Army Summit 2018

Forsvarsministerens tale til Army Summit 2018

Statsråd Frank Bakke-Jensen holdt et innledningsforedrag på Hærens årlige fagseminar, Army Summit.

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Statsrådens tale Army Summit 18. September 2018.

Statsråd Frank Bakke-Jensen

Your excellencies,

Dear friends,

Welcome to Akershus Fortress.

I am pleased to see so many of you here today.

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you all to the 2018 Army Summit.

I am grateful for the opportunity to share some reflections on Norwegian security and defence policy in regards to landpower in the High North.

This year’s Summit will discuss strategic developments and the relevance of landpower in the arctic regions.

Four years ago, the western security establishment was taken by surprise by Russia’s violation of international law by annexing the Crimea.

By annexing the Crimean peninsula and destabilizing Eastern Ukraine, Russia reintroduced the use of inter-state force in Europe.

The hard-won principle that international relations should be governed by rules and norms and not by force is being challenged.

Territorial defence is clearly not a thing of the past.

There are some challenges regarding defence, security and foreign policy that are unique to Norway.

Norwegian security policy is closely tied to our geographic location in the northern-most corner of Europe.

The high north is of great strategic importance to us.

We manage large ocean areas containing enormous resources – seafood, oil, gas and minerals.

While at the same time, the Russian Kola-peninsula is just across the border from Norway.

It is important to note that the high north is a region of relative stability.

International law regulates the resolving of outstanding issues in the Arctic.

We wish this to continue.

Russia’s policies in the Ukraine, however, led to EU-sanctions and NATO suspending the practical military cooperation.

We have aligned ourselves closely with these responses.

Nevertheless, we aim for a balanced approach.

We have a long history of practical cooperation with Russia in the north, in areas like fisheries, people-to-people cooperation and visa-free local border crossings.

We continue to cooperate with Russia in certain areas, including the border guard, search and rescue and the Incidents at Sea-agreement.

To reduce the risk of misunderstandings, we keep the hotline between the Joint Operational Headquarters in Bodø and the Northern Fleet.

This is our contribution to regional stability in the north.

However – the so-called «bastion» concept is once again vital in Russian strategy.

This concept is about deploying military assets with the purpose of anti-access/area denial.

This is aimed at protecting their strategic bases at the Kola Peninsula and the patrol areas for their strategic submarines.

These submarines are their main strategic deterrence, and thus of vital importance to Russia.

Through the Bastion Defence Concept, the Northern Fleet can challenge the transatlantic freedom of movement, which is of the utmost importance to the Alliance.

Even though we do not see Russia as a direct military threat against Norway today, Russia is the dimensioning factor for Norway´s security and defence policy and planning.

After all, we have the world’s largest concentration of non-western military assets on our doorstep.

So, how do we meet these challenges?

This government turned the trend of dwindling defence spending.

The long-term plan for our defence sector increases defence spending while identifying areas where there is the potential for savings and efficiency measures and prioritizes strategic capacities.

We are strengthening our national defence, by investing in strategic capabilities such as fifth generation F-35 Combat Aircraft, P-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft and new submarines.

All of which enhances and integrates collaboration between allies.

We are also increasing funding for training, maintenance and stockpiles, in order to reduce ready-times and increase the number of available forces.

However, in crisis or war, Norway will rely heavily on Allied reinforcements.

NATO is a main pillar in Norwegian security and defence policy.

That is why we are pleased to host the High Visibility Exercise Trident Juncture this fall.

The exercise will see more than 40.000 allied troops training in Norway.

This allows us to train and test our entire Total Defence concept.

One aspect of the long-term plan is an increased presence in the high north.

Around half of the Navy´s sailing time is in the high north.

Instead of scrapping the old intelligence ship when we get a new one, we are refitting it with modern sensors so that we double the SIGINT presence in the high north.

We are also phasing in the P-8, while at the same time using new satellites to monitor the high north.

And at all times we have one of our submarines in the north.

There are two reasons why we are doing this.

First of all, it is a response to the changing security environment we find ourselves in.

And secondly, we are a predictable presence in the high north.

Thus, it fulfils our dual-pronged approach to Russia: Deterrence and reassurance.

So, how about the landpower aspect of our policy in the high north?

First, I must mention that when the government worked on the current long-term plan, we wanted a thorough examination of the landpower elements of the Armed Forces.

They consist of the Army and the Home Guard.

When we put our landpower proposal to Parliament, an active debate followed.

The result was that most of our proposals were accepted.

While some elements had to be looked at again.

We will adjust our National Service to reduce ready times and increase the number of forces available.

The Home Guard will get equipment to improve their mobility.

Their training and preparations will also get more funding.

In addition to the three manoeuvre battalions we already had in the Brigade, we are establishing a cavalry battalion in Finnmark.

As early as this coming January the first Company of the Cavalry battalion will be manned.

We are also strengthening the border guards and the Home Guard in Finnmark.

Most important is perhaps the establishment of a single landpower command in Finnmark.

