In principle, the Norwegian officer system is a full-career long-term profession that allows officers to complete a 40-year career or retire at age 60, whichever comes first, with two-thirds pay as a pension.
There are few NCOs in Norway’s armed forces, and the officer corps fulfills many of the responsibilities traditionally performed by NCOs. This practice results in a higher content of officers, particularly junior officers (e.g., lieutenants) who are performing what would be NCO duties in other nations.
All officers are drawn from conscription after one year as enlisted service members. Officer candidates then attend a one year officer’s school and upon successful completion, must serve an additional year of duty as sergeants. Those still wishing to be officers must apply for the
military academy. Two groups are then formed:
- Those attending only a two-year programme at the academy; and
- Those who apply and are accepted for an additional two years of academy study, for a total of four years at the military academy.
The short-term academy graduates will not be promoted beyond the rank of major but can stay until age 60. Those completing the four year academy curriculum will in normal course be expected to reach lieutenant colonel or higher before retirement at age 60.
There are two opportunities for officers to voluntarily leave the service or retire prior to age 60.
- The first opportunity comes four years after completion of the military academy, at about age 30, and in the year studied, several chose to depart to enter private sector employment without any pension.
- The second opportunity occurs at age 57 when officers can choose to retire.
These separations are not qualitative screenings by the services but decisions of the individual officer. Most officers retiring from the military are not expected to pursue second careers because of their age. During the present period of downsizing turbulence, temporary policies are offering early retirement to officers after age 50 to assist force reduction requirements. As a result, qualitative screening reductions to eliminate officers are possible only after age 50 and prior to age 60.
All officers that stay will become captains since there is no qualitative screening to that rank. All officers must remain captains for at least four years. At the rank of captain, officers must apply for special skill training that will qualify them for positions of higher rank and promotion.
For all positions in the grades of major and higher, officers must apply and be selected based upon:
- Education and special skill qualification;
- Experience; and
- Competent performance in previous assignments.
Once selected for a position of higher rank, an officer will be promoted.
There is keen competition for most higher-rank positions, and therefore promotion is considered competitive after captain. Officers applying and being selected for these major-and-above positions are allowed to remain in them until they apply and are selected for new positions of the same grade or
higher, or they reach age 60 and are required to retire.
Special career jobs (such as command) have limited tenure (usually two years). Officers completing special career jobs can either apply for new positions or receive assignments from the service staffs.
Officers in field grade that cannot obtain selection for new positions must remain in current positions and grade until retirement.
All captains desiring to be competitive for promotion to major must apply for, be selected for, and complete the officer’s staff college of three-months duration.
Majors must apply for, be selected for, and complete the general staff college of one year to be competitive for promotion to lieutenant colonel.
These education gates are additional restrictive criteria for being selected for a higher-grade position that can fully qualify an officer for promotion.
There are no mechanisms for lateral entry or assimilation of reserve officers into full career officer status in Norway.
Personnel management policies are identical for army and air force officers, and there are only minor differences (slower promotions to similar grades) for navy officers.