It is NATO that has requested
Norway to make combat aircraft available to the International
Security Assistant Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. The purpose is to
ensure that ISAF has access to combat aircraft capable of
demonstrating a presence and, if necessary, of providing close air
support to units on the ground if critical situations should arise.
In emergency situations, aircraft under ISAF’s command will also be
able to assist ground forces engaged in the United States led
operation “Enduring Freedom”. ISAF has a clear UN mandate and will
be the main area of involvement for Norwegian military operations
abroad during the coming year.
The Norwegian contribution will
form part of the F-16 cooperation agreed between a number of
European countries and will be in line with the Government’s wish
to strengthen our participation in ISAF. The aircraft will be under
the operational command of ISAF and will be stationed in Kabul. A
Norwegian liaison officer will be appointed to serve with the ISAF
headquarters staff whose task will be to look after Norwegian
interests in connection with operations in which the Norwegian
aircraft may be taking part.
Defence Minister Anne-Grete
Strøm-Erichsen briefed members of parliament on Wednesday when she
addressed the Storting on Norway’s contributions to operations in
Afghanistan and Iraq.
In Iraq the withdrawal of Norwegian
personnel from the multinational Stabilisation Force has already
started and will be completed during the course of December.
Norwegian participation in NATO’s training mission will also be
wound down in accordance with the Soria Moria Declaration on
foreign policy. Personnel will be withdrawn in connection with the
next rotation of NATO forces which is due to take place in
December. All directly appointed Norwegian officers will thus have
left Iraq by mid-December. There will, however, still be no
national limitations placed on Norwegian officers serving in NATO’s
command structure with regard to possible duty in Iraq.
“Participation in military
operations abroad is an integral and important part of Norwegian
security and defence policy. Through our involvement we make a
contribution towards peace while at the same time demonstrating our
solidarity with the international community. Taking part in such
operations abroad helps to strengthen international security, and
hence Norway’s own security,” says Defence Minister Anne-Grete
In 2006 we will at least maintain
the present extent of Norway’s military participation abroad. The
main focus of Norway’s international military contribution will
continue to be on NATO’s ISAF operation in Afghanistan. But, in
addition, it is one of the Government’s principal foreign policy
objectives to increase our level of involvement in support of the
UN, including the organisation’s military operations. Work has
already been set in motion to identify in more detail the needs of
the UN and what contributions we might be able to make towards
meeting such needs. We have initiated a dialogue with the UN as to
how Norway can help to strengthen the work of the UN in its peace
operations, says the Defence Minister.