Norwegian Armed Forces

The Norwegian Armed Forces (Norwegian: Forsvaret, "The Defence") is the military organisation responsible for the defence of Norway. It consists of four branches, the Norwegian Army, the Royal Norwegian Navy, which includes the Coast Guard, the Royal Norwegian Air Force, and the Home Guard, as well as several joint departments.

Norwegian Armed Forces
Coat of arms of the Norwegian Armed Forces.svg
Coat of arms
Current form1990
Service branchesNorwegian army coat of arms.svg Norwegian Army
Coat of arms of the Royal Norwegian Navy.svg Royal Norwegian Navy (Coast Guard)
Royal Norwegian Air Force logo.svg Royal Norwegian Air Force
Heimevernets logo.svg Home Guard
Cyberforsvarets heraldiske merke.png Cyber Force
HeadquartersNorwegian Joint Headquarters
WebsiteOfficial website
KingHarald V
Prime MinisterErna Solberg
Minister of DefenceFrank Bakke Jensen
Chief of DefenceGeneral Eirik Kristoffersen
Military ageMale: 17-44 (55 for officers) years of age for compulsory military service.
Female: 17 years of age for military service. Compulsory for females born in 2000 or later.
Conscription19-month service obligation.
Reaching military
age annually
31,980 males,
30,543 females
Active personnel23,250 (2019)[1]
Reserve personnel40,000 in the Norwegian Home Guard (2019)[1]
Deployed personnel384 (2019)[2]
BudgetUS$7,231 Billion (2021)[3]
Percent of GDP2% (2021)[4]
Related articles
HistoryMilitary history of Norway
RanksRanks and insignia

The military force in peace time is around 23,250 personnel including military and civilian staff, and around 63,250 in total with the current military personnel, conscripts and the Norwegian Home Guard in full mobilization.[1]

Among European NATO members, the military expenditure of US$7.2 billion is the highest per capita.

As of June 2021 Norway still has soldiers and diplomats in Afghanistan, and Norway staffs a military hospital at Kabul Airport.[5]


An organised military was first assembled in Norway in the 9th century and was early focused around naval warfare. The army was created in 1628 as part of Denmark–Norway, followed by two centuries of regular wars. A Norwegian military was established in 1814, but the military did not see combat until the German occupation of Norway in 1940. Norway abandoned its position as a neutral country in 1949 to become a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The Cold War saw a large build-up of air stations and military bases, especially in Northern Norway. Since the 2000s, the military has transformed from a focus on defence from an invasion to a mobile force for international missions.

Norway had its combat units retreat from the War in Afghanistan in 2021.[6] During the war, Norwegian combat forces had been on loan to ISAF, and later on loan to Resolute Support Mission.

Norwegian combat forces were on loan to Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan


The formal commander-in-chief is King Harald V; however, the de facto supreme decision-making is made by the Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister. The Chief of Defence (a four-star general or admiral) is the professional head and leader of the armed forces, and is the principal military adviser to the Minister of Defence. The Chief of Defence and his staff is located at Akershus Fortress in Oslo, while the Norwegian Joint Headquarters, responsible for commanding operations, is located in Bodø. The main naval base is Haakonsvern in Bergen, the main army camps are in Bardu, Målselv and Rena, and the main air station is Ørland.

Military branches (in order of seniority):

Other main structures include:

  • Defence Staff Norway (DEFSTNOR) in Oslo acts as the staff of the Chief of Defence. It is headed by a three-star general or admiral. DEFSTNOR assigns priorities, manages resources, provides force generation and support activities. Each of the four branches of defence is headed by a two-star general/admiral who are subordinate to DEFSTNOR.
  • Norwegian Joint Headquarters (NJHQ) located at Reitan, close to Bodø has operational control of Norwegian armed forces worldwide 24/7. It is headed by the Supreme Commander Norwegian Forces – a three-star general or admiral.
  • Norwegian Defence Logistics Organisation (NDLO) at Kolsås outside Oslo is responsible for engineering, procurement, investment, supply, information and communications technology. It is also responsible for maintenance, repair and storage of material.


