Tale/innlegg | Dato: 20.01.2005
(10 January 2005) Defence Minister Kristin Krohn Devold's annual speech at Oslo Military Society. The Norwegian armed forces: Requirements and results, the human factor, the future, modernisation, priorities, transformation.
The will to change – the ability to defend
Address by the Defence Minister, Kristin Krohn Devold
Oslo Military Society, Monday 10 January 2005
Your Majesty, Ladies and Gentlemen.
This years marks Norway’s celebration of one hundred years as a fully independent state.
- A celebration of this rare instance of a European state splitting up without violence.
- A celebration of Norway’s history, young as a state but old as a nation.
- A celebration of the fact that we have many years behind us, and many more before us.
The defence forces in 1905 were not large, but they were modern and they matched the needs of the day – a fact that contributed towards preventing conflict with Sweden.
The challenges that faced us in 1905 were nevertheless very different from those that took us by surprise in 1940. And our enemies from the Second World War were different to those that threatened us during the cold war period. Today the cold war is also history but still new challenges threaten.
The tsunami disaster that struck Southeast Asia this Christmas reminds us all of the need to be able to respond rapidly to unpredictable crises, natural as well as military.
With a hundred years behind us as an independent state, we have learned that, in order to be able to defend ourselves, we must have the will to change. And so we are modernising the last century’s defences to meet the challenges of the new century.
We are modernising, first and foremost, not with international missions in view, or to hang onto the coat-tails of our major allies;
- We are modernising in order to strengthen the defence of Norway and the security of our own people.
- We are modernising to make sure that the collective resources of our society are used for the maximum benefit of all.
- We are modernising in order to create armed forces characterised by knowledge, military skill, strength and relevance.
The men and women of our armed forces – on land, at sea and in the air, in staff and support functions, both here in Norway and abroad – are delivering impressive results in this historic modernisation. It is their will to change that gives us the ability to defend.
Just imagine: who would have believed, only a few years ago:
- That Norwegian forces would be keeping the peace in Kosovo?
- That Norwegian special forces would be making such an impression in Afghanistan?
- That the United States would be borrowing NASAMS air defence systems from us?
- That Norway would be home to a NATO Command, with responsibility for training new thinking and modernisation within NATO?
- That conscripts would be praising new national service arrangements to the skies?
- That the girls would be queuing to join up?
- That the Air Force would be operating shuttle flights between islands in the Indian Ocean to help the victims of the tsunami disaster?
- That the Defence Medical Services would be trawling the hospitals in Thailand to locate surviving Norwegian tourists and bring them home?
Our Armed Forces personnel are delivering modernisation. They are achieving results. They are realising the measures that the Government has recommended and that the Storting has endorsed. That is to say a Defence matching the needs of our time. And relevant for our time. With a will to change and the ability to defend.
An address on the topic of Norwegian defence concerns all of us here this evening. It concerns all who are members of the armed services and, equally, those who are not. It concerns interested members of the community who hold very definite views on defence. It concerns those who are critical of the modernisation and our international involvement. It concerns those who take safety and security in everyday life for granted and those who want to make our life in the community still more secure.
The defence organisation is made up of individuals – individuals with needs, expectations and ambitions.
- Individuals of whom society is asking a great deal.
- Individuals who provide us with a highly competent defence on land, at sea and in the air, by day and by night, in Norway and abroad.
- Individuals who are committed to protecting our values and who believe in the place of the Armed Forces in the community.
I have asked some of our men and women why Norway needs Armed Forces.
My address this evening is about these men and women, and a defence organisation in the midst of modernisation.
THE REQUIREMENTS AND THE RESULTS
The modernisation of the Armed Forces is on track. We shall meet the Storting’s ambitious and specific requirements for the Armed Forces for the period 2002 – 2005:
- We shall meet the Storting’s requirement to sell off 2 million square metres of our building stock,
- We shall achieve the Storting’s target of reducing defence manpower by 5000, and
- We shall meet the Storting’s requirement to cut annual operating costs by 2 billion kroner.
And all the resources freed will be applied where they are most needed, essentially to operational activities and new investment. All this to ensure that we have a defence organisation that is relevant to our time.
And that is what we have got. Last December the Chief of Defence reported as follows:
- The Border Guard is better now than at any time during the cold war period.
