The worsening lack of staff in the Danish military endangers both the Nordic country’s own defense plans and its overseas commitment to allies.
To illustrate the shortage, Danish sailors drew a sports metaphor, comparing the situation with a football team putting up only eight players for a match.
While Copenhagen’s military ships are supposed to keep a watchful eye on the waters around distant parts of the Danish Realm such as the Faroe Islands and Greenland around the clock, the dramatic lack of staff means that Arctic patrols are put on pause so that crews can rest or sleep.
Instead of operating 24/7, Danish inspection ships have to be content with patrolling during normal office hours, seeking port or dropping anchor at night.
As it is at the moment, we are often dropping anchor in the evening, so that the crew can rest until the next day, senior sergeant and trade union representative, Niels Pihlblad, told Danish media in a dramatic admittance of the scope of the problem.
As per Pihlblad, all surveillance is thereby throttled until the next day.
As of now, every fourth berth at 1st Squadron, the unit in the Danish Navy that sails in the waters off Greenland and the Faroe Islands, is currently empty. In only a year and a half, the number of empty berths has doubled.
To emphasize the urgency of the problem, Finn Baek Karlsson of the 1st Squadron drew a colorful sports metaphor. The Danish Navy won’t have enough people to solve all the tasks imposed by politicians.
Denmark utilizes two kinds of ships for its Arctic patrols: four inspection ships of the Thetis-class and three inspection ships of the Knud Rasmussen-class.
The vessels’ tasks are military defense of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, enforcement of sovereignty, sea rescue, and assisting the police and medics in visiting remote settlements.
When the ships are patrolling the North Atlantic, the operations are managed by the Arctic Command in Nuuk.
Numerous sources in the Danish military have stressed that the Arctic waters are among the most important not only for the Danish Realm per se, but for NATO as well, partly because of the supply routes between Europe and the USA, and partly because of key cables on the seabed.
Meanwhile, the lack of staff is apparent across the country’s entire military. In 2022 alone, nearly 2,000 people left the Danish military, which totals some 15,000 troops.
According to reports, none of the Danish Army’s regiments can muster full strength as of now. At best, only every 10th soldier is missing. At worst, more a third are.
This imperils both Denmark’s own defense plans and overseas commitments, as Copenhagen recently decided to withdraw all its military specialists from Iraq and Syria to tackle threats in close proximity to the country’s own borders.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point News 2023.