US and Norwegian Defense Leaders Discuss Coordination of Allied Activity in the High North

Norwegian Minister of Defense Odd Enoksen (left) and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III signed a roadmap to deepen cooperation between U.S. and Norwegian Special Operations Forces, in a meeting at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Nov. 16, 2021. (Photo: Lisa Ferdinando/Department of Defense).

The Norwegian defense minister and the US Secretary of Defense discussed the need for stronger coordination of Allied activity in the High North. "Norway has a unique knowledge of the High North that can contribute to creating stability in our immediate neighborhood," says Minister of Defense Odd Roger Enoksen.

This week, the newly appointed Norwegian Minister of Defense Odd Roger Enoksen visited the Pentagon, where he met with the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III.

Enoksen and Austin among others discussed the security situation in the High North. Norway is subsequently now taking an initiative for stronger coordination of allied activity in the High North.

Need for coordination 

"The government wants to strengthen our own defense in the North. At the same time, the NATO alliance is our security guarantee. We welcome American and other allied activity in our neighborhood. When activity increases, there is a need for good coordination and interaction to ensure the best effect, Enoksen states in a press release from the Norwegian Ministry of Defense. 

Norway's Defense Minister further explains to Forsvarets Forum (National Defense Magazine - Norway) that better coordination in the High North is related to decreasing tension in the High North.

"We want more exercise activity. It is increasing already, however, we want better coordination between the Allies. This is important for defusing tension", Enoksen says to Forsvarets Forum. 

"Co-ordination of exercises demonstrates our unity, our having strength, but also invites dialogue and de-escalation of tension", he adds.

NATO in the north

The Norwegian Minister of Defense stated the importance of the USA being well acquainted with Norwegian areas and challenges. 

"Norway has a unique knowledge of the High North that can contribute to creating stability in our immediate neighborhood," he continued.

The US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Norway in a sense "is the alliance's eyes and ears in the High North."

Russian activity

Furthermore, the two defense leaders discussed increased Russian military activity in the area. 

"Norway follows development in Russia closely both in the East and in the North. Norway takes its responsibility for the High North very seriously. We are concerned about Russia's military capabilities in our neighborhood. We welcome the increased interests and activities in the High North from the U.S. and other allies", Odd Roger Enoksen said during the meeting.

The US Department of Defense stated that Austin looks forward to deeper discussions with Norwegian allies on the challenges presented by Russia.

Roadmap for cooperation

During the meeting at the Pentagon, Austin and Enoksen also signed a roadmap to deepen cooperation between U.S. and Norwegian Special Operations Forces.

"Our special forces have stood shoulder to shoulder in Afghanistan. The relevance of the special forces is increasing in today's conflict picture. Now, we will look into how we can develop cooperation in areas other than international operations," says Enoksen.

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