Despite setbacks like Norway’s evaluation process during its recent fighter competition, defense cooperation has been such as the Archer artillery project has been growing between Scandinavian countries. Norway, Sweden, and Finland also collaborated as “the Nordic Group” when ordering NH90 helicopters for their armed forces, and have been making purchases of armored vehicles, aerial heavy lift time-shares, aerial surveillance and control systems, and other gear related to the European Union’s proposed Nordic Battlegroup.
In 2009 former Norwegian Defence and Foreign Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg, has presented a 13-point proposal on potential Nordic cooperation in foreign and security policy. That proposal continues to move forward politically.
The Stoltenberg Report
The proposed “Nordic Stabilisation Task Force” would include a standing military force from Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. The fifth member, Iceland, has no standing military.
The task force would have a military component via a standing force, more sharing of military infrastructure, a joint cyber-defense resource network, and possibly a joint polar orbiting satellite by 2020. The moves would not change the dynamics that are creating political and budgetary problems that have created problems in Sweden and Norway. In some ways, the moves can be seen as a confirmation of the imperative to do more with less. That philosophy’s sustainability will be tested by events.
A more certain outcome is that the task force’s existence would bleed over into other defense procurement decisions, in order to assure interoperability among the forces that remain.
Its humanitarian component would include a dedicated disaster response unit and common search-and-rescue efforts. Regional responses would be backed by a civilian Nordic maritime monitoring system that would be active in both the Baltic and the northern Barents Seas. “Maritime domain awareness” is rising in importance around the world for a number of reasons, as recent contracts in places like Yemen and Malaysia are demonstrating. Nordic countries are also concerned that melting ice is expected to lead to a significant increase in ships using northern waters.
The task force’s state-building component would offer key training for local forces alongside any deployments of the joint force abroad, including key specialties like police officers, judges, prison officers, election observers, war crimes investigators, et. al. A closely-related development assistance component would also work as a complement to future Nordic battlegroup activities during international missions in places like Darfur.
Finally, the report says, the Nordic government should issue a mutual declaration of solidarity that would “clarify in binding terms how they would respond if a Nordic country were subject to external attack or undue pressure.” Russia’s invasion of Georgia triggered debate in Sweden and Finland about joining NATO, but that prospect remains politicaly remote. Meanwhile, NATO’s shield is seen as fraying anyway due to political developments in Germany and other trends.
March 11/10: Nordic governments meet in Copenhagen to review progress in regional cooperation programs. The meeting discussed the advancement of proposals that were contained in the Stoltenberg Report on High North defense and security, which was presented to governments in February 2009.
Denmark’s foreign minister Lene Espersen says that the governments want to accelerate the pace of talks and progress to establish a more solid basis for Nordic defense collaboration. Defense News.
Feb 9/09: former Norwegian Defence and Foreign Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg, has presented a 13-point proposal on potential Nordic cooperation in foreign and security policy. The report is to be discussed at a meeting in Reykjavik in spring 2009. See Der Spiegel Online report: “Cold Fusion”.
* Finnish Forsvarsministeriet – NORDIC DEFENCE COOPERATION –
Goals of the Finnish Presidency 2009
* DID – Finland Updating Its Air Defense Systems. It chose Kongsberg of Norway’s NASAMS as its future air defense backbone, over MBDA’s SAMP/T.
* DID – F-35 Lightning II Wins Dogfight in Norway. The Swedes were not pleased by the way this was conducted.
* Norwegian Ministry of Defence (Dec 6/12) – Threat images and NATO’s neighbourhood – a Norwegian perspective
* DID (July 11/10) – Nordic Alliance: The Stoltenberg Report, One Year On. Guest article by Per Bjorklund.
* Pentagon DefenseLINK (March 25/09) – Russian Invasion of Georgia Shattered Old Assumptions, Prompts New Concerns. “But [Gen.] Craddock acknowledged that Poland and Ukraine — both full NATO members — have expressed doubt about whether NATO would exercise its Article 5 responsibilities to come to their defense from a conventional, cyber or other attack by Russia.”
* STRATFOR (Oct 6/08) – The German Question
Before readers write in, we are aware that the Ukraine is not currently a member of NATO. The formal basis for NATO-Ukraine relations is the 1997 Charter on a Distinctive Partnership. Membership status ha been under discussion, but Germany’s opposition would be sure to block it.