It will coordinate and control all landpower elements in the county, and as such will act as a force multiplier.

The Army is currently without anti-aircraft capabilities.

This is a legacy of the expeditionary-oriented army created during the deep peace of the 1990´s.

Its artillery is from the 60´s and 70´s.

Our Main Battle Tanks were bought second hand from The Netherlands in the early 2000´s.

And the main logistical capacity is from the 1980´s.

Together this paints a bleak picture.

However, the Army has spent nearly two decades in Afghanistan.

They have participated on the front lines in the fight against ISIS.

The lessons learned are invaluable.

The men and women of our Armed Forces in general and the Army in particular continuously overcome the challenges put before them.

Our soldiers are recognized by our allies as competent, skilled and professional.

For a while, upgraded Infantry Combat Vehicles, the CV 9030, have been delivered to the Army.

We have signed contracts for the delivery of first-rate self-propelled artillery.

The first units are slated to be delivered as early as next year.

We have decided to acquire new combat anti-aircraft systems for the Army.

There are at present no viable countermeasures against 10 kilos of tungsten travelling at 1600 meters per second.

And the protection afforded by the armour of a modern Main Battle Tank is unmatched.

Thus, we have initialised a program to acquire new Main Battle Tanks by 2025.

As with all procurement programs, there will be a period with a gap when new systems are underway.

We are working hard to ensure that these gaps remain within acceptable limits.

New technology – and the rapid pace of their development – leads to more gaps, more often, than previously.

On the other hand, new technology also gives us new opportunities.

One such opportunity is the micro drone currently fielded with our landpower forces.

Another is the effect on command and control.

Digital systems provide the individual war fighter with unprecedented situational awareness.

As such, these systems work as force multipliers as well.

New technology also provides new domains.

Previously we had the land, sea and air domains.

Now we have cyber, space and the electromagnetic spectrum as well.

The real challenge – and opportunities – offered by the new domains, is that in addition to being domains in their own right, they also affect all the other domains.

They make what was science fiction a handful of years ago into reality.

At the same time, they introduce new vulnerabilities.

We need to identify the areas where new technology will be an asset, and find ways to exploit them.

But – we also need to identify the vulnerabilities they introduce, and prevent any adversary from successfully exploiting them.

During the Cold War, we envisioned as the worst-case scenario a full Soviet invasion.

Utilizing tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of tanks and aircraft.

There was no realistic way to stop them in Finnmark.

The county is simply too large, with too little infrastructure.

Today, as we see the lines between peace and war blurred, and no potential benefit to a full-scale invasion, we have renewed our focus on the population of Finnmark.

I mentioned the new Cavalry battalion, and the new landpower command.

But do we need landpower in the high north?

Technology have made it possible to strike at an enemy with virtually no risk to our own personnel.

However, as the air campaigns in Kosovo and Libya demonstrated, there is really no real substitute for boots on the ground.

As well as the purely operational aspects, there is also the reassurance of the civilian population, and the demonstration that an area is considered important enough to defend.

I mentioned our personnel, and the great job they are doing with the tools at their disposal.

As part of the ongoing reformation of our Armed Forces, we are currently implementing a personell reform.

One part of the reform is the adaptation of a specialist corps in addition to the officer corps.

Previously we only had an officer corps, and lacked the flexibility of a specialist corps that most of our allies had.

The Army has come the furthest in implementing this reform.

They are on the way to properly utilize its strengths and possibilities.

The personnel are a critical component of any military.

Especially for the army of a relatively small country.

The quality of the men and women who serve in our land forces continually impress me.

All the Norwegian landpower elements are once again operating on a permanent basis in Finnmark, our northernmost county.

That shows allies as well as any potential adversary that we place great importance on the high north.

However, we are almost halfway through implementing the current long-term plan.

The current plan has a longer perspective than the four years it is valid.

And it lays the groundwork in several important areas for many years to come.

Still, we are in the process of developing the next long term plan.

It will build on the current plan, and ensure continued implementation of the foundations we developed there.

One of the key premises is that the government is committed to continue to move towards the goal from the Wales Summit – spending two percent of GDP on defence.

Another key premise is the continuous rapid technological development.

And the possibilities and vulnerabilities it creates.

That will be the underlying premises of the development of the next long term plan.

The Norwegian Defence Research Institute has been asked to contribute to the process with a research-based description of possible future developments for our Armed Forces.

We want to ensure that we have a scientific basis for our work on the next long-term plan.

The Government will then decide on the political and financial parameters for the next long term plan.

The Chief of Defence will be involved in the process, and he will be tasked with developing military advice within these parameters.

The goal is to continue to secure a sustainable national defence.

One that is balanced between allotted funds, prioritized tasks and its actual structure.

The high north is more important than ever.

And we take our responsibilities in the region seriously.

The Airforce and Navy spend more of their resources in the north.

And we are establishing permanent, new landpower presences in the region.

At the same time, we are investing heavily on new capacities, which will strengthen the whole of our Armed Forces.

And strengthen our presence and our capabilities in the north.

Thank you for your attention.

 

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