Adapting Norway's Armed Forces to the Requirements of International Operations

Published under: Bondevik's 1st Government

Publisher Forsvarsdepartementet

Norwegian Participation in International Military Operations

Adapting Norway's Armed Forces to the Requirements of International Operations

Summary of White Paper No. 38 (1998-99) presented to the Norwegian Parliament on 4 June 1999 by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Defence

Preface

The Norwegian Government recommends to Parliament the establishment of an Armed Forces Task Force for International Operations. The Task Force will consist of units from all branches of the Armed Forces and include a total number of more than 3500 personnel. It will be capable of fulfilling both NATO Article 5 and non-Article 5 missions and tasks (i.e., collective defence and peace support operations), with priority to the former in case of conflicting needs. In addition to being part of NATOs force structure, the Task Force may also contribute to international peace support operations under the auspices of other organisations, in particular the United Nations.

The major elements of the Task Force will be answerable as well to the WEU, and may be assigned to future European force structures. The White Paper emphasizes the need to ensure that the forces will have sufficient sustainability, mobility, survivability and interoperability to fulfil NATOs requirements as specified in the Defence Capabilities Initiative adopted at the NATO Summit in Washington in April 1999.

The new Armed Forces Task Force for International Operations

The Norwegian Government recommends to Parliament the establishment of an Armed Forces Task Force for International Operations. The Task Force will consist of units from all branches of the Armed Forces and include a total number of more than 3500 personnel. It will be capable of fulfilling both NATO Article 5 and non-Article 5 missions and tasks (i.e., collective defence and peace support operations), with priority to the former in case of conflicting needs.

In addition to being part of NATOs force structure, the Task Force may also contribute to international peace support operations under the auspices of other organisations, in particular the United Nations. The major elements of the Task Force will be answerable as well to the WEU, and may be assigned to future European force structures. The White Paper emphasizes the need to ensure that the forces will have sufficient sustainability, mobility, survivability and interoperability to fulfil NATOs requirements as specified in the Defence Capabilities Initiative adopted at the NATO Summit in Washington in April 1999.

The White Paper describes in detail the elements proposed to be included in the new Task Force. The most substantial quantitative improvements concern the Army's capacity to contribute to international operations. The Norwegian contribution to NATOs Immediate Reaction Forces (Land)(IRF(L)) will be increased by over 50 per cent, to approximately 1400 personnel, organized in a battlegroup equipped to handle the full range of potential international operations, including outside NATOs core area of responsibility as defined in Article 6 of the North Atlantic Treaty. Within 90 days, the battlegroup may be reinforced by more robust units in order to be capable of handling the most demanding tasks.

Also for the Navy and the Air Force, the establishment of the Task Force will entail a significant increase in the size and range of their contributions.

In addition to contributions from the three main branches of the armed forces, joint high quality support elements and specialized units, including intelligence units and special forces, will be part of the package. The complete Armed Forces Task Force for International Operations will consist of the following elements:

Army (approximately 2100 persons)

Rapid Reaction Forces (approximately 1400 persons)

  • One battalion-size battlegroup, including:
    • battalion staff, headquarters, and support companies
    • 2 mechanized infantry companies
    • 1 armoured infantry company
    • 1 artillery target acquisition platoon
    • 1 engineering platoon
  • National Contingency Commander
  • Reinforced logistics support element

Reinforcement Forces (approximately 700 persons)

Will reinforce the above battlegroup with more robust elements, in particular for peace enforcement and Article 5 purposes:

  • 1 main battle tank squadron
  • 1 armoured reconnaissance company
  • 1 expanded engineer element
  • 1 artillery battery
  • 1 movement control unit

Navy (approximately 440 persons)

  • 1 motor torpedo boat (MTB) squadron (4 MTBs and 1 support vessel; approximately 150 persons)
  • 1 frigate (approximately 130 persons)
  • 1 mine countermeasure vessel (approximately 40 persons)
  • 1 command and support vessel (approximately 75 persons)
  • 1 submarine (approximately 20 persons)
  • 1 underwater demolition platoon (approximately 25 persons)

Air Force (approximately 1000 persons)

  • 1 fighter squadron (12 F-16s; approximately 420 persons)
  • 1 maritime patrol aircraft (approximately 40 persons)
  • 2 transport aircraft (C-130; approximately 115 persons)
  • 1 helicopter unit (4 BELL 412 SP; approximately 75 persons)
  • 1 surface-to-air missile system unit (NASAMS; 340 persons)

Joint assets

  • Special forces (elements from both the Army and the Navy)
  • Intelligence elements
  • Medical elements

An important rationale behind the proposed establishment of the Task Force is the desire to have one joint and unitary system for the purpose of all kinds of international military operations. Previously, Norwegian forces specifically earmarked for international operations have been separated into various categories, based on different systems of force generation.

