Historical archive

Smart Defence – the Norwegian perspective

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher: Ministry of Defence

- Smart Defence is a about providing the capabilities we need as nations and as an Alliance, state secretary Roger Ingebrigtsen said in his address.

Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies Seminar, 24. April 2012, Oslo, Norway
Mr. Roger Ingebrigtsen, State Secretary, Norwegian Ministry of Defence


General Berger, Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • It is a pleasure for me to have this opportunity to speak to you on Smart Defence. In particular, General Berger, we are grateful you could take over from General Abrial at such short notice. We are proud to be the host nation for your Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger.
  • We share your commitment to Smart Defence. It will be a key element in NATO's response to our future challenges.
  • We are also strong supporters of General Abrial in his work as the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation. We believe a continuous commitment to transformation will be essential to our ability to meet the requirements of the future.
  • I am also proud of our achievements in transforming the Norwegian Defence Forces over the past decade. We now have a modern, relevant force thanks to the difficult and sometimes painful transformation we have gone through.
  • We continue to strengthen our Defence Forces through increased Defence Spending and continued transformation. Because of this, we are in the position that we can transform because it is wise, not because we have to.

Smart Defence – what is it?

  • What is really new with Smart Defence?Doing things in a smart way was not something we started last year! The Nordic Defence Cooperation, our long-standing work with other Allies in the European Participating Air Forces F-16 cooperation and our participation in the development of common NATO capabilities were Smart Defence long before this term was introduced.
  • On the other hand, Smart Defence is not synonymous to everything smart. Smart Defence is a about providing the capabilities we need as nations and as an Alliance. Without relevant capabilities, NATO will not remain credible in face of its future challenges.
  • The distinct elements of Smart Defence are;
    - Prioritization of the most pressing capability needs
    - Increased multinational cooperation
    - Increased specialization among the Allies
  • This is not new. Neither is it easy. If it was easy, it would have happened many years ago. What is new now is the pressing requirement for results;
    - The challenges facing NATO are becoming more complex and diverse than ever before.
    - Article 5 and credible deterrence was strengthened in the new Strategic Concept – fully in line with Norwegian priorities. At the same time – the challenges of Ballistic Missile Defence, Cyber Defence and the continued requirement for Crisis Response and Peacekeeping Operations will have to be tackled.
    - All these challenges should be met in a time when many Allies are conducting deep cuts in their Defence spending and military structures.
    - This requires a new, radical approach to how we provide the capabilities we need for our common future challenges.
  • The success of the effort will be judged by the results. Talk must be backed by action – both in the nations and in NATO. This requires a determination to overcome the obstacles.
  • Smart Defence requires a change in the national and NATO cultures of cooperation. The easy option is to hold on to what we have – national control over all aspects of capability development, national industry, national facilities. In order to gain the capabilities we need for the future, some of this may have to be sacrificed.
  • That said, nations have national tasks and missions. It cannot be expected that nations sign up to Smart Defence initiatives unless it is in their greater interest to do so. As general Abrial said on an earlier occasion, «Smart Defence will only work if it makes sense to the nations". This is well said. Smart Defence will fail if it becomes so doctrinal that it ignores these basic facts.
  • Smart Defence is therefore about striking a balance between legitimate and important national concerns – and the benefits we could obtain from a new culture of cooperation in the alliance and with important partners.

