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Poor access to materiel and staff in the Norwegian Armed Forces is undermining the prerequisites for international operations - Document no. 3:3 (2007-2008)

The Norwegian Armed Forces have inadequate access to materiel and staff for operations abroad. The deficiencies apply within the various services as well as in areas such as the medical corps, ICT, communications and mine clearance. “This is a serious situation, and there are grounds to question whether the Armed Force’s capacity to conduct international assignments is in line with the intentions of the Storting,” says Jørgen Kosmo, Auditor General.
Published 4/28/2008 9:31 AM

The investigation of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG), The Armed Forces’ prerequisites for participation in international operations, Document no. 3:3 (2007–2008), was submitted to the Norwegian parliament (the Storting) on 11 December 2007.

The objectives of the investigation have been to assess whether the Armed Forces are fulfilling the decisions and intentions of the Storting regarding participation in international operations and to identify the extent to which the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces are implementing measures to ensure that these prerequisites are met.

The ongoing restructuring of the Armed Forces entails a transition from a system founded on mobilised forces and focusing on anti-invasion measures to a defence force based on specific operations that is intended to serve both national and international operations.

The investigation shows that there are deficiencies in both the materiel and staff required for use in international operations. Poor access to staff applies within the various services, as well as within joint resources such as the medical corps, ICT, communications and mine clearance. Substantial deficiencies have also been detected in materiel – for example with regard to combat vehicles, water purification and the removal of explosives. The Auditor General emphasises that these deficiencies are undermining the key prerequisites that enable the Armed Forces to participate in such operations.

The investigation also shows that the Armed Forces’ logistics organisation (FLO) has few staff with technical and commercial competencies. This has consequences for FLO’s ability to support operations abroad.

Flexible defence forces must be able to react speedily and must be in a state of preparedness for both national and international assignments. There is therefore a need for systems that ensure a clear communication of requirements to the forces and for reporting procedures that provide a good overview of the status of the forces. The investigation reveals that the systems for specifying requirements or for ensuring the quality of the reporting are inadequate. The work on a joint requirements document has been started but not completed, and the Chief of Defence’s strategic directive for operative activities has not been updated.

As well as detecting weaknesses in the procedures for the transfer of experience, the investigation has also revealed that the Army’s evaluation system is inadequate. In addition it has shown that areas of responsibility in connection with financial management for international operations are not clearly defined.

The Ministry of Defence acknowledges that deficiencies relating to materiel and staff have been identified, but maintains that these have not affected the Armed Forces’ ability to join operations when it has been decided that Norway is to take part.

Riksrevisjonen, Storgata 16, P.O. Box 8130 Dep, 0032 Oslo, Norway

Phone: +47 22 24 10 00

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