The government has recently received requests for additional contributions to the international fight against terrorism and the fight against ISIL, as well as to ordinary processes through the United Nations and NATO in countries like Afghaistan, Iraq, and Mali.
Norway will maintain its military force in Afghanistan at about 50 persons through 2016. The main task will continue to be support for the special police in Kabul.
Last May, the government decided that Norway’s military force contribution to the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan should be scaled back and concluded in 2016. Since then, the deteriorating security situation in the country has led to NATO’s postponement of the planned reduction. Several countries have indicated that they will maintain their contributions through 2016.
“Norway supports NATO’s decision to postpone the winding down of the Resolute Support Mission,” says Ine Eriksen Søreide, the Norwegian Minister of Defence. “The security situation in Afghanistan is quite difficult. It is important to support the Afghan authorities in such a challenging situation. We will therefore continue our contribution to the operation through 2016, and consider further extension in 2017.”
Norway now contributes personnel to the Special Operations Advisory Team, which supports the Afghan special police in Kabul, and to the Special Operations Advisory Group in support of the Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs. In addition, Norway has a small number of staff officers at RSM headquarters in Kabul.
Norway is also continuing direct financial support to the Afghan army at $10 million for 2016.
Norway will engage in capacity building with Iraqi forces in northern Iraq until March 2017.
The mandate for Norway’s current force contribution to Iraq runs out on 5 March 2016. The government has decided to extend the Norwegian capacity-building effort until March 2017 while maintaining the current framework of about 120 personnel.
“Following a broad-based comprehensive we will be focusing our military effort on northern Iraq and not renewing the contribution we have had in Baghdad when the mission period expires,” Ms Eriksen Søreide says. “Capacity building of the Iraqi-Kurdish Peshmerga forces is an important contribution to the fight against ISIL and for continued stability in the Kurdish self-rule areas. The Norwegian contribution is relevant and has impact.”
Norway will consider whether to strengthen its contribution to northern Iraq beyond today’s level, but still within the current framework of 120 personnel.
Still dependent on support
On 20 November 2015 the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2249, calling on UN member states to increase their efforts against ISIL.
“The terrorist attacks in Paris and threats to other European cities have shown that ISIL is attacking the heart of Europe,” Norway’s Minister of Defence says. “Lately there has been some progress in the fight against ISIL, like the retaking of the strategically important cities of Sinjar and Ramadi. Battling the group remains a challenge, however, and will take time. Iraqi authorities are dependent on outside support. Norway’s contribution to the anti-ISIL coalition lends support to the broad international effort to confront this threat regionally and internationally.”
Participation by staff officers at relevant coalition headquarters will be continued.
Norway says Yes to the UN’s request that a transport aircraft for the UN MINUSMA operation in Mali be made available to support other UN operations in Africa.
On 3 September 2015 the government decided that Norway would provide a C-130J Hercules transport aircraft for up to 10 months to the UN’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Later, the UN asked Norway whether the aircraft could also be used on missions to assist other UN operations in Africa.
“The intention is to utilise overall UN resources in the area as efficiently as possible, and Norway wants to help do that,” says Ms Eriksen Søreide.
Three international operations are now underway in Mali: The French counter-terrorist operation Barkhane, the EU Training Mission and MINUSMA.
At MINUSMA, great importance is attached to coordination and close cooperation with the other operations in Mali as well as between MINUSMA and the UN operations in Liberia and Ivory Coast. Requests to evacuate wounded UN soldiers, perhaps to hospitals in Senegal or Ghana, may also arise.
Requests involving flights outside of Mali will be considered on a case-by-case basis after a comprehensive assessment centring on security and legal issues. The decision will be up to the Minister of Defence.
Soon in place
The transport aircraft will be on site in Mali from the end of January 2016.
“The threat situation in Mali makes ground transport demanding and risky,” says Ms Eriksen Søreide. “UN convoys between southern and northern Mali face asymmetric threats, including improvised explosive devices. The Norwegian transport craft will therefore be a critical capacity for the operation, making the UN force less dependent on the vulnerable stretches of road.”
Norway’s force contribution includes crew for the C-130J, staff officers and medical personnel as well as security and operational personnel for the All Sources Information Fusion Unit (ASIFU) camp.
In December 2015 Norway received requests from the United States and France to consider further contributions in the fight against ISIL, either directly in Iraq and Syria or by helping to relieve other allied efforts.
Norway takes part in the fight against ISIL and violent extremism through our involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq and Mali. In light of Security Council Resolution 2249 and the requests from the United States and France, the Norwegian government will assess whether Norway should offer additional contributions in order to strengthen the effort against ISIL.