The mayors of Northern Norway's largest cities advocate re-establishing officer training in the region. "For us, it is obvious that this will be a good measure," says Gunnar Wilhelmsen, Mayor of Tromsø.
In 2003, the Officer Candidate School for the infantry in Northern Norway, located outside Harstad, was shut down. Now, such an educational offer should be restored in Northern Norway, according to several mayors from north to south in the region.
"Today, far too many people in the Armed Forces commute to their workplaces in Northern Norway. The Armed Forces says it needs people to live in the north. For us mayors, it is obvious that re-establishing officer training in the region will be a good measure in this respect," says Gunnar Wilhelmsen (Labor), Mayor of Tromsø, to High North News.
The joint statement comes after a recent meeting in the O6 format – which gathers the mayors of the region's six largest cities: Tromsø, Bodø, Harstad, Narvik, Alta, and Mo i Rana.
NRK first reported on the matter.
"We believe that if we have officer training in the north, young people in northern Norway will apply for it. It is more likely that they will stay in the region," says Kari-Anne Opsdal (Labor), Mayor of Harstad, to NRK.
Lack of officers
Wilhelmsen also points to the Armed Forces' ever-increasing need for officers, who are military leaders with the authority to take command and give orders.
"In the Military Advice of the Chief of Defence, a forecast states that the Armed Forces may lack 1,700 officers and 1,000 commissioned officers in 2028," says the Tromsø mayor and continues:
"We will present this matter to ministers and in arenas where we meet the Armed Forces. We need such an education in the north. It will lead to more people staying in the region, and we will also get more people to move here. Then we will have the debate about concrete localization in due course."
Bodø Mayor Ida Maria Pinnerød (Ap) was not present at the aforementioned O6 meeting and has not had the opportunity to take a position on the proposal.
Supplement to the Red Party's proposal
The mayors in the north are not the first to propose the revitalization of officer training in the region.
This winter, Bjørnar Moxnes and Seher Aydar of the Norwegian Red Party presented a representative proposal in the Storting to, among other things, ask the government to "consider re-establishing a one-year officer's school in the defense branches and to place some of this officer's training in Northern Norway." (Norwegian only)
The matter was dealt with in the Storting in June. The concrete proposal for officer training (together with two other sub-proposals) received only five votes in favor – from Red and Patient Focus. 96 representatives from the other parties in the parliament voted against it.
This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by Birgitte Annie Molid Martinussen.