Lieutenant General Rune Jakobsen, the head of the Norwegian Armed Forces' operational headquarters (FOH), has warned of dramatic consequences if the armed forces are not significantly upgraded.
"We now have a new global and regional security picture that is more uncertain than before", Rune Jakobsen told the NRK national broadcaster, citing a "more self-asserting Russia" as one of the challenges. "If there is an attack in the classical sense, then we won't have the robustness that is necessary", he added.
Jakobsen admitted that reaction time and endurance in all branches of defence were too low, given Norway's land size.
"To be more concrete, the army is too small in relation to the tasks it has and what is expected of Norway and NATO", Jakobsen said.
Jakobsen also complained that not all resources are available as quickly as needed. He stressed the need for an emphasis on maritime surveillance aircraft to better follow what's happening in the High North.
To address the shortcomings, Lieutenant General Jakobsen called for two battalions in addition to the three existing ones. He also stressed the need for two new submarines, and a better transition plan to modernise the air force.
"The current long-term plan describes a structure in imbalance, which has too little volume, and the progress may be a bit too slow," Jakobsen said.
By Jakobsen's own admission, his criticism is shared on many levels of the armed forces.
"In the armed forces, we are concerned with doing the best with what we have and the orders we receive. Many are concerned about Norwegian security, who believe that the size and robustness of the structure is not good enough. And I totally agree with that", Jakobsen concluded.
Last week, the government asked the chief of defence to prepare a new professional military council. The last time this happened was in 2014. The council lay much of the foundation for the long-term plan to be adopted by the parliament next year.
The Norwegian Joint Headquarters, the Norwegian Armed Forces operational commando-centre, is located in Reitan outside Bodø, where during the Cold War, NATO's Allied Command North Norway was based.
As of 2017, the Norwegian Armed Forces had 15,874 active personnel.