Norway Country Profile


By Ms. Pinja Mann, Analyst at IB Consultancy

Due to its strategic geographical location, Norway is a geopolitically crucial player in international military affairs with strong transatlantic ties and NATO-membership being the cornerstones of its foreign and security policy. The country is also a member of the Global Coalition, an 83-member union, formed in 2014 to defeat Daesh. In 2018 the government provided approximately 110 troops from the Army and the Special Forces to the Global Coalition’s missions in Iraq. Moreover, Norway is also a member in the Executive Council of Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). In 2019 Norway contributed approximately $100,00 to OPCW’s Trust Fund for Syria Missions. The fund supports OPWC’s special missions as well as contingency operations related to the Syrian Arab Republic. The contribution aims to enable OPCW to continue addressing the threat posed by chemical weapons use, professionally and impartially.

“Norway remains one of the major contributors and one of the world’s five largest donors in global mine action, its efforts during the past 25-years are remarkable.”

Norway is also engaged in various mine clearance and disarmament efforts internationally. Norway remains one of the major contributors and one of the world’s five largest donors in global mine action, its efforts during the past 25-years are remarkable. Moreover, in 2019 alone, Norway contributed approximately NOK378.5 million in mine action funding to 19 affected states, including 15 States Parties and four states not party to the Mine Ban Treaty, several non-governmental organizations, and institutions for global activities. A staggering 81% of Norway’s mine action support in 2019 was allocated to clearance and risk education activities in 19 affected countries, e.g., Iraq, Colombia, Syria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon, Lao PDR and many more. One of the more essential contributors to demining and clearance efforts globally is the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA). In 2020, the government of Norway through NPA committed to supporting Cambodia’s mine clearance efforts by providing NOK43,401,950.00 or USD 5 million for 2021-2025.

For 2021, Norway’s threat level is set to 3, indicating a moderate threat. According to the Terrorism Index 2020, Norway ranks 80th on the list, 40 places higher than the previous year. Although no known terrorist groups operate in Norway, far-right political terrorism is surging in Western countries. The most devastating terror attack in Scandinavia since the second world war took place on July 22, 2011, when Breivik, committed his two “lone-wolf” attacks, killing 77 and injuring over 300 people. Despite these “lone-wolf” attacks, the most recent being Manshaus opening fire at the Al Noor Islamic Center near Oslo, 2019, the biggest threat to Norway is still Islamist Extremisms.

Overview of CBRNE Stakeholders

When it comes to the country’s CBRNe capabilities, much like its Nordic neighbor’s, Norway is constantly improving and evolving its emergency preparedness measures to counter possible CBRNe threats. In its national strategy for CBRNE-preparedness 2016-2020, the government stressed that although major CBRNE incidents do not occur in Norway too often, the mere possibility of such incidents demands a preparedness strategy. Extensive cooperation between the civil and defense sector is paramount to utilize the limited resources and expertise to the maximum. The strategy also stressed that all relevant actors at the regional- and local level should ensure good preparedness for CBRNE incidents and be a driving force for the CBRNE areas to be part of FylkesROS (Risk and Vulnerability Analysis) and municipal ROS-analyzes, emergency preparedness and crisis management plans as well as exercises and learning after major and minor incidents. Relevant actors at the local- and regional level, e.g., the emergency services and industry, must be involved in this work.

At a central level, the Ministry of Justice and Emergency Preparedness is responsible for coordinating chemical and explosive matters on the civilian side. The responsibility does not include schemes established to deal with acute pollution since the Ministry of Transportation and Coastal Administration have a specific role within the scheme. The “Cooperation area for chemical and explosive emergency preparedness,” in which the Norwegian Coastal Administration is also a participant, has been given the mandate to clarify interfaces and functional cooperation with other emergency preparedness schemes. In comparison, the Ministry of Health and Care Services is responsible for coordinating emergency preparedness against biological agents and nuclear threats on the civilian side. Whereas the Ministry of Climate and the Environment is in charge of emergency preparedness related to acute radioactive contamination. In contrast, The Ministry of Defense is responsible for the entire CBRNE area in the defense sector.

“(…) although major CBRNE incidents do not occur in Norway too often the mere possibility of such demands a preparedness strategy. Extensive cooperation between the civil and defense sector is paramount to utilize the limited resources and expertise to the maximum.”

Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (Forsvarets forskningsinstitutt (FFI)) is the primary institution responsible for defense-related research in Norway and has developments in science and military technology. Additionally, FFI assesses civil preparedness and protection measures and the society’s vulnerability in a crisis event. Moreover, FFI also supports the Norwegian Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces, national authorities, first responders, and any stakeholder to be best fit to prepare for and respond to CBRNE incidents. One primary example is the organization’s involvement in Operation Removal of Chemical Agents from Syria (RECSYR). Furthermore, FFI has significant research activity on testing and evaluation (T&E) of CBRNE equipment and is heavily involved in the development of T&E schemes in collaboration with NATO and defense institutes from several European nations. The institution is also a key partner in various projects, e.g., EU-Radion-project for an innovative solution to deal with selected shortcomings in CBRNe protection, 2020-2023 and EU-SENSE- European Sensor System for CBRN Applications.

Whereas the National CBRNE Centre, the Norwegian National Unit for CBRNE Medicine, based at Oslo University Hospital, is responsible for managing and treating patients exposed to CBRNE injuries in Norway. The CBRNE Centre has close cooperation with OUH Ambulance Services and its Emergency Department and High-level Isolation Unit. The CBRNE Centre also provides services and guidance to other health services and municipal authorities and publishes academic papers, handbooks, and training materials. Furthermore, the CBRNE Centre also cooperates with health authorities and institutions in Norway and abroad.

CBRNE Cooperation and Defense Training Efforts

Norway is very active in its training and CBRNE cooperation efforts, ranging from joint exercises to Programs and initiatives. Some examples include the Arctic Challenge Exercise (ACE), conducted in 2019, the largest air exercise in Europe, involving some 10,000 personnel from Finland, Norway, Sweden, the UK, and the US (NORDEFCO, 2019). The next ACE exercise will be conducted under Norwegian leadership in 2021. Norway also hosted and participated in the Trident Juncture 2018 exercise in Lahaugmoen, one of NATO’s biggest exercises in recent years. Norwegian, Danish, and French CBRN- soldiers trained together on various scenarios. The units are part of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), which was exercising in Norway as part of Trident Juncture 2018. During October and November, around 50,000 participants from 31 NATO Allies and partners took part in the exercise. Whereas the international RECCEX 17 exercise, which aims to prepare for potential CBRN threats, saw cooperation partners: the Finnish Defence Forces, Nordic CBRN units, and various Finnish authorities training together. In addition to these, participants included the Finnish Police and approximately 20 CBRN experts from Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. These Common Nordic CBRN exercises have been organized in Finland, Sweden, and Denmark every other year since 2009.

The Nordic countries have a long tradition of working very closely together, including cooperation within security and defense policy. Hence, the Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO) was established in 2009 to further promote these goals. In its latest report, Vision 2025, the organization states its aim is to make NORDEFCO a platform, enabling close political dialogue, information sharing, and if possible, the coordination of common Nordic positions on crisis situations. As new threats from terror, cyber and hybrid challenges keep escalating, the need for closer cooperation within all the forementioned areas is essential. Whereas Haga cooperation, cooperation on civil security, allocates resources for handling serious accidents, ensures access to expertise in the Nordic countries, and cooperation with different sectors. The purpose of the cooperation is to prevent, discover, and handle incidents related to chemical, biological, radioactive, and nuclear substances.

Latest Developments In The Defense Sector

According to The Defence of Norway- Capability, and readiness, long-term defense plan 2020, a report by the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, the government proposes an increase in defense spending, reaching 2 % of GPD 2028. This report implies an increase of the budget level in 2028 of NOK 16.55 billion above the agreed budget level in 2020. Moreover, the Army will get long-range precision weapons and new armored combat vehicles from 2025. Additionally, a new mobile unit for CBRN defense will also be established in the upcoming years.

“One of the key factors for the Norwegian defense sector is strengthening the ability to exploit existing and new technologies, drawing from the civil- and military sector.”

One of the key factors for the Norwegian defense sector is strengthening the ability to exploit existing and new technologies, drawing from the civil- and military sector. To achieve this: the defense sector will increase cooperation with academia and the business community to take advantage of technological developments and further strengthen the knowledge base in the civilian sector. In parallel, Norway will also increase international cooperation regarding procurement and development capabilities and solutions with namely, the USA, the EU, and within NATO. As Norway aims at countering modern threats in today’s risk society by remaining alert to established risks and taking all steps necessary to ensure the kingdom is well equipped to meet the needs of an increasingly changing security environment, the Nordic country remains as one of the key players in international security and defense affairs.

About the Author

Pinja is currently studying MSc Security and Crisis Management – Governance of Crisis at Leiden University. She joined IB Consultancy in November 2020.

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