Minister of Defense Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide sees several flaws in today's military defense, and wants more openness around the things that are not working. "Our defense is of great quality," was one of Søreide's first statements when she spoke at the Oslo Military Society on Monday night. But she also pointed out that Norway's defense needs to get better.
Søreide thinks that national security assignments abroad have taken priority over tasks at home in Norway.
"The actual core, the ability to defende Norway and its allies in a crisis, is not as solid as we would have wanted," she said in her speech.
The minister also emphasized a need for more openness:
"I wish for a more honest and straightforward communication about the challenges that the Defense is facing. I think that we can become better at communicating what is good and what is not so good."
The former government's principle of turning the Defense's resources from low-priority causes to a more operational capacity remains on Søreide's list. In addition she wants a more honest dialogue about what this entails.
"This is about tough internal changes in priorities, as well as demanding changes and more effectiveness. It is not simply enough to move numbers from one place to another in an already tight budget and call it a "strenghtening," Søreide says.
Søreide travels on her first visit to the U.S. as Defense Minister on Tuesday. Friday she will meet with her American colleague Chuck Hagel in Washington to discuss the cooperation between the U.S. and Norway, including NATO's role both in the Northern territories and in Afghanistand and the crisis in Syria.
In her speech Monday she also said that she would bring up the information that has been disclosed about American surveillance in Norway.