New Norwegian Long Term Plan on Defence: 'A historic plan'

The Norwegian Government is proposing to parliament a historic increase in defence spending with 600 billion kroner over the next 12 years, from this year to 2036 (approx. 60 billion USD). It is a historic boost for the Armed Forces. All services of the Norwegian Armed Forces will be strengthened, with more personnel and new capabilities.

‘Providing security for the people of Norway is the Government’s most fundamental task. We need a defence that is fit for purpose in the emerging security environment. This plan represents a historic boost in defence spending, and involves a significant strengthening of all branches of the Armed Forces’, says Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

The Norwegian Government is proposing to parliament a historic increase in defence spending with 600 billion kroner over the next 12 years, from this year to 2036 (approx. 60 billion USD).
The Norwegian Government is proposing to parliament a historic increase in defence spending with 600 billion kroner over the next 12 years, from this year to 2036 (approx. 60 billion USD). Credit: Torbjørn Kjosvold / Ministry of Defence.

The Norwegian Government propose to spend a total of NOK 1624 billion on Norway’s defence over the next twelve years, until 2036. By then, the defence budget will be almost twice as large as it is today, measured in real value.

‘Norway is a maritime nation with a strong maritime legacy. The Government commits to strengthening the Navy, with new frigates, submarines and other vessels. The plan also involves a robust air defence package, including Norway’s first long-range air defence system. We will also strengthen the land forces by expanding the Army from one to three brigades and increasing the Home Guard to a total of 45,000 soldiers’, Støre says.

‘As our security environment is deteriorating, we need to spend more on and pay more attention to defence and preparedness. Norway is in a unique position to take action. Our model of securing income for society from our natural resources, enable us to increase national security spending, without a cut in people’s public services’, says Minister of Finance, Trygve Slagsvold Vedum. He adds: ‘Our proposed defence investments will benefit the whole country in several ways. When we spend so much on defence, it must be in a way which creates Norwegian jobs and investments.’

The Government will prioritise the following main areas:

  • Improve the current defence structure: Improve current and critical deficiencies, including an increase in stocks of munitions and materiel, maintain buildings and important infrastructure, increase reception capacity for allied reinforcements and employ more people.
  • Invest in the people of the Armed Forces: Before 2036, the Government plans for around 4,600 more conscripts, 13,700 more reservists and 4,600 more employees, and a major boost in competence.
  • A strong maritime package: The Navy will get a minimum of five new frigates with anti-submarine helicopters, at least five new submarines, and a standardised vessel class of up to ten large and eighteen smaller vessels. In terms of money, the strengthening of the Navy is the largest investment in this long-term plan.
  • More and improved air defence: The Government will purchase long-range air defence systems to protect against short-range ballistic missiles. In addition, the quantity of the existing NASAMS air defence will be doubled, which will be upgraded to improve protection against drones and missiles. Both the Air Force and the Army will receive more systems, and the current air defence systems will be updated.
  • Stronger Army and Home Guard: The Army is being developed from one to three brigades, one in the northernmost county Finnmark, one in Troms, and a new Brigade South. Investments will follow on long-range precision firepower, additional combat vehicles, air defence, and helicopters for the Army and special forces. The Home Guard will increase to a total of 45,000 soldiers and with improved capabilities.
  • Improve situational awareness: Increase the ability to create situational awareness with more surveillance, presence, and control in our surrounding areas, through the use of new vessels and the expansion of satellite and drone capabilities.

‘Norway is no threat to anyone, nor is NATO. But we must have the capability to defend ourselves if crisis and war occur. A stronger national defence will contribute to deter those who might wish to threaten our sovereignty,’ says Støre.

‘We must have a military focused on active conflict prevention every day and yet prepared to handle conflict. Increased activity requires more personnel. Our Armed Forces will be strengthened with over 20,000 conscripted soldiers, employees, and reservists in total,’ says Minister of Defence Bjørn Arild Gram.

The Government will implement a historic strengthening of the Armed Forces. To succeed, multiple efforts must be implemented simultaneously. Addressing critical deficiencies in today’s defence is a prerequisite for further growth.

‘We need to invest in infrastructure, not just for today’s defence but also for a defence set for growth. We need to increase educational capacity to meet the need for more personnel, and we must allocate enough funds to replenish the emergency stockpiles. This is essential to avoid ending up with an imbalanced force structure, where vessels are docked, and aircraft are parked,’ says Gram.

The long-term plan will require significant resources, more employees, and large investments. Therefore, the Government is presenting a plan for the next twelve years.

‘The plan commits this Government, future governments, and the Parliament over time. It provides predictability and long-term stability for people and investments in the Armed Forces, and this commitment sends an important signal to our allies and others,’ says Prime Minister Støre.

The Nordics in NATO

Norwegian security is dependent on NATO and our close allies. Strengthened capability to receive allied reinforcements throughout the Nordic region, and the ability to operate together with allied forces, including Sweden and Finland, is crucial. Through the initiatives in the long-term plan, the Government aims to meet key NATO capability targets.

’75 years in the world’s strongest military and political alliance has secured the peace and provided Norway’s security guarantee. Finnish and Swedish NATO membership is a strength to security in our region, but also a new obligation to Norway. We must rapidly transform from not just a receiving country of allied reinforcements but also a transit and contributing ally to the defence and security of the entire Nordic and Baltic region,’ says Defence Minister Gram.

A call for a political settlement

In recent months, the Government has had close contact and meetings with the parliamentary leaders of the parties in Parliament and with the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence.

‘The Government thanks for the constructive dialogue with all parties, and invites the Parliament to a broad political settlement on this historic plan. It is of great importance that we stand together in safeguarding Norway,’ says Støre.