The Danes Take the Threats Seriously: Investing in More Effective Defense Forces


2017-10-13  In October 2017, the Danish government released its proposed new five-year defense guidance and defense spending guidelines.

The government was very clear about what the threats facing Denmark are, the importance of allies modernizing and working effective interdependence in the defense of the North Atlantic and beyond, and need to invest more in new equipment and personnel.

Here is how the Danish government in the document describes the way ahead for Denmark:

Denmark faces more serious threats than in any other period following the fall of the Berlin Wall. The freedom and security we value so highly cannot be taken for granted.

To the east, NATO faces a confrontational and assertive Russia. Instability in the Middle East and North Africa is fuelling militant Islamism, sowing the seeds for the threat of terror and irregular migration flows.

Threats in cyberspace have serious security and socio-economic consequences.

Propaganda campaigns challenge our democratic principles and established rules, while in the Arctic, there is increased activity and military presence.

These are challenges which we cannot afford to ignore.

That is why the Government wishes to substantially increase military spending over the next six years.

The substantial increase will be gradually phased in and ultimately result in the Danish Defence’s annual budget in 2023 being increased by DKK 4.8 billion.

This amounts to an increase of 20% compared to current military spending.

The Government wishes to maintain the existing garrisons so that the Danish Defence will remain a good and attractive workplace across all of Denmark.

The substantial increase in spending will increase operational capacity, and as a whole, the Danish Defence will have more staff, a less leadership-heavy structure and more operational units and soldiers by the end of the period covered by the agreement.

We take the security of Danes seriously, and we back up our words with action.

A Core Ally in NATO

NATO is the cornerstone of Denmark’s defence and security policy. We have a strong interest in maintaining our cooperation in NATO and the Transatlantic bond as the primary guarantor of our security.

The substantial increase in spending will improve the Danish Defence’s annual budget by more than 20% compared to today.

At the same time, with the significant investments in major equipment over the budget period, Denmark will live up to the NATO target of allocating 20% of defence spending on investments in major equipment.

This proposal by the Government reflects that we have listened to NATO’s wishes for the development of Denmark’s military defence over the coming years.

The Government’s proposal for a new defence agreement is a substantial investment in the Danish Defence as a strong safeguard of Denmark and the freedom and security of Danes.

It underscores our determination to keep Denmark as a core ally in NATO.

It will strengthen Denmark’s contribution to ensure that NATO remains the world’s strongest military alliance and a credible guarantor of our security.

The Danish Defence must have the strength, depth and robustness so that we together with NATO deter and prevent other countries from attacking our allies and, ultimately, Denmark.

It must be a credible, collective defence.

This applies in particular to the Baltic region, where Russian activities give cause for growing concern.

Russia is investing heavily in its military and carrying out large-scale military exercises along the Baltic Sea and the Baltic countries’ borders with disregard for international norms and principles. Russia is also active on hidden fronts.

It is important that NATO acts clearly and unambiguously towards Russia.

There can be no misunderstandings or doubts about our resolve or willingness to act, nor our capacity to do so. That is the essence of NATO’s Article 5, the so-called musketeer oath.

Ultimately, this is also crucial to Denmark’s own security.

History has shown that democracies must act and negotiate from a position of strength.

The intensified threat level demands that we invest in the right capabilities so that Denmark together with our NATO allies, can field a defence that can counter, and most importantly deter, a more equal opponent.

Enhanced International Involvement

Denmark is known and recognised for our substantial engagement in international military operations. The Danish Defence makes a significant difference in several of the world’s hot spots.

We should be proud of the fact that our significant contribution to NATO, the UN and the international coalition against ISIS puts us at the forefront of the battle for the security and safety we must safeguard.

Our substantial increase in spending to further enhance the Danish Defence’s ability to participate in the defence of NATO alongside our allies will also mean that the Danish Defence’s ability to participate in international missions will be strengthened.

Denmark faces serious and complex threats from the east and south.

We must not only contribute to NATO’s deterrence, but also to international operations that deal with terrorism and irregular migration.

The Danish Defence is well-equipped for international operations, and will be even more so in the long run with the acquisition of new, high-tech F-35 fighters. The brigade as well as the other new capabilities will further enhance Denmark’s ability to participate in international operations.

For the entire document released by the Danish government in October 2017, please see the following: