The key issue, however, is not even the substantial sum itself, but rather Norway's future dependency on NATO and the United States to secure the safety of the country's borders. In recent days, fears of Norway's looming inability to defend itself on its own (and hence the need for outer protection by NATO or the US) have been fueled by plans to permanently station American marines in northern Norway.
However, no legal obstacles exist against ally forces being installed in Norway in connection with exercises and maneuvers. Defense Minister Søreide herself, who has advocated closer cooperation with the US, suggested facilitating NATO activity and presence in Norway.
"Combat aircraft, submarines and patrol aircraft are all heavy investments that tie Norway even closer to the US and NATO's needs in the north," columnist Per Anders Madsen of the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten argued.
Liberal leader Trine Skei Grande suggested Norway basically was in the process of shifting the responsibility for national security to the Americans.
"What the government is doing now is outsourcing the responsibility of our security to the US Marines," Skei Grande said, as quoted by Norwegian national broadcaster NRK.
Lieutenant general Kjell Grandhagen, former chief of Norway's Intelligence Service, warned that Oslo's "marginalization" of the army would have serious consequences. Furthermore, despite the high-profile rhetoric about dramatic changes in the overall security picture (mostly allusions to Russia's aggression), little action has been taken, Grandhagen pointed out, citing the lack of a "holistic approach" to the Armed Forces, Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang reported.
"NATO consists of 28 member states with very different understandings of the threats facing the alliance. Therefore it is difficult to reach a consensus," Mood stated in an opinion piece in Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.
In the current situation, according to Mood, it is quite possible to imagine a crisis too small for NATO involvement, but too big for Norway to handle alone.