Focus on High North Defense in Norway's National Budget of 2023

Forsvarsminister Bjørn Arild Gram
"This is a budget in which we simultaneously strengthen the Norwegian Armed Forces and stand up for Ukraine," says Minister of Defence Bjørn Arild Gram (Center). Here from his visit to Norwegian Forces in Lithuania. (Photo: Torbjørn Kjosvold/the Norwegian Armed Forces).

The Norwegian government wants to strengthen its Armed Forces with NOK 6,8 billion. Large parts of the military expenditure are allotted to Northern Norway and the government wants to prioritize an increase in personnel for the Finnmark Land Command and Brigade Nord. 

In the Norwegian national budget for 2023, which was presented on Thursday, the government proposes an allocation of NOK 75,8 billion to the Armed Forces. The military expenditure thus calls for an increase of NOK 6,8 billion compared to the finalized budget for 2022.

"The government's budget proposal stipulates that daily national operations and preparedness and capability for operations in crisis and war in 2023 will be prioritized," says Minister of Defense Bjørn Arild Gram (Center) in a press release. 

Focus on Northern Norway

The government emphasizes the importance of the Norwegian Armed Forces having sufficient resources to prioritize participation in allied operations in the High North, in addition to Norway's ability to coordinate allied activity in the North. 

"We are also improving facilities for receiving of and training with allied forces in Northern Norway. Well-functioning cooperation with our allies is very important," adds the Minister of Defense.

Preparedness, personnel, and expertise are important areas of focus.
Norway's Chief of Defense Eirik Kristoffersen.

Increase of personnel

Large parts of the military expenditure which was presented yesterday are to be spent in Northern Norway. The government plans to spend around NOK 1,2 billion on the defense sector's property and construction projects in Troms and Finnmark in 2023. 

The government also wants to increase personnel with almost 200 FTEs in the Armed Forces to strengthen its responsiveness and endurance. This is 68 more FTEs in 2023 than what the long-term plan for the defense sector calls for, writes the Ministry of Defense.

The Norwegian Army will receive 64 FTEs in 2023. Finnmark Land Command and Brigade Nord will be prioritized with regard to the increase in personnel. The government also earmarks funds to improve barracks at Høybuktmoen, Porsanger, and Bardufoss, among other places. The increase in personnel in Brigade Nord is distributed between Troms and Rena.

The government further proposes to strengthen the Navy with a total of 37 FTEs in 2023. A portion of the personnel increase will be given to the Ramsund Naval Station, says the Minister of Defense.

"This is a good budget that follows the escalation which is laid out in the Armed Forces' long-term plan. Preparedness, personnel, and expertise are important areas of focus," says Chief of Defense Eirik Kristoffersen in a statement.


Heimevernet på høstøvelse
Home Guard soldiers from HV-16 in a fall exercise. (Photo: Torbjørn Kjosvold/the Norwegian Ministry of Defense).

Further strengthening of the Home Guard

According to the government, its budget proposal furthers a systematic strengthening and staffing of the Home Guard. The Minister of Defense wants a larger and more active Home Guard. 

"We want to increase the number of soldiers in the Home Guard with 500 – from 37 000 to 37 500 in the area structure. This is a cautious but realistic start to our plan and it is on par with military recommendations. We also want a larger part of the force to train every year. Currently, 70 percent of the force trains every year, but we wish to increase this to 80 percent every year. These two measures are budgeted at approx. NOK 94 billion. Moreover, we want to strengthen the Home Guard with NOK 15 million for measures aimed at increasing expertise," says Gram.

Material investments

The government also proposes a budget for investment in materials for 2023 of over NOK 21 billion. The Ministry of Defense states that the funds will mainly go to the continuation of already approved projects:

- New F-35 combat aircraft with the necessary additional equipment and services

- New Coast Guard vessels

- New P-8 maritime patrol aircraft

- New submarines 

- Armored tracked vehicles CV90

- Upgrades and updates of frigates and submarines

- Updates of sea-targeting missiles for the Navy

- Clothing and protection

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