Photoex med KV Svalbard i Vestisen ved Grønland, under seltelling i 2018

The Military Advice of the Chief of Defence 2023

In November 2022, the Norwegian Government asked the Chief of Defence for his recommendation for how the Armed Forces should look in the future. This is the military advice of the Chief of Defence.

For use as a basis in the work on a new long-term plan for the defence sector, the Norwegian Government asked the Chief of Defence to submit Military Advice by 31 May 2023. The Government received the advice in May, and the advice was made public on 7 June 2023. Download the advice as a PDF file here.

The Government tasked the Chief of Defence with assessing recommendations on scalable measures and priorities that address the following development paths:

  • A development path with a level of funding that is lower than assumed in the current long-term plan.
  • A development path that is based on the current long-term plan and associated financial planning framework, including the Storting's resolution and associated financial consequences (cf. Prop 14S (2020– 2021) and Inst. 87S (2020–2021).
  • A development path which, in light of a deteriorating security policy situation, recommends prioritised measures for the further scalable strengthening of the defence sector in both the short and longer term. The Chief of Defence is asked to present different levels of strengthening over and above the current economic trajectory.

Foreword by the Chief of Defence

The Norwegian Armed Forces must be further strengthened. We must continuously adapt to changing surroundings and technological developments. Planning for the development of our Armed Forces must have a long-term perspective. At the same time the long-term plan for the Defence Sector must be sufficiently flexible to take account of changes in our surroundings.

Chief of Defence, General Eirik Kristoffersen

The Norwegian Armed Forces have been changing over time. Our military structure holds high standards, but has limited volume and thereby limited endurance. We conduct operations at home and abroad continuously. Our experiences from operations and ongoing reforms the last decade means that the Norwegian Armed Forces are well place for further growth.

This Military Advice is holistic, but it does not provide all the answers. I have deliberately chosen to set a course by recommending five focus areas for the future development of the Armed Forces. Through the focus areas, I aim to enhance the Armed Forces' combat endurance and ability to tackle challenging situations. Initially, the measures will focus on eliminating known weaknesses in the existing structure. In addition, we need to strengthen the Armed Forces’ ability to operate in the maritime domain and protect both military and civilian targets against air threats. The fourth focus area aims to enhance the ability of the Armed Forces to engage targets at long range. In the final focus area, I present proposals to additionally improve the combat endurance of the Armed Forces through further increases in the Armed Forces' volume.

The last Military Advice was submitted in 2019. Significant changes have taken place since then. We have been through a pandemic. We have pulled out of Afghanistan after operating there for almost 20 years. We have witnessed a full-scale attack on Ukraine by Russia. Finland has joined NATO and Sweden is also set to become a member. The effects of climate change are accelerating, and an arms race is once again under way between major powers such as the USA, China and Russia. The challenges in the Middle East and the Sahel region of Africa are also considerable. In Norway, cross-sectoral security challenges have been attracting greater attention, and it is apparent that the distinction between societal security and state security is becoming blurred.

As I am publishing the Military Advice, the Norwegian Defence Commission and the Total Preparedness Commission will also give their recommendations. I will continue to provide military advice in the work towards the next long-term plan for the defence sector. Our politicians will have to make both short and long-term choices and priorities based on all the information that is now being presented to them.

I look forward to further discussions, but would nevertheless like to state that it is absolutely essential to establish clear priorities at an early stage. The Armed Forces must be further strengthened and the strengthening needs to happen fast. The Armed Forces are both well positioned and more than ready for further development and growth – for our common security.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the preparation of this military advice. Comprehensive high-quality inputs have been received. For my part, it has been important that the main lines of the advice have the broadest possible support among the Armed Forces leadership, across branches and domains, among the employee organisations and among other government agencies within the sector.

Eirik Kristoffersen

Chief of Defence