Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen responds to a post in Dagens Næringsliv from former Chief of Defense Sverre Diesen who called for more information on how the extra billions for the Armed Forces will be used in the years ahead.
Former Chief of Defense Sverre Diesen calls for more information on how the extra billions for the Armed Forces will be used in the years ahead. It is not difficult to answer.
By 2024, the government will strengthen its Armed Forces personnel with 550 man-years and 700 conscripts. We will strengthen Finnmark Landforsvar, further develop Brigade North towards a mechanized brigade consisting of four combat battalions. In addition, a cadre-based company will be established to deal with threats from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons.
The Armed Forces' special forces are strengthened with a new task squadron. In the Norwegian Navy, we will upgrade the demining vessels and corvettes. The frigates will undergo a mid-life upgrade so that they are kept technically and operationally relevant.
The air defense system NASAMS will be upgraded from 2023. In addition, it is planned to start work on replacing the Bell 412 with a new type of helicopter from 2024.
Training will be moved out of the operational departments and a new recruit school will be established at Terningmoen. During this period, we also get artillery and armored vehicles for the Army, new Coast Guard vessels for the Navy, and new fighter jets and surveillance aircraft will come into service.
In the current long-term plan, it is planned with an economic escalation of about 180 billion NOK over 20 years. If we look at the new plan in a similar 20-year perspective, it adds up to a total financial escalation of about NOK 350 billion. This creates considerable room for further strengthening of the Armed Forces.
The government has proposed to increase the defense budget gradually over eight years to a level that is 16.5 billion higher than the current level. In addition, we make demands for improvement and efficiency. The freed-up resources must of course be kept in the sector.
This means that if the Armed Forces manage to release about NOK 500 million a year by streamlining operations, the sector will have a total of NOK 18.5 billion more, including investment in new capacities.
In recent years, we have improved maintenance, and put in place more spare parts and emergency stocks. We must continue with that. It is not true, as Diesen claims, that the new long-term plan takes a new course here. The government is following up what has already been started, at the same time as we continue the construction.
The government will strengthen all branches of defense. The army with more soldiers and increased fighting power. The Norwegian Navy with increased manning, more sailing days and an extension of the service life of a number of systems. In the Air Force, the phasing in of new capacities such as the F-35 and P-8 continues. The special forces get a new task squadron and new helicopters. The cyber defense is strengthened with increased staffing and investments. And the Home Guard is being modernized and given increased preparedness and responsiveness.
We make several clear priorities. The most important move is that we strengthen the Armed Forces with a plan that can be financed and that is in balance.