An official website of the United States government

Americans Disappointed By New Danish Defense Budget
February 4, 2019

By Helene Holst

Carla H. Sands, the US Ambassador to Denmark was not satisfied when she visited one of the Danish navy ships with 32 missile silos.  She noted that silos were empty.

“I love Denmark.  I love our alliance. But, I have to say that when I was onboard one of your frigates, there were no missiles in the silos,” she told Børsen recently.

Yesterday, at Terminal 3 by the Ocean Quay in Copenhagen she visited the American destroyer, USS Porter, that is currently visiting Denmark: 154 meters long with guns, missiles and even a helicopter landing pad.  This time she was happy.

“This destroyer is fantastic and certainly lives up to its motto.  I am deeply impressed by the ship’s capabilities.  She is here to defend our European allies,” she said.   Carla Sand noted that the ship’s motto is “Freedom’s Champion.”

Speaking to the decorated servicemen and women from around the world who had come to hear her speak and get a guided tour of the ship, she noted that the ship is manned by 300 men and women.  These professional sailors “man weapon systems that are necessary to defend our allies in Europe.  They give our ships fatal force.  They can withstand considerable damage and recover in order to engage with our enemies.”

While she praised the USS Porter, there was no direct criticism of the Danish defense or the  navy, but in recent months, she and the rest of the US administration have used almost every available opportunity to remind European allies that the responsibility for our common defense, is precisely that, common.

Member nations have promised to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense.  According to the terms of the recent defense agreement, Denmark has pledged to increase its defense spending by DKK 4.5 percent by 2024 and, thereby, get up to 1.5 percent of GDP.

But the majority of the money has been found by moving expenses around, whereby all defense related items have been reallocated under the defense budget.  The agreement resulted in the following comment from Sands in Børsen: “The Danish figures are approached in a ‘wrong’ way; the figures are pulled out of the sky.”  She was slightly milder (than she was in the Børsen interview, Ed.) on the cold Friday when she first and foremost underscored the following:  “We are happy that Denmark has increased its defense budget.  It is fantastic.  It is also very noteworthy and admirable that Denmark did it during an election year and has 80 % of the politicians behind the agreement.  This is something that all (NATO) countries can be satisfied with.”

Denmark risks becoming a burden

But, and this is a clear but: the US is not satisfied.  Sands noted that at the NATO Summit in 2014 Denmark promised to work towards spending 2 percent, but things are moving slowly.  She underscored the fact that, in 2014 (NATO) countries promised to make specific “contributions in terms of capabilities and capacities to ensure our futures and our safety.”  She added that some of the things she did not see in the defense budget were, among others, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance.

“Neither do I see that Denmark has mid-air refueling that America always supplies when Danish planes are deployed.  Allies have to do this.  If Denmark does not contribute with what it said it would you will become a burden for our NATO allies.”  As one of her central issues she underscored the need for investment in personnel in the Danish army:  “There is a great demand, and this is something I don’t see in the budget either, to increase the number of troops and to improve and maintain the training of the young men and women who will be the next generation of Danish fighters.  We have very good cooperation with Denmark.  Denmark deploys in the worst war zones and we have to ensure that our great Danish allies already have the necessary equipment and personnel that they need and deserve.” (End text)