Regionalization of Defence Cooperation by Alliance Members. The Case of Nordic Defence Cooperation

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2018

15 Pages, Grade: B




Conceptual Framework

Methodology - operationalization

Analysis: Is NORDEFCO consistent with my theory?
Argument 1 -
Argument 2- materialistic/rational (cheaper, plus in connection to argument 1 even more savings faster)
Argument 3 - liberal (constructive asymmetry in order to gain influence)
Argument 4 - no trust in alliance
Empirical test of the arguments -
Empirical test of arguments - today
Other stuff



Statement of Authorship


Why do states inside of alliances regionalize their defence efforts?

Relevance of the question :

“In a potentially game changing development, nations cooperate more in clusters. Both NATO and EU have to avoid a situation in which they become merely a secretariat for bilaterally or and regionally organized groupings” (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik 2015, p.3) and Nemeth 2012 (“How to bridge the three islands…”) (“Seen together they have a population of about 25 million, spend almost $19 billion on defence annually, and have a combined GDP of $1.3 trillion, just surpassing Canada and making up the world’s tenth largest economy (IISS 2010, 127–128, 152, 183–184, 193; International Monetary Fund 2010)” and make a disproportionate contribution towards promoting international peace and security (Saxi 2011, p. 8)) There are scholars who argue that what NORDEFCO aims to do is better handled directly through NATO or the EU because duplication is a real risk leading to a less efficient utilization of resources (Petersson 2010c, Hofmann 2009) mention hypotheses distinction between intention/motive of policymakers (why they do sth., e.g. in order to save money) and impact of what they do (what the outcome really is, e.g. argument if double structures with NATO or not) structure of remainder of paper

Conceptual Framework

If one takes a look at historical and current examples of regionalized defence cooperation as well as the accompanying literature, it becomes clear that there is not one single motive why states regionalize their defence efforts. But as the question is about the reasons why such cooperations are initiated and implemented, the focus here lies on the factors that do change.

This leads to the following theory:

The stronger the perception of a state that the alliance(s) it is member of do(es) not sufficiently address(es) its needs related to defence, the higher the probability that the state seeks the regionalization of its defence cooperation.

The assumed mechanism here is that when it comes to concrete action, alliances like NATO or the EU have too many members, i.e. are too heterogeneous to address the needs of every single member sufficiently. A member state that sees its needs to be not met therefore has an incentive to seek regionalization. The characteristics of what I conceptualize as the regionalization of defence cooperation are the small number of states participating in the cooperation, the homogeneity of these states, a shared threat perception and a common referent object. A smaller group of states that is more homogenous in geographical location and therefore geopolitical environment, military culture, political identity and in what they perceive as threats will be able to define a more precise referent object for their defence efforts and therefore be able to cooperate more according to the needs of the respective members.

Concerning the needs related to defence, I test different hypotheses with different metatheoretical backgrounds.

Applying the Rational Policy Model by Allison (1969 and 1971), there are two consequences of cooperating in a smaller and more homogenous group. First, a shared threat perception and, probably connected to that, the position in the same geopolitical cluster, possibly even with shared borders, leads to the common perception that there is a need to develop and/or maintain hard power capacities in a particular region. So, what the cooperating states define as (territorial) security and what measures they deem appropriate to ensure it is likely to be more similar compared to the alliance the respective states were already part of before the regionalization. Second, the popular need of saving resources, i.e. using money for defence spending more effectively, can be addressed better by a regionalized defence cooperation because cooperation is easier and faster to achieve in a smaller and more homogenous group. This had various reasons: A smaller number of states can decrease the complexity of negotiations and decision making procedures. States in geographical proximity usually conduct operations in similar climate conditions and therefore have more possibilities to cooperate, e.g. in procurement or training exercises. Also, a common geopolitical environment fosters similar perceptions of needs and threats and therefore allows for prioritizing or certain areas or division of labour between the different states.

Taking the Organisational Process Model into account (Allison 1969 and 1971), in military culture, homogeneity encourages cooperation through interoperable force structures; for bureaucratic interest, it ensures that the process of planning and implementation is smooth and regarding political identity, it strengthens the feeling of community.

Third, taking a more liberal approach, a regional defence cooperation can be a tool of soft power.

Methodology - operationalization

Based on its own publications, statements of the relevant defence ministers and academic literature, I examine the motives to initiate NORDEFCO. This is because I try to assess the perceptions of the different states that the NATO/EU or both do not address their needs rather than if the respective needs are objectively met or not.

Defence cooperation between the Nordic states in general has a long history, but as NORDEFCO in its current form exists since 2009 (Saxi 2011), it offers to study also medium-term impacts and the broad debate the initiative and single projects have caused.

