Royal Norwegian Ministry of Defence

Integrated 1 August 2003

The Chief of Defence and his military/strategic functions are now integrated within the Ministry of Defence. Defence Command Norway has been closed down and a small Defence Staff has been established to support the Chief of Defence in his function as Head of the Military Organisation of the Norwegian Armed Forces. This reform is part of the far-reaching and essential restructuring of the Norwegian Defence.

Royal Norwegian Ministry of Defence

Integrated 1 August 2003


Strengthening the Ministry

The top level reform of Norway’s defence organisation came into effect on 1 August 2003. The Chief of Defence and his military/strategic functions are now integrated within the Ministry of Defence. Defence Command Norway has been closed down and a small Defence Staff has been established to support the Chief of Defence in his function as Head of the Military Organisation of the Norwegian Armed Forces. This reform is part of the far-reaching and essential restructuring of the Norwegian Defence.

Successful restructuring is of decisive importance when ensuring that the Armed Forces' capability w of carrying out its tasks both in the short and long term. The need for strategic management and coordination is more evident than ever, and this in turn has made a top level reform of the defence organisation essential.

It was in June 2002 that the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget)endorsed the establishment of an integrated strategic leadership structure for the Norwegian Defence. The intention was to strengthen the Ministry’s planning- and management capability, this done to achieve an administrative organisation with a greater capacity for crisis management and international collaboration in matters of security and defence policy. At the same time, a majority in the Norwegian Parliament supported the proposal to bring the top echelons of the defence organisation together in the Akershus Fortress area in a new building designed to blend with the existing buildings on the site. The area around Akershus will thus become an important centre of power in peacetime from which the political, administrative and strategic functions of Norwegian Defence can be exercised.

The Ministry will gain in strength from the additional professional military expertise in key areas. This collocation brings together a greater range of competence in given areas, it reduces duplication and overlap and facilitates the downward flow of information and actions into the Armed Forces’ military organisation as a result of political signals. It also ensures that professional military assessments can be pursued right through to their final conclusion. The strategic duties for which the Chief of Defence has been responsible, are now gathered under one roof, within the Ministry. The strategic leadership of the defence organisation is concerned with how the Armed Forces should be developed over time to enable them to fulfil their tasks in the optimum way in the longer term, and how they should be used at any given time to fulfil their tasks in the best possible way.

Norway now has a top level defence organisation which is in line with the structures existing in most other NATO countries. An integrated solution achieves the objective of an administration with an improved capability for the unified strategic management of the Armed Forces’ military organisation, as well as an improved capacity in areas of crisis management and international cooperation in questions concerning security and defence policy.

Our ambition is that an integrated strategic leadership will provide an even better basis for political decisions and for making our defence organisation better equipped to meet future challenges.

John Lunde

Secretary General

The organisation and main tasks of the ministry

The Ministry of Defence is a Government Office with responsibility for the formation and implementation of Norwegian security and defence policy. The Ministry is responsible for the overall management and control of the activities of subordinate agencies.

Organisation of the Ministry of Defence

The Minister of Defence is, as head of the Ministry of Defence, constitutionally and parliamentarily responsible for all decisions made, and actions taken, in the Ministry and its subordinate agencies. This means that the Ministry of Defence, as part of the executive branch of government, exercises supervision of the activities of its subordinate bodies and agencies. The Minister of Defence is assisted by a politically appointed State Secretary and a Political Adviser.

The Secretary General is the Ministry’s most senior permanent civil servant, whose principal task is to advise and relieve the Minister's running and coordinating of the Ministry. The Chief of Defence now has a dual role as both the Ministry’s most senior professional military adviser as well as being Head of the Armed Forces’ military organisation. The fact that the Chief of Defence is now integrated within the Ministry of Defence does not affect the role of the Secretary General. The Secretary General is assisted by an Assistant Secretary General who also acts as deputy for the Secretary General.

The Chief of Defence has a marked outward-facing role, which makes it difficult for him to maintain a full-time presence in the MOD. The top level organisation therefore includes the post of Military Assistant Secretary General at Lieutenant General/Vice Admiral level. The holder of this post is, on a permanent basis, responsible for the professional military aspects of the day-to-day tasks of the Ministry. This is the most important coordination point for military activity within the Ministry and it ensures a coordinated professional military viewpoint that will always be available to both the Secretary General and the Chief of Defence.

As of 1 August 2003 the Ministry of Defence's organisation is divided into five departments and three staff functions. Each department is headed either by a civilian Director General or by a service officer at Major General / Rear Admiral level. Each department is divided into sections, each headed in turn either by a civilian Deputy Director General or a service officer at Brigadier / Commodore / Air Commodore level. In some cases there is also a deputy head of section, either a civilian Assistant Director General or a service officer at Colonel level. In addition, he Ministry has three staff functions performed by the Executive Secretariat, the National Armaments Director and the Controller Unit. These functions are described in more detail below.

