Multinational defense cooperation is regarded increasingly as an important mean to solve common and fundamental challenges in defense policy. Tight financial constraints, price increases for high-tech defense materiel and common security challenges make it natural to develop regional multinational defense cooperation.
In light of this background one can understand the dynamics of development of the Nordic defense cooperation during recent years. Such cooperation that could provide added value for the development of the countries' defense, was the main topic in the Norwegian-Swedish feasibility study by 2007, report from the Chiefs of Defense of Norway, Sweden and Finland by 2008 and the Stoltenberg report on future Nordic cooperation and foreign and security policy by 2009. The government's political platform also emphasizes the objective of strengthening the Nordic cooperation on defense and on foreign and security policy, including international operations.
NORDEFCO constitute the framework for Nordic defense cooperation and was established in December 2009. A primary objective of NORDEFCO is to preserve and further develop the countries' military capabilities and operational capacity through cost-effective collaboration. The cooperation covers the entire spectrum of security and defense policy to capability development and international operations.
There are constant efforts to strengthen Nordic cooperation in the ISAF operation in Afghanistan. Norway, Sweden and Finland were also collaborating on a Nordic Battle Group that from 1st January 2011 was on standby as part of EU’s rapid reaction forces. There is also a Nordic collaboration to support African capacity-building in East Africa. The purpose is to help the African Union's ability to handle crises on the African continent.
Cooperation in areas of training and exercises is constantly increasing. For example there is a weekly joint training for combat aircraft organized by air wings in Bodø, Kallax and Rovaniemi. This arrangement provides a very useful platform for exercises with reduced cost. Constant measures are taken to remove bureaucratic and practical obstacles to allow flexible cooperation across borders.
The Nordic countries have compared their defense plans and identified a number of high-priority areas where the needs are converging. In to these areas belong counter-improvised explosive devices, long-range precision weapons, air surveillance, ground air defenses, and future mechanized battalion system. There are also efforts to develop a common Nordic logistics solutions and opportunities to strengthen the Nordic material and industrial cooperation. Here is the Norwegian and Swedish joint project on development and procurement of artillery system ARCHES an example. Finland, Sweden and Norway are looking at the possibility of joint procurement of new trucks and light patrol vehicles. The Finnish acquisition of the Norwegian, ground-based air defense system NASAMS II provides good opportunities for cooperation.
As a result of the Nordic countries 'active involvement in international operations, there is a need to find solutions to take care of the veterans' needs. The Nordic countries are developing cooperation in this area, including the exchange of experience, research and development, and common measures for recognition.
In May 2010, the Nordic security agreement was signed that allows the exchange of classified national information. Work with an agreement to regulate intellectual property associated with research and development cooperation, and simplified procedures for border crossing of military personnel and material between the Nordic countries is ongoing.
An agreement on exchange of staff officers between the Nordic countries came into force in 2010.