The Minister for Foreign Affairs appointed Ellisif Tinna Vidisdottir as director of the Defence Agency on 19 May 2008. This is a five year appointment commencing on 1 June 2008, the official start date of the Agency.
Iceland has taken over full responsibility for its peace time defence. Mrs. Vidisdottir will assume the important task of defining the function and role of the new Defence Agency in accordance with the stipulations of the Defence Law as enacted by the Althing, the Icelandic Parliament. Iceland’s status as one of 24 United Nations member states without a military is a precondition of the Defence Law, which stipulates that a new civilian governmental institution will be charged with the execution of all domestic and international defence related activities.
The Defence Agency’s tasks and functions include: operation and maintenance of the Iceland Air Defence System; participation in coordinated NATO Air Surveillance and Policing; operation, maintenance and utilization of security zones and infrastructure; preparation and execution of defence exercises in Iceland; participation in relevant NATO committees and Agencies; tasks related to the execution of the US-Iceland bilateral defence agreement from 1951; cooperation with international institutions and execution of international agreements in the field of defence; provide advice and council to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs; and cooperate with Universities and international associations.
On 1 June the Radar Agency will seize operations concurrent with the activation of the Defence Agency. Mrs. Vidisdottir has already taken a seat in the Minister’s Special Working Group tasked with the preparation of the enactment of the Defence Law and the operational commencement of the Defence Agency. The Working Group is i.e. tasked with carrying out preliminary provisions of the Defence Law which stipulates that the current staff of the Radar Agency will be offered a job with the Defence Agency.
Mrs. Vidisdottir obtained a law degree and a BA degree in anthropology from the University of Iceland. She is an experienced manager, having served as the Deputy Police Commissioner of the Sudurnes Police Authority from its inception, as well as serving as the Deputy District Commissioner to the Keflavik Airport District Commissioner from 2004. She also served as a legal adviser with the District Commissioner and as a member of the District Commissioner’s supervisory managerial commission after completing her law degree. During Mrs. Vidisdottir’s tenure at the District Commissioner’s Office, the role of the District Commissioner Office underwent significant changes in terms of function and structure during Iceland’s enactment of the Schengen agreement. Mrs. Vidissdottir was a key player in that reorganization, as well as in the merging of the various police districts on the Reykjanes peninsula. She served as an organization manager at the Radar Agency for just over two months last fall, and in addition has extensive experience in cooperating and collaborating with allied countries within NATO.