State secretary Øystein Bø in The Norwegian Ministry of Defence held these opening remarks at 5th Annual Norwegian-American Defense conference April 6th 2017. This is a yearly event hosted by The Norwegian-American Defense Industry/Homeland Security Council (NADIC).
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Ladies and gentlemen, Dear Friends. It is both an honor and a privilege to be able to once again attend the NADIC conference. It is great to see so many familiar faces in the audience. I truly appreciated having the opportunity to speak to so many of you last night. thankful and honored by your presence here today.
I wish to thank NADIC and the NADIC team for organizing this event. This conference has become an important venue where decision-makers and stakeholders discuss security cooperation between the United States and Norway.
This is my third NADIC conference. I was here the first time at the second conference, and, looking at the turn-out today - what should I say but a big "WOW".
The core of the US-Norwegian relationship is the transatlantic link. A former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO has stated that the transatlantic link is the "lifeblood of the NATO alliance", and is crucial to our mutual security. I agree – the transatlantic link is of vital importance.
It is the basis of NATO’s credibility as an alliance, linking military capabilities. But, he transatlantic link goes beyond military capabilities and geography. Equally important is the shared history and common values that tie us together. The theme of this years conference is "Smar Alliances". When discussing this, it is important to keep in mind that Allied Security is inseparable from US Security.
We often focus on how the US provides security for its Allies, but the fact is that we are all committed to each others security, including that of the US. This morning I will focus my remarks on the transatlantic link. The importance of the bilateral relationship between the US and Norway, and how both NATO and Norway should develop in order to ensure that the lifeblood of NATO remains intact.
For Norway, NATO and the transatlantic link is the cornerstone of our security and defense policy. The US is no doubt our most important ally. Article 5 of the NATO treaty rests on the security guarantee provided by the US. However, Norway does not take the US for granted, and we are among those who argue that Europe needs to continue increasing its defense spending.
Our bilateral security partnership with the US is broad and deep, and it spans a large number of different areas. Although different in size and magnitude, we understand each other, and we work well together. I firmly believe that our cooperation is mutually beneficial. I'd like to highlight three aspects of our bilateral cooperation.
First, the US and Norway continue working closely on situational awareness in the High North and the North Atlantic. This facilitates a common understanding of the challenges we face in that region. As a part of this cooperation, I’m pleased to note that a major milestone was passed last week, when the Norwegian Defence Material Agency signed the LOA on acquisition of five Boeing P-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft. The P-8s will make up an important capability, enabling us to continue and enhance our important maritime surveillance for decades to come. This is a strategic asset for Norway, but also for the US and the Alliance.
Within the alliance, as well as in the US and Norway, there is a renewed attention to maritime challenges, posture and strategy. In particular, we are closely following developments in the North Atlantic. We are seeing a significant improvement of Russian military maritime capabilities in this area, combined with increased activity. The acquisition of the P-8s is one important response to this, as is, to my mind, also the British acquisition of another nine P-8. Sharing the same platform for Maritime Surveillance, I believe we would benefit from a strong trilateral cooperation between the US, Norway and Great Britain, utilizing both operational and logistical synergies, and not least, dividing labour among us.
This leads me to my second point: Interoperability and strengthening of our defense capabilities. Joint operations, training and exercises are key in this regard. US and Norwegian forces training and operating together, provide for deterrence and defense. At almost any given time of the year, Norway is hosting training or exercises with the United States and other Allies and partners. A current example is the newly established US Marine Corps rotational presence in Norway. Training and exercises increase interoperability.
This, in its turn, improves readiness, both nationally and collectively. But such cooperation is also valuable in out-of-area operations: In Afghanistan and more recently in the fight against ISIL in the Middle East, US and Norwegian forces seamlessly operate together, shoulder to shoulder. And, we must not forget that, in the end, this is about being prepared for fighting together, should we be called upon. Thirdly, defense industry cooperation plays an important part in our mutual security and defense. We need to equip our servicemen and -women with the best possible tools.
There are good reasons for further strengthening the defense industry cooperation between the US and Norway. Reciprocal defense trade contributes to interoperability, which strengthens our mutual and collective defense capabilities. Norway imports about 70% of our defense equipment, - about half of this from the US. I am pleased to note that high end, innovative and competitive Norwegian defense products have also attracted the attention of the US Armed Forces. These products are the result of close collaboration between our Armed Forces, the military R&D Community and our industry.
