New Military Summit About the Arctic

The US Chief of Staff of the Army, General Mark Milley, and Norway's Chief of Defense, General Eirik Kristoffersen, met in Oslo last Saturday. (Photo: Torbjørn Kjosvold/the Norwegian Armed Forces)

The development of the Ukraine war and joint strategic challenges in the North was on the agenda for this weekend's meeting of chiefs of defense in Norway, shortly after a NATO meeting at the same level in Brussels. The Norwegian Armed Forces does not want to specify which other countries than the US that participated.

On Saturday, the US Chief of Staff of the Army, Mark Milley, led a meeting in Oslo with his defense colleagues in Norway and 11 other countries. He did this after an invitation from the Norwegian Chief of Defense Eirik Kristoffersen.

The Norwegian Armed Forces informs that the total of 13 participating countries are close allies and partners and that the chiefs of defense are gathered several times a year for a set meeting – but does not, however, want to specify which countries are involved. 

"The purpose of the meeting is to build a joint understanding of the current security situation. On the agenda was, among other things, the development of the Ukraine War and challenges in the Arctic and the High North," writes spokesperson for the Norwegian Armed Forces, Lieutenant Colonel Stine Barclay Gaasland, to High North News.

Exchanged perspectives 

Gaasland shares a brief meeting report from the US Joint Chiefs of Staff:

«This meeting with Allies and Partners builds collective understanding of the evolving strategic environment and informs military advice on key issues. The senior military leaders exchanged perspectives on shared strategic challenges, to include the Arctic and High North, the persistent threat of terrorism, and the changing dynamics of the South China Sea.»

The latter theme is linked to the US's increasingly stronger focus on China as its main rival and threat.

Shortly after the NATO meeting

"We discussed the way forward around the strategic challenges we face. Unity and joint efforts among close partners are of great significance – both in the support of Ukraine and to face a large and complex amount of challenges," says Chief of Defense Eirik Kristoffersen in a press release.

The Norwegian Armed Forces does not want to say anything else about these challenges or share any main points from the discussion.

The gathering in Oslo followed shortly after NATO's chiefs of defense meeting in Brussels. This was held last Wednesday and Thursday – and also included the Finnish and Swedish chiefs of defense.

Several forums

Norway and the USA's chiefs of defense and other high-ranking military leaders also meet each other and other colleagues in several different formats, as this autumn's meeting activities illustrate.

  • In August, an Arctic Chiefs of Defense meeting was held in Canada with representatives from the host country, the US, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark. Its purpose was to share experiences from ongoing Arctic operations and coordinate increased cooperation between the countries. Initially, this framework also included Russia, but the regular annual meeting between all the Arctic chiefs of defense was terminated in 2014 after the Russian annexation of Crimea.
  • At the end of October, the Northern Europe Chiefs of Defence Conference was organized in Poland. The five Nordic countries were represented, as well as the three Baltic countries, the aforementioned host country, the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, and the US. The top military leaders discussed regional security challenges and confirmed their commitment to deeper defense cooperation, including technological collaboration between NATO allies and partner countries, among other things.
  • In November, the Arctic Security Forces Roundtable (ASFR) was held in France. This conference brings together high-ranking military leaders from the seven western Arctic countries – as well as from the observer states France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK – once every six months. The format was established by Norway and the US in 2010 to promote regional understanding and strengthen multilateral security cooperation in the High North. ASFR contributes to coordinated approaches between allied and partners to mitigate the risks of unintended escalation, said Brigadier General Edward Vaughan of the US European Command during this fall's meeting.

Also read

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