Norwegian Armed Forces

The Norwegian Armed Forces (Norwegian: Forsvaret, "The Defence") is the military organisation responsible for the defence of Norway. It consists of five branches, the Norwegian Army, the Royal Norwegian Navy, which includes the Coast Guard, the Royal Norwegian Air Force, the Home Guard and the Cyber Force, as well as several joint departments. The armed forces number 23,000 personnel, including civilian employees, and have a full-mobilisation combat strength of 83,000.

The armed forces are subordinate the Ministry of Defence, led by Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide. The formal commander-in-chief is King Harald V; however, the de facto commander-in-chief is Chief of Defence Haakon Bruun-Hanssen. His staff is located at Akershus Fortress in Oslo, while the Norwegian Joint Headquarters, responsible for commanding operations, is located in Bodø. The main naval base is Haakonsvern in Bergen, the main army camps are in Bardu, Målselv and Rena, and the main air stations are Ørland and Bodø.

An organised military was first assembled in Norway in the 9th century and was early focused around naval warfare. The army was created in 1628 as part of Denmark–Norway, followed by two centuries of regular wars. A Norwegian military was established in 1814, but the military did not see combat until the German occupation of Norway in 1940. Norway abandoned its position as a neutral country in 1949 to become a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The Cold War saw a large build-up of air stations and military bases, especially in Northern Norway. Since the 2000s, the military has transformed from a focus on defence from an invasion to a mobile force for international missions. Among European NATO members, the military expenditure of US$7.2 billion is the highest per capita.


    The Chief of Defence (a four-star general or admiral) heads the armed forces, and is the principal military adviser to the Minister of Defence.

    Military branches (in order of seniority):

    Other main structures, include:

    • Special forces
    • Defence Staff Norway (DEFSTNOR) in Oslo acts as the staff of the Chief of Defence. It is headed by a three-star general or admiral. DEFSTNOR assigns priorities, manages resources, provides force generation and support activities. Each of the four branches of defence is headed by a two-star general/admiral who are subordinate to DEFSTNOR.
    • National Joint Headquarters (NJHQ) located at Reitan, close to Bodø has operational control of Norwegian armed forces worldwide 24/7. It is headed by the Supreme Commander Norwegian Forces - a three-star general or admiral.
    • (NDLO) at Kolsås outside Oslo is responsible for engineering, procurement, investment, supply, information and communications technology. It is also responsible for maintenance, repair and storage of material.


    Norway employs a weak form of mandatory military service for men and women. While 63,841 men and women were called in for the examination of persons liable for military service in 2012 (mandatory for men), 9265 were conscripted. On 14 June 2013 the Norwegian Parliament voted to extend conscription to women making Norway the first NATO member and first European country to make national service compulsory for both men and women. There is a right of conscientious objection.



    • 1 National Joint Headquarters in Bodø
    • 12 Home Guard districts
    • Tactical Mobile Land/Maritime Command
    • Special forces
    • Joint ISTAR Unit (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance)
      • Module based ISTAR Unit
      • Norwegian Coastal Ranger Command (Kystjegerkommandoen in Norwegian)
      • Unmanned aerial vehicle capability
    • Airborne Ground Surveillance (joint NATO project)
    • Norwegian Home Guard - 50,000 personnel + 33,000 (reserve), rapid reaction forces, follow-on-forces, reinforcement forces and reserves.
    • Capacity for information operations
    • Norwegian Defence Security Department (NORDSD)
    • Flexible medical units
    • NRBC protection (Nuclear, radiological, biological, chemical weapons )
    • Explosive Ordnance Disposal
    • Joint C2I Unit (command, control and information)
    • Civil Military Coordination Unit (CIMIC)
    • Deployable logistical support
    • 2 mobilisation host country battalions (logistics for allied reinforcements)
    Norwegian soldier during a field exercise

    Norwegian Army

    From 1 August 2009 the Norwegian Army changed its structure:

    • Brigade Nord (operational units)
    • Army Weapons School
    • HM the Kings Guard
    • Garnisonen i Sør-Varanger
    • Military Academy
    • Logistics and Operational Support
    • Operation Support Detachment

    Royal Norwegian Navy

    • 5 Fridtjof Nansen class Aegis frigates
    • 6 Skjold class fast missile boats.
    • 6 Ula class submarines
    • Mine Warfare Capability
      • 6 (8) Oksøy class mine hunter and Alta class mine sweeper
      • Mine Clearance Command (divers); HNoMS Tyr support vessel
    • Naval Special Warfare Group
      • Norwegian Coastal Ranger Command
      • Mine Clearance Command (divers)
      • Tactical Boat Squadron (CB90-Class fast assault craft)
    • Logistics/Support Capacity
    • Coast Guard

    Royal Norwegian Air Force

    • 72 + 2(1987) F-16 Fighting Falcon about 50-60 operational. (Being replaced by 52 F-35A)
    • 2 Air Control Centre/Recognized Air picture Production Centre/Sensor Fusion post (ARS Sørreisa and ARS Mågerø)
    • Strategic Airlift / Aerial refueling (common NATO projects)
    • Maritime surveillance (4 x P-3C Orion and 2 x P-3N Orion)
    • Electronic Warfare (2 + 1 DA-20 Jet Falcon)
    • Transport 4x C-130J Super Hercules
    • Air Defence Artillery (NASAMS)
    • Air Wing for Special Forces (6 x Bell 412)
    • 18 Bell 412 transport and light attack helicopters
    • 6 NH-90 maritime helicopters (frigates)
    • Deployable base support
    • 12 Sea King search and rescue helicopters

    Norwegian Home Guard

    • Home Guard (Air, Sea and Land)

    Norwegian Cyber Defence Force

    Small arms and handguns

    • Heckler & Koch MP5 - replaced by MP7
    • Heckler & Koch MP7
    • Heckler & Koch HK416 - standard assault rifle
    • M320 grenade launcher - used as a grenade launcher on the HK 416 and as a standalone weapon
    • Heckler & Koch HK417
    • Heckler & Koch G36 - special forces only,
    • Colt Canada C7 rifle - special forces only
    • Colt Canada C8 rifle - special forces only
    • AG3 - former standard assault rifle; currently used by parts of the Home Guard
    • Våpensmia NM149
    • Barrett M82
    • Glock 17 - to be replaced by the MP7 in some areas
    • Heckler & Koch USP - in use with some special forces
    • Rheinmetall MG3 - will be replaced by FN MINIMI and FN MAG
    • FN Minimi
    • M2 Browning - known as 12,7 MITR
    • ERYX
    • BGM-71 TOW
    • M72 LAW - light anti-armour weapon
    • Carl Gustav recoilless rifle - anti-armour weapon
    • FGM-148 Javelin - anti-armour guided missile


    External links