They reflect our strategic insight and operational experience linked to the High North, vast ocean areas, extreme littorals, challenging topography and harsh arctic climate. These conditions have forced us to think smartly and "out of the box", in order to develop capabilities that enables Norway to uphold our job as NATO's gatekeeper to the north, looking after NATOs northern flank. This is a task we take seriously, and a task that has become even more challenging over the last few years. We see that Russia’s illegal use of military force against another European nation and its continuing destabilization of Eastern Ukraine has led to a fundamental shift in the European security landscape, creating uncertainty as regards Russia's intentions. Adding on to that, assertive and aggressive political and military acts, as well as a significant military modernization, leaves me in no doubt that we need to take the situation seriously.
That said, as of today, Norway does not consider Russia a direct military threat. We believe that Russia, as us, sees an interest in preserving the High North as region of stability and peace. However, we do closely monitor military developments in our neighborhood. Russia’s ability to disrupt sea operations and project force into the Atlantic Ocean may pose a threat to the Sea Lines of Communication across the North Atlantic. In the face of the significant shifts in the security landscape, Article 5 and collective defense has moved to the top of NATO’s agenda.
Since the Wales Summit in 2014, NATO has conducted the heaviest reinforcement of its collective defence since the end of the Cold war. This includes enhanced Forward Presence in the East, combined with a rapid reinforcement capability, and shoring up of NATOs standing naval forces. NATO has responded.
Our work, however, is not done. NATO must continue adapting, in order to stay relevant in today’s evolving security environment. Let me highlight some points that I consider crucial in going forward: First, NATO’s credibility and cohesion is based on a strong transatlantic link, which needs US leadership. When Secretary Mattis spoke at the NATO Defence Ministerial in Brussels in February, his clear message of a continued strong US commitment to NATO, was highly appreciated by Allies. This brings me to my second point, which was also a key part of Secretary Mattis’ message in Brussels: We must ensure a more reasonable transatlantic burden sharing. We need a strong commitment to sufficient resource contribution by all member states. The Wales defense investment pledge to move toward the 2% guideline requires our persistent efforts. There is much talk about Article 5 and collective defence, but we have to remember that the foundation for collective defence is that every Ally contribute, and honour Article 3 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which is clear on the obligation of Allies to "maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack".
Strong US leadership and commitment to European security - and increased defense spending by European allies. These elements are essential to increase the output of the alliance. NATO must be able to cope with all potential threats from all directions (a 3600 approach). Our willingness or ability to fulfill our collective defense commitments are fundamental in this regard. As we work together to ensure the long-term health of the transatlantic relationship, Norway is determined to do its part. We are committed to the Wales defense investment pledge. That is one important benchmark. But burden sharing is about more than just opening up the wallet. It’s also about using increased resources in a way that benefits the Alliance and our common security. Norway’s close cooperation with the US, as part of the C-ISIL coalition in Iraq and Syria, is but one example. Our long-term commitment to build and mentor the Afghan counter-terrorism unit, another.
That said, increased spending and acquiring the right capabilities, are vital. The new Norwegian Defence Long-Term Plan will substantially increase our defense spending over the years to come. Over the next twenty years, we will strengthen our defense budget with around 180 billion Norwegian Kroner (or close to 22 billion USD). That might not seem much to an American, but I can assure you that, for an economy sustaining less than 5,5 million people, it is substantial. The plan recognizes that Norway, as many other European Allies, will always depend on NATO, and on the US. That is the whole idea behind the establishment of NATO in 1949. Allies safeguard our common security together. Norwegian military capabilities must therefore be tailored to NATO’s collective defense effort. The increased funding allows for substantial investment in high-end capabilities that are available, deployable and interoperable - moving Norway towards the 2% guideline and keeping us well above the 20% guideline for investments. This will bolster our national defense, and strengthen NATO’s situational awareness in the north. But the funds must also be spent wisely. In my opinion, increased allied cooperation is a key factor to achieve this.
Our significant F-35 acquisition is a key component in our Long-Term Plan, and a prime example of increased cooperation between the US and Norway, but also between all Allies who are part of the F-35 program. Norway stands firm on our plan to acquire up to 52 F-35’s. The first four training aircraft’ have already been delivered, and the first F-35 will be arriving in Norway in November this year. The F-35 program provides operational and logistical synergies between our respective Air Forces. In addition, it has brokered viable industrial cooperation between Lockheed Martin, Pratt and Whitney, Northrup Grumman and Norwegian defense industry companies. Equipped with the Norwegian Joint Strike Missile, we see the F-35 as a game-changer, with the ability to defeat even well defended targets at extended range with very high precision. This ability to deter potential opponents will obviously be an important contribution to collective defense.
