Norwegian Armed Forces

The Norwegian Armed Forces (Norwegian: Forsvaret, "The Defence") is the military organisation responsible for the defence of Norway. It consists of four branches, the Norwegian Army, the Royal Norwegian Navy, which includes the Coast Guard, the Royal Norwegian Air Force, and the Home Guard, as well as several joint departments.

Norwegian Armed Forces
Coat of arms
Current form1990
Service branches Army
Navy (Coast Guard)
Air Force
Home Guard
HeadquartersNorwegian Joint Headquarters
WebsiteOfficial website
Commander-in-ChiefKing Harald V
Prime MinisterErna Solberg
Minister of DefenceFrank Bakke Jensen
Chief of DefenceAdmiral Haakon Bruun-Hanssen
Military ageMale: 17-44 (55 for officers) years of age for compulsory military service. Female: 17 years of age for military service. Compulsory for females born in 2000 or later.
Conscription19-month service obligation.
Reaching military
age annually
31,980 males,
30,543 females
Active personnel23,250 (2018)[1]
Reserve personnel40,000 in the Norwegian Home Guard (2018)[1]
Deployed personnel266 (2018)[2]
BudgetUS$7.179 billion (2019)[3]
Percent of GDP1.70% (2019)[3]
Related articles
HistoryMilitary history of Norway
RanksRanks and insignia

The military force in peace time is around 23,250 personnel including military and civilian staff, and around 63,250 in total with the current military personnel, conscripts and the Norwegian Home Guard in full mobilization.[1]

An organised military was first assembled in Norway in the 9th century and was early focused around naval warfare. The army was created in 1628 as part of Denmark–Norway, followed by two centuries of regular wars. A Norwegian military was established in 1814, but the military did not see combat until the German occupation of Norway in 1940. Norway abandoned its position as a neutral country in 1949 to become a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The Cold War saw a large build-up of air stations and military bases, especially in Northern Norway. Since the 2000s, the military has transformed from a focus on defence from an invasion to a mobile force for international missions. Among European NATO members, the military expenditure of US$7.2 billion is the highest per capita.


The formal commander-in-chief is King Harald V; however, the de facto supreme decision-making is made by the Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister. The Chief of Defence (a four-star general or admiral) is the professional heads of the armed forces, and is the principal military adviser to the Minister of Defence. The Chief of Defence and his staff is located at Akershus Fortress in Oslo, while the Norwegian Joint Headquarters, responsible for commanding operations, is located in Bodø. The main naval base is Haakonsvern in Bergen, the main army camps are in Bardu, Målselv and Rena, and the main air station is Ørland.

Military branches (in order of seniority):

Other main structures include:

  • Defence Staff Norway (DEFSTNOR) in Oslo acts as the staff of the Chief of Defence. It is headed by a three-star general or admiral. DEFSTNOR assigns priorities, manages resources, provides force generation and support activities. Each of the four branches of defence is headed by a two-star general/admiral who are subordinate to DEFSTNOR.
  • National Joint Headquarters (NJHQ) located at Reitan, close to Bodø has operational control of Norwegian armed forces worldwide 24/7. It is headed by the Supreme Commander Norwegian Forces – a three-star general or admiral.
  • Norwegian Defence Logistics Organisation (NDLO) at Kolsås outside Oslo is responsible for engineering, procurement, investment, supply, information and communications technology. It is also responsible for maintenance, repair and storage of material.


As of March 2016, Norway employs a weak form of mandatory military service for men and women. While 63,841 men and women were called in for the examination of persons liable for military service in 2012 (mandatory for men), 9265 were conscripted.[5][6] In practice recruits are not forced to serve, instead only those who are motivated are selected.[7] In earlier times, up until at least the early 2000s, all men aged 19–44 were subject to mandatory service, with good reasons required to avoid becoming drafted.

Since 1985, women have been able to enlist for voluntary service as regular recruits. On 14 June 2013, the Norwegian Parliament voted to extend conscription to women.[8] In 2015 conscription was extended to women making Norway the first NATO member and first European country to make national service compulsory for both men and women.[9] There is a right of conscientious objection.



Norwegian Army

From 1 August 2009 the Norwegian Army changed its structure:[10][11]

Royal Norwegian Navy

Royal Norwegian Air Force

Norwegian Home Guard

Norwegian Cyber Defence Force

Norwegian Special Operation Forces

Small arms and handguns


  1. IISS 2019, p. 133.
  2. IISS 2019, p. 135.
  3. (PDF). 25 June 2019 Retrieved 8 July 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. Olsen, Tommy; Thormodsen, Marius (June 2014). Forging Norwegian Special Operation Forces (Master's thesis). U.S. Navy Postgraduate School. OCLC 893922200. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  5. "NDF official numbers". NDF. Archived from the original on 2011-01-12. Retrieved 2007-07-16.
  6. "NDF official numbers". NDF. Retrieved 2007-07-16.
  7. "Norway's military conscription becomes gender neutral". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  8. "Norway becomes first NATO country to draft women into military". Reuters. Retrieved 2013-06-15.
  9. "Universal Conscription". Norwegian Armed Forces. 11 June 2015. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  10. "Front page –" (PDF). Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  11. "Front page –" (PDF). Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  12. "Norge har inngått kontrakt om kjøp av fem nye P-8A Poseidon maritime patruljefly". 29 March 2017.
  13. Perry, Dominic (20 November 2017). "Norway takes first SAR-roled AW101". Flight Global. Archived from the original on 20 November 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  14. Jennings, Gareth (19 November 2017). "Norway receives first AW101 SAR helicopter". IHS Jane's 360. Archived from the original on 20 November 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  15. "Perfecting the Javelin simulator – the new anti-armor weapon is being phased in this year". Hærens Styrker. 17 March 2009. Archived from the original on 22 May 2009. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  16. Forsvaret. "AG-HK416 granatutskytningsrør".


  • IISS (2019). The Military Balance 2019. Routledge. ISBN 978-1857439885.
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