The Vikings also established a line of cairns and fires on strategic mountain peaks along the coast. They were used for spreading news, messages and warnings to the whole country. A message would take a week to reach from the south to the north of Norway. The system of cairns was the precursor of today's sophisticated control and warning system.
From the 16th to the 19th century, the union with Denmark and later on, the union with Sweden, were fundamental for the development of Norway's defence. Danish King Christian IV reorganised the army, and in 1628 he decided to establish a Norwegian army. The country was organised in small geographic areas, and the farmers in each area had to provide soldiers, food and some equipment to the army. In total, the Norwegian Army consisted of about 7,000 soldiers. Personal conscription came much later.
|Bondesoldater 1697||Bondesoldater 1697||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Bondesoldater 1697.jpg||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=830||Bondesoldater 1697||Peasant soldiers. Drawing from 1697.||Tegning av bondesoldater 1697|
|Fotfolk og rytteri 1800||Fotfolk og rytteri 1800||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Fotfolk og rytteri 1800.jpg||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=824||Fotfolk og rytteri fra rundt 1800.||Foot soldiers and cavalry around 1800. |
|Infanteriet 1810||Infanteriet 1810||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Infanteriet 1810.jpg||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=816||Infanteriet 1810.||The Infantry in 1810.|
|Skiløper 005||Skiløper 005||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Skiløper 005.bmp||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=805||Skiløperkorpset i uniform anno 1774||The skier's corps dressed in uniform in 1774.|
The battles with Sweden
The union of Denmark–Norway was in a nearly constant battle with neighbouring Sweden from the 16th to the 19th century. In the 17th century, there were no less than four large conflicts between the countries. The Swedes eventually succeeded in claiming Norwegian land territories. Large areas were transferred from Norway to Sweden, and today's border between Norway and Sweden was more or less established in the 1600s.
The army in Norway gradually became more independent from the army in Denmark. In 1750, a Norwegian military academy was established, and the first school for non-commissioned officers was created in 1784.
Today's border between Norway and Sweden was more or less established in the 1600s.
Alliance with France and Napoleon
The 18th century was a relatively peaceful period, despite the constant rivalling with Sweden. The Dano-Norwegian navy grew in size and organisation, but was rarely involved in battles and wars. The presence of the Navy was nonetheless important, especially during the Napoleonic Wars from the 1790s and onwards. The British had long feared that the Dano-Norwegian navy would join Napoleon's side. To prevent this from happening, the United Kingdom raided Denmark in 1807, known as the
Battle of Copenhagen. The result was disastrous for Denmark–Norway. Most of its fleet was destroyed, and the remaining ships were taken to Britain.
After the British bombardment, Denmark–Norway joined France and Napoleon. The alliance with France meant that the kingdom now was at war with both Britain and Sweden. A Norwegian campaign against Sweden was successful for the Norwegian troops, but the war against Britain was long and hard for the Dano-Norwegian kingdom. Britain established a strict embargo. This especially hurt Norway, since the country was completely dependent upon imports of corn and other food. The embargo resulted in hunger and famine, and made Norwegians more opposed to the already unpopular union with Denmark.
Union with Sweden
Napoleon was finally defeated in 1814, and Denmark–Norway stood on the losing side. As a punishment, the Dano-Norwegian kingdom was dissolved, and Norway was transferred from Denmark to Sweden. But before the union with Sweden was formalised, Norwegian authorities managed to create a Norwegian constitution. The Constitution became important in the union with Sweden, because it formally recognised Norway as a state. In a military perspective, the most important part of the Constitution was paragraph 109, which established conscription for all men. But it would last until the end of the 1800s before all Norwegian men were included as conscripts.
|Gardemusikken 1860, foto: Forsvarsmuseets billedarkiv||Gardemusikken 1860, foto: Forsvarsmuseets billedarkiv||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Gardemusikken 1860.jpg||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=820||Gardemusikken ca 1860||Musicians from the King's Guard Band. Photo taken around 1860.||Fem musikere fra Gardemusikken 1860|
|Heimstadmoen ca 1890, foto: Forsvarsmuseets billedarkiv||Heimstadmoen ca 1890, foto: Forsvarsmuseets billedarkiv||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Heistadmoen1890 tallet.tif||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=819||Heistadmoen leir, ca 1890. ||Soldiers having a meal at Heistadmoen Camp, Eastern Norway, around 1890.|
|Hotchkiss 1905||Hotchkiss 1905||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Hotchkiss 1905.jpg||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=817||Hotchkiss mitraljøse, cirka 1905.||Hotchkiss machine gun, around 1905.|
|Steinkjer 1895||Steinkjer 1895||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Steinkjer 1895.jpg||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=804||Bilde fra Steinkjer 1895.||Norwegian soldiers in the town of Steinkjer, Central Norway in 1895.|
Peace – And Two World Wars
After the Napoleonic Wars, people in Europe were tired of wars and fighting. This general mood slowed down the development and growth of the Norwegian Army and Navy. At the end of the 19th century, the authorities built up the Army and the Navy, due to the growing Norwegian fight for independence. The union with Sweden was peacefully dissolved in 1905, but Norwegian politicians strongly believed that the Armed Forces had been an important factor for securing Norwegian independence.
