovo & at Home
While most of Norway’s 23,000 active duty soldiers, officers and affiliated civilian staff serve at home, a number are found in some of the world’s hot spots, in both military and humanitarian roles. Roughly 500 troops are currently deployed in Afghanistan, with about 250 of these in the north western part of the country, where they’ve met Taliban fighters in gun battle.
In contrast, just 7 officers are serving in Kosovo, in a mission designed to help the war-torn country. In late May 2008, for example, Norwegian officers helped organize a three-day mock earthquake to allow everyone to practise what to do in the event of a major emergency. “It’s important that crisis and aid workers at all levels know what they should do if a crisis happens. Now everyone has had a chance to practise in the worst possible scenario,” says Colonel Hans-Jacob Rødø, Chief of KIKPC, which is KFOR’s inspectora
te for the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC).
Closer to home, the deployment of Norwegian Armed Forces reflects the country’s political agenda, says Bård Bredrup Knudsen, Deputy Director General and Head of Policy Planning for the Norwegian Ministry of Defence’s Department for Security Policy. NATO still has a vital role for collective defence, he says. “Collective defence remains very important as an insurance policy , even though with the lack of any military threat it is not at the forefront of the agenda,” he says.
But Norwegian troops also contribute to societal security, by offering substantial resources for crisis management and protection of vital public functions and infrastructure, from water supplies to pipelines to transportation, he says. The Police and the Armed Forces’ last major mock terrorist attack exercise held in Oslo featured a scenario in which bombs and poison gas were unleashed in the subway system. “It is the Armed Forces that have the ability to handle chemical and biological weapons, and not the police,” Knudsen says. “That’s a good example of how the Armed Forces are involved in providing societal security.”
All Eyes Norh
Vigilance, Food & Shelter
Prowling the Seas
Electronicon AS supports the Norwegian Navy with maintenance, engineering solutions, platform integration and maritime electronics, particularly sonar and radar, while companies such as Comrod AS and AnCom AS provide antennas and systems for marine and defence use. With 2,500 employees in 11 countries, Norwegian-based Kongsberg Maritime is the world’s largest manufacturer of marine electronics, including for underwater navigation, telemetry and echo sounder and sonar technology.
Ruling the Skies
Topping off the Air Force’s capabilities are six 6 NASAMS II (Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System) batteries. This weapon system is modular, flexible, developed in Norway, and is the only system known in the world that can take out cruise missiles.
The Chip Revolution
Developments in electronics, communication and computer technology have revolutionized modern society over the last two decades, and the military is no exception. “We’re talking about a ‘chip’ revolution that colours everything,” Knudsen says. “The Internet, mobile phones – all these things have transformed our lives. These new technologies are employed by the military as well. There are many new possibilities, new generations of weapons systems, but they are expensive.”
Norway’s chief purveyor of ammunition and missile products is Nammo AS, located in the Raufoss Industrial Park. Nammo AS is one of the world’s leading suppliers of ammunition and missile products, including smart programmable airburst ammunition, hydro-ballistic mine clearance ammunition, and propulsion systems and warheads for missiles such as the NSM, ESSM, IRIS-T and Exocet Bloc 3. The company also offers the environmentally friendly disposal of conventional ammunition and bombs, with a full range of services from full disassembly and recycling to thermal treatment that meets the strictest European air pollution regulations.
Perhaps the most visible aspect of the technological revolution is in advanced telecommunications options, whether delivered by giants such as the Thales Group, whose Norwegian offices provide state-of-the-art cryptographic products, military message handling and soldier networks, or companies such as Nera Networks AS, which specializes in wireless network solutions for strategic communication infrastructures. Teleplan AS provides C4ISR system solutions and crisis management systems, and Tinex AS offers a Defence Technology branch that works with secure and open systems radio communications, radar, command and control systems, and satellite-based C3I systems. Kitron AS designs and manufacturers defence and marine electronics, including electronics for harsh and exposed environments.
Other areas where technology has made significant inroads are in optics and information technology. Simrad Optronics ASA is a top supplier of military electro-optical instruments, including laser rangefinders and target locaters, laser gun sights and night sights and night vision goggles. Jotne EPM Technology ASdevelops database solutions for sharing and storage of complex information, whereas Applica AS offers systems integration, software and hardware development, and EMC compatibility consulting.
The technological revolution has also allowed manufacturers to design equipment and systems that are intuitive to use and require a minimum of personnel to operate, which are perfect for Norway’s active duty forces, whose numbers have dropped over the years, but whose training and equipment has increased in sophistication and utility.
One example of this is Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace’s SL (Surface Launched)-AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile) System, which is delivered through the country’s NASAMS batteries. Since 2004, NASAMS has been earmarked by the Norwegian armed forces to be deployed in support of international crisis management operations.
All of this equipment and training enables Norway’s Armed Forces respond to a broad variety of tasks and missions. That’s how Defence Minister Strøm-Erichsen wants it. “We must ensure the visibility of our capability and our will to defend ourselves. Maintaining a presence can of itself serve to emphasise policy and behaviour,” she says in her speech to the Oslo Military Society. “And we must, to quote the Defence Commission, be able to raise the military threshold to such a high level that ‘no rational adversary would be able to impose its will on Norwegian authorities without resorting to a use of force that would be totally unacceptable to the global community and to the Alliance’.”