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4. Danish participation in international operations

It is an important priority for Denmark to contribute to international peace support efforts, including conflict prevention, peacekeeping, peacemaking, humanitarian efforts etc. Present threats to Danish security often originate from far away, but may nevertheless pose a risk to Denmark, its allies and its core values. Accordingly, the active Danish security policy is primarily aimed at countering threats where they emerge through a broad set of means ranging from diplomatic efforts to active participation in international operations. The current Danish Defence Agreement (2005-2009) reflects this focus. The Danish target is to have the capacities needed to be able – on a continuous basis – to deploy 2,000 troops from 2009. As of September 2007, Denmark has approximately 1,300 troops deployed internationally, including 700 engaged in peace support operations under NATO command. The two main contingents are Afghanistan (approximately 400 troops – increasing to up to 640 by the end of 2007) and Kosovo (approximately 320). In 2006, 1.41 % of the Danish GDP was spent on defence.

Photo: Danish soldiers belonging to the German-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) talk to children in Feyzabad in Afghanistan in May 2006.

Danish soldiers belonging to the German-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) talk to children in Feyzabad in Afghanistan in May 2006.
Photo: Kristian Brasen, Scanpix.

The relationship with NATO

NATO continues to be the cornerstone of Danish defence and security policy, and it remains the guarantee of European security. In recent years, NATO has, however, developed from an organisation primarily focusing on protecting the Member States’ territorial security to an organisation promoting security and stability.

NATO is the main multilateral frame for deployment of Danish armed forces in international operations. NATO is currently engaged in operations and missions in three continents. NATO’s largest operation is the UN mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which supports the Afghan authorities in providing security, stability and reconstruction across Afghanistan. In Kosovo, the UN mandated KFOR presence is helping to maintain security and facilitate the ongoing political process. In Iraq, NATO is involved in the training of Iraqi security forces.

Moreover, NATO supports the African Union’s (AU) AMIS mission in Sudan/Dar-fur with strategic airlift and capacity building. During 2006, Denmark provided personnel to all these operations and missions and thus contributed significantly to the international community’s efforts.


Painting: Hans Nikolaj Hansen: Christian X crosses the old border on horseback on 10 July 1920. Painted 1921.

North Schleswig returns – Iceland leaves: At a plebiscite held in 1920 in accordance with the Versailles agreements after World War I, North Schleswig voted to return to Denmark. On 10 July 1920, King Christian X rode into the recovered land. This gave Denmark its current borders. Conversely, Iceland changed its status from a Danish possession to an independent state, although still in a personal union with Denmark, by an Act of Union in 1918. On the initiative of Iceland, this ended on 17 June 1944, during World War II, when Iceland was proclaimed an independent republic. During World War II, the realm and territories of the Danish King were occupied by no less than three different powers: Denmark itself by Germany, Iceland and the Faroe Islands by Great Britain and Greenland by the USA. Hans Nikolaj Hansen: Christian X crosses the old border on horseback on 10 July 1920. Painted 1921. Frederiksborg Museum.

Photo: Electoral campaign in Afghanistan before the presidential election in 2005.

Electoral campaign in Afghanistan before the presidential election in 2005. Photo: Alfred/SIPA-SIPA.

In addition to these troop contributions, Denmark has been playing an active role in shaping the future orientation and work of the Alliance. Building on positive experiences from cooperation between Danish governmental and non-governmental players in conflict areas where Danish forces are deployed, Denmark has been playing a leading role in making a more proactive approach to civil-military cooperation a priority on NATO’s agenda. In particular, the experience from Afghanistan demonstrates that today’s challenges require a comprehensive approach involving a broad spectrum of civil and military instruments. Denmark is also a strong supporter of the ongoing endeavours to adopt a more global and flexible NATO approach to partnerships with non-NATO members. These partnerships entail a closer dialogue with like-minded countries and a more systematic sharing of NATO’s experiences from the Partnership for Peace programmes in the Euro-Atlantic area with other regions of the world.


