Norwegian armies cannot defend the country, according to its Chief of Staff

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According to General Rune Jakobson, operational commander of the Norwegian forces,The current format of its forces would be insufficient to defend the country awaiting reinforcements from NATO. Furthermore, the country would be unable to maintain a minimal defensive posture while fulfilling its operational commitments to NATO. According to this 58-year-old major general, a second brigade would be needed for the land forces to achieve this minimum format. Although it has strong air and naval forces, with a planned format of 52 F-35As and 5 P8 Poseidon for the first, and 6 submarines and 4 frigates for the second, the Norwegian forces are very limited, with only 23.500 active personnel, including conscripts, and 40.000 reservists. The land forces bring together 7.830 people, among whom only 3.600 are soldiers, mainly gathered in a single brigade, the “North” brigade.

This is not for lack of budget, the small Norwegian army having an annual budget exceeding $7,5 billion, and is one of the rare countries on the continent to spend more than 2% of its GDP on its Defense. Moreover, the Norwegian soldiers are rather very well equipped. For comparison, the Belgian armed forces, which bring together 24.000 people, only have a budget of $4,9 billion. And this is reflected in the number of equipment in service or on order: 36 F35As for Belgium, 52 for Norway; 2 frigates for Belgium, 4 modern frigates (5 built) for Norway; no submarines for Belgium, 4 for Norway (6 today); no battle tank for Belgium, 52 Leopard 2 A4NO for Norway (36 in service)….

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Norway is the only European country that will see its fighter fleet increase from the F16 to the F35, going from 46 operational F16s (72 initially) to 52 F35s.

In Norway, as in the majority of European countries today, the main problem lies in the recruitment of personnel. In a country where the average salary exceeds $60.000 per year, and which has experienced a very low unemployment rate for several decades, it is very difficult to create a vocation for the profession of arms, by nature restrictive and limited in terms of salary prospects. Furthermore, Oslo is no exception to other European capitals, by having convinced itself of the end of conflicts between states with the end of the Cold War, and by reinforcing the idea that such a hypothesis was impossible among the population. Finally, and here again, like many European countries, Norway has agreed to resting, in large part, the country's security solely on its membership in NATO, and more precisely, on the military supremacy of the United States in the World.

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However, in just a few years, many of these certainties have vanished, with the rapid strengthening of Russian military power, the appearance of a double-front hypothesis with China for the United States, and even the alarming observation concerning the effective capabilities of Sea Lift Command, the American naval transport force, whose average age of ships today exceeds 50 years. Adding to this the appearance of new weapon systems, such as the Tzirkon and Kinzhal hypersonic missiles or the Poseidon strategic torpedoes, and the growing and threatening power of China in the Pacific which potentially threatens the United States and requires concentration of greater resources in this area, the potential reinforcement of American forces to respond to a Russian offensive in Europe is, if not canceled, in any case significantly reduced, and delayed in time.

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Unlike many countries, Norway maintains a heavy armored force, with a regiment of Leopard 2 A4NO

In fact, like many countries in northern and eastern Europe, Norway is coming to reconsider its defensive options, and in particular the need to increase its own forces, so as to increase the duration of potential Norwegian resistance. , awaiting American or European reinforcement. But, if it is relatively simple and quick to take out the checkbook to acquire new equipment, it is much more delicate, and time-consuming, to increase the numbers of an armed force, which needs structure, supervision, a balanced age pyramid and skills, and above all volunteers. All this will take time, and requires resources beyond the funds allocated to the Ministry of the Armed Forces, because it is a question of creating in the population, once again, the momentum which leads some to want to serve and protect the country.

In this sense, Norway, like Sweden before it, due to their small population and their exposure to Russia, appear to be precursors of what will have to be done throughout Europe, including in Germany and France, in order to to re-capitalize everyone's defenses, and thereby raise the dissuasive potential of the whole, with, and especially without, the United States as a rear guard. Security and peace across the continent will certainly depend on the foresight of political elites to tackle this problem before it is too late, and for events to take control of themselves.

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