Modern-day warfare brought about Internet attacks just as damaging for a country’s readiness, integrity, economy and infrastructure as last century’s threat of conventional and nuclear warfare, which, of course, is why every nation should be prepared and on high alert, with state-of-the art equipment to counter the attacks we see unfold on a daily basis.
Not about to commend our politicians for their ability to build an effective digital border defence I do appreciate their resolution to improve it – which, in all honesty, is long overdue.
I applaud Norway’s NOK 2.2 billion defence budget rise, even if we’re far from reaching NATO’s two percent of GDP goal – an aim that ought to be within reach, considering our country’s affluence. Thing is, though, that while vital parts of our defence are granted a substantial financial boost, an equally vital part of it, the Home Guard (i.e. the National Guard for American readers), carrying most of the responsibility for our territorial defence, as well as local naval defence, is subject to further troop reductions.
As a matter of fact the current Armed Forces long-term plan indicates that the Naval Home Guard, with its approximately 200 larger vessels and approximately 130 speed vessels, is to be disbanded altogether within a couple of years, whereas the overall National Guard has been reduced from 80,000+ troops at the time I myself was dismissed*, some thirteen years ago, to approximately 45,000 troops today – and counting.
With standing forces increasingly involved in international operations the Home Guard remains the only real defence actually on Norwgian soil, which only goes to show that conventional attacks or invasions are considered less probable, much like the pre WW2 attitude, resulting in very low defence spendings – and the rest, as they say, is history (foreigners without in-depth knowledge of Norwegian history may be grateful to learn that Nazi Germany occupied the country between 9 April 1940 and 8 May 1945, though).
Certainly cyber warfare is a very real threat, materialising on a daily basis, which needs to be met with all available measures.
It does not, however, entail the removal of a conventional, equally dangerous threat, especially in times of an intensified level of international conflict, not least with respect to our closest northern neighbour, Russia.
*Both as a result of the disbandment of my unit, 02503 Santhanshaugen HV-område (company) and the mere fact that I had reached the maximum conscription age (44 in Norway).
Top photograph: Norwegian Home guard soldiers partaking in a squad leader course. Photographer: Julie Hjermstad/Norwegian Armed Forces.