– Unplanned and on the verge of irresponsible, Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen told Dagbladet when the Labor Party, the Socialist People’s Party and the Socialist People’s Party in June were joined by the government’s coalition party FRP and rejected the consideration of the new long-term plan for the Armed Forces.
The majority in the Storting thought that the plan was simply so weak that it served no purpose to negotiate changes.
The requirement was improvements on eight points (see fact box at the bottom of the case). The opposition set a deadline of 15 October for the government to present a new and better plan for the development of the Norwegian Armed Forces.
One day after the deadline, the new plan was discussed in the cabinet on Friday. According to the government, it meets all the Storting’s eight requirements, but by and large it is built on exactly the same load as this spring.
– Christmas wishes
The main criticism from the opposition was related to a somewhat unorthodox move on the part of the government. Instead of presenting a plan for investments in the Armed Forces over the next four years, as tradition dictates, the long-term plan was based on a scenario of eight years.
The government promised that in 2028 NOK 16.5 billion more would be spent on the Armed Forces than today. But the promises did not impress the opposition, who thought they were too unobtrusive.
– What is in the last part of the national transport plan are Christmas wishes. That is what comes in the first part that is binding, said SP leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum when he was to explain to Dagbladet why his party reacted as it did.
Slaughter of the Chief of Defense
With him on the team was his party colleague and former defense chief Harald Sunde and defense policy spokeswoman Liv Signe Navarsete. Together, they strongly opposed the government’s defense plan before the summer.
– The government’s proposal is little more than a communication plan to postpone everything, Sunde said. He continued to fire the verbal machine gun:
– The most important thing for me here is not the professional military, but the ethical. We fail to give our country soldiers the weapons they need to go to war, Sunde said, referring to the phasing in of new tanks, which he believes is too slow.
Sagts also came from FRP’s defense policy spokesman Christian Tybring-Gjedde:
– It is unsustainable that the government does not commit itself for the next four years, but postpones the decisions eight years in time. Especially within the Navy, the plan is insufficient, but there are also fundamental weaknesses in the focus on the Army and the Air Force, he told NTB.
The government has apparently taken note of the criticism from the Storting and is presenting a new estimate for investments over the next four years.
It has now been promised that in 2024 Norway will spend 8.3 billion more on the Armed Forces than today. At the same time, a surplus of NOK 3 billion is planned for next year in what is described as lasting increases.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H) says the plan will increase the Armed Forces’ preparedness, responsiveness and endurance.
– The government works purposefully to strengthen both social security and state security. We want to create a safer Norway, says Solberg, who at the same time as the long-term plan presented a brand new report to the Storting on social security for which the Ministry of Justice has been responsible.
Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen says the new long-term plan is based on the one presented to the Storting in April. He believes the opposition’s eight demands have all been met.
-We have made it clear which decisions will be made in the coming years and we provide a further detailed description of the development in the years ahead. Even with the limited economic room for maneuver in the Norwegian economy, we prioritize the continued strengthening of the Armed Forces, says Bakke-Jensen.
Frank Bakke-Jensen says the government over the next four years will implement a large number of measures to strengthen the defense capability, such as increased staffing, new recruiting school, upgrading of existing equipment and new procurements.
One of the concrete measures that differs from this spring is that the Navy’s future structure will be clarified earlier than originally planned. Initially, the government wanted to return to this towards the end of the planning period, which extends to 2028, but in the new long-term plan, the Storting is promised a plan for a new vessel structure in 2022.
One of the biggest uncertainties in the Armed Forces’ investment plans is the corona crisis and its effect on the international economy and currency fluctuations.
This was something the Storting in its order asked the government to “take into account”, something the government acknowledges in the new long-term plan is demanding.