Good work in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the Storting has led to agreement on the new long-term plan. “We are pleased that there have been reinforcements that will further improve the defense capability. A good plan has become even better,” says the Minister of Defense.
On 26 November, the new long-term plan for the defense sector was discussed and debated in the Storting. On 1 December, the Storting voted and agreed on the entirety of the plan. There have been extensive negotiations, with important discussions. “I am glad we have now reached an agreement with the Storting on the entirety of the plan. Agreement provides predictability. It is good for the defense of Norway,” says Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen.
Prop. 14 S (2020-2021) "Ability to defend - willingness to be prepared" has now been adopted, and the Government's multi-year effort to create a real balance between tasks with ambition, structure and finances will continue.
“The long-term plan provides a much-needed financial investment in our defense capability, and entails a significant financial boost for the defense sector. The government assumed that it would spend NOK 16.5 billion more on defense in 2028 than today, with a gradual increase in the defense budget. Through the negotiations, we have agreed to further strengthen the plan,” says the Minister of Defense.
The Government is thus following up on the multi-year obligations from the previous long-term plan and new initiatives contained in the new plan.
The new long-term plan will increase the Armed Forces' preparedness, responsiveness and endurance. In the next few years, we will continue to build the defense structure, by adding new capabilities and upgrading the capabilities we have. This will increase the Armed Forces' operational capability and help to close gaps within existing planning and NATO's capability goals for Norway.
To increase firepower and operational capability, we are procuring new tanks in the Army. The introduction of long-range precision fire will further increase this capability. Together with the establishment of a fourth maneuver battalion in Brigade North, this will fulfill a key NATO goal for Norway.
We are acquiring four new submarines from the end of the 2020s, and we are establishing a new operational squadron of Navy Commandos.
In the Air Force, the introduction of the new F-35 fighter jets and P-8 maritime patrol aircraft will have the main priority until 2025.
These strategic capabilities will be important in strengthening the Armed Forces' combat power in a joint operational framework. A new surface structure will be studied that will replace the current surface combat vessels and ensure lasting operational capability after 2030.
The government will return to the Storting on this in 2022. The priority measures in the long-term plan are based on thorough professional studies, analyzes and political assessments.
Increases staffing in 2021
There has been broad agreement in the Storting on the need for an increase in personnel in the Armed Forces. The long-term plan is the first in several decades that provides for significant growth in the Armed Forces' structure, with the establishment of several new units, especially in the Army. A number of new units will be established, both standing units with high preparedness in peacetime and cadre-based units that will be able to be mobilized quickly in crisis and war.
The Armed Forces' personnel structure over the next eight years will grow by about 5,200 employees and soldiers, which constitutes the most comprehensive personnel increase in the Armed Forces in several decades.
The government will increase staffing in the Armed Forces, and it is now agreed to force an increase in the number of man-years in the Armed Forces to 310 already in 2021. This increase will be aligned with the recommendations in the Chief of Defense's Council.
“The Armed Forces' most important task is to defend Norway, together with our allies and supported by the total defense. The Armed Forces must also be able to support the whole of society when necessary. This requires that we have skilled, competent and dedicated employees. First and foremost, to get more effect out of the weapon systems we have already invested a lot in, but also to develop a defense with increased responsiveness and endurance,” says the Minister of Defense.
A good plan has been improved
“Another important topic from the negotiations is new helicopters. The government has emphasized that replacing the Bell 412 will provide a capacity that is better adapted to the needs of the special forces. It is now agreed that a helicopter squadron will also be established at Bardufoss to support and cooperate with the Army.
“It will take time to train more pilots, and the measure will require investments in equipment, building and construction in addition to what the government has based its long-term plan on. We will achieve this in the long run,” says the Minister of Defense.
“Building defense capability takes time and requires painstaking efforts over many years. Strengthening the Armed Forces has been a recurring theme for this government ever since we started, and we will continue to do so now. Year by year, defense budgets have increased under this government, so as to realize increased ambitions for the Armed Forces in an increasingly challenging world,” added the Minister of Defense.
“This government keeps its promises and invests in the Armed Forces. Through follow-up of the long-term plans, we create a safer Norway, with better preparedness, increased combat power and continued economic sustainability for the Armed Forces,” says Minister of Defense Frank-Bakke Jensen.