- The Royal Guard is now better than ever.
- The Coast Guard has been improved still further and is supported by important surveillance and intelligence functions.
- The Intelligence Service has acquired new capabilities.
- The Home Guard has been reorganised and is better equipped than ever before.
- The Defence Logistics Organisation is achieving more flying hours and more operational activity with no increase in funding.
- National service conscripts have never been better, and
- We are getting more value for every krone invested.
This is the reality of the situation today. This illustrates just how far the Armed Forces have come, after three tough years of restructuring.
We have armed services that are well trained and well provided with modern equipment. Armed Forces with greatly improved military effectiveness and combat capability. Forces that can react swiftly. Forces with the capabilities to meet today’s security challenges both here in Norway and further afield. Forces which can make an invaluable contribution both in peace and in war, and in the event of any crisis either civil or military. Forces for our time.
But, we may be sure, the future will also hold new challenges. We must free more resources for new investment, not least in the Army. Therefore the restructuring must continue.
NORWEGIAN DEFENCE – THE HUMAN FACTOR
We have come a long way, but we still have a way to go. We are good, but we must be better.
Modernisation of the defence organisation is not about the Storting or the media. It is about how an organisation with 18,000 employees and 9,500 soldiers can be driven forward on a daily basis. Modernisation is about how targets can be achieved and tasks successfully carried out.
This year we shall be spending over 30 billion kroner on the Armed Forces. That is no mean sum and responsibility for delivering the goods rests with the defence organisation. A responsibility that I believe is being lived up to.
We are modernising first and foremost to give our men and women in uniform the training, the equipment and the working conditions that they need. We are modernising to make it possible for the defence organisation to do the job that the Norwegian people expect us to do.
The defence organisation has to be able to perform the tasks with which we are entrusted, tasks that are clearly defined in the long-term plans endorsed by the Storting. The defence organisation must also be an environment in which people can thrive, develop as individuals and make a rewarding contribution – an environment in which families and dependents can be safe in the knowledge that we will give our employees the best possible training, a high level of professional skill and the necessary equipment to do the job. Such a defence organisation needs to be able to embrace change.
When Sigurd Frisvold took over as Chief of Defence in 1999, he saw this need for change. Unless rapid action was taken, Norwegian defence would, within a few years, have deteriorated dramatically in the absence of a single krone allocated to renewal and new investment. The Armed Forces would be relatively large in terms of volume but would not be able to afford to do more than simply mark time.
I 1999 it took four months to deploy a force to Kosovo. In 1999 the Telemark Battalion was a battalion without an armoured capability and with limited firepower. In 1999 our F-16 combat aircraft scarcely had the ability to engage ground targets or to operate in the dark.
If we had carried on with the structure that existed in 1999, there would not have been a single krone left for investment in 2007. This year we are investing 9.2 billion.
Acting with great courage and responsibility, the Chief of Defence therefore launched two four-year plans for the modernisation of Norwegian defence. First there was the Defence Study 2000, initiated by Arne Solli in 1998, which was then followed by the Chief of Defence’s Military Study in 2003.
Both these long-term plans were worked out by the Armed Forces themselves, by the officer corps, through far-reaching studies involving participation by broadly-based groups from all the service branches.
My job has been to get the Government and the Storting, on the basis of clear and reasoned military advice, to agree that the job has to be done – and then to get the job done.
Chief of Defence Sigurd Frisvold and his Chief of Staff, Svein Ivar Hansen, have been decisively instrumental in driving forward this process of modernisation. They are two people for whom I have the very greatest regard and admiration.
They have demonstrated both the will to change and a willingness to embrace new thinking – focusing on professional competence, initiative and the ability to cooperate. Officers with integrity and backbone. They say that cannibals prefer people without a backbone. I do not!
They have shown what it means to learn and lead – and to deliver Armed Forces fit for the future.
- Armed Forces in which our F-16 aircraft are equipped with leading edge technology capable of operation round the clock. With the ability to engage both aircraft targets and, operating jointly with units of other services, targets on land as well.
- Armed Forces in which our combat battalions have the necessary armour, protection and firepower, are able to operate by day and by night, all year round and wherever they are needed.
- Armed Forces in which units can be deployed in days, not in weeks or months.