Brigade soldiers at an exercise

Norway employs a weak form of mandatory military service for men and women. While 63,841 men and women were called in for the examination of persons liable for military service in 2012 (mandatory for men), 9265 were conscripted.[8][9] In practice recruits are not forced to serve, instead only those who are motivated are selected.[10] In earlier times, up until at least the early 2000s, all men aged 19–44 were subject to mandatory service, with good reasons required to avoid becoming drafted.[citation needed]

Since 1985, women have been able to enlist for voluntary service as regular recruits.[11] On 14 June 2013, the Norwegian Parliament voted to extend conscription to women.[12] In 2015 conscription was extended to women making Norway the first NATO member and first European country to make national service compulsory for both men and women.[13] There is a right of conscientious objection.[citation needed]

In 2020, the media said that "several soldiers said that they were informed about additional four months of service; the information was given after military service had started".[14]



Norwegian Leopard 2 on 14 March 2014

Norwegian ArmyEdit

From 1 August 2009 the Norwegian Army changed its structure:[15][16]

Royal Norwegian NavyEdit

A Norwegian Skjold class fast missile boat

Royal Norwegian Air ForceEdit

A Norwegian Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

Norwegian Home GuardEdit

Norwegian Cyber Defence ForceEdit

Norwegian Special Operation ForcesEdit

The Norwegian Armed Forces Special Forces Command (Førsvaret Spesjalstyrker (FS), literally Defence Special Forces) was formed on January 1, 2014 by bringing the Armed Forces Special Command - Army Jaeger Command (Forsvarets Spesjalkommando / Hærens Jegerkommando (FSK/HJK), the army special warfare unit) and the Naval Jaeger Command (Marinejegerkommandoen (MJK), the naval special warfare unit) together under a unified command.

Armed Forces Special Forces Command (Førsvaret Spesjalstyrker (FS)), Akershus Fortress, Oslo

  • Chief of Special Forces (Sjef FS), a two-star officer, member of the Commander of the Armed Forces's management group (ledergruppen)
  • Taktisk Kommando (TAKOM) - special forces-specific command element embedded with the Armed Forces Operational Headquarters (Forsvarets operative hovudkvarter (FOH)) at Rejtan
  • Armed Forces Special Forces Command (Norwegian: Forsvarets Spesialkommando) (FSK),[7] at Rena Army Camp (Rena leir), part of Østerdal Garrison (Østerdal garnison)
    • FSK Staff (FSK stab)
    • unknown number of combat squadrons (kampskvadroner)[21]
    • Airborne Troop (Fallskjermjegertroppen), the parachute training center of expertise for the whole Norwegian armed forces
    • Jaeger [or Ranger] Troop (Jegertroppen), special reconnaissance training unit, made up of female recruits (vernepliktige kvinnelige soldater)[22]
    • Initial and Operational Special Forces Training Base (Trenings- og beredskapsbase) on the tiny islet ot Vealøs facing the former Karljohansvern Naval Base in Horten
  • Naval Special Forces Command (Norwegian: Marinejegerkommandoen) (MJK),[7] at Jaeger's Bight (Jegerbukten), part of Haakonsvern Naval War Station (Haakonsvern orlogsstasjon), near Bergen. A research paper[23] of the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment puts the force structure of the MJK at a staff and six combat squadrons (seks skvadroner og en stab):
    • MJK Staff (MJK stab)
    • Alfa Squadron (Alfa skvadronen) - combat divers squadron, Norway's premier naval special warfare unit
    • Bravo Squadron (Bravo skvadronen) - combat divers squadron, entry unit for recent graduates of the frogmen training course
    • Reconnaissance Squadron (Etterretningsskvadronen) - special reconnaissance and intelligence unit
    • Echo Squadron (Echo skvadronen) - special boat squadron (Spesialbåtskvadron)
    • Lima Squadron (Lima skvadronen) - combat service support squadron (Støtteskvadronen)
    • Training Squadron (Utdanningsskvadronen), at Ramsund Naval War Station (Ramsund orlogsstasjon) near Tjeldsund
  • 339 Special Operations Aviation Squadron / 134th Air Wing (134 luftving), at Rygge Air Station, flying Bell 412SP helicopters[24]
  • Special Operations Air Task Group (SOATG) / 134th Air Wing (134 luftving), at Rygge Air Station, providing operational planning, command and control for Norwegian Air Force assets deployed in support of special operations.[25]

