Meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence:

NATO says ‘Yes’ to major exercise in Norway in 2018

Brussels: One of NATO’s key goals is to exercise more. NATO has now agreed to a Norwegian offer to host a major, high-visibility exercise in the alliance’s northernmost area in 2018. “Good news for Norway and important for the armed forces,” says Norway’s Minister of Defence, Ine Eriksen Søreide.

As NATO’s military action in Afghanistan winds down, it is important for the alliance to keep up its military cooperation and continue integrating the skills and experience it gained during many years of joint ISAF operations in Afghanistan.

“Allied military coordination must now be preserved and strengthened through our joint training and exercise programme, and this is a key priority for NATO going forward,” the defence minister says. “That’s why I made the offer last year for Norway to serve as host of the large NATO exercise in 2018. I’m very happy NATO has now accepted. This will contribute to greater readiness and response capacity within the alliance.”

After its 2012 summit in Chicago, NATO decided to increase the scale of its joint exercise and training activities in the years to come. The NATO allies agreed in Chicago on a Connected Forces Initiative (CFI) centred on exercise and training. Starting in 2015, NATO will carry out high-visibility exercises every third year. These will be the largest class of exercises in the alliance. The high-visibility exercise in the autumn of 2015 will be conducted on and around the Iberian Peninsula, with Portugal, Spain and Italy as hosts. “We wish to maintain geographical balance in the staging of these exercises, so it is in both Norway’s and NATO’s interest that the 2018 exercise be held in the northern part of the NATO area,” says Eriksen Søreide. She notes that allied training in the north also strengthens the defence of our periphery.

An estimated 25,000 soldiers will participate in this year’s high-visibility exercise. It is quite possible that the exercise in 2018 will bring together at least that many.

“We envisage a training scenario where the focus is on demonstrating deterrence and defence of this area of the alliance,” the defence minister says. “On the Norwegian side we would like to see more exercise and training based on collective defence. It’s of course too early to say anything more concrete about content, but we’re very pleased to have been assigned this exercise and we look forward to continue working with NATO on the planning. This contributes to a further strengthening of our already good cooperation with NATO. The main part of the exercise takes Norway as its base, but several areas in NATO’s northern region will be involved.”

Norway has a long tradition of hosting major allied military exercises.