The recommended new system will establish one single category of forces designed to be able to handle all international missions in which Norway may choose to participate, from less demanding preventive tasks in an unstable region to peace enforcement and Article 5 operations in a full-flegded armed conflict. All units will fulfil the relevant NATO standards for interoperability. The Army battlegroup will be adopted to meet the recommendations contained in NATOs IRF 2000 study.

Reflecting the specific emphasis on strategic mobility in NATOs Defence Capabilities Initiative, the White Paper recommends that the new Task Force include a significant capability in this respect. The Air Forces contribution will include two C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. In addition, sealift of the Army battlegroup will be ensured through dormant contracts with Norwegian commercial shipping companies. These contracts may include a redundant capacity, in order for Norway also to be able to offer a sealift capacity to Allies. Reinforced capacity for logistics support will also be included, for example through an enhanced national support element as part of the Army battlegroup for operations outside NATO territory. All units will be protected against weapons of mass destruction in accordance with NATO standards.

Proper command and control arrangements will be of paramount importance in future international operations. For this purpose, and to enhance interoperability, the Armed Forces will establish standardized and rapidly deployable communications modules that satisfy NATO standards for secure transfer of information before, during, and after deployment. For units earmarked for international operations, these modules will become standard equipment. The establishment of the Task Force will require substantial investments. Furthermore, a new and more efficient force generation process is suggested, based on a combination of professionals and volunteers signing contracts for an extended period after having served their conscription. This new system requires a significant increase in economic and non-economic benefits for the personnel involved. The White Paper contains a number of important recommendations concerning such incentives.

The White Paper suggests that the main elements of the Task Force be operational by mid 2001. The White Paper recommends that the entire force be fully operational by 2005.

International cooperation

The Task Force for International Operations will in its entirety be made available to NATO. However, all of its composite units will be able to operate independently, in cooperation with only some of the other units and in cooperation with allied and partner forces. Priority will be given to Article 5 missions and to meeting the readiness requirements related to such operations. The major part of the new Task Force will become part of NATOs Reaction Forces, primarily the IRF. A particular new feature to be noted is the White Papers suggestion to assign various Norwegian special units to the ACE Rapid Reaction Corps under SACEUR (ARRC). Special forces from both the Army and the Navy, movement control units, and intelligence units will be made available to COM/ARRC.

The entire Task Force will be available for use in NATO-led non-Article 5 operations. Moreover, Norway aims at constructive participation in the developing European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI). Hence, the Task Force may also be made available for WEU-led operations (the so-called Petersberg tasks).The Washington Summit opened for direct relations in the future between NATO and the European Union (EU), and for making NATO assets and capabilities available for EU-led operations in case the EU were to absorb the WEU or to assume its functions. In this context, the Norwegian Government emphasizes the need for non-EU European Allies to be granted the same rights in any future new European institutional set-up as they currently enjoy in the WEU.

Even though NATO Article 5 commitments will always be given priority, most units from the new Task Force for International Operations may also be made available for UN peace support operations. The Norwegian Government intends to sign the Memorandum of Understanding for the United Nations Stand-by Arrangements System, registering most of the Task Force as in principle available for UN-led operations. Moreover, Norway is a founding member of SHIRBRIG, the United Nations Stand-by High Readiness Brigade, which by the end of 1999 will be made available to the UN Secretary General for use in peacekeeping missions, including for preventive purposes.

The Norwegian Government puts great emphasis on enhanced multilateral cooperation, and intends to make full use of the potential positive synergy effects of such cooperation. Clearly, NATO is the most efficient institutional mechanism in that regard. Smaller regional frameworks, however, may also provide valuable contributions. This is especially the case in the Nordic area, where the similarities in language and culture make close cooperation less complicated. To take advantage of this, the Nordic countries have established the Nordic Coordinated Arrangment for Military Peace Support (NORDCAPS), which to a large extent is based on joint operational experience i.a. through the Nordic-Polish Brigade in SFOR in Bosnia. The new Task Force will be registered within the framework of NORDCAPS.

