Defence Ministers in favour of cooperation

Last Monday the Defence Ministers of Sweden and Finland entered the debate in Dagens Nyheter on closer cooperation in defence matters. An initial report, which envisaged closer cooperation with Norway, was submitted to the Government in August 2007.

A second report is to be presented on 13 June. This report deals with the results of a trilateral study of the possibilities for cooperation between Norway, Sweden and Finland, bilateral cooperation with Finland and a deeper analysis of the cooperation proposed in the Norway study. The work has been wide-ranging and is ambitious in its depth and coverage.

Coordinated development
The purpose is to identify the preconditions for the coordination of defence-related development between the countries. In that way there would be increased long-term possibilities for maintaining and developing the desired defence capabilities.
"This could be realised, for example, through cooperation in the area of training and through the coordinated development of different types of vehicles and materiel systems as well as in joint training and exercising", says Colonel Stefan Gustafsson at the Swedish Armed Forces Headquarters, Command and Control Strategy Division.

Broad and deep
Logistics – the support for operational units – is another area with great potential.
"The quality of units can also be enhanced, or maintained at a high level, and it would be easier to provide suitably composed forces for international operations. Far-reaching Nordic cooperation would also provide the foundations for the continuing development of defence capabilities in breadth and depth, something which is necessary both in meeting international challenges as well as those that might possibly arise in our own region", says Stefan Gustafsson.

Operational capabilities
The Swedish Armed Forces have proposed, in connection with the expanded budget proposals for 2009, that an initiative should be taken in some 40 or so areas of cooperation with Norway and Finland. These areas of cooperation lie within the main fields of operational capabilities, materiel and logistics, as well as defence-related research and development.

Air situation information
The first concrete proposal for cooperation was submitted to the Government on 12 May when the Swedish Armed Forces requested approval to apply to join NATO’s system for the distribution of air situation information to Partnership for Peace states, the so-called Air Situation Data Exchange (ASDE). This request stems from the recommendations put forward in the Norway study. The Government’s decision is expected before the holiday period.
"By incorporating information from ASDE into the Swedish air surveillance system, we will be taking the first step towards realising a common Norwegian-Swedish appreciation of the current air situation, a so-called Recognised Air Picture (RAP), which itself is a precondition for a number of other proposals for cooperation."

A Scandinavian air picture
Among other things, a common RAP is a precondition for joint utilisation of airspace, shared utilisation of firing ranges and exercise areas, and cooperation in countering cross-border terrorism.
"If Finland too were to incorporate information from ASDE into its air surveillance, which may well be the case, ASDE can contribute to a common Scandinavian air picture. This in turn would provide the foundations, technically and organisationally, for extension of the system to include all the Nordic countries at a later stage", concludes Stefan Gustafsson.