Organization chart (Powerpoint)

Principal tasks of the Ministry of Defence

Every fourth year the Ministry submits a document containing proposed guidelines for the long-term development of the Armed Forces to the Norwegian Parliament. This document contains an analysis of developments in the field of security policy. Against this background it sets out the role and principal tasks of the Armed Forces and the central instrument of Norwegian security policy. The consequences for defence policy are set out in the form of objectives for further development of the peacetime organisation and war structure of the Armed Forces, stock procurement and personnel policy.

In line with the long-term objectives for the development of the Armed Forces, the Ministry of Defence produces the annual defence budgets containing concrete proposals for defence operating costs and investments. When these reports and propositions have been considered by the Norwegian Parliament, it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence to follow up the resulting decisions through management of the subordinate agencies concerned.

Management of, and collaboration with, the Armed Forces' military organisation, which constitutes the largest and most important of the Ministry’s subordinate agencies, forms a natural and essential part of the work of the Ministry.

In contrast to the former situation, where the Ministry’s various departments could base their day-to-day work on professional military assessments and advice provided by the Headquarters Defence Command, work of a strategic character is now carried out within the integrated Ministry of Defence. Close cooperation between the Ministry and the new Defence Staff will, however, be an essential prerequisite for the effective implementation of defence and security policy.

The integrated Ministry of Defence has the following core tasks:

  • Strategic analysis, research and development (R&D)
  • The development of long-term policy including future strategic concepts and doctrines
  • Perspective and structural planning
  • Planning, budgeting and implementation in the medium and short term
  • Overall management of agencies’ activities during the budget year
  • Operational policy, planning and management at a strategic level
  • Exercise policy, planning and management at a strategic level
  • Emergency planning, policy and management at a strategic level
  • Crisis management
  • Development and implementation of security policy, both nationally and internationally
  • Development of defence cooperation with allied- and partner countries
  • Strategic personnel management
  • Information, communication and press relations
  • Strategic leadership and management in the field of ICT
  • Organisational development
  • Preventive security at a strategic level
  • Legal questions
  • Controller / Internal audit
  • Internal administration

The Ministry’s staff functions

The Executive Secretariat
The Executive Secretariat performs the staff function for political and administrative management. The Secretariat coordinates and prioritises matters from the various specialist departments and is responsible for planning and preparations for the Defence Minister’s activities. The Secretariat includes the press spokesman and information officers.

National Armaments Director
The National Armaments Director performs a staff function in relation to the Ministry of Defence senior management in areas covered by the Secretary General’s responsibility for overall coordination of the work of the Ministry. The National Armaments Director thus has the responsibility for the overall coordination of the Ministry’s activities where defence procurement is concerned. He also has a responsibility for Norway’s representation in national and international forums and he is the contact point for the defence industry, both national and international.

Controller Unit
The Controller Unit is intended to contribute to the overall achievement of defence objectives by providing support to the Ministry’s senior management in controlling and managing subordinate departments and agencies. Another principal task of the Controller Unit is to assess whether the internal control arrangements are appropriate, adequate and effective, and whether the arrangements are being implemented as intended. The Controller Unit is also able to undertake the provision of consultancy and advice, participate in development work and assist departments in their own risk assessments.

Ministry of Defence departments

Department of Personnel and General Services
The Department of Personnel and General Services spans over a range of different professional areas, some administrative and some relating more to aspects of development. Some of the department’s tasks are purely internal while others, for example personnel policy and common legal services, entail responsibilities across the sector as a whole.

The department’s responsibilities include internal personnel policy, overall employer’s responsibility for the defence sector, responsibility for internal restructuring projects including new forms of working, management and control systems and legal questions – both in the Ministry of Defence and on behalf of the sector as a whole. Security and administrative routines within the Ministry, pay, postal services, IT, minutes and records, archiving and library services also form part of the department’s portfolio.

Department of Security Policy
The Department of Security Policy is responsible for the handling of questions of security policy as well as for the Ministry’s international activities and external relations in the field of security policy.

This entails responsibility for the development of national security concepts as well as the analysis of security policy trends and the threat picture. In addition the department is responsible for the development and coordination of the Ministry’s policy regarding bilateral, regional and international security policy questions, as well as for the development of defence-related cooperation with allied and partner countries. The department also takes care of Norway’s defence policy relations with NATO, EU, UN and OSCE. The department is, moreover, responsible for organising, leading and coordinating crisis and incident management as well as dealing with legal questions of military or international law within the Ministry and across the sector as a whole.

