Procurement: Norway Arms Itself for War


April 23, 2024: Norway is working towards nearly doubling their defense spending through 2036, when annual defense spending will almost double its military budget and reach 3 percent of GDP by 2036. This is about $55 billion a year. This money will make possible the purchase of more warships and reconnaissance UAVs as well as the formation of more infantry brigades to protect areas threatened by Russian forces.

Over the next decade the navy will receive five new 4,300-ton frigates, each carrying an ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) helicopter. There will be ten smaller warships using a new standardized design and the ability to add or remove modular weapons and support systems. With these smaller ships the emphasis is on ASW warfare. The navy will also be receiving five new submarines and over a dozen auxiliary vessels for mine clearing and offshore patrol. The navy is replacing its force of elderly P-3 maritime patrol aircraft with a larger number of maritime patrol UAVs that can patrol more frequently the northern waters near the Russian Kola base area.

Norway has a new ally in the north because Finland joined NATO recently. Finland already has forces deployed along its long border with Russia. In the north, the Finnish border reaches an area where Norwegian, Finnish, and Russian forces are facing each other.

The Norwegian Army is forming two new infantry brigades, one of them based near the short land border with Russia in northern Finland near Norway and the Russian border. All three countries have military, naval and air forces in this area. Norway was one of the original NATO members when NATO was formed shortly after World War II ended. Finland is one of the newest NATO members, joining in 2023. Neighboring Sweden, which has been neutral for two hundred years, abandoned its neutral status and joined NATO in 2024. There is a long border between the two countries in northwestern Sweden and northeastern Finland.

With Sweden now a NATO member, the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad between Poland and Lithuania, and the Russian city and port of St Petersburg at the eastern end of the Baltic Sea, are Russia’s only presence in the Baltic Sea. Otherwise, the Baltic Sea is surrounded by NATO members. This annoys Russian leader Vladimir Putin who ominously warns of possible Russian action in the future to expand the Russian presence in the Baltic Sea. Putin is also unhappy with the situation in northern Norway where Norway, Finland, and Russia border the Barents Sea. NATO regularly holds training exercises in this area to practice quickly bringing more, usually American, soldiers and marines into the area to reinforce Norwegian and Finnish forces. These exercises also involved American aircraft carrier task forces and warships from local NATO allies. The Russian Northern Fleet is based on the Kola Peninsula that is adjacent to Norway and Finland. This region, where the borders of Russia, Finland and Norway meet, are above the Arctic Circle and relatively warm only because the warmer Gulf Stream current runs through this area. This makes coastal areas very habitable. The farther inland you go, the more Arctic the climate becomes.

For thousands of years the local population lived mainly on the coast. That’s why the relatively large area of Norway has a population of only 5.5 million. This is expected to grow to six million by 2040. Currently the Norwegian GDP is about half a trillion dollars and per capita GDP is over $100,000, which is one of the highest in the world with petroleum and natural gas accounting for a quarter of that GDP. The oil and natural gas are exported and nearly all the electricity generated in Norway comes from hydropower, dammed water released to operate electric generation turbines. Norway began developing this hydropower a century ago, after World War I.

Norway did not participate in either of the World Wars although during World War II Nazi Germany occupied Norway to prevent the allies from using Norwegian resources, including those needed to create an atomic bomb. Norwegian resistance fighters and allied commandos carried out several operations to sabotage German efforts to use Norwegian resources for nuclear weapons research. Nazi Germany never came close to developing nuclear weapons. Meanwhile the Americans spent $5 billion to develop nuclear weapons and the B-29 bomber needed to carry it to targets. Only two targets were hit with nuclear weapons near the end of World War II, Nagasaki, and Hiroshima in Japan. This forced Japan to surrender, four months after the Germans did.

The American nuclear weapons and B-29 bombers were originally meant for use against Germany, then Japan because it was known that the Japanese were willing to fight to the death while opposing an allied, mainly American, invasion. The nuclear weapons used against Japan shocked the stalwart Japanese government into surrendering. This was something Japan had never done before and some military officers tried, at the last minute, to disrupt the surrender plans. That effort failed, in part because the Americans indicated that they had more nuclear weapons and would keep bombing Japanese cities until Japan surrendered. The Americans did have more nuclear bombs, but they were still being assembled back in the United States after the first two were used against two Japanese cities.

The Japanese surrender due to the nuclear bombs actually saved many Japanese lives. That is because two different alternate allied plans were to blockade Japan into submission through starvation, or to bomb Japanese cities with poison gas from the air and then invade, or both. Japan was already effectively blockaded by aircraft-delivered mines when the A-bombs dropped in August 1945. Japan could not produce enough food to feed its population. A blockade would have, after a few months, caused mass starvation in Japan which would have eventually led to millions of starvation deaths. The Army Chemical Corps estimated that the proposed gas attacks from the air would have killed at least five million Japanese within a month. These genocidal means were chosen as alternatives in case the A-bombs were unsuccessful because politicians back in the United States realized that the American people knew the Allies had won the war and wanted the troops to be brought back home as quickly as possible. There was no political support for prolonging the war. The war had already ended in Europe and Norway was free again. That led to punishing the Norwegian politicians who ran the government for the Nazis.

Everyone was tired of this long war and supported the use of nuclear weapons to end it. After the war, Russia, Britain, and France developed nuclear weapons and the threat of those weapons being used again has made possible the longest period of peace between the major powers in history. The nuclear peace still holds, despite threats by some nuclear armed nations to use nukes. These are largely empty threats because a nuclear war would kill many millions and devastate the world economy. It’s always possible that some mad national leader, like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, would use nukes but even that is doubtful. The North Korean people are more concerned with food shortages than nuclear war. At the other end of the economic spectrum, Norway is also opposed to any nuclear war or serious threats of starting one. Such threats do not make Russian leader Vladimir Putin look strong, but weak and somewhat deranged.




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