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This is how the Russians will be stopped: the Norwegian Defense Forces will act as deterrents with Sweden and Finland

This is how the Russians will be stopped: the Norwegian Defense Forces will act as deterrents with Sweden and Finland

Chief: Lieutenant-General Yngvi Odlo, Chief of Operations Headquarters of the Norwegian Armed Forces.

Even before Sweden and Finland join NATO, the Norwegian Armed Forces begin operational coordination with our neighboring countries. – It will show Russia that we stand together, says the commander of the Norwegian forces.

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In a fictional scenario, Sweden and Finland, then two NATO members, must receive weapons systems from the United States to defend themselves in the north.

The weapons will be sent through Norway. Border crossing should be smooth. It must happen quickly and with the protection of the Norwegian forces.

This is part of what will be trained during the NATO exercise “Joint Viking”.

The background is serious and demanding.

– The special thing is the war in Ukraine. Russia’s war of aggression and occupation shows that our neighboring country has the will for such aggression. Then NATO must demonstrate the ability to defend itself, says Lt. Gen. Yngvi Udlo, chief of operations headquarters of the Norwegian Armed Forces (FOH) to VG.

Above: Swedish and Norwegian officers during an exercise.

Although Turkey and Hungary have not yet agreed to include Sweden and Finland, our northern neighbors should be included in the exercise, through observer status.

– Sweden and Finland have applied for NATO membership, and Norway said we will contribute to their defense as well during the application period. We have an agreement to cooperate more closely in practice. Now we will practice it.

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Two major NATO exercises are scheduled for the coming weeks, which will prepare NATO for a possible offensive in northwest Europe.

Joint Viking is a Norwegian-led land maneuver, and Joint Warrior is a British-led naval maneuver.

Great powers such as the United States, Great Britain, and Germany are highly involved. A total of 20,000 will participate on land and sea.

Above: Norwegian frigate KNM Roald Amundsen in exercise with a Swedish corvette.

Sweden and Finland will only have limited participation, but they will also conduct their own exercises, which will be coordinated with NATO.

– The exercises this year point to a larger maneuver for NATO in 2024. By then, Sweden and Finland may have become members, Odlo explains.

The Director of the FOH Department of Health confirms that Norway has cooperated with Sweden and Finland over time, but that cooperation is now being strengthened.

What is new is that we have representatives in both the Swedish and Finnish headquarters. It should contribute to facilitating collaboration. We are three countries that think quite alike, and understand the situation in the same way. But we must develop routines, procedures, and familiarity.

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Odlow says he can’t comment on the political process surrounding the NATO member states’ request. In any case, Norway is sticking to its promises of increased cooperation.

Norway is already fully integrated into NATO. So we will help Sweden and Finland get on board as quickly as possible.

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– But what does Turkey think of these exercises? And what happens if Sweden and Finland are not allowed to become members?

The integration will take place step by step. Norway has bilateral agreements with Sweden and Finland now. In any case, we will cooperate more closely, even if it takes longer than required to implement NATO applications.

Exercise: Norwegian F35 (top right), Swedish Jas-Gripen, and Finnish FA-18 Hornet fighters in exercise.

– What is the biggest challenge?

– It can be cultural. These two countries did not take sides. They’ve been used to handling security themselves.

– Both countries, especially Sweden, have their own weapons systems, including combat aircraft. Is it a problem?

– No, not us. Operationally, it is important to have common communication systems and coordinate our forces.

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– Neither Norway, Sweden, Finland, nor NATO in general have any offensive intentions. We are part of a defense alliance. This is deterrence, to prevent Russia, or others, from settling on our lands, according to Odlow.

The FOH director points out that deterrence is something very different from threat.

This cooperation will enhance Norwegian, Nordic and European security. But the Nordic countries will not become their own enclave in NATO. Everything rests on transatlantic cooperation, and commitments to defend each other in line with Article 5.