“Historical strengthening of our Armed Forces,” says Norway

Norwegian PM Jonas Gahr Støre in February 2024 visited the Jaeger Batallion GSV based near the border to Russia. Here together with Head of the Norwegian Army Lars Lervik (right) and Commander of the Finnmark Land Defense Jørn Qviller. (Atle Staalesen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Norway will almost double its military spending and reach 3 percent of GDP by 2036, a new long-term defence plan shows.

The Nordic country intends to increase spending on its Armed Forces with 600 billion NOK (€51,5 billion) over the next 12 years. By 2036, the total defense budget will reach 1,624 billion kroner (€140 billion), the Norwegian government informs.

The presentation of the much-awaited plan took place on the 5th of April on board Coast Guard vessel KV Bjørnøya.

“This is a historical strengthening of Norwegian Armed Forces,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre underlined in a press conference. On his side were Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum and Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram.

Norway will significantly strengthen all its branches of defense. The capacity of the Navy will be boosted by five new frigates and ten so-called standardized vessels, as well as five submarines and a significant number of small vessels.

Norwegian conscript soldiers at the Jaeger Battalion GSV. Over the next years, the battalion will part of the new Finnmark Brigade. (Atle Staalesen/The Independent Barents Observer)

The new frigates will all have new anti-submarine helicopters and be acquired and operated in a strategic partnership with allies.

“We need a strong Navy that can be present in our marine areas, prevent conflict and preserve Norwegian influence and freedom of action,” Defense Minister Gram says in a statement.

“The preservation of control over our marine territories is perhaps Norway’s most important task in NATO,” he underlines.

New long-range drones will be acquired and the airbase of Andøya that previously served the country’s P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft will soon become an Arctic drone base.

Jonas Gahr Støre in Kirkenes. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Prime Minister Støre highlighted the urgency of the new plan and underlined that Russia today is more dangerous and unpredictable and “will remain so for many years ahead.” He also stressed the geopolitical importance of the High North.

The presentation of the defense plan comes as NATO turns 75-year and as Finland marks its first one-year of membership in the alliance. “We now have major commitments for our new Nordic allies,” Støre underlined.

Also complex and hybrid threats will be given increased focus.

The Armed Forces will be strengthened with over 20,000 conscripted soldiers, employees and reservists. Many of them will be based in the northern parts of the country.

Norway will establish a new brigade in its northernmost Finnmark region. (Atle Staalesen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Two new brigades will be established, one of the them in the North. It will be based at Porsangermoen near Lakselv and Høybuktmoen near Kirkenes. The latter base is located only few kilometers from the border to Russia and its heavily militarized Kola Peninsula.

The new Finnmark Brigade will get anti-aircraft weapons and include an artillery battalion, a light infantry battalion, an engineer company, an intelligence company and stronger command.

“This rearmament of Finnmark starts now and by 2032 it will stand as a fully equipped brigade,” the plan reads.

Norway also intends to boost its air defenses and strengthen protection against short-range ballistic missiles. The quantity of the country’s existing NASAMS air defence will be doubled and upgraded to improve protection against drones and missiles.

“We will do what we can to never again experience a 9th of April,” Finance Minister Slagsvold Vedum underlined with reference to the Nazi German attack on Norway in 1940.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada : Canadian military says it has tracked, stopped China surveillance in Arctic waters, The Canadian Press

FinlandMilitary exercise apparently disrupts weather images from Lapland, Yle news

IcelandIceland authorizes U.S. submarine service visits, Eye on the Arct

Norway: Norway steps up high north defense, builds fully equipped brigade in Finnmark, The Independent Barents Observer

RussiaAs NATO forces move north for exercise, Northern Fleet sails out frigates, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedes must mentally prepare for war, says military top brass, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. nominates Alaskan as first Arctic ambassador, Eye on the Arctic

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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