News story | Date: 02/04/2004
(02.04.04) Today NATO’s Headquarters in Brussels will mark the expansion of the Alliance with the accession this week of 7 new member countries. The Norwegian Armed Forces have played an active role in this process through a comprehensive programme of bilateral cooperation with the candidate countries, especially the three Baltic countries.
Norwegian support for new NATO countries
(02.04.04) Today NATO’s Headquarters in Brussels will mark the expansion of the Alliance with the accession this week of 7 new member countries: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Behind this expansion of the Alliance lies a considerable amount of work in preparing and qualifying the new allies for membership. The Norwegian Armed Forces have played an active role in this process through a comprehensive programme of bilateral cooperation with the candidate countries, especially the three Baltic countries.
For Norway it has been important to support the work of NATO of promoting security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. An important aspect of this task has been to integrate NATO’s partners, applicant countries and those invited to join the Alliance, in the work of the Alliance and its response to new security challenges. NATO has developed a programme of action to give the applicant countries relevant feedback and specific advice designed to assist their preparations for membership of the Alliance. The support provided by Norway to the countries invited to join the Alliance is in line with these plans.
The new allies still face major challenges. The transition from a defence concept based on territorial defence and sheer numbers, to one based on high quality, agile, rapid reaction forces which are more usable and better adapted to today’s threat picture, is a challenge shared by most NATO countries. Outdated materiel and limited resources render these challenges even more daunting. It is in Norway’s own interest to contribute as much as possible to the integration of new members of the Alliance process, thereby strengthening NATO’s capability for collective defence and international crisis management. This work has been important from the point of view of maintaining NATO’s strength and credibility in the wake of this major expansion to include seven new members.
Norwegian support for the new NATO countries
Norwegian support for the seven new NATO countries has, since the Prague Summit held in autumn 2002, been directed towards assisting the integration of these countries into the Alliance. This support has involved the allocation of substantial resources, both financial, material and human. Through annual plans for bilateral cooperation with all seven countries, Norway has offered assistance in a range of areas associated with modernisation and reform of the armed forces. This assistance has been focused primarily on the three Baltic countries which, over the period 1994 -2005, will have received assistance in kind to the value of some 200 million NOK. Several million NOK have also been allocated to conduct of projects with the other four countries, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
In addition to this, Norway has donated naval vessels and other equipment to the new member countries. For example, the Baltic countries now have 8 upgraded Norwegian naval vessels in operational service.
In the area of defence, Norway has devised a package containing measures of possible interest to the new member countries, including the following:
- Instruction and field training in winter warfare
- Seminars and advice on preventive security, with special emphasis on information security. Discussions have also been held on the development of security agreements
- Seminars and advice of the development of a concept for host country support
- Media training with the emphasis on openness and dealing with the media
- Seminars on topics relating to defence planning, budgeting and control
Bilateral support for the Baltic countries
Norway’s defence-related support for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania started as early as 1992 and has undergone dynamic development in step with the progress of these countries towards greater integration in European and transatlantic cooperation. Funding in the order 28 million NOK each year has been allocated to this support in 2003 and 2004.
Norway’s NATO-related support has been important in helping to pave the way for the integration of these countries in NATO. In addition to the offering of training, courses and seminars, as mentioned above, in a more comprehensive format, an offer has also been made to train officers in Norway and to provide permanent advice through the posting of Norwegian military advisers and instructors for a period of several years. Norway has therefore had a role to play with regard to the implementation of the policies and principal documents to which NATO works, and has contributed actively to the defence reforms being implemented in these countries in line with NATO’s needs and requirements. In addition, Norway has contributed, either bilaterally or in cooperation with other support nations in the region, to the development of national and Baltic capabilities. Norway has given priority to assistance in the areas of mine clearance (sea/land), the clearance of other explosive devices, airspace surveillance and air combat command and control.
Norway has also made an active contribution towards the coordination and further development of all military support to the Baltic countries through the multinational forum BALTSEA (Baltic Security Assistance Group). Through its chairmanship of the Steering Group for the period 2002-2004, Norway has been instrumental in establishing new measures to support the integration of these countries into NATO.
- Norway has, since 1997, taken the lead role in establishing the Baltic Air Surveillance Network BALTNET. In addition, since 2002, Norway has led the work of upgrading the capacity of the existing BALTNET in preparation for linking with NATO’s integrated air defence system following accession to the Alliance. Norway has recently agreed to a request from NATO for the deployment of an Air Control Unit to the Baltic area. This Unit will contribute to NATO’s control of the airspace over the Baltic countries following the expansion of NATO on 29 March 2004.
- Norway has led the work of establishing a Baltic Diving School. Norway has also donated equipment and complete diving sets and has for several years been running courses for ships’ divers and clearance divers.
- Norway has contributed to the establishment of an Internet-based distance learning institute to improve the study opportunities for reserve officers. In addition, Norway and the United States have together contributed to the development of a Baltic e-learning capability for the instruction of military and civilian personnel serving in multinational military operations. Norway’s support for the Baltic Staff College has included the contribution of two instructors on a permanent basis. Norway currently has one student at the college.
- Norway has contributed to the development of the Latvian Army. This support has been directed mainly towards the development of the largest and most important training centre in Latvia, the Adazi Training Centre. The Training Centre covers command and management studies, infantry skills, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and combat engineer training as part of the process of building up a national defence capability, as well as capabilities that can be contributed to NATO’s collective operations. Norway has helped to build up Latvia’s capability in the field of EOD, by contributing materiel for use by the Training Centre and by running a series of courses over a period of some years. Latvian EOD teams have been operating as part of the Norwegian contingents contributed to KFOR in Kosovo.
- Norway has also made a substantial contribution to the build-up of Latvia’s Navy. Latvia has received 4 out of the total of 9 missile torpedo boats transferred to the Baltic countries. Lithuania has received 4 MTBs and Estonia has received one. In January 2003 HNoMS Vale was also transferred to the Latvian Navy and the vessel is now in use as a command and support vessel.
The way ahead
Even though these countries are now members of NATO, they will continue to require military support in the implementation of their ongoing reforms and in the further development of their national defence capabilities in line with the needs of NATO. Norwegian support for the seven new NATO members will therefore continue for a limited period, with the main emphasis on Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.