Denmark is committed to help the government and people of Afghanistan to promote peace, security, stability and development throughout Afghanistan. Denmark believes that the key to success in Afghanistan is a comprehensive approach involving defence, diplomacy and development. As part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Denmark is contributing militarily to the stabilisation of Afghanistan. At present, there are roughly 33,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan. Following the Danish Parliament’s decision on 1 June 2007 to deploy an additional 200 troops to Afghanistan, approximately 640 of the NATO troops are Danish, mostly deployed in Southern Afghanistan in Helmand province under UK lead command. In addition, Danish troops in Afghanistan are deployed as part of the German-led Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) Feyzabad and the Lithuanian-led PRT Chaghcharan.

In recognition of the connection between security and development in creating stability, Danish civilian development advisors have been seconded to the PRTs in Helmand and Feyzabad as well as to the Senior Civilian Representative of NATO in Kabul.

Since 2002, Denmark has provided more than DKK 1 billion (approximately USD 150 million) to Afghanistan in development assistance. Approximately 33% was humanitarian aid and local assistance in the form of, for example, repatriation of refugees. Good governance, democracy, human rights, education and rural development are focal areas for the Danish reconstruction assistance. In January 2007, Denmark decided to accelerate the reconstruction effort in 2007 by increasing the assistance by 60% from DKK 98 to 158 million (USD 18 to 30 million). As a result, Denmark will reach a total of DKK 200 million (approx. USD 39 million) in deveopment assistance per year.

In addition to development assistance, the Danish Ministry of Defence supports the capacity building of the Afghan National Army (DKK 9 million (approx. USD 1.5 million) in 2006 and DKK 10 million (approx. USD 2 million) in 2007).



Painting: Georg Jacobsen: The Danish Freedom Council during the German Occupation. Painted 1951-53.

Active Resistance Movement: Denmark’s active resistance movement during World War II helped the country regain its voice in international politics. Subsequently, Denmark was invited to sign the UN Covenant in 1945. When the government also joined the NATO alliance in 1949, Denmark abandoned the policy of neutrality that it had pursued since its defeat in 1864 and definitively aligned itself with the Western side in the block policy which was to characterise international politics until 1990. The Danish choice was not only dictated by fear of the intentions of the Soviet Union, but also taking into consideration USA’s military interest in Greenland. Georg Jacobsen: The Danish Freedom Council during the German Occupation. Painted 1951-53. Frederiksborg Museum.

Denmark has had a military presence in Iraq since 2003. As of 1 August 2007, four observation helicopters and related personnel have replaced the Danish battalion in Basra as the core of the Danish military contribution to the multinational forces in Iraq. This is a reflection of the increased capabilities of the Iraqi security forces and the gradual transition of responsibility for the security situation from the multinational forces to the local Iraqi authorities that is taking place in South East Iraq. Denmark also supports the Iraqi desire to take on more responsibility for the security situation in Iraq by contributing to the training of Iraqi security forces. Denmark is a significant contributor to NATO’s training mission in Iraq and also contributes military personnel to training efforts in the coalition headquarters.

Denmark is significantly increasing its civilian efforts in Iraq. An additional DKK 90 million (approx. USD 17 million) has been granted in 2007 in order to strengthen the reconstruction effort by moving focus from project implementation in Basra to capacity building in Baghdad. On 1 March 2007, a technical advisory office was set up in Baghdad. This will accommodate up to ten advisors, who will provide capacity building to key Iraqi ministries.

At the same time, a Danish contribution of DKK 100 million (approx. USD 19 million) has been allocated for the alleviation of emergency humanitarian challenges facing Iraqis who are internally displaced in Iraq or refugees in the neighbouring countries. In addition to the current civilian efforts, support for the Iraqi police through Danish police advisors located in Baghdad is also a part of the future Danish assistance to Iraq. This brings the total Danish contribution to civilian efforts in Iraq in the period 2003/08 up to DKK 690 million (approx. USD 131 million).

This page forms part of the publication 'Factsheet Denmark Foreign policy' as chapter 4 of 8
Version 1.0. 12-11-2007
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