On the 23rd March the Norwegian Government presented the new Long term plan for Defence. In the proposed plan the established defence policy goals and ambitions are corroborated. The Government’s ambition to procure 52 F-35 fighter jets is confirmed.
As a result of the gradual decreasing expenditure in Afghanistan, a reallocation of approx. 634 mill NOK will fund activity in Norway, specifically for the Army and the Home Guard. A temporary increase in the investment budget of 22-28 billion NOK is linked to the F-35 acquisition. The plan is now awaiting parliamentary approval, expected in June 2012.
Main topics of the new plan:
While the numbers of professional soldiers in the structure increase, conscription remains the basis of our armed forces. The current conscription model will be further developed and adapted to suit the requirements for responsiveness and the requirements of operational units with regards to flexibility and freedom of action, as well as increased demands for specialized expertise and cost effectiveness. Conscripts who complete their military service also form an important recruitment base for officer training, enlistment, or international missions.
The plan suggests an increased reactivity and flexibility of the Army with three battalions. One battalion in Troms will be developed as a light infantry battalion. Two mechanized battalions, one in the north and one in the south, will see an increase in the number of professional soldiers, serving alongside conscripts.
The Home Guard
The size of the Home Guard will remain at today’s level and the eleven Home Guard Districts will be kept as is. The force structure will be adapted to achieve a balance between volume and ability to perform a breadth of tasks.
The acquisition of new fighter aircraft, with the accompanying reform of the base- and support structure, will serve as a catalyst for adjustment of the entire Air Force structure. By concentrating main activity to a fewer number of bases, and by further cultivating competency, more resources will be available for operational activity.
Government recommends that the new main base for the fighter jets is Ørland airbase. A forward operating base will be established at Evenes. Aircraft assigned to the QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) role, will be permanently based here. Ørland is the one base best meeting the criteria regarding daily training conditions. Evenes is the preferred base for forward deployment, by both our own and allied air forces. Basing the jets at Ørland and Evenes has few and acceptable environmental impacts, especially regarding noise. The combination is also considered to be the best choice regarding possible future development, particularly since Ørland is an existing military air base, providing the necessary flexibility for the next 30-40 years. This solution is a sound choice from a security policy standpoint, has an acceptable cost and development potential.
The gradual reform of the Norwegian Armed Forces in terms of equipment and personnel is to a large degree completed during the period of the current long term plan. At the end of this period, with the 2012 budget and the savings made in the sector, the structure of the Armed Forces is balanced and fully funded. We now have a solid foundation for further development.
A premise for balancing the structure we have today is continued focus on savings and cost-effectiveness. Over the period 2013-2016 this is estimated to 640 mill NOK.
The temporary increase in the investment budget of 22-28 billion NOK is linked to the F-35 acquisition. The main operating budget remains at today’s level. As a result of a gradual decreasing expenditure in Afghanistan, a reallocation of approx. 634 mill NOK will fund activity in Norway.
The F-35 acquisition
The Government’s ambition for the defence sector remains steadfast. A total acquisition of 52 F-35s fulfills this ambition. A final decision on the last six jets will be made after the first 46 jets have been procured.
The government is considering spreading the acquisition over an increased number of years to even out the requirement for additional funding pertaining to the individual budget year. Options being considered are taking delivery of the first training aircraft earlier than planned, and prolonging the period of acquisition.
The recently updated Norwegian cost analysis and risk analysis confirm that our national estimates are still valid. The investment cost is expected to be about the same as estimated in 2008. The lifecycle cost is estimated to have decreased by approx. 10 %. Updated numbers will be presented to Parliament before ordering the main body of aircraft.
A temporary increase in the investment budget of 22-28 billion NOK, spread over the entire acquisition period, is linked to the F-35 acquisition. By the end of the four year period 2013-2016, the defence budget will stand at three billion NOK above the 2012 budget, as a consequence of the temporary increase related to the procurement of the F-35.
The restructuring of the personnel and competencies structures
The restructuring of the personnel and competencies structures is the third phase of the transformation of the Armed forces, which this far primarily has focused on structure and materiel. The reform will cover the whole of the defence sector and strategic competencies management in its entirety, thus constituting a fundamental rethink of our approach to personnel and competencies. This will require not only new measures on isolated areas such as recruitment of personnel or development of skills, but the key will be to ensure that these processes mutually reinforce each other.
The defence plan has launched the reform and the Government will return to Parliament with a White paper setting out the details of future policy at the end of the year.
The terror attacks of 22nd July put a sharp focus on emergency preparedness and the role of the Defence sector.
In Norway, the police are responsible for the handling of emergencies and terror on Norwegian soil. The Defence sector can, when requested to do so, assist the police. In the aftermath of 22 July, the entirety of the nation’s crisis preparedness is being evaluated and this includes the possible contribution from the Defence sector to the civilian sector. HM Guard, the Home Guard, and the helicopter squadron at Rygge will have support to civilian crisis management as part of their tasks.
Cyber is a domain alongside air, sea and land. Operations and threats in this domain will become more commonplace. Our forces must be able to exploit the digital space for their own operations, intelligence and surveillance, and be able to defend against espionage and computer attacks. The Government seeks to strengthen capacities within cyber defence and intelligence.