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Norway Needs Defense Overhaul Amid 'Russian Threat': Norwegian Defense Minister

RIA Novosti

17:48 01/10/2014

MOSCOW, October 1 (RIA Novosti) - The Norwegian Armed Forces must go through extensive structural changes to deal with possible threats from the East, Norwegian defense minister Ine Eriksen Søreide said on Wednesday.

"We got only a couple of days' notice before Russia annexed Crimea. It goes without saying that we cannot have military units in Norway that have notification periods of several months and expect them to be relevant in the future," Eriksen Søreide is cited as saying by the Norwegian Aftenposten newspaper.

On Wednesday, the minister issued an official request to Norwegian Defense Chief Haakon Bruun-Hanssen, asking him to present suggestions on the further development of the armed forces.

Russia's rearmament and "willingness to use force", as well as the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, are the main reasons behind the overhaul, Aftenposten reported.

Russia has in recent years carried out a military reform, which involves down-sizing the army and upgrading its equipment. In March 2014, the Crimean peninsula rejoined Russia after a referendum. Some 96 percent of voters in the region supported the move, a choice the West has refused to recognize.

Speaking to the VG newspaper following the reorganization announcement, the Norwegian defense minister said that Russia's recent reform has significantly strengthened its military and made it faster and more precise.

"The preparedness of the [Russian] forces is sharpened and the reaction time is greatly reduced. The ability to very quickly gather and, partly covert, move large troops on all parts of its territory and along NATO's eastern border is greatly improved," she said.

The Russian Army's reform began in 2008 and was the largest in post-Soviet history. The military's command and control was significantly changed, the size of the Army and number of conscripts reduced, and the number of contractors increased.

Russian forces also began undergoing a rearmament program, unprecedented by volume, which will continue until 2020.

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