ifsen_473_summaryjointexpeditiifsen_473_summaryjointexpeditihttp://forsvaret.no/ifs/en/Lists/RelatedMedia/DispForm.aspx?ID=92Norwegian Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen and Professor Kjell Inge Bjerga, IFS/media/PubImages/2018-05-30 JEF_ingress II.jpg
ifsen_473_summaryjointexpeditiifsen_473_summaryjointexpeditihttp://forsvaret.no/ifs/en/Lists/RelatedMedia/DispForm.aspx?ID=93The panel listening to Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen speak. From left: Brig Gen Vesa Virtanen, R. Adm. Jonas Haggren, Maj Gen Yngve Odlo, AVM Bruce Hedley, and Prof. Kjell Inge Bjerga/media/PubImages/2018-05-30 JEF_ingress.jpg
ifsen_473_summaryjointexpeditiifsen_473_summaryjointexpeditihttp://forsvaret.no/ifs/en/Lists/RelatedMedia/DispForm.aspx?ID=94/media/PubImages/2018-05-30 JEF_ingress III.jpg

Conference summary: Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF)

Wednesday 30 May, representatives from Norway, Sweden, Finland and the UK met at IFS to discuss the multinational Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF). Keynote speaker was Frank Bakke-Jensen, the Norwegian Minister of Defence.

Professor Kjell Inge Bjerga, the IFS Director, opened the programme by pointing out how timely the conference is, as the JEF will become fully operational following a signing ceremony in London in June. He also explained what the JEF is, namely a nine nation strong pool of forces, and a flexible contingency force of likeminded allies and partners. For Norway, the JEF is a continuation of the long-standing and close cooperation with the UK and the other JEF-partners.

JEF – a flexible and agile multinational force

The Norwegian Minister of Defence Frank Bakke-Jensen

The Norwegian Minister of Defence, Frank Bakke-Jensen, started by pointing out how the security situation has deteriorated in recent years. In the current security environment, the ability to respond rapidly and effectively has become increasingly important. To achieve this, both NATO and allied unity, and supplementary frameworks such as the UK-led JEF, are necessary.

The minister expressed his gratitude to the UK for initiating and taking leadership in the JEF. He also pointed out that the JEF is flexible and agile, and can be used in various types of operations in different places around the world, the response to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone being an example.

He also stressed that the JEF is not a standing force, but will be designed to fit specific tasks. The JEF nations are thus free to decide whether to participate or not, and to decide what forces to contribute from case to case. Through the JEF, smaller nations can contribute with niche capacities to a larger multinational force.

The Defence Minister also pointed out that the JEF is not in competition with other international organizations, but designed to complement and support organizations such as the UN, EU or NATO.

Finally, Bakke-Jensen stated that through the JEF, the participating nations can maximize efficiency, while maintaining their sovereignty, which is a key to making the cooperation function. It also increases the credibility of our forces, and is thus an important part of our deterrence strategy, the Minister ended.

Questions to the panellists

Before the introductions from the four panellists, the moderator, Professor Rolf Tamnes, posed a few questions for them to answer.

  • First, why is the JEF important and why is it relevant in today's security landscape?
  • Second, what position does the JEF have in the respective armed forces, and what kind of adjustments must they make?
  • Third, how will each country go about to make the JEF work?

The speakers were also asked to address a potential high-end JEF operation in Northern Europe in their presentations.

The UK's view on JEF

Air Vice-Marshal Bruce Hedley, Director Joint Warfare Joint Forces Command (UK), linked the importance of the JEF to the changed security situation, and the variety of threats that have emerged.

The JEF is relevant in today's security landscape also because a NATO decision might be slower. It thus fits very neatly between the national position and the NATO position, he argued.

Cooperation through the JEF also creates greater understanding of the security environment. In addition, the JEF sends a very strong message that the participating countries have key capabilities, and are prepared to use them.