Armed Forces Higher SchoolEdit

The Armed Forces Higher School (Norwegian (bokmål): Forsvarets høgskole (FHS)) is the institution in charge of officer and NCO training, re-qualification and military studies. The officer schools of the separate armed services are departments under AFHS and thus independent from their respective services. The central administration of the AFHS is located at the historic Akershus Fortress in the city center of Oslo.


Chief of the AFHS

The AFHS is headed by the Chief of the AFHS (sjef FHS, also referred to as rektor), a two-star rank.

Leading Group

The Chief of the AFHS is assisted by the Leading Group (or the Leader's Group, Ledergruppen), composed of the AFHS's Chief of Staff (stabssjef), the officer in charge of academic work (dekan), the chiefs of the Warfare School (Krigsskolen, the army officer school) , the Air Warfare School (Luftkrigsskolen, the air force officer school) and the Sea Warfare School (Sjøkrigsskolen, the navy officer school), the Chief of the Cyber Engineer School (Cyberingeniørskolen, the recently established Cyber Defence branch's officer school), the Chief of the NCO School (Befalsskolen, joint for the armed forces), the directors of the two institutes for military studies and the AFHS's Command NCO (sjefssersjant).

Managing Board

The Managing Board of the AFHS (Høgskolestyret) is the governing body and it includes the CHief of the AFHS, The chiefs of the Army (Hæren), Navy (Sjøforsvaret) and the Air Force (Luftforsvaret), three members of the board (tre ansattrepresentanter), one external (audit) member of the board (ekstern representant) and one student (cadet or civilian) member of the board (studentrepresentant).

AFHS Administration

The AFHS Administration is composed of two staffs (administrative staff (Driftsstab) and academic work staff (Fagstab).


The following departments form the AFHS:[26]

Staff School

The Staff School (FHS Stabsskolen) is located in the Akershus Fortress and provides education in general military studies, common to the services, such as strategic military leadership, international peacekeeping operations, Military-Civilian Cooperation etc. It offers Bachelor and Masters programs as well as advanced academic programs.

Foreign Languages and Intelligence School

The Foreign Languages and Intelligence School (Språk- og etterretningsskolen) is located at the Lutvann Barracks (Lutvann leir) in Oslo and the intelligence officer course is a three-year Bachelor program.

Warfare School

The Warfare School (Krigsskolen) is the Norwegian army officer school, located at the Linderud Barracks (Linderud leir) in Oslo. It provides officer training and professional development, as well as a NCO training program for high school students (videregående befalsutdanning).

Air Warfare School

The Air Warfare School (Luftkrigsskolen) is the Norwegian air force officer school, located in the Kuhaugen area of Trondheim. It provides officer training and professional development, as well as a NCO training program for high school students (videregående befalsutdanning).

Sea Warfare School

The Sea Warfare School (Sjøkrigsskolen) is the Norwegian navy officer school, located in the Laksevåg area of Bergen. It provides officer training and professional development, as well as a NCO training program for high school students (videregående befalsutdanning).

Cyber Engineer School

The Cyber Engineer School (Cyberingeniørskolen) is the Norwegian Cyber Defence Force officer school, located at the Jørstadmoen Barracks (Jørstadmoen leir) in Fåberg near Lillehammer. It provides training for officer training in communication and information system operations.

