Rear Admiral Lars Saunes
The world has seen changes in the security-policy situation, from Russian aggression in Eastern Europe to recent events in the Middle East. This fact has profound implications for Norwegian defense policy. From our navy's perspective, the most important factor is that Russia has demonstrated the capability and political will to use military force to annex territory in Europe. As a consequence, the relationship between Russia and Western countries has dramatically worsened. For Norway, this new era requires a change in military posture and thinking. Located at NATO’s northern flank and sharing borders with Russia, Norway will pay significant attention to the development in the High North. This area may be seen as one of low tension, but the risk of spillover effects from disputes elsewhere cannot be ruled out.
Norway is a maritime and Arctic nation with global-maritime interests. The Norwegian exclusive economic zone is rich in natural resources and is the foundation for our prosperity. With benefits, however, come obligations to protect, secure, and defend our dependents so that our society can further develop in a direction of our own choosing. Our coast guard, a branch of the navy, maintains stability and good order at sea every day in all our areas of responsibility. Additionally, Norway’s strategic constants require a navy that can secure and protect our interests and effectively contribute to preserving the freedom of the global commons where and when this freedom is challenged.
The Royal Norwegian Navy is a modern navy, and combined with allied interoperability it provides a credible naval capability. However, the new security situation also requires surge-capable forces with short reaction times. The navy will focus on manning our new naval structure, ensuring force readiness, and improving warfighting capabilities to maintain a preventive threshold for war. Concurrently, the navy will deliver operational effects as required, both at home and abroad.
NATO forms the foundation for Norwegian security. Unfortunately, many NATO countries have experienced a reduction in budget and forces. Burden sharing is the way forward to face common threats and challenges. However, partnership should not be seen as a way of saving money. Instead, it should be seen as an approach to improve the alliance’s ability to maintain a strong and balanced force capable of deterring any aggressors and ready to protect and defend the alliance’s members.