Senior Course 124, Regional Approaches Field Study: Copenhagen
The final leg of the Senior Course 124 Regional Approaches Field Study was Copenhagen. Following a hosted tour of the harbour, Course Members witnessed a wreath laying ceremony at the Monument for Denmark’s International Missions since 1948.
On 26 June, the programme began with Mr Ulrik BIRK-PETERSEN, Head of the Security Policy and International Operations Unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who briefed the group on Danish foreign policy. He began by describing Danish security policy goals and frameworks. While recognizing the challenges posed by the size of the nation, Denmark strongly supports and participates in internationally recognized operations for global security (NATO, EU & UN Missions). Danish security policy is shaped by a government coalition composed of eight recognized political parties, but enjoys the support of all parties for national defence. NATO, the EU and the UN provide the legitimacy for participating in international operations while retaining public support. The speaker explained the purpose of the current referendum, which does not allow the Danish military to participate in international operations without the prior approval of parliament, but does allow for civilian support in these operations. He concluded his presentation by reaffirming Denmark’s support to NATO’s Article V and speaking about the Ministry’s preparations for the upcoming NATO Summit in Wales.
The following presentation was provided by Mr Henrik STORM, Department of NATO & EU Policy, Ministry of Defence, and focused on Danish defence policy and its priorities: the sovereignty, integrity and security of the nation. The speaker also stressed the importance of supporting international operations. Briefly portraying Danish support for missions around the world, he highlighted ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Syria. He discussed the impact and support for NATO’s current stance vis-à-vis the Russian Federation. He also referred to internal military priorities and stressed the importance of both NATO and bilateral engagements for Denmark’s national security, taking NORDEFCO as an example.
The highlight of the day was an overview of Denmark’s defence programme by the Chief of Defence, General Peter BARTRAM. After welcoming the group to Denmark, he introduced a discussion on the present status of Danish Defence Forces and future prospects. In referring, in his presentation, to the ‘Kingdom of Denmark’, General Bartram was alluding to Denmark’s responsibilities for both the Faroe Islands and Greenland, and he conducted a synopsis of Danish operations worldwide, highlighting many long-term commitments. Full spectrum operational capability remains a primary defence planning priority and he described the effects of a programmed 15% reduction in defence spending, effective from 2017, and the planning involved. The considered end-state for Danish Defence Forces is having the capability to conduct operational deployments, with a rapidly deployable and sustainable force that is flexible, well trained and equipped with the best available technology.
Between briefings, a Member of SC124, Commander Renaud FLAMANT (BEL N) was honoured to be awarded his promotion to the rank of Captain by General BARTRAM and Brigadier General Patrick Desjardins, Head of the NDC delegation.
Major General Flemming LENTFER, Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Policy, Ministry of Defence, then spoke about ‘Denmark in the Arctic’. Danish presence in the Arctic includes between 60 and 80 permanently stationed personnel in Greenland and rotational units supporting numerous defence-related actions, such as year-round support to civil authority missions. The speaker described the Ministry of Defence’s support to a “whole of government” approach in the Arctic. This includes capability development, international cooperation and strategic analysis of risks, combined a variety of related activities of which the UN Continental Shelf Commission is an example.
Concluding the programme was a Question and Answer Panel, providing Course Members with the opportunity to interact with key leaders and hear, firsthand, the ongoing strategic discussion within the Danish government. Participating in the panel were:
- General Peter BARTRAM, Chief of Defence
- Major General Flemming LENTFER, Deputy Chief of Staff, Ministry of Defence
- Mr Lars SALQUIST, Head of Department, Ministry of Defence
- Mr Lars BO MØLLER, Head of Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The official Field Study Programme concluded with a reception hosted by General BARTRAM at the Frederiksberg Palace. Course Members now return to Rome, for their final few weeks of study before graduation.