November 15, 2005 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Norway is to send 3 to 4 F-16 aircraft to Afghanistan for a period of three months in spring 2006. The aircraft will be under the command of ISAF and will be stationed in Kabul.
RNoAF F-16BM #691 is rolling out after landing at Bardufoss AB on June 26th, 2005. [Photo by Kjell Arild Bersaas]
contribution will form part of the F-16 cooperation agreed between a number of European countries.
It is NATO
that has requested Norway
to make combat aircraft available to the International Security Assistant Force (ISAF
) in Afghanistan. The purpose is to ensure that ISAF has access to combat aircraft capable of demonstrating a presence and, if necessary, of providing close air support to units on the ground if critical situations should arise. In emergency situations, aircraft under ISAF's command will also be able to assist ground forces engaged in the United States led operation "Enduring Freedom". ISAF has a clear UN mandate and will be the main area of involvement for Norwegian military operations abroad during the coming year.
The Norwegian contribution will form part of the F-16 cooperation agreed between a number of European countries and will be in line with the Government's wish to strengthen our participation in ISAF. The aircraft will be under the operational command of ISAF and will be stationed in Kabul. A Norwegian liaison officer will be appointed to serve with the ISAF headquarters staff whose task will be to look after Norwegian interests in connection with operations in which the Norwegian aircraft may be taking part.
Defence Minister Anne-Grete Strï¿½m-Erichsen briefed members of parliament on Wednesday when she addressed the Storting on Norway's contributions to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq
In Iraq the withdrawal of Norwegian personnel from the multinational Stabilisation Force has already started and will be completed during the course of December. Norwegian participation in NATO's training mission will also be wound down in accordance with the Soria Moria Declaration on foreign policy. Personnel will be withdrawn in connection with the next rotation of NATO forces which is due to take place in December. All directly appointed Norwegian officers will thus have left Iraq by mid-December. There will, however, still be no national limitations placed on Norwegian officers serving in NATO's command structure with regard to possible duty in Iraq.
"Participation in military operations abroad is an integral and important part of Norwegian security and defence policy. Through our involvement we make a contribution towards peace while at the same time demonstrating our solidarity with the international community. Taking part in such operations abroad helps to strengthen international security, and hence Norway's own security," says Defence Minister Anne-Grete Strï¿½m-Erichsen.
In 2006 we will at least maintain the present extent of Norway's military participation abroad. The main focus of Norway's international military contribution will continue to be on NATO's ISAF operation in Afghanistan. But, in addition, it is one of the Government's principal foreign policy objectives to increase our level of involvement in support of the UN, including the organisation's military operations. Work has already been set in motion to identify in more detail the needs of the UN and what contributions we might be able to make towards meeting such needs. We have initiated a dialogue with the UN as to how Norway can help to strengthen the work of the UN in its peace operations, says the Defence Minister.