We can be where we are needed, either in Norway or abroad, participating in operations that may be either military or civil. Whether in response to crisis or need, that is real operational delivery.
While on the subject of the ability to deliver, allow me to single out one other outstanding pairing of the same exceptional calibre, that of Ambassador Kai Eide and Vice Admiral Eivind Hauger-Johannessen at NATO Headquarters, who between them today give Norway a unique degree of influence in the Alliance.
Their professional expertise and experience, combined with the will and ability to cooperate across civil and military structures alike, have given Norwegian views renewed impact in discussions with our allies. Thank you for your contribution!
Leadership is always important – but the underlying plan is even more so. I never cease to be inspired and impressed by the contributions that I see being made by service units all over the country. Their efforts, their keenness and the results that they are achieving, are in marked contrast to the picture that we sometimes see depicted in the media. That is one thing that we share a common responsibility to change.
I have travelled more than many of my predecessors:
- to areas of operations in Kandahar, Kosovo, and Kabul,
- to snow holes, military exercises and operations in the field,
- and I have worn practical clothing – as suggested, very sensibly, by those I have been visiting.
And I intend to continue in the same way. That is a New year promise!
Because the realities that I encounter when visiting Norwegian units, both in this country and abroad, are those realities which demonstrate most clearly that we are on the right track, that there is a real determination to persevere, and that officers and soldiers alike deserve the very greatest credit for what they are doing.
Because contact with the units is of decisive importance in providing the Ministry of Defence with valuable feedback and clear advice on the formation of sound defence policies based on today’s realities both here at home and further afield.
It is these realities that have helped to make Armed Forces recruiting better now than it has been for many years. There is strong competition for places at service schools and colleges, and many young people voluntarily contact the recruiting authorities to make sure that they are called up for their initial military service. Recruiting for demanding service both at home and abroad is good.
National Service remains a main pillar of Norwegian defence. It ensures that we can recruit the best of our young people – including a steadily increasing number of women. National Service is not what it was – it is now much better.
The same applies to the conscripts themselves, and their very positive attitude to the ongoing process of modernisation. Both the Chief of Defence and I have been impressed by today’s National Service conscripts and their spokesmen. They are an enthusiastic lot, genuinely interested in putting forward constructive ideas as to how we can make the Armed Forces better.
Today’s conscripts want their initial period of military service to be both meaningful and challenging. They want to gain skills and they want the experience to be relevant to today’s world, not least in preparing them to fulfil ambitious aims for a subsequent career in civilian life.
That is why, for example, 6th Division in Troms is offering training as paramedic ambulance drivers, with 10 credits counting towards subsequent medical studies and a security course qualifying for 5 credits.
Collaboration with universities, colleges and other civil bodies guarantees the quality of the vocational training provided so that qualifications will be formally recognised. This is an approach that all service branches now need to adopt to the full.
Today’s soldiers are showing that they possess creativity and flexibility. They focus on what is important. As the national spokesman for National Service conscripts, Stian Jenssen, put it in an interview with the Norwegian News Agency NTB last December: “Never before has National Service been developing as positively as it is now.” That was a Christmas present to warm the heart.
Moreover, a study conducted in December last year showed that as many as 80% of National Service conscripts were well satisfied with their initial military service.
It is for this generation that we are modernising our society. And it is for this generation that we are modernising the Armed Forces.
I was born on the day work started on the Berlin Wall, between 12 and 13 August 1961. I grew up during the coldest part of the Cold war. And this made a lasting impression on me.
My son was born in 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down; we watched the TV pictures at Aker Hospital. His generation will be growing up with new and different challenges.
It is for this generation that we are creating a secure future, just as our Armed Forces in the sixties gave our society security when I was growing up.
Today men and women complement one another in the services, just as in civilian life. That is why the fact that the recruiting of women is now at the best level ever is of such importance to the Armed Forces. It shows that for girls with ambition, the services are seen to offer a challenging and professionally rewarding experience.
It means that we are attracting competent and mature young people right across the spectrum of society. Those now undergoing military service are setting a good example in welcoming the girls who join, and I anticipate that everyone else will follow this example.
