Defense Minister: – Completely unreasonable claims by Labour
Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide (Conservatives) believes that Anniken Huitfeldt (Labour) misses completely by saying that the Army and the National Guard (HV) has been neglected by the Government.
– The allegations are utterly unfair, and it is also well known to the Labour Party. We have had a significant commitment to the entire Defense – not in the least the Army and National Guard, says Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide (H) to NTB.
She responds to the criticism from the leader of the Foreign and Defense Committee in the Parliament, Anniken Huitfeldt (AP), that “there have been a number of evaluations” of the Army and the Armed Forces, but investments have been put on ice.
– The reality is that neither the Army or National Guard are on hold. There are large investments for these. I wonder why the Labour Party in an election year talking about more money, and that they are talking about different measures – as they were not close to finding doing so when they were in Government, Søreide responds.
Lack of supplies
The comments come in the wake of the classified report “Defense Chief Performance and Control Report for 2016”, where Defense Chief Haakon Bruun-Hanssen gives the National Guard the poorest grade out of five possible. He reports that only one National Guard district is defined as prepared, writes Klassekampen.
– There is a very big distance between what Søreide promised before the election – and what is her excuses now. She promised a massive increase for the land military forces. But instead the Army and Home Guard has been on evaluated for four years, says Huitfeld.
The classified report, which was written at the end of 2016, also shows that the Home Guard lacks basic needed materials and supplies. At the same time the defense branch struggles in obtaining qualified personnel, and that soldiers exercise too little.
– This is a routine report that is issued three times a year, pointing to both what the Commander in Chief and I have said since 2013. That there is much good – but also special challenges related to responsiveness and stamina. This is precisely what is the basis of the long-term plan. The plan will provide a significant boost to the Armed Forces, says Søreide, adding:
– We have also said that it will take longer than one long-term plan to build up the Armed Forces. Because it takes time to turn 20 years of systematic underfunding and wear and tear of the Armed Forces.
In the approved long-term plan for the Armed Forces the Home Guard area structure will be cut by 7,000 soldiers. The plan has also set already approved investments in the Army and National Guard on hold until the future of the so-called land power is determined in a separate study. In the report it is proposed to put the National Guard and the Army under the same leadership.
The National Guard comprise of 45,000 soldiers from all branches. National Guard consists of 15 special units and 249 sites distributed throughout Norway. The report makes it clear that 103 of 249 HV sites have a material filling degree which is unsatisfactory, the newspaper writes.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today