April 3, 2017

NORDEFCO: “Love in a Cold Climate”?


Nordic Defence Cooperation, or NORDEFCO, is a comprehensive framework of political and military cooperation, through which the five Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, seek to enhance their operational capabilities and further strengthen national and regional stability and security. In short, as stated in the 2009 Memorandum of Understanding on which it is based, “the aim and purpose of NORDEFCO is to strengthen the participating nations’ national defense, explore common synergies and facilitate efficient common solutions.”

Since its inception in 2009, this cooperation has advanced steadily and purposefully and resulted in, among other things, concrete plans for common education and training, schedules for combined and joint exercises, and purchases of interoperable equipment and materiel, which in some cases have even produced considerable savings on operations and equipment maintenance costs.

This paper provides a review of what has been done under the auspices of NORDEFCO. It attempts to answer the questions of how NORDEFCO has evolved, what kinds of activities it includes today, and what it could morph into in the future. Furthermore, the paper takes a close look at the extent to which NORDEFCO has been open to outsiders, specifically to the Baltic countries Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Finally, it recommends areas in which Nordic-Baltic defense cooperation could be further enhanced.

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