“Deteriorated security situation” prompts defence boost in Norway

316660_img650x420_img650x420_cropThe Norwegian government has proposed a substantial increase in military funding to tackle “deteriorated” security situation in its long-term plan for the Nordic country’s armed forces.

In its white paper to parliament describing the Long Term Plan for the Norwegian Armed Forces for the years 2017-2020, the Norwegian government recommended a gradual increase in the defence budget over the course of the coming four years to a 2020-level 7.2 billion kroner (860 million U.S. dollars) above 2016-levels.

In total, the Norwegian government recommended additional funding over the course of the coming 20 years of 165 billion kroner (19.7 billion U.S. dollars), according to the plan.

“The international security situation, both globally and in Norway’s immediate region, has deteriorated since the previous Long Term Plan was presented in 2012,” the white paper said.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg called the plan “a new course, change of pace and a historic commitment to the armed forces,” according to the Norwegian news agency NTB.

“We are taking a big step towards NATO’s goal of having a defence budget close to two percent of GDP,” Solberg said, adding that the armed forces will cooperate with their allies in case of a military crisis.

The new long-term plan would strengthen Norway’s defense capabilities and contribute to safety and freedom, she said.

Norwegian Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Soreide said the government in this way lays the foundation for a long-term and sustainable development of the armed forces with a real balance between tasks, structure and economy.

“The armed forces are not adapted to the challenges we face and defense capability needs to be strengthened. We have to choose between keeping the defense structure as it is today and increasing our defense capability,” Soreide said.

“Our answer is that it is imperative to increase our defense capabilities in the current security and political situation,” Soreide added.

The new plan also includes significant economic cuts through savings and changed personnel structure, estimated to be 2.5 billion kroner (299 million U.S. dollars) by the end of 2020 and a total of 40 billion kroner (4.8 billion U.S. dollars) over a period of 20 years.

The internal efficiency savings will allow funding to be re-allocated to other high priority areas within the defence sector, according to the plan.