Cablegate: Norway's 2010 Defense Budget: High North And

DE RUEHNY #0635/01 2881526
P 151526Z OCT 09

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/15/2010


Classified By: Charge d'affaires James T. Heg for reasons
1.4(b) and (d)

1. (S/NF) Summary: Deputy Defense Minister Espen Barth-Eide
outlined October 13 his talking points for the NATO new
Strategic Concept discussion in Luxembourg October 16. He
emphasized that striking a balance between in-area and
out-of-area operations is key to ensuring that NATO remains
relevant to the public and capable of defending homeland
territories, while deploying expeditionary forces to
eliminate threats emanating from abroad. He noted that
Norway's 2010 defense budget will include a 395 million
Norwegian Kroner (about USD 70 million) real increase, with
the High North (Arctic area) remaining Norway's top defense
and foreign policy priority. Additional funds will focus on
improved and increased capabilities for all of Norway's armed
forces, including the Coast Guard. Russian offensive
exercises off Norway's coast have demonstrated that Russian
forces over the past few years are increasingly well-funded
and better trained, said Barth-Eide. However, Norway did not
view the exercises as much of a threat, but rather as
Russia's attempt to emerge as the dominant Arctic power by
default. If other Arctic nations and Europe fail to engage
pro-actively to counter Russia's influence, particularly its
soft power influence, he warned, Russia will set the Arctic
agenda. On Afghanistan, Barth-Eide affirmed that Norway will
remain engaged as long as necessary and plans to send better
trained troops and more officers to assist Afghan capacity
building. End Summary.

Norway's 2010 Defense Budget

2. (SBU) Deputy MinDef Espen Barth-Eide told CDA, PolOff,
and A/DATT October 13 that Norway's defense budget in 2010
would increase by 1.473 billion Norwegian Kroner (NOK), which
translates into a real increase of about 395 million NOK, or
approximately USD 70 million, after inflation and salary and
pension adjustments are taken into account. Norway's top
priority remains the High North, with spending set aside for
the purchase of a new frigate and coast guard vessels. Army
and Air Force activities in the High North will also be the
top priority, in addition to maintaining a strong border
control operation along the 200 km border with Russia, and
the further development of the new Defense Joint
Headquarters. (On August 1 this year, Norway's Joint Defense
HQ moved from the southern port city of Stavanger to the
northern city of Reitan, outside of Bodo.)

Nordic Cooperation

3. (C) Bringing Sweden and Finland closer to NATO would be
the likely outcome of increased Nordic Cooperation, according
to Barth-Eide. He noted that Norway and Sweden will jointly
acquire land-based artillery in 2010; however, he did not
name any other specific opportunities for collaboration.
Barth-Eide reiterated that NATO is and will remain Norway's
top priority.


4. (C) Norway's 2010 budget prioritizes military engagement
in Afghanistan, with a focus on capacity building designed to
strengthen Afghan ability to achieve stability and security.
Barth-Eide said that the goal is to keep troop levels steady,
while sending out more experienced and trained troops and
additional officers and to focus on Operational Mentoring and
Liaison Teams (OMLTs). The end result, he said, would be an
increase in quality and not numbers. He echoed several other
Norwegian political leaders by adding that Norway will remain
in Afghanistan, and depart only when all allies agree that
the situation allows for re-deployment (reftel).

Article 5 and NATO's new Strategic Concept

5. (C) Espen Barth-Eide will address the October 16 meeting
in Luxembourg of NATO's Strategic Concept Experts Working
Group, on the topic ""Core Tasks of the Alliance and Article
5."" Barth-Eide said he would focus the discussion on
striking a balance between in- and out-of-area operations,
with the focus on three basic tasks: consolidate emerging
democracies, manage Russia, and engage militarily with

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expeditionary forces as necessary. Barth-Eide emphasized
that as NATO's has transitioned into the 21st century, a
growing challenge has been ensuring that new generations see
NATO as a relevant organization and remain supportive over
the coming years. He added that NATO still maintains high
popularity among the Norwegian public at large, at least for

6. (C) Barth-Eide said the Baltic states are truly concerned
about the lack of planning in NATO, and feel as though they
don't know who to call when they need urgent assistance in
case of an emergency. Barth-Eide said a way to alleviate
their concerns would be: 1) an increase in NATO exercises
which include participation from regional commands such as
Brunssum; 2) in theater regional-responsibilities assigned to
NATO commands (He referred to the current structure as
""post-modern,"" lacking coherent structure to deal with
potential emergencies in NATO countries), and 3) a vision
statement that does not dismiss geopolitics and the potential
for localized conflicts in regional settings. Barth-Eide
cited the situation in Georgia as an example. He concluded
by noting the importance of taking ""real politik"" into
consideration as NATO drafts its new Strategic Concept.

High North NATO-hatted exercise and Russian Maneuvering
--------------------------------------------- ----------

7. (S/NF) Barth-Eide gave the standard Norwegian line on the
importance of the High North, and said that Norway would
likely request that the 2010 Cold Response exercise be hatted
as a NATO exercise. (Comment: Barth-Eide did not provide
specifics on when a request would be submitted to NATO, and
our MFA colleagues recently emphasized that the way forward
will be the ""High North, low tension"" version of Norwegian
policy, i.e. no NATO exercises that could provoke the
Russians, so whether a request is submitted appears to remain
open to debate. End Comment.) He brought up the importance
of military surveillance and assistance to civilian shipping,
as new trade routes are opened in the Arctic. He also noted
that the Russian military exercises along Norway's coast were
offensive, and that Russian forces had a marked and fast
increase in capacity: they have more planes that are in
better shape, and fly in more complex formations, altogether
demonstrating improved integrated planning. However, he
emphasized that the Russians prefer to be included in
discussions and be seen as relevant; their offensive
exercises tend to increase when they perceive that
discussions are proceeding without their participation.
Barth-Eide said therefore he was not too worried about the
maneuvers, but added that Norway and other Arctic and
European actors needed to remain heavily engaged to ensure
that Russia doesn't dominate the area by default.

© Scoop Media

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