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February 4, 2019

A cold wind is blowing over the American warship, USS Porter, that is docked at the cruise ship terminal at the far end of Nordhavn.   Notwithstanding this, the American Ambassador, Carla Sands agrees to put on her furry jacket and pose for a couple of photographs on the windswept deck of the ship.  The former Glamour actress’ smile is perfect, but stiffens somewhat when the talk turns to the recent increase in the Danish defense budget that a majority of the political parties, quite extraordinarily, agreed to increase by DKK 4.5 billion, including DKK 1.5 billion in new money.

Carla Sands starts off by praising the Danish politicians who, shortly before an election, agreed to something as unpopular as increased NATO defense spending.

“This is a great step in the right direction,” she says.  But, then her smile stiffens.   Because, even though the parties in the defense agreement have found new money, they still have not agreed on what it should be used for.  According to Carla Sands, that should not be too difficult to work out.   She points to the fact that the US considers Denmark to have pledged, at the NATO summit in 2014, to deliver a number of items that are still not forthcoming.

“All NATO members agreed in 2014 to contribute specific capacities in order to ensure our collective security, peace and progress,” she said.

Planes Are Lacking

According to the Ambassador, in Denmark’s instance, this is about providing the capacity to carry out mid-air refueling as well as new equipment to enable the defense to keep large parts of Greenland and other areas under surveillance.

“Some things I don’t see in the defense agreement are ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) – that is surveillance of the entire kingdom of Denmark, including Greenland, “ Carla Sands says.

Surveillance of the cold North could involve everything from drones to satellites and advanced ship or airplane-borne radar-systems.  “Another thing that I don’t see is a mid-air refueling capacity, that allies have to have…  If Denmark does not provide this capacity, as it has said it will, it will be a burden to our NATO alliance,” the American Ambassador says.  Today, the (Danish) air force does not have any such mid-air refueling planes, but rents them from the Dutch air force when it needs to refuel F-16 fighters in the air.   Speaking in connection with the new defense budget, Minister of Defense, Claus Hjort Frederiksen (V) said that he expects cyber-security and the Arctic to be obvious areas that Denmark could strengthen.”  The SDP and De Radikale have also pointed to cyber, while DF has expressed the desire to purchase additional F-35 fighters.