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NORDEFCO Annual Report 2020

The Nordic Defence Cooperation, or NORDEFCO, is the intergovernmental collaboration of the Nordic countries on matters of military and defense. Its five member states are Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. This report details the accomplishments of the recent Danish chairmanship, the organization's structure, and the goals for the cooperative in the coming years.

"Foreword: Danish Chairmanship 2020

The Nordic Defence Cooperation is important to Denmark. We need a strong Nordic defence cooperation to contribute to stability and security in our region. Therefore, the Danish NORDEFCO chairmanship in 2020 has been a key priority for Denmark - and for me personally.

This annual report is a testament to the important progress made in 2020 to develop and strengthen NORDEFCO. It accounts for the priorities and focus areas that have guided the Danish chairmanship and achievements obtained. We were only at the beginning of the Danish chairmanship, when our new NORDEFCO crisis consultation mechanism proved its relevance in very real terms; A missile attack in Iraq affecting Nordic troops on training mission followed by the outbreak of the COVID-19, underlined the importance of being able to rapidly convene and consult each other during crises.

These examples clearly illustrate how far we have come in deepening our Nordic defence cooperation. How close together we have moved. They underline the importance of continuing to improve the ability to act together in crisis and conflict - a core ambition in NORDEFCO Vision 2025 and a main goal for the Danish chairmanship. Together, we have taken significant steps this year to help us to achieve this goal. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic, as the defining global challenge in 2020, has shown the robustness and agility of NORDEFCO. Our work has continued in a largely undisrupted manner – yet virtually.

One important focus area this year has been to strengthen Nordic-Transatlantic relations and move forward with the aim to ensure joint participation in important exercise activities. Moreover, we have shared perceptions of the Arctic to enhance situational awareness and be better equipped to address security challenges in the region. Within the area of cyber security we have improved our understanding of challenges in regard to recruitment, education and retainment of competences and mapped areas where increased cooperation could be of particular benefit. We have broadened the discussion on total defence with perspectives from the Haga-cooperation on emergency management, and pushed the important agenda of green defence forward to contribute to overall CO2 reductions.

Furthermore, at the virtual fall ministerial meeting on 5th November, Denmark joined Finland, Norway and Sweden in the commitment to improve and sustain security of supply between Nordic countries. As COVID-19 has shown us, security of supply is key in a crisis situation, and the agreement allows for better cooperation both in peacetime and beyond. In addition, all four countries signed an agreement on Nordic export control in order to simplify procedures and facilitate Nordic cooperation in the defence material area.

In closing, I would like to thank my Nordic colleagues and everyone who has contributed to promoting and developing the Nordic defence cooperation this year. The Nordic countries have different security affiliations, but we all share the commitment and responsibility to keeping our region safe and secure. Nordic defence cooperation is key to this endeavour.

I look forward to the coming year under the Finnish chairmanship of NORDEFCO.

Trine Bramsen Danish Minister of Defence

NORDEFCO Vision 2025

On the 13th of November 2018, the Nordic Ministers of Defence adopted the following vision for enhance Nordic defence cooperation towards 2025: We will improve our defence capability and cooperation in peace, crisis and conflict. We ensure a Close Nordic political and military dialogue on security and defence. Acknowledging our different security affiliations, we pursue an agenda based on joint security perspectives, efficient and cost-effective cooperation to strengthen our national defences and the ability to act together. In order to operationalize the vision, we will strive towards the following targets: By 2025, we have:

  • Minimal restrictions on movement and storage of military units and equipment, between and through the nations in support of national and multinational activities, operations and deployments.

  • Increased cooperation in total defence, military security of supply and civil-military cooperation.

  • Improved regional and common situational awareness in peace, crisis and conflict, in all relevant domains, through real-time information- and data sharing.

  • Enhanced NORDEFCO as a platform for crisis consultation and established mechanisms for that purpose.

  • Improved our readiness and sustainability in order to improve our ability to act together.

  • Coordinated relevant training and exercises between the Nordic countries, and we have improved interoperability.

  • Enhanced our transatlantic relations by seeking closer cooperation in areas such as training, exercises and other activities, and improved cooperation with our European partners.

  • Continued to strengthen our dialogue and cooperation with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

  • Improved our resilience in light of the dangers posed by hybrid threats and growing cyber threats. Coordinated our international operations with a focus on national contributions, command and control and joint logistics, when possible.

  • Enhanced logistical cooperation where possible and desirable, with mutual measures to support national needs in crisis and conflict. Established a strategic dialogue to enhance capability development in order to meet the requirements needed to address the security environment

  • An active and flexible partner in the Nordic defence industry in developing capabilities and finding new solutions to armaments and total defence requirements, including through utilization of the possibilities inherent in the proposed European Defence Fund as well as other relevant for a and instruments.