Furthermore, AVM Hedley pointed out that although the UK armed forces does not have standing forces for the JEF, all capabilities are available. Possible and necessary adjustments are linked to a wider issue of increasing interoperability, and especially to how information is being shared and used. A key to making the JEF work is to gather the partner nations and address those areas that need to be improved, the Air Vice-Marshal ended.



ifsen_473_summaryjointexpeditiifsen_473_summaryjointexpeditihttp://forsvaret.no/ifs/en/Lists/RelatedMedia/DispForm.aspx?ID=96Air Vice-Marshal Bruce Hedley, UK, talked about the changed security situation. Major General Yngve Odlo, Norway, to the right./media/PubImages/2018-05-30 JEF_Hedley-Odlo_art_liggende.jpg

JEF from a Norwegian point of view

Major General Yngve Odlo, Chief Operations in the Norwegian Defence Staff, linked the JEF to the changed mind-set in NATO from 2014 onwards.

When the JEF was officially launched at the Wales summit in 2014, it consisted of seven nations, and was intended as a rapidly deployable force able to conduct the full spectrum of operations. In 2017, NATO partners Sweden and Finland also joined, which was a good add-on, according to the Major General.

He also pointed out that the JEF is mission tailored, full spectrum and high intensity, and that the scope of the so-called Comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding (C-MOU) is collective defence, crisis management and collective security.

From a Norwegian perspective, the JEF therefore serves as a very important gap-filler. Through JEF, the northern European JEF countries can respond quickly to a crisis in the area, either before a NATO response or outside the NATO framework.

The Major General also pointed out that the JEF nations share the same values, and are tightly connected at both the political and military level. He claimed that everything is set to create good cooperation within the Northern European region.

The Swedish perspective on JEF

Rear Admiral Jonas Haggren, Head of Policy and Plans Department in the Joint Defence Staff/Swedish Armed Forces HQ

Rear Admiral Jonas Haggren, Head of Policy and Plans Department in the Joint Defence Staff/Swedish Armed Forces HQ, started his presentation by emphasizing the importance for a non-aligned state like Sweden to cooperate with likeminded states that share the same interests and values.

The JEF can be seen as reinforcing the threshold for a potential aggressor to use military force against Sweden. In the event of armed aggression in the Baltic Sea area, the operational aim is to engage the enemy as soon as possible, in order to gain time and maintain freedom of action, he continued. The ability to cooperate with partners in the region, e.g. through the JEF, is thus important.

Sweden is also acknowledging that JEF is both a security policy instrument as well as a tool for operations, the Rear Admiral continued. In order to meet the expectations in an eventual JEF operation, the Swedish engagement to JEF is a dedicated naval force package.

Seen from Sweden, the JEF format is a very prosperous setting to be able to respond quickly, and to produce and facilitate common concepts and common solutions in an efficient way. The JEF is a well-suited framework to conduct efficient operations abroad, with a light footprint.

Finally, Rear Admiral Haggren expressed his gratitude to the UK for having invited Sweden into the cooperation.

Finland's view on JEF

Brigadier General Vesa Virtanen, Chief of Planning in the Finnish Defence Forces

Brigadier General Vesa Virtanen, Chief of Planning in the Finnish Defence Forces, also linked the importance of JEF to the changed security environment. Russia's aggressive behaviour in Ukraine and increased military activity in the Baltic Sea area have increased the need for the Finnish Defence Forces to be able to react rapidly, he stated.

Furthermore, he believed Finland and the other JEF members share the same understanding of the security situation. Defence cooperation strengthens deterrence, and improves the chances of receiving military assistance if needed, he continued. He acknowledged that this does not provide any security guarantees for Finland. Still, the JEF enables the capable and willing countries to go even deeper into existing areas of cooperation, as well as develop new areas.

The JEF is one of the ways for the Finnish Armed Forces to develop and strengthen its national defence, as well as a way to show its capabilities to likeminded countries and other actors in the region. The ability to receive military assistance is one element of the national capability, the Brigadier General stated.

For non-NATO countries participating in the JEF, there are some minor challenges at the tactical level, but these can be solved within the JEF framework. No major adjustments are needed within the Finnish Armed Forces, he declared.

