Extra Funding Enables the Norwegian Home Guard Train More Than In Previous Years

Bent-Joacim Bentzen
State Secretary Bent-Joacim Bentzen (Center) in the Ministry of Defence emphasizes the importance of Home Guard soldiers maintaining their skills, especially after two years of the pandemic. (Photo: Trine Jonassen)

New funds from the government allow Norwegian Home Guard soldiers to train more than in previous years. Training the Home Guard to a greater extent has been one of the most essential measures to better facilitate for receiving allied troops, says State Secretary Bent-Joacim Bentzen.

In 2022, the Norwegian government will strengthen its Armed Forces with nearly 300 million dollars. The measure was announced earlier this year as a response to the change in the security policy situation, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The urgent measures that the government pointed to are described in more detail in white paper 10, "Prioritized changes, status, and measures in the defense sector." In short, this year, the government will increase sea, land, and intelligence activity in the North and strengthen the ability to receive and support allied forces, particularly in Northern Norway.

In an interview with High North News, State Secretary Bent-Joacim Bentzen (Center Party) in the Ministry of Defence states that they see more Norwegian military activity in the north now; more sailing, more flights, and more training activity for both the Norwegian Army and the Norwegian Home Guard.

"We need to be more present in the north, or others will be," Bentzen points out. 

Because of the security situation in Europe and status in the defense sector, the government took the following measures:

  • Immediate strengthening of the Armed Forces with nearly 300 million dollars which will rapidly affect several important areas, such as presence, preparedness, cooperation, responsiveness, endurance, and situational awareness.
  • Increased activity and improved ability for continuous operations in the north. This entails more sailing in the Norwegian Navy and more training for the Army and the Home Guard.
  • Strengthened the ability to cooperate with allies and Nordic partners, including receiving and supporting allies. This includes specific infrastructure measures to better the ability for receiving allies.
  • Preparedness, responsiveness, and endurance will be bettered. This means, among other things, buying more ammunition.
  • Situational awareness and resistance to digital threats are strengthened. This means strengthening the Intelligence Service and increasing digital safety in the Armed Forces.

Source: Ministry of Defence.

Funds for the Home Guard

High North News has taken a closer look at how the nearly 300 million dollars are invested in the Norwegian Armed Forces. The new funds enable the Home Guard to train their soldiers to the degree that they are required by the Storting. That writes spokesperson for the Armed Forces, Lieutenant Colonel Per Espen Strande from the Ministry of Defense in an e-mail to the newspaper.

The economic development in recent years has led to soldiers only exercising half of the amount they now will train. The funds thus allow Home Guard soldiers to train several days solving missions, writes Strande.

The Armed Forces further state that the money will be spent to close some of the gaps of competency gaps in its force structure. The extra funds allow the Home Guard to train its soldiers in accordance with the Storting's intentions, and several troop leader courses will be held, among other things.

The extra funds allow the Home Guard to train its soldiers in accordance with the Storting's intentions.

The Home Guard and receiving of allied troops

In a former interview with the newspaper, State Secretary Bentzen emphasized that there are several weaknesses in Norway's ability to receive allied troops.

To better facilitate for receiving allied troops, Bentzen states that one of the biggest measures taken this year is precisely to train the Home Guard to a greater extent.

"The Home Guard is locally anchored in the relevant places. As long as we have updated soldiers who have trained and practiced, they will be prepared. If there were to come allied forces to Bodø, for example, it is the Home Guard who are familiar with the area and who will be of major support," he says.

"We have had two years with a pandemic and it is important that the Home Guard maintain their skills. With the measures put in place, the Home Guard has been able to train for the days they are intended to train and has had the funds to do so. The feedback we receive shows that they are pleased," the state secretary adds.

The Ministry of Defense further state that they are in the process of looking at how Norway can increase the ability to receive allied air forces quickly.

The continuation of activity on Andøya Air Station is also among the government's immediate measures to strengthen the ability to receive allied forces in the north, and Bentzen says that they are now working on the level of ambition connected to the air station.

"The government has pointed out that our ability to receive allied troops is not good enough today. It is important that the Armed Forces communicate what we need so that we can adjust our course," concludes the state secretary.

Increased cooperation in the North

When it comes to other defense branches, spokesperson Strande in the Norwegian Armed Forces states that there has been an increased focus on cooperation between the branches, especially between the Air Force and the Navy.

There has also been a close and increased cooperation and training with Sweden and Finland on the air side. Joint training with NATO in Norway's immediate areas is also prioritized. 

Samvirke mellom JAS Gripen, F-35 og B-52
American B-52, to Swedish JAS Gripen and two Norwegian F-35, cooperated this week west of Andøya in Nordland. (Photo: The Norwegian Armed Forces).

The Norwegian Air Force carried out and led, among other things, large and complex integration exercises with a number of allies, including the American "Bomber
Task Force", HNN is informed. In the middle of August, Swedish and Norwegian fighter aircraft trained together with American strategic bomber aircrafts over Nordland and Troms in such an operation.

Increased number of patrol days

Within the Navy, the Coast Guard, as a result of the extra funds, had an increase in the number of patrol days and the Navy has had a continuous presence in prioritized areas and has followed Russian and allied activity. 

The extra funds to the Army have been important for increasing training and operations compared to what was originally planned for 2022. It has also provided greater opportunities for cooperation with allies during exercises, the development of ICT, and investments in parts and critical materiel, according to the Armed Forces. The funds have a.o. led to the Army being able to take measures to increase competency among personnel through education, training, and courses writes Strande.

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This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Birgitte Annie Molid Martinussen.