Norway and Sweden have long experience of cooperation, primarily in the field of international peace activities and in materiel procurement. Now the defence chiefs in both countries, where the defence authorities hold similar views and have in recent years been restructuring along parallel lines, would like to deepen this cooperation.
The focus has been on doing as much as possible together in the area of unit production (materiel procurement, maintenance and training/exercising). In that way we can, over time, bring about closer similarity between our various systems and units. This has benefits in terms of coordination and cost-effectiveness.
Such a deepened cooperation should enable both countries to achieve levels of cost-effectiveness and versatility that would not have been possible acting alone. Costs per unit rise as technical equipment becomes increasingly more advanced and the number of service units, and hence equipment production runs, decrease. The development work needed - if Norway and Sweden were each to undertake it separately - would therefore cost considerably more. The same applies to training.
In the long run, the Supreme Commander and Norway's Chief of Defence both believe that increased cooperation is the only conceivable way to achieve sustainable and cost-effective development of the countries' defence capabilities. In more and more areas, numbers are falling towards critically low levels.
"If this potential for increased efficiency is not realised, there is a risk that the number of units will in some cases fall to levels where their capability can no longer be maintained in the longer term. As defence strategy chief Rear Admiral Jörgen Ericsson puts it, "With the cooperation that we are proposing, both countries will have a better chance of being able to continue to develop an operational capability matched to the needs of today and tomorrow."
Possible areas for cooperation
The cooperation proposed covers large areas of the defence sector. The following are some examples:
- Joint production of service units which means, for example, common training and schools.
- Cooperation on maintenance functions in international operations (for example medical units, logistics and air transport).
- More highly developed cooperation in the areas of maintenance, unit development, materiel procurement and research.
- Joint exercise areas and exercises.
Since Norway has not yet decided on a new aircraft system, and discussions are still in progress, the possibility of collaboration where the JAS 39 Gripen is concerned has not been analysed in any detail in the study.
Norwegian-Swedish collaboration is not an alternative to NATO and the EU, but would follow, complement and support the forms and mechanisms of cooperation already in existence in organisations such as NATO and the EU.
The extent of the efficiency benefits to be gained for both countries depends, among other factors, on how rapidly the work can start. Over the period to 2010 there are already extensive possibilities for strengthened cooperation. If this cooperation can be initiated at an early stage, there are further efficiency benefits to be gained and the cooperation can be extended still further.
"We have established that there is great potential for cooperation. The total extent of the benefits that can be achieved will be determined by the scope of the cooperation and how rapidly it can be established." So write Håkan Syrén and Sverre Diesen in their joint article for debate in Dagens Nyheter and Dagbladet today.
Increased cooperation in the Nordic area
Supreme Commander Håkan Syrén and Chief of Defence Sverre Diesen hope that the deeper cooperation between Sweden and Norway will lead to increased cooperation with other Nordic countries as well.
The defence chiefs will this afternoon submit their report to their respective Defence Ministers on order to obtain a political mandate that will allow the cooperation plans to be set in motion as soon as possible.