On how Finland will go about to make the JEF work, Virtanen stated that there has been much focus on the national military level on the practical and systematical implementation of the JEF membership. Defence cooperation forms an everyday part of the Finnish Armed Forces activities, he ended. 

Panel debate: the role, purpose and utility of JEF



ifsen_473_summaryjointexpeditiifsen_473_summaryjointexpeditihttp://forsvaret.no/ifs/en/Lists/RelatedMedia/DispForm.aspx?ID=95Professor Rolf Tamnes had questions to the panelists./media/PubImages/2018-05-30 JEF_Tamnes_panel_art_liggende.jpg

Professor Tamnes opened the panel debate by asking Air Vice-Marshal Bruce Hedley what is the added value, from a military and operational viewpoint, of cooperating with partners. Hedley responded that when nine nations talk about a particular problem, they are far more powerful than if one independent nation acts alone. Still, achieving interoperability in a coalition is an enduring challenge, which needs to be addressed head-on.

Professor Tamnes then asked the Finnish and Swedish representatives, for their views on whether it would be easier for them to call upon the JEF rather than NATO in a crisis. Rear Admiral Haggren claimed that such a distinction is not being made in Sweden, a view that was shared by Brigadier General Virtanen, who specified that if a crisis is coming, it will be a case-by-case decision.

The next question concerned the degree of readiness of the JEF, considering that it is designed to react quickly, but at the same time not being a standing force. Major General Odlo responded that although it is not a standing force, the JEF has a force pool, and thus available forces.

Professor Tamnes then shifted the focus to a potential scenario in the North, asking for the panelist's views on the requirements for bringing the JEF to this area. Major General Odlo responded that he did not see any military challenge in integrating partner nations into potential NATO-operations in the area, if so decided by those nations. Brigadier General Virtanen added that receiving assistance is possible if politically decided, but this will always be a case-by-case decision.

The moderator then asked to what extent the JEF can operate without US support in a high-end crisis. Air Vice-Marshal Hedley replied that the challenge of high-end warfare is extraordinary, as it is no longer just land, air, and sea, but also cyber, electromagnetic activity etc., pointing out the difficulties of fixing a high-end crisis with limited resources.

The first question from the audience concerned plans for exercise and decision-making within the JEF concept, in light of the need for rapid decisions. AVM Hedley emphasized the need for common understanding in order to make rapid decisions. Rear Admiral Haggren also added that legal changes have been made in Sweden, in order to be able to respond more quickly. Major General Odlo also highlighted the vast exercise activity between the JEF nations that is already going on. Brigadier General Virtanen agreed, and emphasized the value of meeting and discussing these issues frequently.

Professor Tamnes then asked about the JEF members representation at the headquarters in the future, to which the panellists would not provide any exact numbers, claiming that it would depend on the available resources.

Another question from the audience concerned how the JEF will solve the dilemma between a flexible case-by-case approach where the forces needed are selected from a force pool, versus a specific force that is exercised particularly for a high end crisis. AVM Hedley did not think there was a dilemma that needed to be solved, pointing out that the readiness of the JEF is so much more than how quickly one can get troops out. Rear Admiral Haggren added that the flexibility was one of the attractive attributes of the JEF.  

The moderator followed up on that question, asking the panellists whether specific forces have been identified for the force pool of the JEF. Rear Admiral Haggren again pointed out that a naval force package has been dedicated for the JEF, but did not want to exclude any part of the Swedish Armed Forces. Brigadier General Virtanen would not be any more specific, but pointed out that Finland will provide what is needed. The Norwegian contribution has so far been mainly air and naval forces, Major General Odlo answered.

The final question from the audience concerned the scale of the JEF operations, whether they are limited to small and medium size operations. AVM Hedley responded that he did not see any incidents where there would be no utility for the JEF, although certainly in larger operations the JEF would not be sufficient on its own.

Summary written by Joakim Erma Møller

Published 30 May 2018 00:00.. Last updated 02 July 2018 15:41.