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Kills per dollar

Ny Tid prints here an excerpt from Dag Hoel's new book, Fred is not the best – from inside the Norwegian ammunition industry. The book is about Hoel's upbringing close to Raufoss Ammunition Factories AS and international arms trade in general.


Raufossingen Bjarne Gravdahl was director and responsible for the ammunition factory during the period when the culture came to Raufoss and we Norwegians discovered that although all animals were equal, some were similar to others. It was in the 80 century that innocence hit us. The shoulder pads grew year by year.

I visit Gravdahl on a winter day with frost smoke and creak in the snow. He accepts the stairs and guides me into the sofa. On the coffee table cloth lies a pile of overhead foil with graphs and statistics, spring-loaded tools from warm-up board meetings – and now witnesses from Gravdahl's regime.

When I start by saying that I grew up in Villåsen, I find out that the reason the hamlet never got bigger than a handful of houses was the danger of explosion from the factory's ammunition store that was planted down in the woods, not far from my childhood valley.

"There is no doubt that if that had gone up in the air, it would have been difficult up in Villåsen!"

We laugh heartily. The former director is as fresh in the line of duty as when it stormed two to three decades ago – Raufoss' fate. At that time, not everyone was equally happy about Gravdahl's straight-from-the-liver communication: "Sociognomists have their way of thinking, while engineers have another," he said. “In our world, it's strictly about efficient production, or kills per dollar, as the Americans say. "

We make ourselves comfortable in the salon, while Gravdahl says that product development in the 80s was hampered by the fact that sales of ammunition were "pushy". Raufoss Ammunition Factories could have made more and made more products, unless the politicians had restricted sales. However, when things went relatively well, this was due to the fact that developments in the defense sector have been directed at the US and other large countries.

"If we hadn't been there, we would never have released new weapons. We were good at innovation at Raufoss, but to have a market for innovation, we had to be active and visible. Our relationship with the United States was crucial to working with new technology on, for example, rockets. ”

To land international sales, Raufoss had agents around the world. For example, the United Kingdom was an important market, and Raufoss linked to Gordon Foxley, the former head of procurement in the UK Department of Defense, which from the mid-80s ran its own business and had good results to show.

Gravdahl is barking with the foils with green and red stripes, find the one he is looking for and point out points about how ammunition development has also infected and given success in the civilian sector. Volvo's bumpers would never have been produced at Raufoss, nor looked like they do today, had it not been for RA's development work to make the M72 an even more deadly weapon. These were stories an otherwise slightly guilt-ridden bigot liked to hear.

"The civilian sector's benefit from developments in the military sector was our alibi to the Storting!"

Gravdahl says politicians were not happy that Raufoss exported mines and other clean defense products. The elected officials held their noses:

"We produced some devilish stuff, like that. So it was a big risk of political trouble. It was much easier to gain political acceptance when it came to partial delivery of defense products that a company in another country was responsible for. Brass sleeves, for example. We had to send that out of the country. I have to say that there was a certain political double standards. "

Since we are on double standards, there are some words about the Multi Purpose ammunition.

"The effect of this ammunition probably contradicts the Geneva Convention. One thing is to make a hole in a human, but to shoot so that the bullet explodes inside the body, it's worse. Now war is ultimately about killing the enemy, but we do not want to talk about that in Norwegian political circles.

We produced some damn stuff.

We are going back to the starting point of the conversation, the corporate journey into a new era. As the Raufoss factory had acquired an extensive civilian sector, the board decided in 1987 to change its name from Raufoss Ammunisjonsfabrikker AS to the more neutral Raufoss AS. A discreet factor behind the name change was that even though the name was "disarmed", it was the defense division that made a profit and carried the company. Until 1989, when the wall in Berlin was cut into small pieces and there was to be peace. A frightening scenario at Raufoss – for who would want rocket engines in peacetime? From 1989 to 1990, exports of defense equipment from Norway fell from NOK 1,7 billion to NOK 770 million. And next year, the value was another NOK 200 million lower.