NCO School

The NCO School (Befalsskolen) is a joint institution, training sergeants for all the services. It is located at the Sessvollmoen Barracks (Sessvollmoen leir) in Sessvollmoen near Oslo - Gardermoen IAP. The school was established in 2019 by merging the NCO schools of the army (Hærens befalsskole), navy (Befalsskolen for Sjøforsvaret), air force (Luftforsvarets flygeskole), engineering services (Forsvarets ingeniørhøgskole), military intelligence service (Forsvarets etterretningshøgskole) and the Home Guard (Heimevernets befalsskole).


Institute for Defence Studies

The Institute for Defence Studies (Institutt for forsvarsstudier) is located at the Akershus Fortress. It is organised in four centres: Centre for Norwegian and European Security, Centre for Civil-Military Relations, Centre for Asian Studies and Centre for Transatlantic Studies

Armed Forces Higher School Strategic Course

The Strategic Course (FSH / Sjefskurs)[27] trains senior military officers and high-ranking government officials in strategic military command and national security studies. It uses the education resources of the Institute for Defence Studies, but it is independent from it, directly subordinated to the Chief of the AFHS.

Small arms and handgunsEdit


  1. ^ a b c IISS 2020, p. 132.
  2. ^ IISS 2020, p. 133.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Defence Expenditure of NATO Countries (2013-2020)".
  5. ^ Retrieved 29 June 2021
  6. ^ Retrieved 29 June 2021
  7. ^ a b c Olsen, Tommy; Thormodsen, Marius (June 2014). Forging Norwegian Special Operation Forces (Master's thesis). U.S. Navy Postgraduate School. OCLC 893922200. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  8. ^ "NDF official numbers". NDF. Archived from the original on 2011-01-12. Retrieved 2007-07-16.
  9. ^ "NDF official numbers". NDF. Archived from the original on 2011-01-12. Retrieved 2007-07-16.
  10. ^ "Norway's military conscription becomes gender neutral". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  11. ^ "NATO/IMS: Committee on Women in the NATO Forces: Norway".
  12. ^ "Norway becomes first NATO country to draft women into military". Reuters. 14 June 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-15.
  13. ^ "Universal Conscription". Norwegian Armed Forces. 11 June 2015. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  14. ^ "Flere soldater sier de fikk vite om fire ekstra måneder etter at tjenesten var i gang."
  15. ^ "Front page –" (PDF). Retrieved 24 December 2014.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "Front page –" (PDF). Retrieved 24 December 2014.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i "The Army". Forsvaret. Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  18. ^ "Norge har inngått kontrakt om kjøp av fem nye P-8A Poseidon maritime patruljefly". 29 March 2017.
  19. ^ Perry, Dominic (20 November 2017). "Norway takes first SAR-roled AW101". Flight Global. Archived from the original on 20 November 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  20. ^ Jennings, Gareth (19 November 2017). "Norway receives first AW101 SAR helicopter". IHS Jane's 360. Archived from the original on 20 November 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  21. ^ Leraand, Dag (2019-12-18), "Forsvarets spesialkommando", Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian Bokmål), retrieved 2021-07-07
  22. ^ "Jegertroppen". Forsvaret (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 2021-07-07.
  23. ^ Danielsen, Tone (2012). "Hos oss sitter kulturen i hjertet" – en antropologisk studie av kultur i Marinejegerkommandoen. Forsvarets forskningsinstitutt (FFI). p. 45. ISBN 978-82-464-2052-3.
  24. ^ "339 special operations aviation squadron (SOAS)". Forsvaret (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 2021-07-07.
  25. ^ "Sammen er vi sterke". Forsvaret (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 2021-07-07.
  26. ^ "Avdelinger". Forsvaret (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 2021-07-02.
  27. ^ "Sjefskurset". Forsvaret (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 2021-07-02.
  28. ^ Forsvaret. "AG-HK416 granatutskytningsrør".


External linksEdit