The defence budget 2006

The defence budget 2006

The Government is preparing to proceed with the defence budget at the level recommended by the Bondevik II administration. This means continuing to invest strongly in the Armed Forces. There will however be a marked shift in priorities in order to strengthen operational activities in the northern areas while also increasing the level of support for UN operations in Africa and the NATO operation in Afghanistan in the form of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). This will enable still further resources to be redirected from support functions to high priority operational activities.

Principal aims and priorities

The Armed Forces are first and foremost a key instrument of security policy. This applies both at home – through the maintenance of an operational military presence, the exercise of authority, the upholding of Norwegian sovereignty and crisis management, especially in the northern areas – and abroad, through participation in international peace operations, primarily under the auspices of the UN and NATO.

In order to strengthen the ability of the Armed Forces to carry out their missions, so contributing to the safeguarding of the interests mentioned above, the Government will continue to carry forward the modernisation of the Armed Forces which was initiated under the Stoltenberg I administration through the presentation of Proposition no. 45 (2000-2001) to the Storting. The long-term restructuring of Norwegian defence organisation will be continued while at the same time ensuring that action is in line with the principal priorities set out in the Soria Moria Declaration – including the aim of maintaining a high level of military presence in North Norway. The aims of the restructuring, endorsed by the Storting following consideration Report no. 234 (2003-2004) to the Storting, cf. Proposition no. 42 (2003-2004) to the Storting, remain unchanged. The Government wishes to create a modern defence organisation matched to today’s new security challenges. New and more complex threats heighten the need for flexible armed forces with the overall capacity to undertake a broad spectrum of missions, at short notice and in any relevant area.

Personnel are the Armed Forces’ most valuable resource. Particular importance is thus placed on ensuring that the Armed Forces are optimally structured with regard to competence, rank, age and gender for the tasks to be performed and the needs of the organisation. The Government will give special priority to the recruiting of women both for basic duties in the organisation and, not least, in more senior posts. The content of the training given to military service conscripts will be matched more closely to the needs of the Armed Forces. The Ministry of Defence will closely monitor the scheme whereby civilians who have not undergone basic officer training are recruited by the military academies. The review of the Armed Forces pay system will adhere to the principles contained in the Basic Collective Agreement and the Worker Protection and Working Environment Act.

The Government sees the northern areas as Norway’s most important area from the point of view of strategic investment in the coming years. The Government will, as an element of its overall investment in the northern areas, strengthen the presence of the Armed Forces and their capacity to uphold Norwegian sovereignty in the North. The Armed Forces’ presence in North Norway will therefore be maintained at a high level. Emergency planning and preparedness in coastal areas will be given higher priority than at present and the role of the Armed Forces in relation to environmental surveillance, resource control, preparedness and maritime search and rescue will be strengthened. This investment is already represented in these budget proposals through the substantial investment in increased operational activity in the North on the part of all three armed services (see the review of this Budget item below for more detail).

Norwegian security is best safeguarded through good international cooperation and through engaging in active and systematic initiatives both within the central international organisations and directly with our allies and neighbour countries. The UN and NATO remain the main pillars of our security policy.

The Government will attach weight to conflict prevention and will work actively to strengthen the international rule of law. Participation in international operations must be based on the UN Charter and must have a clear UN mandate. The threshold for the use of military force must be set at a high level.

It is in Norway’s interest that there should be a UN-led world order. The Government will therefore work for a much strengthened UN, including providing active support for the process of reform. In this connection we will cooperate with neighbouring countries in the work of modernising and strengthening the UN, including its work in peace operations. At the same time Norway will increase its participation in UN operations, with special emphasis on Africa. Dialogue has been initiated with the other Nordic countries concerning the possibility of cooperation in this area. Discussion with the UN regarding the particular needs of the organisation has also started. In that context, this budget embodies a shift in priority in that resources which the Bondevik II administration wished to utilise for participation in Iraq are re-allocated to participation in UN operations in Africa (see the review of Budget item 1792 below). The Government will come back to the Storting with concrete proposals in this respect.

The Government will continue to regard Norway’s engagement within NATO as a cornerstone of Norwegian security policy. Norway will actively support the work of reform within the Alliance, with particular emphasis on the creation of a more streamlined organisation better matched to the needs of today, where the principle of consensus and the commitment to collective defence remain central. At the same time, active use should be made of the organisation to develop further the transatlantic dialogue as well as strengthening such aspects as partnership, peacekeeping, disarmament, arms control and conflict prevention. The NATO led operation in Afghanistan, in the form of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), will remain the principal focus for Norwegian military participation abroad. The Government will strengthen the Norwegian contribution by deploying 3 to 4 F-16 combat aircraft for a period of 3 months during the first half of 2006. Norwegian involvement in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan will terminate in January 2006 in accordance with the Soria Moria Declaration. Similarly the Government will not be renewing Norway’s contribution of training and staff officers to the NATO Training Mission in Iraq.

Our participation in operations in the Balkans (KFOR and ALTHEA), in the NATO led anti-terror operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean, as well as in various observer missions, will continue.

As an element of this intensification of our international cooperation, the Government will work actively to increase the extent of collaboration with allies and others in such fields as materiel procurement, operations, maintenance, logistics, instruction, training and exercising. The Government regards this as a central part of the work focused on running the defence organisation more cost-effectively. This represents, at the same time, a very appropriate strategy for creating stronger international collaborative links generally.

The Government will conduct a review of Norway’s obligations regarding Norwegian forces in relation to NATO and EU missions. In general, the Government will give weight to building on, and strengthening further, the competence that Norway already possesses in peace operations, with the principal aim of ensuring stability and security for the civil population affected.

The Government will review the procedures for the procurement of defence materiel with a view to achieving an acquisition policy which is of most benefit in terms of offset agreements while also conforming with Norwegian foreign, security and trade policy objectives. In this connection the Government will undertake a thorough review of Norway’s participation in the Joint Strike Fighter and Eurofighter programmes, with special emphasis on clarifying and quantifying the relationship between the cost of participation and the resultant benefits to Norwegian industry. This review will be conducted in close consultation with other interested parties with whom it is natural to collaborate.

The Government will implement measures designed to improve financial control in the defence organisation and will come back with a Report to the Storting on this topic during the 2006 spring session. The financial framework endorsed by the Storting will be adhered to and the Government will maintain a clear and continuous focus on the need for proper and responsible financial management in the defence sector. All new major materiel investment programmes will be reviewed in connection with the new Long-Term Plan for the Armed Forces.

The Government will also undertake an overall review of experience to date covering reduction in personnel numbers, privatisation, public/private partnership and tendering as well as horizontal interaction within the defence organisation. The Government will review the use of external defence consultants and will seek a more restrictive approach to the types of tasks in the defence sector for which consultants are to be brought in.

The Ministry of Defence will continue with its assessment of the future organisation and structural status of the Defence Logistics Organisation/Heavy Maintenance, including more detailed consideration of various possible forms or organisation such as state-owned corporation or administrative body with particular executive powers.

In June 2004 the Bondevik II administration set up an interdepartmental commission to look at the whole range of public sector activities in the field of construction and estate management in both civil and military sectors. This subject is covered in the statement by the Ministry of Renewal and Government Administration.