In the political debate about Raufoss' future, the Right was there with ideologically founded truths about the creative power of free man. State enterprises were passé. Only the vitality of private equity holders could handle the challenges of failing markets, also called peaceful times. Parliamentary leader Jan. P. Syse was optimistic: "Let a dynamic business get the chance, but not with taxpayers' money." There was murmur on Raufoss against being separated from the state, a faithful companion, but if you fight against the spirit of the time, you are doomed to lose. Stock quotes had until recently only been of interest to a narrower part of the population and were to be found in separate sections in niche newspapers. But something had happened. On the radio channels that popped up all over the country in the late 80s, number codes were read as mesmerizing mantra between pop wipes. Stock trading was to become part of the Norwegians' everyday business, while companies emerged that relieved busy families with practical tasks such as house washing and gardening.

At a time when peace was threatening arms production, it became clear that free forces had to come in to create new dynamics and opportunities the trusted state was unable to effect. In 1990, the factory was finally listed. The state was yet to provide security with its 53 per cent of the shares, while the private initiative and market forces should boost production and increase profits by 47 per cent.

Norwegian ammunition industry had started as a state, security policy matter. We were to get rid of the Swedes and had to have access to ammunition in the event of war. The production at Raufoss found its cause in the need for defense against external enemies. In 1990, this justification for ammunition production was made. Ammunition trading was now a market with opportunities for return. Therefore, advocates of venture capital over time had been eager for privatization. The defense of Norway alone was unattractive. It was defense and attack needs around the world that created a market and updated the stock exchange listing. The Cold War failed at this time, but the capitalists thought it was the future of the industry. Surely it couldn't be peaceful? In exotic markets, growth potential was obvious, if access was granted.

Forty percent of all corruption in the world takes place in the arms trade.

How could the state help the ammunition industry and its owners? Yes – by easing restrictions. Gravdahl's experience that it was easier to obtain permits for the export of individual components than of whole products, so that politicians did not feel responsible for the final murder weapon, was gradually consolidated until in 1992 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: "If the finished product does not appear as Norwegian, it can be re-exported according to the partner country's export control rules ”. The restrictions on partial deliveries were subsequently removed. Parts of Raufoss could show up anywhere, and they had basically done this for a while, but now without being in violation of Norwegian regulations. The challenges with parts for the F-16 to Iran were a laid back stage. A larger order of grenades to India went well, because it was Bofors who signed the contract, and then Swedish export rules should apply.

The immediate crisis which followed the notions of world peace was muted as the United States invaded Iraq with its coalition. The war increased the faith of the future in the ammunition industry, and revenues from Norwegian exports almost doubled from 1991 to 1992. The Raufossingen nevertheless failed to deliver profits according to the expectations of the ammunition speculators. If Raufoss on the stock exchange gained further arms with more liberal export rules, the stock exchange listing began to look like a thunderous failure. Sure enough, capital came into the business from expectant jugglers, but there were things one hadn't thought enough about:

“Those who bought stocks did it to get something back, and it quickly! It was a new reality at Raufoss. Here we had long-term goals, we built societies, and we soon found that they did not create interest on the stock exchange, ”says Gravdahl. Raufoss did not understand the stock exchange, and the stock exchange did not understand Raufoss.

The failure to communicate helped the share price fall like bombs against Gaddafi. You could hear the buzzing in the air and wonder, but no one understood what was going on. Before, afterwards, it was clear that Adam Smith had never been to Raufoss. The invisible hands did not do the job as the ideology suggested, which it was not allowed to point out at a time when Jens Stoltenberg had brought the Labor Party coal-fire faith in the market's magic. But the fact is that things went awry when the company was listed.