WHAT WILL THE ARMED FORCES BE DOING IN THE FUTURE
1814, 1905, 1940, 1989, 2001 – are all years which have meant much for Norway. Years which, in one way or another, have signified change for the nation – either in the short or the longer term. Years which remind us of the need to adapt to new circumstances. Years which also tell us that the ability to defend requires the will to change.
Defence resources must be directed towards meeting all those challenges that, in reality, we are likely to be facing, and these are more numerous than ever before. Challenges that call for decisiveness and national military capabilities. Challenges that require the ability to act, and react, either alone or with allies, today, tomorrow and in the near future.
Here at home we must be able to uphold our national sovereignty and exercise our national authority. We must be able to deal with national crises and incidents. And we must be able to withstand military and political pressure.
Oil, gas and fisheries represent vital natural resources for Norway and for those countries which depend on these products. We know that, and we are determined to manage and protect these resources. These resources provide a central foundation on which our welfare and prosperity depend. These resources represent the future for us and for the generation now growing up.
Those who live along our coasts, and in the far north, must be able to feel sure that the Armed Forces are on watch, patrolling our sea areas, and that they really are there. We must maintain a presence in order to protect the values which give meaning to our everyday lives and which provide a firm economic foundation for a stable Norwegian society.
That is why the Armed Forces are being modernised, enabling them to be where they are needed, anywhere in the country, at very short notice. That is why the new structure gives our forces unprecedented mobility and deployability. Today we no longer need months to deploy a force. Today we need just hours or days.
Norway is a small country with large and powerful neighbours. The EU, the United States and Russia all have interests in our area and we have to take account of this. Living among “elephants” entails some special challenges and the need to remain alert to avoid the risk of “getting into trouble”.
Remaining alert depends, first and foremost, on having modern, world-class intelligence facilities. That is why the Intelligence Service has been provided with new and modern equipment.
Alertness also depends on an air defence organisation equipped with Orion maritime patrol aircraft, DA-20 Jet Falcon aircraft for electronic warfare training and F-16 combat aircraft. In 2005, therefore, Orion and DA-20 aircraft will be putting in several hundred more flying hours than in 2001. For the same reason, in 2005, the F-16s will be putting in more than a thousand additional flying hours compared with 2001. This gives us a real surveillance capability, the ability to react swiftly and the power to act..
Alertness is about sensors, networks and decisiveness. Only by remaining alert can we maintain the ability to respond rapidly, to tell our military forces where they need to be – and why. To tell the Coast Guard where there is fishing in progress, and who is doing it. It does not merely give our ships time at sea, it makes each day at sea effective.
In addition to intelligence and surveillance, the ability to uphold national sovereignty and to exert our national authority requires that we have the relevant military capabilities under national command.
- That is why the Coast Guard now has more modern vessels, and operates in a more integrated way with our surveillance and intelligence agencies than in the past.
- That is why we are getting new frigates and new Skjold Class missile-armed fast patrol boats.
- That is why the Air Force’s aircraft and helicopters are putting in more flying hours than for many years past, and
- That is why we train and exercise harder today than we did four years ago.
To exercise costs money. Without restructuring there would have been no money for exercises. No money – no activity.
Today the Armed Forces are delivering increased operational capability, using their own resources that directly safeguard Norwegian security.
But, Norway is also a country that is heavily dependent on its extensive international relationships. This means that we are affected by international politics and international security challenges. Challenges which we share with our neighbours and allies. Only by working with such friends and allies can these challenges be met.
Norwegian security is not exclusively a national matter; nor is national security exclusively Norwegian. That is why we work in concert with likeminded allies. NATO is at the heart of our security work and, in the same way, the EU is also emerging as an important player.
Norway is a European country and Europe includes Norway. That is why we wish to play a part in the EU’s so-called battlegroups. Because this strengthens European security. Because it strengthens the UN. Because it strengthens cooperation with 19 of our NATO allies who are also EU members and with whom we are already cooperating closely within NATO. And because it strengthens Norway. It is, quite simply, good security policy.
That is why Norway takes part in multinational operations both at home and abroad.
When the NATO exercise Battle Griffin 2005 starts in Mid-Norway in about a month’s time, it will be a multinational exercise. This is multinational training, conducted jointly with allies, in Norway, for Norway and for NATO.
