Forces: April 16, 2001


Norway's left-wing government has announced plans to drastically cut the military, reducing the Army from six brigades to less than three brigades, canceling the new Skjold-class missile boats and discarding the current fast attack craft, and reducing the Air Force to only 48 F-16 fighters. Opposition conservative parties have vowed to block reductions in the military. The government plan would cut the military to 65,000 active troops and 60,000 home guard reservists. The Telemark battalion (which forms peacekeeping units for duty overseas) will be expanded to a brigade, with a 700-man immediate reaction battalion, and 1100-man rapid deployment battalion, and a 400-man reinforcement force. The 6th Division (which has three brigades, the other three brigades are independent) will be reduced to two brigades and half the present support forces; the independent brigades will be disbanded. The four independent Ranger battalions will be reduced to one, and the 20 independent battalions will be reduced to companies. Two battalions will not be affected; these are the King's Guard and the battalion that guards the Russian border. The Navy will replace the four Oslo-class frigates with five new Nansen-class frigates. The four old Kobben-class submarines will be scrapped; the six new Ula-class submarines will be kept. A few of the 14 Hauk-class missile boats will be kept until the Nansen's are ready. The one Skjold-class missile boat will be sold. Four of the five landing ships will be sold and the fifth converted into a support ship. One of the two minelayers will be scrapped and the other converted into a support ship. Eight of the nine minesweepers will be kept. All fixed coastal defense artillery will be scrapped..--Stephen V Cole


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