Thursday, November 18, 2010
During the Cold War, a network of Norwegian signals intelligence facilities in the far north of the country scooped up the VHF transmissions of Red Army units garrisoned in the Baltic states. Analysis of routine call signs and wireless traffic allowed the Norwegians, acting as surrogates for the U.S. National Security Agency, to monitor troop movements and any sudden deployment to the south or west. Soviet signals were intercepted at Tomaselv on Vadso Island, Kirkenes and Viksjofjell, and Fasuske. They were then sent to the NSA via an American communications relay at Gardermoen, on the outskirts of Oslo not far from the Norwegian signals intelligence headquarters at Saeter, or via a teleprinter to Chicksands in England. In addition, the Norwegians ran two direction-finding stations at Heimdal outside Trondheim, and at Randaberg, near Stavanger, with a further site at Nordstrand, outside Oslo, which concentrated on the southern Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact satellite countries. The significance of the Norwegian activity can be judged by the fact that the entire Norwegian Intelligence Service only ever employed a thousand personnel, of whom more than half were engaged on “high priority” work, which was a euphemism for signals intelligence.