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A new RAND study concludes that Norway will take on a greater role in defending NATO’s northern flank. This conclusion results in Norway’s strong engagement with the Alliance and an “impressive mix of high-end capabilities for a nation of its size,” statements that were made by key NATO Allies who were asked for their perspective on strategic opportunities and challenges for Norway in the North Atlantic and High North region. During the study, the researchers from RAND Europe and the RAND Cooperation spoke to NATO defence officials from both sides of the Atlantic, to gather and analyse evidence for the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, which commissioned the report.

However, Norway also faces pressing challenges across different levels which need to be addressed, the authors of the study stated. These challenges include political, strategic, military and wider security threats to societal resilience. Due to Norway’s Total Defence Concept, in which they could have all of society engaged in the defence effort, both military and civilian, and is therefore ahead of many other Allies, it will need to be bolstered to counter new, non-military threats to society (e.g. cyber, subversion, misinformation).

The research presents also the fact, that Norway is not only present in the High North but also on its eastern and southern flanks, stressing the importance of 360° NATO security. Allied officials emphasized the many complex links between threats in multiple regions – noting, for example, the interconnected strategic and security impacts of recent Russian interventions in Syria, Libya and sub-Saharan Africa.

The report describes strategic options on possible initiatives to strengthen regional deterrence but the resources available for defence are limited. The focus is on improving the protection of bases and forces against air and missile threats; preparing for operations in contested cyber, space and electromagnetic environments; and looking at ways to increase Norway’s ability to receive, support and operate alongside large-scale Allied land, air and naval forces to deter and defeat any aggression against Norway or NATO.

The eBook of this study might be downloaded for free here.

Julian Hoffmann