The basics about NORDEFCO

The NORDEFCO structure includes political and military cooperation levels. In the Policy Steering Committee, nations are represented by senior departmental officers, such as the Policy Director, The Military Coordination Committee consists of flag-officers, representing the nations´ chiefs of defence.

The NORDEFCO structure is a cooperation structure, not a command structure. Cooperation activities initiated from top or bottom are facilitated and agreed within in the structure, but the actual realization and participation in activities remain national decisions.

Once a cooperation activity is implemented, it will be run by the regular, existing national chain of command. When the activity is being implemented, a NORDEFCO agreement will decide upon a framework or lead nation concept for the activity. Examples of this could be educational cooperation, where responsiblity is divided between the nations or a common exercise plan with a rotating host nation scheme for major exercises.



Nordic Cooperation - History and background

Cooperation is not new to the Nordic countries, who apart from sharing similar history, language and culture, also have a intra-nordic record in the political and military areas. The Nordic Council, formed in the aftermath of the second world war and the Nordic passport union are examples of cooperation possible in spite of the substantially diverse foreign political circumstances under which the Nordic countries existed during the era of the cold war.


Nordic contributions to United Nations operations

The Nordic countries have always been strong supporters of the United Nations and have a long tradition of troop contribution to UN operations beginning with the very first UN Emergency Force in Suez/Sinai 1956, followed by peace supporting operations side-by-side inLebanonand the Balkans; notably the combined Nordic units as Nordbat and the Nordic-Polish IFOR brigade

The contributions gave evidence of the far-reaching cooperation on the military level, regardless of national differencies in foreign and security policy. To facilitate the peace support capabilities, responsibilities for training were divided among the nations. Thousands of officers and civilians from world-wide have ever since followed the various courses at the Nordic training centres.


Peace Support education and training - the NORDCAPS

From the 1960s, this was coordinated under the 'NORDSAMFN', until 1997 when the 'Nordic Coordinated Arrangement for Military Peace Support' (NORDCAPS) was established, continuing the successful coordination of common Nordic efforts in military peace support.

The NORDCAPS Peace Support Operations Education & Training programme is an excellent example of how the Nordic nations can cooperate. By dividing the responsibility for the different types of courses, it was possible to reach international top-level. This had not have been possible if the nations would have attempted to set-up the courses individually.


Armament Cooperation - NORDAC

In the 1990s, a closer cooperation on aquisition of materiel was established, based on the principle of mutual exchange of national procurement plans, in order to find opportunities for common development, procurement and maintenance related to defence materiel. During its fifteen years of existence the NORDAC has saved an estimated 100 Million €. The work of NORDAC continues within NORDEFCO Cooperation Area Capabilities.


2008 - Enhanced cooperation - NORDSUP

An inititative from the Chiefs of Defence of Finland, Norway and Sweden in 2008, laid the foundation for a wider approach through the NORDSUP, starting with a feasibility study naming more than 140 areas where cooperation either is possible or even necessary to retain defence capabilities. The areas range over the entire military spectrum and about a third of the potential areas were assessed to be possible to realize within the next years.



At a ministerial meeting by the end of 2009, it was decided to merge the three parallell cooperation structures into one: and an Memorandum of Understanding between the all five Nordic nations on the establishing of NORDEFCO was signed 4 November 2009.



The main aim and purpose of the Nordic defence Cooperation is to strengthen the participating nations´ national defence, explore common synergies and facilitate efficient common solutions.

In order to achieve this aim, the objectives of the Nordic Defence Cooperation include (but are not limited to):

  • A comprehensive, enhanced and long-term approach to defence related issues
  • Identify and discuss defence related strategic and policy issues of common interest
  • Increase operational effect and quality of the armed forces
  • Strive for an optimum resource allocation and cost-efficiency in defence related areas
  • Develop interoperability and capability to act jointly
  • Develop cooperation in the area of multinational operations, defence related security sector reform and capacity building in support of international peace and security
  • Achieve technological benefits
  • Promote the competitiveness of the defence industry; and
  • Strengthen cooperation on any other possible future area of cooperation.



Increased and credible operational effect through borderless cooperation. The overall objective of NORDEFCO on the military level is cooperation across the entire range of defence structures in order to achieve better cost-effectiveness and quality, and thereby creating enhanced operational capability. This objective can be divided into three parts:

  • More efficient production of military capabilities that will allow the release of resources in benefit of increased operational capability. Mutual cooperation within the entire range of defence structures will create cost-effectiveness, and thereby release resources for increased operational capability. Over time, as systems integration and interoperability increases, the potential for cost effective use of recourses will increase.
  • The ability to maintain and develop nationally-defined operational capabilities.Through cooperation in the development and production of capabilities the Nordic countries can maintain and develop depth and width of their national capabilities. This means the ability to keep single capabilities over the point of critical level.
  • Combined and cost-effective contribution to international efforts for peace and security. The best way to face the contemporary challenges to peace and security is through collaboration. Deep and comprehensive cooperation will enable us to contribute with larger, more efficient and sustainable units to international efforts for peace and security within EU, NATO and UN - led operations.

(Currently Denmark does not participate in EU-operations)