Smart Defence – Norway's contribution

  • Multinational cooperation, strict priorities and role specialization is not new to Norway. The close integration with Allies in NATO has been a key priority in Norwegian Defence Policy for decades. In recent years, the Nordic cooperation has become a very significant area for capability development as well.
  • A month ago, we presented a new Long Term Plan for the Defence to our Parliament. It includes some major capability improvements, in particular the acquisition of new F-35 Combat Aircraft.
  • The Smart Defence principles are tightly integrated in the new long term plan;
  • Prioritisation:
    - Our previous long term plan has been fully implemented as of this year. This could not have been achieved without strict – and in some cases – painful prioritization of the most important requirements. Indeed, by far most of the cost of the new elements in that plan was provided though re-investment of existing funds and efficiency gains.
    - That said, we also provided a real increase in annual defence spending of NOK 800 mill – this illustrates that Smart Defence is no substitute for real commitment to Defence spending – they complement each other.
    - The emphasis on strict priorities is continued in the new Long Term Plan. For example, we are reducing our Air Force base structure in order to free up resources for the new combat aircraft. But the government has also provided an unprecedented level of additional funding outside the regular defence budget for this purchase. There will be a temporary increase in the defence investment budget of 22–28 billion NOK in order to provide for the F-35 acquisition.
  • Multinational cooperation:
    - Multinational cooperation will also be a key to how we provide the required Capabilities for the future
    - First of all, we are a strong supporter of the development of NATO common assets. AWACS, the AGS and the multinational Strategic Airlift C-17 Capability are key examples. The very successful multinational F-16 EPAF cooperation has also been a key to successful maintenance, development, upgrades and even operational use of our F-16 fighters. The Army has benefited greatly from the Army Cooperation Initiative with the Netherlands.
    - The F-35 program will take multinational cooperation to new levels. It is still only in its early stages, but we have already taken steps to prepare ourselves for this new era of multinational cooperation. The Air Depot for heavy aircraft maintenance was re-organized into the state enterprise AIM Norway last year. They are now competing for contracts in the future F-35 multinational cooperation.

Nordic Defence Cooperation

The Nordic Defence Cooperation NORDEFCO stands out as a good example of Smart Defence, and has attracted a lot of attention from NATO lately.

  • Why did we start the Nordic Cooperation?
    - Geographic proximity, a high degree of cultural and economic integration, similar size and many common challenges in military capability development led us to believe great synergies could be achieved through closer cooperation.
  • What are our experiences regarding preconditions for successful cooperation?
    - The most important precondition is high level political and military engagement. Unless there is leadership from the top, bureaucratic difficulties and established traditions will soon quell any possibilities.
    - Secondly, it is important to have a clear and realistic view of what you want to achieve. If expectations are allowed to become inflated, disappointment will soon follow.
    - Geographical proximity and the close integration of our economies have also been important pre-conditions for our success so far
  • What are the possibilities?
    - More efficient capability development – both for the Forces structures of our nations and for ongoing operations
    - The cooperation has allowed our respective defence industries to further develop their individual fields of strength – as illustrated by Norway's decision to purchase a jointly developed Swedish artillery system, Finland's decision to buy Norwegian Air Defence Systems and Sweden's decision to purchase Finnish Armored Combat Vehicles. We intend to develop these kinds of initiatives further, believing that it creates overall benefits for all of our nations and for our defence industries.
  • What are the challenges?
    - Denmark and Norway are members of NATO, whereas Finland and Sweden are not. Still, these two countries are among the closest partners of NATO. Of course, NATO cannot depend on partners for the achievement of its Level of Ambition, but their contributions to operations and to development of the required Alliance capabilities are still significant.
    - All Nordic nations wish to secure national sovereignty over their respective forces and preserve the ability to conduct crisis management on a national basis. This is an understandable and totally legitimate concern. Nevertheless, the requirement to secure national control over available capabilities does not preclude cooperation in many areas that are not affected by this concern.
  • Let me quickly list some specific achievements in the Nordic Cooperation, in addition to the industrial projects I just listed;
    - The Nordic Nations are cooperating on the sustainment of forces to NATOs operation in Afghanistan, for example through common sustainment flights and other logistics cooperation. A wide range of courses and training are also conducted in close cooperation for the preparation of deployed forces.
    - Norway contributed significantly to the Swedish led Nordic Battle Group available for the EU in 2011
    - Training and exercises have been coordinated to a degree unthinkable only a few years ago. Our Air Forces conducted Cross Border Training more than 60 times last year. This enables our Air Forces to train in much larger formations than would have been possible nationally. From the Swedish side, this training was considered an essential pre-requisite for the successful participation of Swedish Gripen aircraft in Operation Unified Protector over Libya last year.
    - Swedish forces now also participate in the traditional multinational winter exercises in Northern Norway, and lately in Northern Sweden as well.
    - A combined Joint Nordic five-year Exercise plan has been developed and is being implemented
    - A new initiative to coordinate and possibly further integrate the Nordic fleet of C-130 transport aircraft is being considered. A number of options are on the table, and significant gains can be achieved from closer integration of all aspects of providing this capability
    An agreement on legal issues will be signed shortly, in addition to an important security agreement signed in 2010. These agreements clear the way with regard to many security and legal obstacles to cooperation.


