Observers from Serbia and Georgia visit Nordic Response

They come from countries outside the NATO alliance. This type of visit is called arms control and is meant to ensure trust and transparency about military activity.

For two days, four observers from Georgia and Serbia have been looking at equipment and talking to soldiers during the NATO exercise Nordic Response. As host nation, Norway has an international obligation to secure transparency around major military exercises.

Transparency and Stability

"After the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall, several agreements were established to create stability. One of these is the Vienna document, where observation is one of the commitments," explains Ragnhild Hustad, head of the Arms Control Office in the Norwegian Defence Staff.

Well in advance of a military exercise, information about what the exercise will entail is provided. When the inspection is carried out during an exercise, the observers can verify if this information is correct.

The four observers have, among other things, watched an Italian landing operation, visited the U.S. Marines north of Alta, and received a briefing about Brigade Nord, Finnmark Land Defence, and the Home Guard in Finnmark.

"The feedback was very positive, and they say that the exercise has been in accordance with the information provided in advance," Hustad reports.

Non-threatening Exercise

At Nordic Response, 20,000 soldiers from 13 nations participate. The Vienna document requires that an observation must be conducted on all exercises with 13,000+ troops on land.

Nordic Response has fewer land forces than this, yet the Norwegian Armed Forces wanted to demonstrate transparency about the exercise.

"We are in a difficult security political situation, and we want to show that Nordic Response is a non-threatening exercise," says Hustad.

Norway has not invited Russia and Belarus to be observers at Nordic Response 2024. Russia has been briefed about the exercise bilaterally on two occasions. Also, through the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), where both Russia and Belarus are members, the exercise has been informed about several times.