“One for all – all for one”. Not many letters – but momentous words. Words which require the credible follow-up of intentions and ambitions. For words alone do not give security! But arranging allied exercises on Norwegian soil does just that..
Our allies come because we have restructured, because we are relevant and because it makes sense to exercise with us.
In our modernisation of the Armed Forces, we must allow for those challenges that we may have to deal with alone. We must allow for our international obligations and we must have regard to the relevant financial constraints..
On the subject of military doctrine, the British military historian Sir Michael Howard once said: “I am tempted indeed to declare dogmatically that whatever doctrine the armed forces are working on now, they have got it wrong. I am also tempted to declare that it does not matter that they have got it wrong What does matter is their capacity to get it right quickly when the moment arrives”.
Sir Michael is talking about flexibility. We have to meet the challenges of unpredictability by making our structure flexible and, not least, by cultivating a way of thinking based on problem solving, the sharing of ideas and the development of team spirit. That is the nature of the defence organisation that we are now creating.
- That is why we have a broad spectrum of high quality capabilities.
- That is why we are investing in new, modern materiel with funds freed by restructuring.
- That is why the Ministry of Defence has recently issued “Strength and Relevance”, a publication that highlights the interplay between the overall framework of security policy, defence policy and the structure and capabilities of the Armed Forces. “Strength and relevance” is a strategic concept for the Armed Forces which provides a common foundation for the modernisation and the way forward into the future.
I have asked some of the men and women in the Armed Forces how they see the way ahead. These are their replies:
It is quite clear that we need to focus on three areas as we move ahead.
Firstly we must create armed forces that we can equip and train to a sufficiently high level of quality. Armed forces that are held in high regard by society at large, and are respected for their ability to do their job effectively. Armed forces which every serviceman or woman feels that he or she can identify with, can trust and can be proud of. A defence organisation that takes care of its employees and their dependents.
Secondly we must continue to give priority to the sharp end by slimming down staffs and support functions. We must move resources across to the operational activities that give us our defence capability.
Thirdly we must create defence forces capable of operating jointly with our allies – both at home and abroad.
We must not simply stand and look to our allies for the defence of Norway. Or look to our friends to come to the defence of Europe. We must not stand and watch while the rest of the world brings security to the inhabitants of Afghanistan.
We must take our place in the front rank in the defence of Norway; we must support our allies when they need us, and we must take our share of international responsibility, also where civil and humanitarian crises are concerned.
Norway must never withdraw into itself because it feels self-sufficient. One hundred years ago we were a young state with the belief that we could have our own foreign policy, that we could play a part in international affairs. Our belief remains unaltered.
MODERNISATION REQUIRES PRIORITISATION
The Government said in the “Sem Declaration” that it would restructure and modernise Norwegian defence. We wished to ensure that the Norwegian people would have a defence organisation capable of meeting the challenges of our time. And we wanted to give everyone working in Norwegian defence an organisation that would offer them both challenge and opportunity – in other words an organisation able to learn, lead and deliver.
And yes, restructuring is proceeding apace. The rate of progress is precisely that envisaged when the Storting gave its approval in spring 2001. We embarked on a five year period and today marks the start of the last year of this period.
There is broad agreement that we must give priority to operational capability. But when it comes to the point, there are voices raised in opposition.
We cannot, however, simply opt for comfortable delays, simply to avoid uncomfortable measures. That would only delay investment and force cutbacks in Air Force flying hours and the Navy’s time at sea, as well as reduced exercising. In sum, it would be prejudicial to our security.
Those politicians who, in 2001, voted for the required measures and the tempo at which they were to be implemented and who now, without ever having voted for a single additional krone to pay for a more protracted process, say that we are moving too fast, have no credible alternative solution to offer.
On the contrary, it is the duty of every mayor and local leader to fight for local employment and local interests.
In the same way, it is my duty, and that of the Government and of the Storting, to safeguard the nation’s interests. This means prioritisation across the borders of single service branches, and it means that some local interests must give way in favour of the nation’s collective defence capability.
In the heat of restructuring, there will inevitably be some who lose sight of the main objective. We have to accept that. Criticism and frustration are only natural. My responsibility as Defence Minister is, after all, not to put off unpleasant decisions but to keep my eye on the end objective and to show that we are able to carry through the measures which have been agreed.
