Opening speech at the NATO/EAPC conference 19th October 2006

Opening speech at the NATO/EAPC Conference on CBRN Non-Binding Guidelines and Minimum Standards Projects in Oslo, 19th October 2006.

- By political adviser, Ragnhild Mathisen, Ministry of Defence

Ladies and gentlemen. It is a great honour for me to be here today.

Along with my colleagues, I would like to express my Ministry’s appreciation of the work by Ambassador Jochems and his staff on this important project.

CBRN-threats are complex, and their handling requires both the contribution from actors in a number of different disciplines, as well as broad international cooperation. In my position as the political adviser to the Minister of Defence in Norway, I would like to particularly underline the importance of the effect of combining civil and military resources.

The Norwegian government is dedicated to strengthening civil-military cooperation. We strive for a comprehensive security policy, to include strengthened security of society. At the same time, we want to maintain an appropriate balance between military and civil preparedness.

Norwegian civil-military cooperation is based on the concept of “Total Defence”, as mentioned by my colleague in the Ministry of Justice and the Police. This concept was developed during the Cold War. But we have modernised it. Therefore, the “total defence” concept remains relevant – also to meet the new threats and challenges in today’s society. The modernised concept of Total Defence is based on mutual support and cooperation between the defence organisation, with its military arm, and the civilian society. The concept applies to the whole spectrum of crises, from peacetime incidents, through security crises of whatever magnitude, to a full war situation. The new concept places greater emphasis on military support to civil authorities, than was the case during the Cold War.

I believe most countries represented at this conference organise their CBRN-preparedness for peacetime incidents primarily as part of civil sector responsibility. Military capabilities in the defence against CBRN-threats will first and foremost be used in situations of severe crises. Still, I find it appropriate to call the attention to the large part of the armed forces` resources, competence and personnel, which can also be utilised in case of a CBRN-incident in peacetime. In Norway, we have such resources for instance at the SICA-laboratory (Sampling and Identification of Chemical Agents) at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, and at the Institute of Microbiology, at the Armed Forces Medical Services.

For example, the military preparedness against nuclear attacks could contribute in case of a nuclear accident in peacetime, and the readiness against biological weapons can be of benefit in the fight against pandemics. The preparedness against chemical attacks can also be useful in case of a terrorist attack with these means.

In several countries, the military authorities have developed specialised resources in the field of CBRN. These can be beneficial also for civil authorities. I am particularly thinking of military equipment, education and training, professional advice, research and laboratories which can be offered to civil authorities. The military also has personnel, trained and equipped for CBRN-incidents, who can be of great value in case of a peacetime incident. Furthermore, the military’s general capabilities can be useful in case of a CBRN-situation, for instance in a scenario of transport, or the protection of vital objects.

In Norway, we have good experience in civil-military cooperation in the protection against CBRN-threats. I would like to mention two examples. In the aftermath of Sept 11th 2001, military experts at the Norwegian Defence NBC-school assisted civilian authorities. The experts conducted one-day courses for several hundred first responders from police, fire- and health services in order to make them better prepared for CBRN-incidents. It was a civil responsibility, but the military support was of great importance.

The other example is the military participation in a civil-military cooperation group, consisting of central authorities. The group’s aim is the continuous development of CBRN-preparedness. An actionplan has been established in order to achieve this goal. The actionplan involves all ministries and social sectors responsible for CBRN protection in Norway, and it contains both civil and military measures for further improvement and development.

However, it is important to remember that this is a two way street. The military can also learn from civilian authorities.

Seeking a holistic approach to achieve greater security of the society is a trend in Norway, but it also applies to international operations. We can learn from our experiences abroad, and vice versa. The military forces in international operations work on a daily basis with civil police, public health- and fire services. They also interact daily with the local civilian population. This is an everyday experience for the military forces, often conducted under demanding and difficult circumstances. Although there are substantial differences between Afghanistan and Norway, experiences from international operations are very valuable also for civil-military cooperation in Norway – and the other way around! The operations in Afghanistan have underscored the need for an integrated civil-military approach in order to counter the new threats.

If we are to achieve good protection against CBRN-threats, we need a broad approach and good cooperation across the frontiers. NATO is an appropriate framework for measures and cooperation of this kind. The project for Non-binding guidelines and minimum standards is an excellent example of good cooperation. It contributes to setting civil-military cooperation on NATOs agenda, and highlighting the issue in the Alliance.

Within NATO there are a number of excellent and important initiatives in the field of protection against CBRN-threats. Still, there is room for more. We must be receptive for stronger internal cooperation, and to search for competence and resources where it exists – also in NATO’s partner countries. I am certain that this project is an important contribution to improving NATO’s future coordination and cooperation in the protection against CBRN-threats.

Last - but not least - I would like to direct attention to the most important phase of the project: the implementation. Recognising that the civil authorities are responsible for implementing these actions, the military authorities should be informed about the project’s procedures and implications. This will further contribute to a better cooperation within the field of CBRN-protection.

Finally, I would like to whish you good luck with your important work and the follow-up on the project. Enjoy your stay and the conference here in Oslo!

Thank you for your attention!