Norway, Intelligence and Security

Norway, Intelligence and Security

During World War I, Norway maintained a stated policy of neutrality in international affairs. When WWII erupted in 1939, the Norwegian government again asserted that the nation would remain neutral in the conflict. However, on April 9, 1940, the German army invaded Norway. The Gestapo and Abwehr established intelligence bases in Norway to monitor radio and wire traffic from Britain, the Soviet Union, and the North Atlantic. Members of the Norwegian government who were able to escape fled to Britain. This group of refugees included members of the Norwegian intelligence services. Many of them aided British Military Intelligence with data collection, cartography, and cryptography operations.

Today, Norway's intelligence service is dominated by the Control Committee for the Intelligence and Security Services. The Control Committee coordinates intelligence operations, collects and analyzes intelligence information, assesses national security threats, and briefs government officials on intelligence matters. Staffed predominantly by civilian government intelligence personnel, the Control Committee also employs military officers to foster cooperation between Norway's main intelligence agencies and smaller, specialized military intelligence units.

The Joint Defense Intelligence Service (FE) is responsible for most Norwegian intelligence operations, including signals, communications, electronic, and human intelligence. Although the stated mission of the FE includes assessing and thwarting both external and internal threats to national security, the FE concentrates mainly on foreign intelligence.

Domestic intelligence, as well as the coordination with law enforcement agencies of protective services for Norwegian diplomats and national interests, is the chief task of the Joint Defense Security Service (FS). The FS often works closely with the Police Intelligence Service (PO) to investigate high crimes, such as money laundering, illegal trafficking, and business corruption. The two agencies also maintain counter-intelligence units.

Norway has since eased its hard-line stance on neutrality. While Norway abstains from membership in the European Union, it did join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Though Norway has participated in several NATO intelligence and military operations, the Norwegian government insists that military bases in the country cannot be used by foreign powers unless Norway is under threat of attack. Norway also maintains restrictions on its territorial waters, even for NATO allies. Norway is also a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Baltic Sea States.

Norway pledged intelligence and limited military support for the recent international campaign against terrorism. In 2002, The Norwegian government authorized the deployment of military Special Forces for participation in the United States-led Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.


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