The Future General Review of Norways Force Posture

Norways Armed Forces face major structural and organizational challenges in the years to come. The next general Defence Review, which will be presented to the Norwegian Parliament in the spring of 2001, will deal with these more comprehensive issues, and thus evaluate Norways future force posture in its entirety.

Meanwhile, the current White Paper focuses on the capabilities the Norwegian Armed Forces will need in order for Norway to fulfil her international obligations in the years to come, independently of the more general structural and organizational choices to be made in the future general Defence Review.

Background

Since World War II, Norway has participated in a considerable number of international peace support operations (PSOs) under the auspices of the UN and, more recently, also NATO, thus contributing actively to containing and resolving international crises and conflicts. More than 55 000 Norwegian military personnel have participated in such operations. At the same time, Norways defence doctrine has been and still is focused on the need to ensure continued stability and a credible territorial defence capability in the northernmost part of the Alliance by maintaining a substantial and credible national defence within the framework of NATOs overall defence planning.

Hence, Norwegian contributions to international crisis management have been generated from a system that is first and foremost geared towards the rapid activation of mobilization units armed and trained for territorial defence. As a consequence, Norwegian contributions to international military operations have a high degree of sustainability, as they have a substantial number of reserve units on which to draw. However, without adaptation this force posture is to a lesser extent able to generate forces rapidly and flexibly in response to international crises. Moreover, the contributions that Norway has been able to make to international operations have tended to consist of lightly armoured mechanized infantry, well-suited for more traditional peacekeeping tasks (e.g., UNIFIL in southern Lebanon to which Norway contributed a sizable unit for over twenty years) but not sufficiently robust for missions which might entail enforcement tasks.

Important changes in the international situation in more recent years now make an adaptation and expansion of Norways international military contributions both necessary, possible and desirable. At the same time, the proposed Armed Forces Task Force for International Operations will be organized within the overall framework of Norways current defence concept. Overall, Norways Armed Forces will continue to be based on a nationally balanced defence capability, military conscription for all young men, and the total defence concept, according to which Norways Armed Forces will draw on significant civilian resources should an Article 5 situation occur.

The main objective of the White Paper is for the Norwegian Armed Forces, in the future, to be able to respond rapidly with more relevant and capable forces for international crisis management and, simultaneously, to retain the ability to sustain over a longer period of time on-going military operations.

The international framework

Norwegian security rests on two main pillars: 1) respect for international law and an international order with the United Nations and its Charter on center stage, and 2) collective security guarantees through the Atlantic Alliance. Both elements are evolving as a consequence of the major changes brought about by the end of the Cold War. A new international order based on cooperative security has come within grasp. Large-scale aggression against NATO is highly unlikely, although the possibility of a re-emerging threat cannot be completely excluded in the longer term. Notwithstanding the positive developments in the strategic environment, however, security in the Euro-Atlantic area remains subject to a wide variety of military and non-military risks which are multi-directional and often difficult to predict.

These risks include uncertainty and instability in and around the Euro-Atlantic area and the possibility of regional crises at the periphery of the Alliance which could evolve rapidly. Some countries in and around the Euro-Atlantic area face serious economic, social and political difficulties. Ethnic and religious rivalries, territorial disputes, inadequate or failed efforts at reform, the abuse of human rights, and the dissolution of states can lead to local and even regional instability, and to armed conflicts. Furthermore, the potential for new and asymmetrical threats has grown.

The Norwegian Government has decided that Norways Armed Forces must adapt to these new security challenges and risks.

Participation in international peace support operations under the auspices of the UN has been an important part of Norways contribution to international peace and security, and will remain so in the future. Still, NATO continues to be the main institutional anchor for Norwegian defence and security. Hence, the current adaptation of the Alliance and NATOs full range of military missions, as described in the new strategic concept adopted at the Washington Summit, constitute fundamental guidelines for the adaptation of Norways Armed Forces. In this context, crisis management and crisis response operations have become key tasks, both in an Article 5 and a non-Article 5 context. Furthermore, NATOs Defence Capabilities Initiative which was also agreed upon in Washington, aims at improving the defence capabilities of the Alliance to ensure the effectiveness of future multinational operations across the full spectrum of Alliance missions in the present and forseeable security environment, with a special focus on improving interoperability among Alliance forces.

On the basis of these factors, the Norwegian Government has decided that concrete action must be taken to improve the capacity of Norways Armed Forces to participate across the full range of potential international operations in the future.

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