Collective ready for action after signing in London

Minister of Defence Frank Bakke-Jensen (The Conservative Party)Minister of Defence Frank Bakke-Jensen (The Conservative Party).Photo: Mariam Butt / NTB scanpix

“Cooperation with our closest allies is important,” said Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen, when Norway signed the so-called JEF agreement in London on Thursday.


Norway has been a member of NATO’s major rapid reaction force, a Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) since 2015. The cooperation agreement signed by the country’s defense ministers on Thursday marks that JEF is now operational after eight years of planning.

The British-led force was established to “increase the European share of transatlantic burden sharing, as well as the ability of bi- and multinational cooperation in crisis situations”. Next to the UK and Norway, the Netherlands,Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden and Finland are included in the JEF cooperation agreement.

“Now we are geared to any danger.The goal is to gather like-minded nations who have worked and fought together in many different parts of the world. We acknowledge that the world is becoming an increasingly unsafe place. The idea is to make sure that we will be able to defend ourselves from these threats,’’said the British Defence Minister, Gavin Williamson.

Flexible strength

“Today’s situation,with more turmoil in the world, makes it important that we cooperate with our closest allies,” said Frank Bakke-Jensen, Minister of Defence, when the signing took place.

Beyond that, Bakke-Jensen believes that the most important thing about JEF is the degree of flexibility. The potentiality for over 10,000 crews to be aimed at more than conflict.

“Now we have some flexibility to use not only in a military operation, but in a
humanitarian operation or in other disasters,” said the Norwegian Defence Minister.

– When and where will JEF be inserted?

– It will be needed. A similar organization is already used, during the ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone. Then many countries entered and organised in this way. We can use it as a model when we practice and we can use it if needed.

Outside the percentage goal

The so-called 2% target was raised when Bakke-Jensen met the Norwegian press at Lancaster House in London. In 2014, NATO countries agreed to move towards a target of spending 2% of their respective gross domestic product on defence by 2024. Recently, US President Donald Trump contacted Prime Minister Erna Solberg,asking Norway to commit themselves before the two meet at the summer NATO summit in Brussels.

– What, if any, consequences does JEF have for this goal?

‘’There is no immediate mathematical consequence. But burden sharing is a term that can be expanded beyond the percentage rule. When we cooperate better,we are also able to be present in a more effective manner. This is an important part of the burden sharing,” said Bakke-Jensen to NTB news.


© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today