MODERNISATION IS TRANSFORMATION
Admiral Edmund Giambastini, head of Allied Command Transformation, one of NATO’s two strategic commands, told us on video during my address to this Society last year:
“Military transformation is not an option, it is an imperative. The vast changes in the world’s security environment require new approaches, new capabilities, and new concepts of operation”.
Norway takes this seriously and has done something about it. Norway is at the forefront where NATO transformation is concerned. Not only because we are home to NATO’s Joint Warfare Centre, which is located in Stavanger, but because we are ready to make the difficult choices.
On 19 October 2001, when I took over this office from Bjørn Tore Godal, our armed forces were large and top-heavy – and operational only for five months of the year.
Bjørn Tore Godal had seen how things were going and he had put forward a long-term plan containing a range of measures. But the measures had not yet been set in motion, no agreement had been reached regarding funding of the proposed new structure and the defence organisation as it then existed was based on mobilisation – designed to fight the last war all over again.
Today the Armed Forces have an operational capability unequalled at any time for very many years. We have almost 400 men deployed in Afghanistan, we have two transport aircraft helping to bring aid in the wake of the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia, we have roughly a thousand men on stand-by at five days notice for the NATO Response Force, we have a helicopter detachment in Kosovo, we have F-16 aircraft and an Air Control Unit in the Baltic and this year we expect to have a submarine, MTBs and an Orion maritime patrol aircraft in the Mediterranean.
All this involvement in international operations exemplifies our ability to transform. It shows that we have created the ability to react with modern units from all the service branches. It is a contribution towards the safeguarding of Norwegian security interests and we must remember one thing; “the NATO Response Force exists for Norway just as much as for our allies, if the day should come that we need it.
In order to be able to assist Norway at short notice, both Norway and NATO depend on rapid reaction forces. It is important, therefore, when the Chief of Defence reports that the Armed Forces’ deployment capability is now better than ever before. Our military involvement in the Balkans, in Afghanistan and in Iraq, has taught us to deploy quickly and correctly. This is good for all of us – and for the survivors of the tsunami in Southeast Asia!
Whether the call comes from Lindesnes or North cape, from Alta or from Asia, the distances may be large but our service units can be there very quickly indeed. Never again are we likely to be met on arrival with the question “What took you so long, have you been walking?” as we were in the Balkans in 1999.
Today the Armed Forces are smaller numerically but they are now equipped with modern equipment and the latest technology which gives them an operational capability far in excess of anything in the past. No more coastal forts, no more fortified firing positions, and the last Mauser has been sold.
Instead we now have armed forces which are highly mobile and which have the capability to respond to any threat or assault, day or night, throughout the year, wherever the need arises – either alone or in concert with our allies in a transformed NATO.
We would like still more – both in new investment and in operational funding. But the answers lie not in backing off from further restructuring, but in maintaining a steady course.
DEFENCE FOR THE FURTURE – THE MEN AND WOMEN OF TODAY
All the improvements we have achieved over recent years call for still further improvements in individual competence and professional skills. They call for greater knowledge and experience. They make daunting demands on our service personnel.
So what do we expect of our men and women in uniform?
We expect that they will be there when we need them. That they are ready to move or to commute wherever duty calls. That they exercise frequently and master new technology. That they can handle stress and make the correct decisions. That they undertake missions involving risk to life and limb, both nationally and internationally. In short that they give their all for Norway.
What should they expect of us?
They should expect us to give them the relevant training. To give them the opportunities to learn and to develop the qualities of leadership. They should expect a posting system which is fair and which ensures that both valuable experience, and the burdens entailed in service life, are spread equitably and as widely as possible. And they should expect us to look after them and their families.
There is a saying: “He who believes his education is finished, is not educated but finished”.
This applies especially to the Services, a point that has been taken to heart by the Chief of Defence, the Government and the Storting. That is why we have altered the Armed Forces’ system of education.
The Officer Candidate School system is being overhauled. More of the learning will now take place with operational units and in specialist technical environments. Combining educational aspects with experience transfer will give younger officers a better grounding for their subsequent development as leaders, as well as giving greater security for those they will lead.
