The US Department of Defense (DoD) received a foreign military sale from the Norwegian government on 10 May 2023 for two combatant craft. These are patrol vessels designed to insert and extract special operations forces.

The $22m contract was awarded to the Alaska-based small business, ReconCraft. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $30.9m.

Work will be performed in Clackamas, Oregon, and is expected to be completed by August 2025. If all options are exercised, work will continue through to January 2026. 

The contract was not competitively procured in accordance with the Small Business Act and the Federal Acquisition Regulation Part 19.8. The DoD has lately sought to open up defence contracts to small businesses and subcontractors.

Norwegian special warfare priorities

Ultimately, Norway views its primary military focus as being on the High North and Arctic region according to GlobalData’s analysis in its report: Norway Defense Market, 2022-2027.

It is a common refrain in Norwegian defence and security spheres to refer to the country as Nato’s ‘Northern Flank’, and as such there has always been a concentrated effort on operations in this environment. Norway regularly hosts ‘Cold Response’ exercises for Nato operations in the Arctic, and the country is a training ‘center of excellence’ for troops across the alliance learning to fight in the Arctic climate.

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The country has hosted Joint Expeditionary Force exercises in the region, such as exercise Joint Viking, and most recently Nato partners are exercising interoperability in exercise Formidable Shadow throughout May.

The high relevance of the maritime domain to operations around Norway and in the North Sea means maintaining capabilities and competencies in maritime patrol and minesweeping remains a priority. The Norwegian navy is an active participant in Nato’s standing maritime and mine countermeasures forces.

An example of the specialist skillset Norway’s military has developed for the High North is the army’s long-range reconnaissance patrol (LRRP), which surveys the Norway-Russia border and specialises in infantry tactics in icy, mountainous regions.

Special warfare operations in the High North

There is a lot of concern over the Arctic region, where understanding the current level of militarisation is mounting, including the military balance between Russia and Nato allies in the Arctic.

The recent entrance of Finland, and the imminent induction of Sweden in the Nato alliance will bear considerable examination. Evidence will be sought as to whether Russia is increasing its military presence, and the efforts that other Arctic nations have taken to resist Russia’s presence in the region.

As a way of maintaining a state of military readiness in the region, Nato partners are mobilising to enhance their joint operations in the Arctic environment. As well as this, the Norwegian government enabled the Royal Navy to consolidate its presence in the High North with a new purpose-built base called Camp Viking in northern Norway, in the village of Øverbygd. Camp Viking will accommodate all personnel from the UK’s Littoral Response Group (LRG), the commando-led Royal Marines force which reacts to emerging crises in Europe.