Norway steps up high north defence, builds fully equipped brigade in Finnmark

By Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer - April 5, 2024

The Norwegian Army will expand from one to three brigades, of which two will be in northern Norway.

Finnmark Brigade will be based at Porsangermoen, near Lakselv in Norway’s northernmost region. The forces near Kirkenes on the border with the heavy militarized Kola Peninsula is part of the new brigade.

“We have to deal with a more dangerous neighbour in many years to come,” said Jonas Gahr Støre as the new Long-Term Defence Plan was presented in Oslo on Friday.

Russia’s aggression has changed the security landscape for Norway’s northern regions dramatically.

“This plan represents a historic boost in defence spending, and involves a significant strengthening of all branches of the Armed Forces’”, Støre said.

What today is Finnmark Land Defence will be strengthened with anti-aircraft weapons, an artillery battalion, a light infantry battalion, an engineer company, an intelligence company and stronger command. This rearmament of Finnmark starts now and by 2032 it will stand as a fully equipped brigade, the plan outlines.

On Monday, Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram travels north to discuss the practical aspects about the build-up of the brigade at Porsangermoen.

Today, Finnmark Land Defence consists of some 400 soldiers with the Porsanger battalion, some 800 with the Jaeger battalion GSV on the border with Russia, plus some Home Guard soldiers, based at Porsangermoen.

Priority in the first years will be to anti-air defense and the artillery battalion, followed later with an intelligence company. The existing structure at Porsangermoen will be strengthened with more Combat Vehicle 90.


 Porsangermoen military camp in Finnmark will get more CV90 tracked armoured combat vehicles. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

A “Rapid Reaction Force” consisting of specially selected, educated and equipped personnel that can be combat ready on short notice, will be dedicated to operations in Finnmark region, the Government’s plan says.

This force will consist of soldiers from Home Guard District 02 (Oslo), that can fly north when urgently needed.

The aim is to target Russian forces immediately if they cross the border with Norway, bringing as big losses for the invaders as possible.


Bjørn Arild Gram is Norway’s Minister of Defence. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Located in Kirkenes, Norway, just a few kilometres from the borders to Russia and Finland, the Barents Observer is dedicated to cross-border journalism in Scandinavia, Russia and the wider Arctic.

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