Another collaborative effort that strengthens collective defense is the long term NASAMS cooperation between Raytheon and Kongsberg, as well as Raytheon’s missile collaboration with NAMMO. Recently, these three companies signed an innovative industrial cooperation agreement with the Norwegian MOD to enhance existing missile systems. Prospective results of this development effort will benefit our respective Armed Forces, and potentially address military requirements of other allies. Guarding NATO’s northern flank requires substantial naval capabilities. The decision to acquire the P-8s and new submarines clearly displays this.
Norway has chosen Germany as our strategic partner for our future submarine program. This will facilitate a host of synergies between Norway and Germany. An important part of this is Germany's to acquire identical submarines together with us. This has resulted in plans for comprehensive strategic cooperation on training, exercises, maintenance and logistics. Thorugh utilizing our two nations’ relevant strengths, Germany and Norway will also be able to realize important operational, financial and industrial benefits. The fact that Germany has chosen to buy Kongsberg's Naval Strike missile from Norway, will contribute to broadening the cooperation. In addition, the submarines will be equipped with Kongsberg command and control systems.
The comprehensive bilateral interaction related to building and operating the submarines also has a clear potential for developing new and innovative technologies. In my opinion, this is the type of defense cooperation that we need to pursue. Not only does it improve our ability to address the many challenges to our defense priorities, it also helps maximizing the output of our investments. Thats why I bring up a Norwegian/German cooperation at a Norwegian/American defense conference? I believe this is part of the future of Defense industry cooperation. And, there is a particular challenge for Europe in this. We have something like 19 different European combat vehicles. In the long run this is not sustainable. The cost of developing so many different platforms for doing the same thing, will simply be to high. I know I dive into difficult questions of self-suffiency and national jobs in saying this, but I believe that we, over time, need to overcome these challenges, in order to get more out of the resources we put into the defense sector. In order to maintain technological superiority we also need to exploit innovative talent and resources wherever it resides. To illustrate the DoD is now actively searching for innovative solutions outside the traditional armaments community. A concrete case in point is the work of the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUX) to tap into civilian technologies that are useful to the US Armed Forces. At the same time I believe it is important not to loose sight of the fact that key innovation also takes place outside the US.
Consequently, improved access to other nations’ technologies is another powerful argument for pursuing closer and more efficient bilateral defense cooperation. One example is the Black Hornet nano-drone which the U.S. Special Operations Forces, Army, Air Force and Marine Corps all use, developed by the Norwegian company Prox Dynamics. As you may know, Prox Dynamics was recently bought by FLIR. In my opinion, this merger between a small and innovative high-end technological Norwegian company, and a major US corporation will serve the warfighter even better, and it clearly reflects the spirit of this conference, as well as the close link between our two countries.
Another novel collaboration with a lot of potential, is the recent establishment of NAMMOs EOD and missile development facility at the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Indian Head in Maryland. Not only will this interaction between the US Navy and NAMMO help our soldiers, it will also boost civilian employment in this community. I have highlighted some of the numerous benefits of cooperation and utilizing other nations’ defense solutions, - for our respective Armed Forces, for our industry stakeholders, including, as Ambassador Aas said, a boost to job creation.
Close to 470.000 American jobs, many of those in the defense industry, sustained by Norwegian companies and investments. In my world, that is significant! In the years to come we, for our part, aim at making the cooperation between the US and Norway even closer. A key aspect should be facilitating reciprocal technology transfer that can support a more rational use of industrial, economic, and technological resources both in the U.S. and Norway. Another objective must be to facilitate US-Norwegian joint development and marketing of defense products in third country markets.
Together the US and Norway can field innovative and competitive defense equipment that save resources, time and, most importantly, the lives of our most precious resource, our servicemen and -women. Fostering and strengthening the relationship between allies, between the US and Norway, at the industrial, operational and strategic level is vital to ensure that the transatlantic link, the "lifeblood" of NATO and our common security, remains intact. I trust you will all use this year's NADIC conference to take this great relationship even further. I thank you for your attention.