What are the Natos secret armies?

Strictly Confidential

Stay Behind Network in Norway was initially strictly confidential. In 1978, by chance, a large weapons cache was discovered in a bunker belonging to a private individual (Hans Otto Meyer). This sparked a debate about the security of weapon storage within the network and its legality.

Bombing of civilian targets in Italy


Not long after, the revelation of the Italian Gladio network led more and more countries to scrutinize their secret Stay Behind groups. The network behind Gladio was accused of carrying out a series of bombings against civilian targets in Italy. The group attempted to blame these attacks on the Italian left to stem the rise of communism in Italy. The CIA was also implicated in this revelation, though it was never confirmed that the American organization was involved in the bombings.


During the 1980s, limitations were imposed on Stay Behind’s tasks, and in 1983, the Norwegian authorities decided to terminate several of the group’s assignments. They discontinued tasks such as sabotage and assassination and confiscated all weapons caches.



Illegal surveillance of Politicians


Following the presentation of the Lund Commission’s report in 1996, the group faced further restrictions. The report criticized Stay Behind for several issues, including illegal registration of politicians and “untraditional” financing of so-called Black Ops. The Lund Commission also criticized the intelligence service for financing operations “untraditionally.”


There have been claims in many contexts about collusion between Stay Behind, POT (Surveillance Police, now PST), and Military Intelligence. Many have alleged illegal wiretapping and surveillance. The Lund Commission went to great lengths to disprove these allegations, stating that there was no basis to believe that a so-called fourth service operated illegally in Norway.


However, opportunities for communication monitoring have increased significantly as new technology has been developed. It is naive to believe that illegal surveillance of Norwegian citizens does not occur. Who is wiretapping and who is surveilling, however, remains an open question.

Who’s is surveilling and who is wiretapping?

In March 1995, the Ministry of Defence issued a press release stating, “The Occupation Preparedness Organization’s mission today is to provide Norwegian authorities with information and intelligence from a fully or partially occupied Norway. Only Norwegian authorities have access to the contingency plans necessary to activate and operate the field organization. The Occupation Preparedness Organization has limited cooperation with foreign services but is under Norwegian management and control.” The term “Stay Behind” was changed to “Occupational Preparedness Department,” and today the organization is under the intelligence service at the headquarters in Lutvann. The extent of the network’s tasks and individuals’ involvement in it remains secret.



Department "D"

Kaldager’s group is a subgroup of the Human Intelligence Operations Department within intelligence, also known as Department D. It is likely that several versions of the group are operational today. Ronald Bye’s book titled “Norway’s Secret Army” (R. Bye 1995) provides an interesting and striking summary of the extensive operations of these groups. 

…a striking summary of extensive operations

On page 256 of Bye’s book, there is even an organizational chart describing details down to the structure of the intelligence and its sub-departments. Under section D, Special Intelligence (Humint), two special groups are listed: E13 – foreign intelligence and E14.


A dangerous secret

Norway should and must have a good and professional intelligence service. It should ensure information for our forces and our politicians. However, the intelligence service should be under control, which it is not today. It is far too easy to avoid reporting and thus control. A secret directive issued by Jørgen Kosmo in 1997 allows the intelligence service to classify reports for the EOS committee. The justification was “To protect the intelligence services of other countries.”

…a secret directive

In practice, the EOS committee is thus dependent on the intelligence service’s assessments of what should be presented or not. The lack of transparency of the EOS committee in the groups’ activities underscores this. 

The Office of the Auditor General also fails to capture individual budgets for the organizations’ various projects, thus putting us at risk of developing a culture that accepts a kind of state within the state. This is dangerous. And it is largely the idea behind the book “The Fourth Service.”

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