For the question at hand, NORDEFCO has particularly interesting features. Out of the five member states that are signatory to the Memorandum of Understanding, two, namely Finland and Sweden are member states of the EU and cooperate regularly with NATO; two others, Norway and Iceland, are NATO members and cooperate with the EU, and Denmark is member in both organisations but has opted-out from the CSDP. So, all of the NORDEFCO states are in an alliance that guarantees at least basic defense commitments, but had different points of departure to enter into Nordic cooperation. Also, some scholars ascribe a model function to NORDEFCO (e.g. Opitz, C. 2015; Saxi, H. 2011).

Analysis: Why NORDEFCO?


“The purpose of NORDEFCO is to strengthen the participant’s national defence, explore common synergies and facilitate common solutions. The cooperation should lead to increased operational effect, enhanced quality, better resource allocation and cost efficiency of each nation’s Armed Forces. Interoperability will be improved through harmonization and thereby benefiting the ability to develop and sustain capabilities together. This will furthermore increase the mutual capability to act combined and jointly, which in turn creates the possibilities for common contributions to international Peace Support Operations.” “The Nordic defence cooperation is aiming at saving costs and increase quality in the production of operational capabilities. These fundamental ambitions shall guide all work in NORDEFCO, in order to make each nations Armed Forces better” (Guidelines for NORDEFCO Military Level Operating Procedures, 2014) argument of security community etc. apply only partly because it is the case in NATO, EU and NORDEFCO, so no additional explanatory power Saxi writes that the bottom-up cooperation of NORDEFCO “is likely to promote confidence-building and communication, further the common definition of problems, modify explicit behavioural standards, and encourage a common sense of identity among the Nordic defence practitioners who take part” (Saxi 2011, 72).

“Since NATO and the EU are such large and heterogeneous organisations, countries within these organisations are coming together in small clusters to cooperate on generating military power” (Saxi 2011, 72). He acknowledges the small size, nimbleness and homogeneity of NORDEFCO as its chief advantage.

Homogenous in terms of geography, similar bureaucratic and military cultures and euqipment commonalities (Saxi 2011)

H2 - Security by homogeneity

Rational Policy Model by Allison (1969):

states, seen as single unified actors, act purposively in response to a strategic problem all actors are essentially alike and make rational choices

“The Nordic countries share common history, culture and geography. Our societies are founded on and guided by the same basic values – democracy and respect for human rights. The Nordic countries have a common interest in close cooperation to promote our security and defence and in addressing emerging threats and maintaining international peace and stability” (Nordic Defence Cooperation 2020, 2013)

April 2015, the Nordic Defence Ministers published a joint article on Nordic cooperation and the changing security environment in our neighborhood.

The article was published in national newspapers in each Nordic country :“Our cooperation is built on shared values and a determination to address our challenges together. With differing organizational affiliations we cooperate closely within the framework of the EU and NATO. Our approach is defensive. We want to strengthen the stability in Northern Europe and distance ourselves from threats and the use of military force. Closer cooperation among the Nordic countries and our solidarity with the Baltic States contribute to enhanced security in our region, as well as raising the threshold for military incidents to take place. By acting together in a predictable and consistent way, we contribute to peace and security in our part of the world. At the same time we strengthen cohesion within the EU and NATO while also maintaining the transatlantic link.” (NORDEFCO Annual Report 2015, 2016, p.32)

The Annual Report of 2015 that was issued under the chairmanship of Sweden mentions cyber attacks, international terrorism and Russia as threats (NORDEFCO Annual Report 2015, 2016). This stands in contrast to the other Annual Reports issued by NORDEFCO, as this report is particularly explicit in not only naming the threat against which the member states want to defend themselves but also concrete events contributing to this shared threat perception, namely “Russian aggression against Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea” (NORDEFCO Annual Report 2015, 2016, p.32). Regarding the threat of Russia, differing levels of abstractness are addressed in the report. Connections to the concepts of the global political community as well as NATO and the EU are presented, but clearly dominating is the link to (northern) Europe and the Nordic and Baltic states. Here, concrete problems concerning the NORDEFCO states and their actions are described, for example the violation of their borders by Russia followed by the decision to enhance NORDEFCO cooperation in the field of air- and sea-surveillance (NORDEFCO Annual Report 2015, 2016).


Excerpt out of 15 pages


Regionalization of Defence Cooperation by Alliance Members. The Case of Nordic Defence Cooperation
University of Tartu  (Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies)
SORG.04.010: Security Politics
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Security Studies, Regionalization, NATO, NORDEFCO, Defence, Defense, Alliance, Nordic, Norwegen, Finnland, Schweden, Island, Dänemark, Verteidigung, Sicherheitspolitik, CSDP, EU, Regionalisierung, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Nordic Defence Cooperation
Quote paper
Christin Rudolph (Author), 2018, Regionalization of Defence Cooperation by Alliance Members. The Case of Nordic Defence Cooperation, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Regionalization of Defence Cooperation by Alliance Members. The Case of Nordic Defence Cooperation

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free