April 28, 2009: In Denmark, a governmental defense commission has studied the national defense situation and come back with some surprising suggestions. Since the end of the Cold War, the trend in Europe has been to end conscription, reduce the manpower levels in ground forces, and, especially in the case of Germany, to slash the defense budget in order to allocate money to other government projects. Apparently, Denmark thinks otherwise.
The government's Defense Commission was set up in 2007 to determine what changes were needed for the Danish military, including procurement and manpower, in order to best serve the nation's interests through 2014. The recommendations included a defense spending increase of 10 to 15 percent in order to expand Denmark's ground force capabilities and to purchase new weapon systems and other equipment. High on the list of items to be bought includes better body armor, new armored vehicles, and improved battlefield communications equipment to increase the troop combat power.
More than that, the country commission insisted that there was a need to recruit more soldiers to fill its ranks and be ready for future military deployments. The report found that approximately 2,000 additional soldiers are needed to accomplish this. As for the Danish troops serving in Afghanistan, the commission recommended a funding increase of up to 30 percent, bringing the budget for Denmark's deployment in the Central Asian country to almost $100 million. Most people had been certain of what the commission would both find and recommend, namely no increase in military spending and the abolition of the country's existing system of compulsory military service.
The Royal Danish Army currently holds about 11,000 active troops and is considered to be a modern, well-disciplined fighting force. Whether this increase in troops and funds is actually implemented remains to be seen, but it should come as no surprise that the country's allies, especially the US, are hoping that such increases will lead to increased allied deployments to Afghanistan. Danish defense policy takes note of the fact that conventional threats of invasion are currently, and for the foreseeable future, unlikely at worst and non-existent at best. However, the military feels that asymmetric threats, like terrorism hitting Danish soil, are more than real enough to justify the expansion of personnel and military expenditures. -- Rory Walkinshaw