During the World War from 1914 to 1918, Norway managed to stay neutral, but the Norwegian neutrality is debated. The Norwegians sympathised with the British, and more than 3,500 Norwegian sailors were killed in German attacks. After the war, Europe once again was tired of war. This led to strong demands of disarmament – also in Norway. The Norwegian Armed Forces were built down, and the military budget was held at a minimum.
|Nøytralitetsvakt 1914||Nøytralitetsvakt 1914||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Nøytralitetsvakt 1914.jpg||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=811||Nøytralitetsvakter fra 1914||Soldiers guarding Norway's neutrality during World War I. Photo taken in 1914.||Tre nøytralitetsvakter fra 1914 står ute i naturen|
|Nøytralitetsvernet 1939||Nøytralitetsvernet 1939||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Nøytralitetsvernet 1939.tif||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=812||Nøytralitetsvernet 1939||Norway worked hard to stay neutral in the first half of the 20th century. Here are soldiers from the so-called Neutrality Protection in Oslo in 1939.||Soldater fra nøytralitetsvernet 1939|
|Minefiske, Brønnøysund, oktober 1916||Minefiske, Brønnøysund, oktober 1916||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Minefiske, Brønnøysund, oktober 1916.jpg||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=808||I løpet av første verdenskrig drev miner i land langs norskekysten. Her fra Brønnøysund i oktober 1916.||During World War I, several mines came ashore along the Norwegian coast. Here from Brønnøysund, Central Norway in October 1916.|
Signals of a new war forced Norway to re-build its forces, but it was too late. On 9 April 1940, Germany attacked Norway, and the Germans gained control of the entire country in June 1940. Around 1,100 Norwegian soldiers were killed in the battles. After the defeat, the Norwegian Government-in-exile started building several Norwegian army, navy and air force units from the United Kingdom. Around 10,000 people lost their lives on Norwegian soil during World War II, most of them during of the liberation of Northern Norway in the autumn of 1944. In addition to this, numerous Soviet and Serb prisoners of war were killed in German prison camps in Norway.
The occupation changed Norway's military policy fundamentally. The country now understood that claiming neutrality was no guaranty for avoiding war and occupation. Norway thus abandoned its principle of neutrality.
|Flyskolen Little Norway||Flyskolen Little Norway||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Flyskolen Little Norway.jpg||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=825||Flyveskolen Little Norway ble opprettet i Canada under andre verdenskrig av den norske regjeringen i eksil.||The pilot school "Little Norway" was established in Canada during World War II by the Norwegian Government-in-exile.||Norske soldater fra Flyveskolen Little Norway som ble opprettet i Canada under andre verdenskrig av den norske regjeringen i eksil. |
|Bilde fra Little Norway i Canada. Foto: Forsvarsmuseets billedarkiv||Bilde fra Little Norway i Canada. Foto: Forsvarsmuseets billedarkiv||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Little Norway 014.jpg||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=815||To mekanikere inspiserer et fly med propell i Little Norway i Canada under andre verdenskrig. ||Two mechanics are inspecting a propeller aircraft in the camp "Little Norway" in Canada during World War II.||To mekanikere inspiserer et fly med propell i Little Norway i Canada under andre verdenskrig. |
|Flyveskolen Little Norway ble opprettet i Canada under andre verdenskrig av den norske regjeringen i eksil. Foto: Forsvarsmuseets billedarkiv||Flyveskolen Little Norway ble opprettet i Canada under andre verdenskrig av den norske regjeringen i eksil. Foto: Forsvarsmuseets billedarkiv||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Little Norway 019.jpg||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=814||Totalt i løpet av krigen ble over 2500 norske flysoldater av alle kategorier (flygere, navigatører, mekanikere m.m.) utdannet i Little Norway.||During World War II, more than 2,500 Norwegian air force soldiers (pilots, navigators, mechanics, etc.) were educated in the camp "Little Norway" in Canada.||To flyvere i Little Norway går forbi parkerte jagerfly|
|Heimevernsoldater Foto: Forsvarsmuseet||Heimevernsoldater Foto: Forsvarsmuseet||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Heimevernet 003.jpg||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=822||Heimevernet||Soldiers from the Home Guard after World War II.|
|Heimevernet 010.jpg||Heimevernet 010.jpg||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Heimevernet 010.jpg.tif||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=823||Heimevernsoldater får opplæring. ||Training of soldiers from the Home Guard.|
|Luc 013||Luc 013||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Luc 013.jpg||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=813||Norsk soldat har tatt av seg støvlene. Etterkrigstiden. ||A Norwegian soldier has taken off his boots. Photo taken after World War II.||Norsk soldat har tatt av seg støvlene. Etterkrigstiden. |
|Marinens kvinnekorps, foto: Forsvarsmuseets billedarkiv||Marinens kvinnekorps, foto: Forsvarsmuseets billedarkiv||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Marinens Kvinnekorps 004.jpg||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=806||Marinens kvinnekorps under andre verdenskrig ||The Navy's Women's Corps exercise during World War II. ||kvinnelige soldater fra marinens kvinnekorts øver|
In the late 1940s, international tensions grew between the West and the Soviet Union. As a small neighbour country to the Soviet Union, Norwegian authorities were concerned. The Nordic countries did not succeed in creating a Nordic military alliance, and this led to Norway joining NATO in 1949.
