As Norway's strongest and most powerful institution, the Armed Forces need solid attitudes and good ethical understanding.
Military personnel can encounter critical situations that demand tough and quick decion-making. Our soldiers therefore need to know what the Norwegian Armed Forces stand for, and what values we live by. This makes it easier to make the right decision when faced with an ethical dilemma in a difficult situation.
Our values are some of the most fundamental things in the Norwegian Armed Forces. By showing good attitudes and values, the Norwegian public know that they can trust our soldiers. The people’s trust is vital to us – it ensures successful cooperation with civil society and makes us an attractive place to work and serve.
Three basic values lay the foundation in everything we do: respect, responsibility, and courage.
Our core values
Respect is not a right; it is a moral duty that is expressed through attitudes and actions. Respect builds upon self-respect. Self-respect gives a person the strength to stand upright in difficult situ-ations. Self-respect is reinforced through a conscious pattern of behaviour based on ethical principles, doing your best to do the right thing.
In the Armed Forces, we are all expected to show respect for one another, for our colleagues, for our superiors and for our subordinates. In difficult situations, when living in cramped conditions, our ability to treat others with respect will be tested. The key indicator in all situations is whether we treat others as we expect to be treated ourselves. We must also show respect in our dealings with others, such as the civilian population, other parties to con-flicts, and adversaries.
The Norwegian Armed Forces will not accept any form of racism or inhuman, degrading or disrespectful treatment of others. Sexual harassment is likewise unacceptable.
Armed Forces personnel are to show respect for the fundamental values and cultural traditions of the area in which they are operating. We must show respect for decisions and missions. Once a decision has been taken and a mission is to be carried out, we must comply with that decision and carry out the mission as best we can. In decision-making processes relating to peacetime activities, we are free to make our views known within the organi-sation.
Free to express oneself
As citizens, we are also entitled to take part in the public debate on defence and other issues. However, when we express ourselves outside our organisation, we must show proper restraint for reasons of security and the integrity of the Armed Forces. Respect for decisions and missions is enhanced when superior officers listen to advice and comments from their subordinates and from other parts of the organisation.
Responsibility entails taking responsibility for ourselves, for each other and for the Armed Forces’ activities. Responsibility is shown through a willingness to take initiative, decisiveness and per-severance.This requires self-discipline on the part of the individual. Self-discipline is crucial fordeveloping responsible patterns of behaviour in a difficult situation. Personnel are to take responsibility for one another at all times, and the Armed Forces are to take responsibility for their personnel.
Collective discipline and loyalty
This fosters trust at both personal and professional level. All military personnel are to support and help one another and ultimately, if necessary, to give their lives for one another. This is the mainstay of the collective discipline and loyalty that are vital for maintaining and reinforcing solidarity ina military organisation, particularly in difficult situations.
Trust, care, loyalty and discipline build team spirit. This forms the basis for a common sense of responsibility for each other and for the mission. We will not let each other or the mission down. We are responsible for carrying out political decisions on the use of military force. In all our actions, we are aware that we represent Norway and the Norwegian authorities.
Carry out orders
The responsibility that rests with the Armed Forces and their personnel is expressed in the loyalty we show to Norwegian society, our constitution and our national institutions. This responsibility is also shown in the way we carry out orders, the way we behave in general and the way we consider the consequences of the use of force.
Military operations are inevitably associated with the risk of loss of life – our own and others’. Setting aside all thoughts of our own lives and wellbeing in order to carry out an assignment requires both phys-ical and moral courage. Courage is the moral and physical strength to act appropriately in daily service as well as in combat situations.
Overcoming fear or hate
Courage means overcoming fear or hate, and speaking out if we see something that is not right, even in situations fraught with difficult choices. Courage requires sound judgement. Without sound judgement, courage can easily lead to recklessness. Sound judgement depends on a clear sense of right and wrong, self-knowledge and humility.
It requires awareness of the moral implications and the consequences of our actions, so that each one of us can defend our actions in retrospect. This means that we must know our capacity as well as our limi-tations. Courage is expressed through the ability to take action and initiatives, through strength and the determination not to give up.
We must be able to identify opportunities, act independently, and at the same time cooperate with others to find good solutions. Training helps to develop military competence, as well as physical and psychological strength to withstand severe strain.