Military history and theory

​​Historical studies can illustrate how social change affects military institutions and are especially applicable to the evolution of military theory.

We analyse the historical development of military thought, carry out independent evaluations of recent doctrine, and cover strategic thinking in certain regional powers. Scholars at the Centre produce articles and books on institutional histories, which serve to preserve the institutional memory of individual military units. The Institute of Defence Studies consistently emphasizes the need to link its methodology to that of the “War and Society” school of historical research.


Research projects

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the Great Powers and Scandinavia, 19391941
In the many studies of the prehistory of the German invasion of Denmark and Norway, one of the great powers gets very little coverage: The Soviet Union. It may seem strange that German, British and French policy towards Scandinavia is treated without reference to the Soviet Union, when the overarching diplomatic framework during the initial phase of the Second World War was the non-aggression pact of 23 August 1939. 

The immediate consequences of the pact for Finland are well known; Allied plans to assist Finland – and at the same time stop the Swedish iron ore supplies to Germany – have been well documented. But the extent to which Hitler's plans for Scandinavia were coordinated with the Soviet Union, or to what extent the Soviet leadership or intelligence agencies knew of them, has not been systematically studied. The same goes for German-Soviet relations in the period between the occupation and the invasion of the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941. The pact still obtained, the German sphere of influence was only divided from Soviet territory by Finnish Petsamo, and the Northern waters were strategically and economically important to both; the degree of cooperation between them has not been studied. 

Several important Russian archives covering the period are closed to historians, but a number of diplomatic documents has been published since the fall of the Soviet Union. This project on the non-aggression pact and the policies of the great powers towards Scandinavia will seek to establish how important the relationship with the Soviet Union was for them.


Contact: Rolf Hobson


Central leadership of the Armed Forces 1940–2003

This PhD project examines the history of the central leadership of the Norwegian Armed Forces over a protracted period. Special attention is given to analyzing the history of the defence sector from a broadly social perspective. The decision system in the Armed Forces is considered in relation to Norway’s government administration and international trends. The project is funded by the Ministry of Defence.
Contact: Kjell Inge Bjerga

The Royal Norwegian Ministry of Defence 1814–2014
This project examines the 200-year history of the Ministry of Defence. There will be an emphasis on examining the ministry’s historical development in a broader political and social context, and on establishing the manner in which the role and functions of the ministry were worked out under the different variants of the democratic state system in Norway.
Contact: Tom Kristiansen and Kjell Inge Bjerga


Primary source: Nils Trosner’s diary 1710–1714
This joint Danish–Norwegian project will collate and publish Nils Trosner’s diary, 1710–1714, as an illustrated historical primary source. Trosner served in the joint Danish–Norwegian fleet, and his diary is considered one of the most important historical sources of information on the joint fleet. The book will offer a unique insight into the cultural and maritime history of the period, and is being written jointly with Hans Christian Bjerg, Denmark. The work will result in a publication in two volumes.
Contact: Tor Jørgen Melien




Published 05 November 2014 10:46.. Last updated 06 September 2017 08:06.