Sweden Proposes Nordic Battalion Force Plan

HELSINKI — A potential joint Nordic Battalion Force (NBF) will be on the table when defense ministers and commanders from Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark meet to discuss the Swedish proposal this fall.

The concept for establishing the modular-style NBF is fundamental to a closer and meaningful Nordic defense cooperation, said Swedish Armed Force chief Gen. Sverker Göransson.

The NBF could be activated in 2016, Göransson said. The modular design would enable it to be deployed in a broad range of tasks and call in air, naval and special operations forces when needed.

The Swedish proposal has received mixed reviews in Nordic capitals. Finland said it welcomed the Swedish initiative, but added that the country’s participation would depend on whether the NBF — besides being properly constructed, funded and equipped — is assigned a worthwhile role to strengthen the Nordic and Baltic Sea defenses.

Oslo and Copenhagen are expected to discuss the NBF proposal in September, although it is speculated that neither Denmark nor Norway will join at the outset.

Finland’s defense minister, meanwhile, told Defense News he has questions as to how the battalion would be used.

“Would it function as a regional force, or could it be a crisis management tool that could be used outside of the European Union’s [EU’s] borders?” asked Defense Minister Carl Haglund.

The NBF advocated by Göransson would operate as a separate force to the European Union’s Swedish-led Nordic Battle Group (NBG), made up of troops and equipment from Finland, Norway, Ireland, Estonia and Latvia. Unlike the NBF, which would be Nordic-specific, the larger NBG is assigned to the EU’s standby international mission forces.

Sweden and Finland estimate that the NBG, whose next sixth month standby is scheduled for January 2015, costs around US $300 million to train, assemble and made deployable.

Haglund said that while Finland supports effective Nordic military cooperation, a force that would protect Nordic territories requires the signing of defense agreements.

“If it is assumed that a Nordic Battalion Force would be used, for example, in the common defense of Finnish, Swedish and other Nordic territories, then we are talking about a completely unique situation,” Haglund said. “We do not have these types of mutual defense agreements in place at the present time.

Full article: Sweden Proposes Nordic Battalion Force Plan (Defense News)

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