Department of Operations and Emergency Planning
The Department of Operations and Emergency Planning has overall responsibility for operational and emergency planning, crisis management planning and the planning of exercises – including civil defence liaison.

This department is responsible for monitoring relevant aspects of the strategic situation, ensuring effective utilisation of military aid to the civil power in the event of disasters or accidents, participating in international cooperation concerning the planning of operations. It is also responsible for planning the composition and deployment of Norwegian forces taking part in operations and exercises both in Norway and abroad.

Department of Defence Policy and Long-Term Planning
The Department of Defence Policy and Long-Term Planning is responsible for strategic analysis, the development of long-term defence policy and overall planning for the defence sector.

This entails responsibility for the follow-up and analysis of fundamental development trends of relevance to the defence sector, the development of a unified overall long-term policy in areas bearing on developments in defence, providing superior guidelines for ICT development as well as the development of defence policy aims and tasks. The department is also responsible for defence investments up to a given point in the future.

Department of Finance and Management
The Department for Finance and Management has overall responsibility for the planning and development of the activities, organisation and structure of the Armed Forces within the particular long-term planning period. The department also exercises overall management and control of the activities of subordinate agencies.

It is responsible for the shaping of concrete plans and budgets at the level of particular measures for the whole of the long-term planning period. It produces budget profile proposals, carries out cost analyses in both a short- and a long term perspective, and performs modernisation and efficiency improvement measures for each individual planning period, producing the annual budgets with the associated implementation documents, managing defence investment activities from the point at which the procurement decision is taken. It also has the overall responsibility for managing defence materiel, properties, buildings and installations.

The Defence Staff

The Defence Staff is, on behalf of the Chief of Defence, responsible for the execution of tasks, ensuring that decisions are followed up and assuming day-to-day employers’ responsibility for personnel employed in the Armed Forces’ military organisation. It ensures that plans and budgets, endorsed by the Norwegian Parliament and interpreted by the Ministry of Defence, are implemented in the Armed Forces. The Inspector Generals form part of the Defence Staff and have responsibility for the implementation of force production in their respective Services.

The Defence Staff is a considerably smaller organisation than the former Headquarters Defence Command. This reflects one of the central aims of the top level reorganisation of the Norwegian defence. The Defence Staff is structured with a joint-service unit and four single-service staffs, all located at the same level in the organisation. The previous joint staff level has been discontinued.

Among the most important tasks undertaken by the Defence Staff are the following:

  • Management of Service education and training
  • Force generation
  • Personnel administration
  • Financial management of the Armed Forces’ military organisation
  • Total project responsibility for defence materiel, property, buildings and installations
  • Logistics management
  • Information activities
  • Provision of advice to the Chief of Defence

Important landmarks in the history of the Ministry of Defence


The Ordinance of November 1814 established six Departments, including the Department for War Administration. The department is headed by a General.


The Department for the Navy is established. The department is headed by an Admiral.


The Army and Navy Department is formed by merging these two departments


The two departments move into the Military Office Building in Bankplassen.


The parliamentary system is introduced in 1884. The Royal Ministry of Defence is formed by merging the Army- and Navy Departments. The new Ministry is headed by a defence minister.


Throughout the rest of the 19th century and well into the 20th century, the Ministry is staffed exclusively by military personnel. The heads of the Ministry’s two departments, eventually to be known as the Army Department and The Navy Department, are still admirals and generals.


The Ministry gains a new department, the Civil Department, with responsibility for financial and civil matters.


With the re-establishment of the Ministry after the Second World War, the department structure was reshaped according to areas such as buildings and installations, stock, personnel, budgets and accounts. The Ministry moves to offices in Storgaten. On Norway’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) in 1949, a further department was established, the North Atlantic Treaty Department.


The Ministry moves to the new Defence Building at Huseby in Oslo. The department structure gradually evolves to include press- and information matters and security policy. At one point the Ministry was organised in eight departments.


The Ministry moves from the Defence Building at Huseby back to its old premises at Myntgata 1, close to Akershus Fortress.


The Ministry is reorganised and the number of departments is reduced from seven to four.


The Chief of Defence, together with the strategic functions carried over from the former Headquarters Defence Command, are integrated within the Ministry of Defence. The Ministry becomes a fully integrated civil/military Department of State at both top management- and executive levels. The Ministry is still civilian led but is now strengthened through the incorporation of military expertise. The aim is to strengthen the strategic planning and management of Norway’s defence resources. The Ministry is organised on the basis of five departments and three staff functions.