Stock exchange mood was not Gravdahl's only challenge. One morning, the secretary reported on the foreign telephone. The dry voice of London belonged to an employee of MI6, the secret intelligence service, better known as James Bond's employer. The agent had some questions for the director. It was not James who called, on the contrary, an uncommon real agent who wanted information about Raufoss' balance with Gordon Foxley. Raufoss' sales consultant had acquired expensive habits. The sports cars piled up in the driveways on properties he acquired at neat addresses. The weapons industry lived up to its reputation. Gravdahl has so far in our conversation kept to a formed language according to the current standard on Raufoss, but now it is seriously barking at the overhead foils that burst in both hands:

- A fucking affair! Our husband was taken for corruption! He had helped us with the sale of ammunition to England, and he had received commissions from us which he had not disclosed. There was scandal both in England and in Norway.

Today, it has become the norm for former prominent officials to shamelessly mint networks and experiences from previous working life in government service. In the early 90s, such conditions aroused suspicion in England. Gordon Foxley was found guilty of corruption in November 1993. He had received a total of 1,3 million pounds in commissions for deliveries to the British Armed Forces from companies in Italy, Germany – and on Toten. There were strong indications that the total actual amount Foxley had received was significantly higher, but it was this sum that the investigators found evidence for. The prosecuting authority upheld the fact that Foxley had collected commissions on the basis of contracts he set up in his time as purchasing manager in the Armed Forces. In his statement to the Norwegian authorities, Gravdahl wrote about the first payment of NOK 220 to Foxley that it "was intended as a starting commission for Foxley, but the payment was unfortunately calculated on the basis of orders entered into with the British Ministry of Defense while Foxley was still employed there. . […] In total, RA has paid out NOK 000 million to Foxley and his companies. "

One thing is to make a hole in a human, but to shoot so that the bullet explodes inside the body, it's worse.

That Foxley wanted paid the money to a bank account in Switzerland, did not create any wonder at Raufoss. Asked by the Ministry of Industry whether "such events (bank account in Switzerland) may indicate that someone is trying to hide something, Gravdahl replied:" We do not know Foxley's motives for registering the company in Switzerland. In many industries it is common for companies to have accounts in banks outside their own country, and it was natural that the RA also accepted this for Foxley. ”

40 percent of all corruption in the world takes place in the arms trade. That Raufoss should run this store and avoid the industry modus operandi, is unthinkable. In recent years, we have skyrocketed with the eyes of robbery stories from management in Telenor and DNB. They want to be fooled into believing that they "knew nothing." Director Bjarne Gravdahl at Raufoss always stood straight. He did not deny that he was responsible for Raufoss having been a former purchasing manager for the Armed Forces as an agent in London to arrange sales to the British. Bank account in Switzerland was the norm. The mistake in this case was that the British had deceived his own authorities by not giving up the remuneration he received.

Foxley was sentenced to prison in England. In Norway, Raufoss escaped with "shut up that we had not been careful" and a costly replacement for the British Ministry of Defense, except that the same ministry's ethics committee settled on Raufoss for a week to cross-examine Bjarne Gravdahl. They didn't come far with that. The director had warmed up the overhead projector and was ready with the foils when they arrived. He read to them the text on Norwegian ethics, a delicate balance between bribery and compensation.

"It went relatively well, because we had a healthy view of this here."

When I tell about my time as a photo reporter in Central America in the 80s and 90s and my sympathy for the social uprisings of poor people slated by mercenaries equipped with M72 from Raufoss, Gravdahl replies:

"That kind of policy was not very involved in Raufoss. We never got further than we had a great admiration for the United States. We were loyal to the Storting's demands, and that was it. When the Storting doubted, I myself traveled to Oslo to explain the consequences of a possible closure of production. The alternative was to shut down the defense industry. ”

Weak politicians were delighted when Gravdahl withdrew from the Norwegian public in 1997. His loose-fitting truths were a recurring concern. His honesty threatened the Norwegian life lie with statements that "almost 1000 jobs associated with arms production at Raufoss AS can be lost as an indirect result of Norway's foreign development efforts and active role as international peace mediator." Life liars should not, as you know, challenge.

The book is launched with an event at Tronsmo bookstore in Oslo 16.09. at 1700

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