Norway Tells Military to Return Underwear After Service Ends Because of Dwindling Supplies

Norway has ordered members of its military to return underwear, bras and socks when they finish their time in service so new conscripts can have access to undergarments amid a shortage in supplies. The Norwegian military partly blamed the problem on the coronavirus pandemic.

Both men and women in Norway are required to complete a period of military service, usually lasting between 12 and 19 months. Until now, the approximately 8,000 men and women who complete their required service every year had to return their outer clothing to the military but were permitted to take their military-issued underwear and socks with them when leaving the barracks.

But among its many impacts, the pandemic has placed extra strain on the production and transportation of supplies like military undergarments, Agence France-Presse reported. Factories have shut down, and supply transit has had problems, leading to the Norwegian military's decision to have service members return underwear and socks so they can be reused.

Press spokesman Hans Meisingset said Monday that as long as there are "proper checks and cleaning, the reuse of garments is considered an adequate and sound practice."

"Now that we have chosen to reuse this part of the kit, it helps us.... We don't have enough in stock," he told public broadcaster NRK. He added that what the military hands out "is in good condition."

Norway Supply Shortage
Conscripts in Norway have been ordered to return their underwear, bras and socks after the end of their military service so that the next group of recruits can use them. Above, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg gives a speech during a reception for the last Norwegian combat soldiers who arrived by plane from Afghanistan on June 26, 2021, at Gardermoen Airport near Oslo. Fredrik Hagen/AFP via Getty Images

The Norwegian Defense Logistics Organization said because of "a challenging stockpile situation, this move is necessary as it provides the Armed Forces with greater garment volumes available for new soldiers starting their initial service."

Meisingset said the pandemic was not the only reason why the stock of garments is low for some items. It also depends on finance, contracts and other issues.

NATO-member Norway's national defense magazine, Forsvarets Forum, reported that this was not the first time that the armed forces had struggled with such shortcomings, with a union spokesman saying it "has been a recurring problem" for years. In June 2020, a third of the soldiers' clothing and equipment was missing.

"A year ago, we looked at exactly the same shortcomings in close-fitting clothing that we see now, and earlier this autumn the largest and smallest sizes of footwear were missing," Eirik Sjoehelle Eiksund was quoted as saying. He added that he believed it was due to errors in the system in ordering and delivery.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.