  • We will continue to explore and adopt new beneficial possibilities for cooperation which may emerge

  • Established options for common education and training to maximize effectiveness and availability in all Nordic development and procurement programs

  • Enhanced our armaments coordination and cooperation

We will continue to explore and adopt new beneficial possibilities for cooperation which may emerge.


Danish Chairmanship Priorities and Results

Nordic-Transatlantic relations A key priority of 2020 has been to strenghten the Nordic-Transatlantic relations as one of the targets in Vision 2025. To achieve this, the Nordic Ministers of Defence agreed on a joint approach to continued U.S. engage- ment in the Nordic region. A key deliverable in this respect has been to ensure that the Nordic-led Arctic Challenge Exercise (ACE) maintains so-called flag-level according to the agreed-upon criteria, and U.S. participation in the exercise is essential in this regard. The U.S. Air Force Europe is already deeply engaged in ACE 2021. This was consolidated in the first two ever meetings between the US European Command (USEUCOM) and the NORDEFCO Military Coordination Committee (MCC).

To support the strong Nordic-Transatlantic Military cooperation on ACE, the political level in NORDEFCO has initiated the development of a political Letter of Intent to ensure future Nordic-Transatlantic engagement in ACE in order to maintain it at flag level, with a signing ceremony scheduled for February 2021.

While the COVID-19 pandemic did lead to cancellations, postponements and downscaling of both national and multinational exercises, a positive development included the establishment of new procedures for further synchronization and coordination of military exercises and training activities with both Transatlantic and Baltic partners.

The Arctic An important theme during the Danish chairmanship was to strengthen the Nordic se-curity policy dialogue, in particular in regard to the Arctic. In light of emerging security challenges, the Arctic has become of increasing interest. During 2020, the Danish chairmanship facilitated discussions on security and defence related aspects of the situation in the Arctic and information exchanges in regard to national Arctic strategies in the Nordic countries. The work of a military NORDEFCO Working Group on increased information sharing in the Arctic was delayed due to COVID-19, but is scheduled to be completed by spring 2021. Supplementing this, information sharing on joint Nordic military winter training and exercises will also be strengthened and a course catalogue on activities has been made available at the NORDEFCO webpage.

Cyber security and resillience The cyber security threat knows no borders, and to build resilience, nations need to work together. This is why strengthened Nordic cooperation on cyber security and resilience is one of the goals in Vision 2025. To achieve this, a Danish-led working group explored possible areas for Nordic cooperation within cyber security, exchanged information and shared best practices during 2020. Specifically, the working group explored best practices in regard to cyber security education in the area of the respective MoDs, including a general map- ping of challenges and lessons learned of respective national cyber security education initiatives. A similar working group on the military level focused on establishing methods and procedures of information sharing related to cyber operations, which led to enhanced coordination regarding participation in exercises and courses. The work showed that existing frameworks for collaboration could be utilized further, for example to exercise scenarios for experts already working together in the Nordic military CERTs (Computer Emergency Response Teams). During the Chairmanship, a Maritime Hybrid Warefare Webinar was held, at which the European Hybrid Centre of Excellence presented current scenarios. The purpose was to bring awareness to the risks and dangers of this type of warfare, and it showed that preparedness within a broad range of fields such as legal, technical, tactical, political as well as interagency and international cooperation would be necessary to counter this type of threat.

International operations A new NORDEFCO concept for ‘information sharing about ongoing and coming operational planning’ was developed and implemented during 2020. The concept aims to enable identification of cooperation possibilities in the first phases of operational planning. A concrete example has been to explore possible cooperation in Iraq within the framework of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR). It led to the conclusion that support from a small number of instructors on established bases could be facilitated. The question of possible NORDEFCO or Nordic-Baltic joint ventures within the framework of the NATO Mission in Iraq (NMI), as well as possible cooperation in Sahel, will be further explored.


Implementing NORDEFCO’s Vision 2025 As regards the most central goal of NORDEFCO’s Vision 2025 – to improve the ability to act together in peace, crisis and conflict – Finland will continue the work in accordance with the decisions made during the Danish chairmanship. Last spring, military mobility was selected as the test project for examining possibilities for future cooperation during crises and conflicts. The first NORDEFCO Table Top Discussion was organised during Finland’s previous chairmanship in 2017. In 2020, a plan for similar exercises in the coming years was made and adopted. According to the plan, the Finnish chairmanship will organise a Table Top Discussion (TTD) at senior official level. This will be NOR- DEFCO’s second Table Top Discussion."

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