A new category of Subaltern Officers is being introduced. This will raise the age and level of experience of the officers who will be in direct contact with the soldiers. They will work with the same equipment year after year, so building a weight of knowledge and experience that will benefit endurance under combat conditions. Their presence will reduce the risk of injuries, accidents and other incidents that could put our soldiers at risk..
To train officers is to train people to lead and to take responsibility. People who have to understand more than just tactics and complex weapon systems. They must also understand the social contexts in which they will be working.
That is why officer training is being improved. That is why the Armed Forces will be focusing more sharply on core aspects of military competence. That is why military education will be subject to the same formal quality requirements as higher education in the civil sector. And that is why the military academies will be able to award recognised study credits and university degrees.
The Storting has endorsed a provision making it mandatory to accept postings to international operations. This is a natural consequence of the Armed Forces having a duty to participate in both national and international operations and the fact that these are inextricably linked.
We must be able to use our jointly trained units both at home and abroad – manned by the same personnel and using the same equipment. This provision applies across the board. That ensures fairness and predictability.
Mandatory posting to international operations is to be practised responsibly. There has to be a reasonable balance between time spent serving abroad and time at home. Both the benefits of this experience and the burden it imposes on families must be shared as widely and equitably as possible.
The old system made for unpredictability. There was no certainty that Norway would be able to produce top quality units for international operations, even when participation had been approved by the Norwegian authorities.
That was the case in autumn 1999. We were unable to make a mine clearance vessel available for an international operation due to a lack of volunteers. It was a painful experience, and the Storting on that occasion instructed the Chief of Defence to put forward a proposal for mandatory posting. He duly carried out his task.
But the predictability of being able to carry out missions on behalf of the nation also depends on personnel being safe in the knowledge that their employer is going to look after them. I frequently receive letters from service family members or dependents. They ask very relevant questions and are sometimes worried about their relatives. I have children myself, and I can vividly see myself in their situation.
To take part in international operations is a demanding experience and it does involve risk. Soldiers who put themselves on the line for Norway therefore have every right to expect us to put ourselves on the line for them – not least in the media.
We in Defence must therefore do all we can to assure servicemen and women, and their families, that we will take good care of them. That is why arrangements are being put in place to follow up the health and welfare of those who have been out serving in international operations.
And that is why the Armed Forces have established a national outpatient facility to provide long-term medical and psychiatric support, include assistance with health insurance and benefits, for those who may have suffered injury or trauma during their service.
The Armed Forces have a duty to support those who have given them such valuable and important service. Personnel concerned must be able to rest assured that we will be there for them both before, during and after their mission. They deserve no less – and it is good personnel policy. It helps us to recruit, and retain, the best. And it is good for our defence capability.
Your Majesty, Ladies and Gentlemen
“Norseman, whatsoe’er thy station” are proud words. As in our national anthem, they express Norway’s pride as an old nation which became an independent state in 1905. A nation that wanted something very much. A nation that today, as then, wants to play its part in the world.
And so it is Norwegian men and women, from every station in society, who make our defence forces what they are. Defence forces which are young but which have roots that reach far back in time. And we still look forward to the future, as we did in 1905.
For a number of years now, the Armed Forces have been looking hard at what they have inherited. They have retained the best, and have built on that with the future in view. Today we see the framework of a Defence that matches our national needs, our international position and our financial constraints. It has been a tough time, and there are certainly still tough times ahead. But if the battle is to be won, one must at least take part.
Any top-class modern enterprise with its sights on the future must put people, individuals, at the very heart of the business.
It is through the interplay between creative, motivated individuals that values are created. It is the knowledge, skill and energy of the individual that generates the fellowship and respect for human values that we wish our defence forces to preserve and protect.
And that is how it should be in the Armed Forces too. We want those with initiative, competence and drive. Those who have the will to modernise and the ability to gets things done. People with insight, empathy and understanding.
That is how it is in the Armed Forces. We have people who want to realise a vision and who are creating something for the future. We have people who learn, lead and deliver – in an organisation with the will to change, and the ability to defend.
In the words of Søren Kirkegaard: “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards”. And now, in this centenary year, our wish is to learn from the past so that we can go forward to meet the future.
A hundred years have passed, and there will be more to come. The modernisation of Norwegian Defence will continue. With the will to change – and the ability to defend!
In conclusion I should like to wish Your majesty, and everyone else, a happy and prosperous New Year.