Norwegian army admits losing 1,200 rifles

Every 10 days, an assault rifle goes missing from the tally of assault rifles in the Norwegian Armed Forces, and some end up in the hands of criminals, a military spokesman has admitted.

Norwegian army admits losing 1,200 rifles
Norwegian soldiers armed with AG3 rifles

The battlefield assault rifle AG3, a Norwegian copy of the Heckler & Kock G3, was the weapon used to kill a policeman in an infamous 2004 heist on an armoured car company that shocked a nation for its ruthlessness. The army now admits 1,265 such rifles have vanished.

“One weapon gone missing is one too many,” armed forces spokesman Capt. Eivind Byre told broadcaster NRK.

He said many of the weapons appear to be stolen, while others go missing on exercises or are lost during fires in the homes of ex-servicemen authorized to still have them.

“I won’t speculate, but we cannot rule out that as many as half are lost to theft,” said Byre. He admitted the army lacked good statistical oversight of the problem, although a “loss registry” for the weapons notes 11 rifles missing so far this year.

Of those, seven were reported stolen from the homes of former servicemen, three were declared lost in fires and one has been recovered.

The German-Spanish designed G3, from which the Norwegian copy derives, is a 7.62 mm assault rifle developed for the Cold War European battlefield. The G3 design owes much to its Second World War predecessor, the German Army’s StG 45M.

The Norwegian army and home guard, a sort of national militia, have just carried out a national inventory of weapons. The high count of lost weapons means those servicing the weapons might now have to service the entire, centrally stored stockpile: over 250,000 of the rifle type were produced for the Norwegian Armed Forces between 1967 and 1974.

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Norway confirms US plans to deploy 330 Marines

The Norwegian government has confirmed reports that the United States will deploy over 300 troops in Norway, in a move set to upset neighbouring Russia.

Norway confirms US plans to deploy 330 Marines
US Marines train with Norwegian, Dutch and British troops during Exercise Cold Response earlier this year. Photo: Master Sgt. Chad McMeen
The 330 Marines, to be stationed on rotation around 1,000 kilometres from the Russian border, will be engaged in training and manoeuvres in almost Arctic conditions, the Norwegian defence ministry said.
The announcement comes against a backdrop of increasing tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine and the conflict in Syria, although Norway itself enjoys good relations with its giant neighbour.
The US already has vast amounts of military equipment positioned in Nato ally Norway — notably in tunnels dug into mountains — but no troops.
“This US-initiative is welcome and also fits well within ongoing processes in Nato to increase exercises, training and interoperability within the Alliance,” Norwegian Defence Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide said in the statement.
“The defence of Norway is dependent on allied reinforcements, and it is crucial for Norwegian security that our allies come here to gain knowledge of how to operate in Norway and with Norwegian forces,” she added.
Before joining Nato in 1949, Norway allayed Russian fears by pledging not to open its territory to foreign combat troops so long as Norway was not attacked or threatened with attack.
This pledge was later amended to allow foreign troops to conduct manoeuvres in Norway.
The deployment, which will begin in January, is a US initiative which Oslo is presenting as a trial to be evaluated during 2017.
Last week the Russian embassy in Oslo expressed surprise as the idea of stationing US troops in Norway was mooted.
“Taking into account multiple statements made by Norwegian officials about the absence of threat from Russia to Norway, we would like to understand why Norway is so much willing to increase its military potential, in particular through the stationing of American forces in Vaernes,” embassy spokesman Maxime Gourov said in an email sent to AFP on Friday.
Former senior Norwegian army officer Jacob Borresen said the planned deployment “sends negative signals eastwards”.
The big risk, he told broadcaster NRK, is that the move creates a Cold War-style “confrontation zone”.
In July, Nato announced it would deploy, also on a rotational basis, four multinational battalions to Poland and to Baltic states to deter any Russian incursion.