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    Norway to Ditch Tanks, Stop 'Russian Aggression' With Missiles

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    The ongoing overhaul of Norway's defense capabilities still has many question marks hanging over it. For instance, the Norwegian Armed Forces may relinquish its use of heavy tanks and instead rely on missiles to be fired at enemy lines from afar. In any case, Russia is still considered the most likely adversary.

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    While billion-investments in combat aircraft, patrol aircraft and submarines have already been earmarked in Norway's recent long-term defense plan, the shape of the Norwegian Army and the Home Guard has yet to be fully mapped out. The prospects of merging the Nordic country's land forces will be assessed by an expert committee that is also expected to put forward its military budget proposals.

    The committee, which is headed by Brigadier Aril Brandvik, has already identified four key problems with the current land force and is likely to present a wholly new concept of land defense. Only one of the three options currently on the table retains the existing defense structure with tanks and armored vehicles. The other two possibilities instead rely on lighter and mobile materiel, as well as closer interaction with other branches of troops, Norwegian newspaper Klassekampen reported.

    Previously, the Brandvik-led committee identified the weak points of the Norwegian defense as follows: low ability to react, low mobility of the forces, low combat strength due to infrastructure issues and low endurance that makes it virtually impossible to carry on in a lasting conflict.

    "So far it has not been concluded that the current concept cannot be maintained in the future, but it has some weaknesses that must be rectified if we are about to continue with it," Aril Brandvik told Klassekampen.

    Norwegian national broadcaster NRK has taken a look at the three options in more detail. In one of the concepts called "Sink and stop," the Russian advancement in Norwegian Lapland will be stopped in a decisive battle in Troms County. It is the only one that is based on heavy equipment, such as tanks.

    In the concepts dubbed "Refusal" and "Active conflict," which are less reliant on logistics and heavy materiel, a Russian assault on Norway will be stopped using long-range missiles, fired from fighter jets, ships or ground, in combination with mobile forces, all of which are significantly lighter than today's mechanized brigade.

    Previously, the committee rejected the concepts "Silence" and "Stop at the border." The former implied guerilla warfare and was ruled out as "unacceptable," whereas the latter was considered "completely unrealistic."

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    According to Brandvik, scenarios which demand heavy investment in long-range weapons systems and the restructuring of existing departments are the most costly. This may prove crucial given Norway's financial difficulties in meeting the common NATO goal of defense expenditure exceeding 2 percent of the GDP.

    The goal of boosting NATO member states' defense outlay, which was recently stressed anew by the Trump administration, may leave a serious dent in Norway's state coffers, as the nation's military expenses keep growing in lockstep with its GDP. In 2024, Norway's military outlay is projected to be 48 percent higher than the 49 billion NOK ($5.9bln) spent today, provided that Norway chooses to comply with the NATO guidelines, the Norwegian economic daily Dagens Næringsliv reported.

     

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    missile defense, armed forces, NATO, Scandinavia, Russia, Norway
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