For Norway, it is first and foremost changes in our strategic environment that determine the role and relevance of the armed forces. Therefore, FFI runs a project that seeks to identify and analyse global trends of relevance to Norway’s defence and security policy. By taking a 15–25 year perspective, the project enhances FFI’s support to the Ministry of Defence’s long-term planning with a longer and broader perspective than what is normally considered.
Obviously, it is impossible to predict with certainty what will happen in the future. Yet, it is both possible and necessary to identify current trends and alternative courses of development. There are also varying degrees of prior knowledge and probabilities that can be used to assess future threats and implications. In doing so, we can raise our sights, distinguish long-term continuities from short-term changes and think outside the box on less likely, but potentially decisive developments.
One of the main findings in FFI’s latest foresight study (Global trends towards 2040, from 2019) was that there are several trends pointing towards greater uncertainty surrounding allied support to Norway in future crises. This is occurring at the same time as the threshold against the use of military force against small states may be decreasing. In addition, the project has studied the future character of Norwegian military operations, such as the development of hybrid warfare and the opportunities that lie within closer Nordic defensive cooperation.
At the same time, military foresight is a difficult field of research. Thus, we also research what we can actually predict about our future strategic environment. In this regard, the project is currently conducting its own prediction tournament, whose purpose is to assess the ability of the Norwegian academic and security policy communities to predict relevant events and developments.