The NATO membership and the experiences from the War, led to an unprecedented build-up of the Norwegian Armed Forces. Norway also received monetary help from the USA and NATO to buy weapons and to build infrastructure. In 1952 and 1953, the defence budget amounted to 30 per cent of the state budget, and 4.7 per cent of Norway's gross domestic product.
A golden era for conscription
The end of World War II marked the start of a golden era for universal conscription for men in Norway. More men had to serve the initial military service, and military education and trainings grew in size and numbers. At the peak period, more than 350,000 Norwegians were part of the Norwegian military forces. Since 1949, Norway has also been an important contributor to UN peacekeeping missions. More than 40,000 Norwegian women and men have served for the UN.
The Norwegian Armed Forces were at their largest in the 1950s and 1960s.
A policy of balance
The Norwegian Armed Forces were at their largest in the 1950s and 1960s. After this, NATO changed its policy, and the monetary support to Norway was reduced. This led to a change in the Norwegian Armed Forces. At the same time, the Arctic gradually became more important to the great powers.
Norway's NATO membership was intended to prevent the Soviet Union from pressuring and attacking Norway. At the same time, Norway did not want to provoke its giant neighbour more than necessary. This meant that Norway needed a flexible and trustworthy defence policy. One result was that Norway did not allow foreign powers to have military bases on Norwegian territory – except if Norway was attacked or threatened with attacks. Norway also refused its partners to deploy nuclear weapons in Norway during peacetime.
|Etterkrigsforsvar 005||Etterkrigsforsvar 005||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Etterkrigsforsvar 005.jpg||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=828||Etterkrigsforsvar.||Soldiers from Norway's post-war defence.|
|Luftvernsystemet NIKE var lenge i bruk i etterkrigstiden i Norge. Foto: Forsvarsmuseets billedarkiv||Luftvernsystemet NIKE var lenge i bruk i etterkrigstiden i Norge. Foto: Forsvarsmuseets billedarkiv||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/NIKE 022.jpg||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=810||Luftvernsystemet NIKE var lenge i bruk i etterkrigstiden i Norge. ||The air defence system NIKE was used for decades in post-war Norway.||Våpensystemet NIKE|
|Natoøvelse. Foto: Forsvarsmuseets billedarkiv||Natoøvelse. Foto: Forsvarsmuseets billedarkiv||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/NATO 017.jpg||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=809||Daværende kronprins Harald besøker utenlandske Nato-styrker under en øvelse i Norge. ||The then Crown Prince Harald of Norway visits foreign NATO forces during an exercise in Norway.|
|Etterkrigsforsvaret, foto: Forsvasmuseets billedarkiv||Etterkrigsforsvaret, foto: Forsvasmuseets billedarkiv||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/MG 111.jpg||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=807||Maskingevær i etterkrigstiden||Post-World War II machine gun.|
|Honest John, foto: Forsvarsmuseets billedarkiv||Honest John, foto: Forsvarsmuseets billedarkiv||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Honest John 138.jpg||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=818||Det amerikanske missilet Honest John hadde en kort opptreden i den norske forsvaret på 1960-tallet. ||The American missile "Honest John" had a brief appearance in the Norwegian Armed Forces in the 1960s.|
|Stridsvogn, M 24 Chaffee||Stridsvogn, M 24 Chaffee||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Stridsvogn, M 24 Chaffee.tif||http://forsvaret.no/media/PubImages/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=803||M24 Chaffee-vognene ble brukt av Hæren etter andre verdenskrig og helt frem til tidlig på 1990-tallet. ||The M24 Chaffee light tanks were used by the Norwegian Army after World War II and until the early 1990s.|
A modern, but smaller organisation
From the 1970s, military funding were incompatible with the political goals for the Armed Forces. With the end of the Cold War in the 1990s, the Armed Forces were transformed from a so-called invasion defence to a more compact organisation with higher quality, modern weapons, new materiel and more professional forces and units. Norway's recent participations in international operations like Afghanistan, have given the organisation important experience and expertise.
In the last couple of years, several major changes have been made on the personnel side. In 2015,
Norway introduced universal conscription. This gave Norwegian men and women equal rights and duties when it comes to protecting Norway. In 2016, the Armed Forces also established a new personnel system for non-commissioned officers, the specialist corps. The specialists follow a rank scale from OR1 to OR9 – comparable to the NATO structure. The new system has been described as the greatest change in the Armed Forces since the creation of the Army in 1628.
The recent changes in the international security situation have also forced Norway to once again restructure its armed forces. In October 2015, Chief of Defence presented his advice on how the Norwegian Armed Forces should look like in the future. The final decision will be taken by Parliament in 2016, and the changes will be implemented from 2017.