Carter Salutes Norway as Strong, Indispensable Security Partner
Norway is a strong, indispensable U.S. security partner bilaterally, within NATO, in the North Atlantic and Arctic, in Afghanistan and as part of the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today during a press conference in Norway.
Carter joined Norway’s Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide for a briefing with reporters at the Gardermoen Air Station near Oslo.
“Norway is taking seriously the challenges of this new strategic era and adapting its armed forces, some of whom I observed in action today up in Bodo. The United States appreciates this commitment, admires this skill and stands by [Norway] to assist in any way we can,” the secretary said.
Norwegian Security Plan
Carter highlighted a recent long-term security plan published by Norway’s defense ministry as an important step in this effort.
“I've read it [and] benefited from it,” he added. “It's an impressive plan and one that will help Norway to continue to contribute to security in Europe and beyond.”
The plan recognizes that as technology and threats change the optimal defense posture for everyone changes, Carter added, “and our nation -- speaking for the United States -- is also similarly striving to innovate to keep ahead of all the threats, and I appreciate the efforts here.”
The secretary also observed that Norway’s investments are trending in the right way.
“It's already one of eight NATO nations spending at least 20 percent of its defense budget on equipment … and it's investing in new capabilities that will strengthen both Norway's national defense and NATO,” Carter said.
“For example,” he said, “F-35s will replace the storied F-16s and help further improve our interoperability.”
On the eastern flank and in the high north, Carter added, Norway's dedicated leadership has been a crucial part of NATO's response to and deterrence of Russian aggression and coercion.
For example, Carter said, “Norway will contribute a company to NATO's Persistent Enhanced Forward Presence Battalion in Lithuania. In Afghanistan, Norwegian personnel make important contributions to NATO's Resolute Support mission as mentors to Afghan security personnel and as first responders, especially after the recent attack on the American University in Kabul.”
Vital Contributions to Counter-ISIL Campaign
And as a member of the counter-ISIL coalition, Carter said, Norway has made vital contributions to the campaign that will deliver a lasting defeat to ISIL.
In fact, he said, “Minister Søreide was part of a core group of members that I convened last year from the counter-ISIL coalition to make the campaign plan that you have seen unfold this year and to make the commitments that we all needed to make to accelerate … that counter-ISIL military campaign plan.”
The secretary said Norway has consistently answered the call to do more, as the United States has tried to do, authorizing more than 150 personnel to enable and support the Iraqi security forces and authorizing Norway's personnel to take part in Syria operations.
Thanks to Minister Søreide's leadership, Carter said, “Norway's contributions and the work and sacrifice of our local partners and service members from the United States, Norway and across our coalition, our campaign has accelerated, pressuring and squeezing ISIL and rolling it back to Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.”
Also, “thanks to leaders like Minister Søreide and its professional and principled military personnel,” Norway “will continue to play a leading role in bolstering collective security and making a better world for all of us.”
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)