The Norwegian parliament has agreed upon a new Long Term Plan for the Norwegian Armed Forces. The plan is entitled Capable and Sustainable and represent a historic defence spending increase.
The plan will enhance readiness in all services by improved logistics, increased manning-levels, training and presence. In addition, comes investments in future capabilities. The plan is based on realistic estimates of future cost-levels enabling a real long-term sustainability.
The main priorities in its implementation will be to 1. Strengthen our national defence, 2. Strengthen NATO’s ability for collective defence, 3. Contribute to international crisis management and 4. Further develop the total defence concept.
The security situation in Europe has deteriorated over the past few years. We cannot take our sovereignty and freedoms for granted. The Long Term Plan will ensure that we, as part of the Alliance, have the means to present a credible deterrent against the use of force.
The Long Term Plan gives priority to a series of investments in capabilities of strategic importance in order to improve intelligence, situational awareness and striking power. This is essential in order to strengthen the Norwegian defence posture, as well as being a significant contribution to NATO. In addition to completing the F-35 acquisition, parliament has voted in favour of the government’s proposal to replace the current submarine fleet and maritime patrol aircraft, as well as significant investments in modern air defence systems. (Emphasis added—Ed.)
The new Long Term Plan represents a major financial boost for the Norwegian Armed Forces and secures important investments such as new fighter aircraft, patrol aircraft and submarines. The financial impetus is spread over several years and several phases.
In 2017, the additional funds will go towards reducing a backlog that has built up with regard to materiel maintenance and reserve stocks.
Starting in 2018, extra resources will be employed to increase activity in all branches of the military, and in 2019 and 2020 we will see a focus on new capabilities to strengthen defence and situational awareness in the High North.
The Inspectors General of the Armed Forces will have their titles changed to Chief of the Army, Chief of the Navy, Chief of the Air Force and Chief of the Home Guard. This consolidates responsibility and authority among the service branch chiefs, who in addition to being force producers are to be responsible for operational leadership of the forces at tactical level.
The Chief of the Norwegian Joint Headquarters will continue to exercise operational command of the Armed Forces. The Army and Home Guard are to be studied further in a special review of land forces in 2017.
The new Long Term Plan contains a number of base and location changes.
-- Andøya Air Station is to be closed when new patrol aircraft are phased in at Evenes.
-- The Air Force Education Centre’s administrative staff and the Air Force Officer Candidate School are to be located at Værnes.
-- The Armed Forces operations at Kjevik are to be discontinued.
-- The Armed Forces camp at Kjeller, including airport, is to be closed.
-- 339 Squadron (Bell 412) is to be located at Rygge when sufficient alternative helicopter capacity is established in the north.
-- The Chief of the Air Force, Air Force Staff, Air Operations Inspectorate and Armed Forces’ EW support centre are to continue at Rygge. The Air Force programming centre is to be located at Rygge.
-- 334 Squadron (NH-90 frigate-borne helicopters) is to be located at Haakonsvern naval base.
-- Hovemoen camp is to be closed.
-- Åsegarden camp is to be closed.
In addition, the following are to be phased out:
-- 717 Squadron (DA-20 Jet Falcon) is to be discontinued.
-- The Naval Home Guard is to be discontinued.
-- The mine countermeasure vessels are to be replaced with autonomous mine-countermeasure systems.
-- The corvettes are to be phased out when the F-35 has sufficient overlapping capacity.
The Long Term Plan also includes comprehensive education and training reform. All accredited Armed Forces colleges and officer candidate schools are to be merged organisationally. The result will be one joint college with responsibility for educating officers and specialists to serve at various levels.
Changes from the Government's original proposal
The main features of the Government's Long Term Plan proposal remain in place, with only minor changes made after consideration by the Storting.
The Coastal Ranger Command is to stay in Harstad, and there will be a further strengthening of the Army and Home Guard in the High North, beyond what the Government has already provided for in the Long Term Plan and the budget for 2017.
Closure of the Home Guard District 11 district staff and Setnesmoen camp will be postponed pending the review of land forces.
Norway’s special forces are to be provided with dedicated helicopter support, but the current distribution of Bell 412 helicopters at Bardufoss and Rygge will remain until alternative helicopter capacity is established in the north.
The Land Power Study will evaluate the Army’s future helicopter capacity needs.
The Armed Forces workshop in Horten is to be retained.
All five professional music bands are to carry on, but there is agreement on a new funding model starting in 2018.
Agencies outside the Armed Forces
The Norwegian Defence Estates Agency, the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency, the Norwegian National Security Authority and the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment will soon receive the allocation letter for the Long Term Plan covering the 2017–2020 period from the Ministry of Defence.
The allocation letter emphasises the description of goals for the period, and provides guidance on what the agencies should do with respect to implementation of the Long Term Plan. Agency heads will in turn communicate the tasks with greater specificity to their own agencies. The Chief of Defence is expected to issue his activity plan in January.