  • These are just a few examples of our most specific achievements so far. Whether we speak of equipment, procedures or culture, building success in the Nordic Defence Cooperation is a long term project. It will be achieved step-by-step as we gradually reach a higher degree of harmonization between our Defence structures. And most important of all – it requires high level commitment to succeed. I can assure you that this commitment is fully shared by the Norwegian government.

The Norwegian approach to some Smart Defence issues

Now, let me move on to the more general issue of Smart Defence as it will be on the table in Chicago. Let me list some issues where we believe significant gains can be expected;

  • Firstly, the situation calls for stricter prioritization of the Alliance's most important capability needs. These priorities were already adopted by the Lisbon Summit in December 2010, in the form of the eleven Lisbon Critical Capabilities. It is essential that we remain focused on these established priorities, among them the development of an improved Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (JISR) capability with the associated Allied Ground Surveillance system.
  • Secondly, we also believe there is a case for improved specialization among nations – particularly in high level capabilities that are out of reach for some individual nations. Air Policing is one such area, where nations in possession of this capability can conduct this mission for the seven allies that currently do not operate combat aircraft. We have contributed to Baltic and Iceland Air Policing in the past, and will continue to do so in the future
  • Thirdly, the emphasis on common capabilities of NATO should not be diminished. We still need a solid common funded core in the Alliance. Smart Defence should not be a replacement for the vital concept of common capabilities. NATO common funding is also Smart Defence.
  • However, in order for nations to continue investing scarce funds in common capabilities, there must be a high degree of assurance that these capabilities will be made available to the operational commander once NATO has agreed to launch an operation. Failure to achieve this could jeopardize the entire concept of common capabilities, and lead nations to invest their funds in bi- or multilateral capabilities instead. This would be a loss for the unity of the Alliance.
  • Fourthly, Smart Defence is also about using NATO and national assets more efficiently together. We have launched an initiative to better integrate national joint headquarters with appropriate elements of the NATO Command Structure. This could greatly improve NATOs situational awareness in its own area. We have offered our National Joint HQ in Bodø as a pilot project to establish such a concept.
  • In our new Long Term Plan, we also propose to create at National Air Operations Centre at our NJHQ in Bodø. This NAOC could contribute to alleviate the shortage of Air Command and Control Capability in the new NATO Command Structure.

Obstacles and limitations to Smart Defence

In spite of the promising aspects of Smart Defence, there are also limitations and obstacles to the level of multinational integration it is possible to achieve.

  • In our case, as for most Allies, we have certain national tasks and responsibilities that must be handled on a national basis. Therefore, shared units in the force structure are currently not on our agenda. The same goes for specialization in critical capabilities. We have decided to maintain a full spectrum of basic military capabilities in order to remain capable to deal with vital national requirements. This should however not be in the way of significant multinational cooperation in capability development.
  • Another danger would be if nations start looking to Smart Defence as a convenient way to avoid providing their fair share and reasonable burden of national assets to the Alliance. Smart Defence only makes sense if it brings new capabilities to the Alliance, or contributes to maintain capabilities that otherwise could not have been sustained. Smart Defence is no substitute for commitment to Defence.
  • Neither should Smart Defence come in the way of fair burden sharing. It would be very harmful if NATO Capability Goals left by one nation as a result of defence cuts are simply shifted to other nations like Norway - which is not reducing its efforts – under the pretext of specialization and Smart Defence. Fair burden sharing should still be a primary objective of the NATO Defence Planning Process.

Way ahead for Smart Defence

Let me conclude by summarizing a few key points on the way ahead for Smart Defence from the Norwegian point of view;

  • We believe Smart Defence is essentially a change in culture, or a new mindset. Achieving this will be a long process, and depend on high level commitment and leadership both in the nations and in NATO
  • Smart Defence will best succeed if nations find together on the basis of shared requirements and priorities – NATO will have a key role to facilitate this, but success can only be driven from the nations themselves in the long run.
  • Partners should be included wherever possible in capability development. This will not only provide more capabilities for NATO, but also contribute to closer political and military integration between partners and NATO.

I would like to thank you, Mr. Chairman for this opportunity to share some Norwegian views on Smart Defence.