Denmark’s centrist government said Tuesday that it wants to invest some 143 billion kroner ($20.6 billion) in the country's defense over the next decade, citing a “serious threat picture.”
The government has an ambition to reach NATO's target of spending 2% of gross domestic product on military budgets by 2030, in part as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We are at a historic turning point in defense and security policy. There is war in Europe, and we can no longer take peace for granted,” acting Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen told a press conference, calling it “an ambitious plan.”
“The threat picture can change quickly. We see this not least with the war in Ukraine,” Lund Poulsen said.
Kristian Søby Kristensen with the the Center for Military Studies at the University of Copenhagen, said that what the government presented was “an economic frame” which was “a starting point for talks” with other political parties before a decision is made on spending the money.
Denmark’s three-party coalition government is made up of the center-left Social Democrats, the center-right Liberal Party and the centrist Moderate party. Together they control 89 seats in the 179-seat parliament and command a majority with the support of the four lawmakers representing the semi-independent Danish territories of Greenland and the Faeroe Islands.
Nevertheless, the government will seek broad, multi-party support as is the tradition with these issues.
While none of the money was earmarked to any specifics, Lund Poulsen said that “a strengthened conscription will also be able to expand the Armed Forces’ recruitment base and the reserve.” He also said that he wanted “more equality between men and women.” In Denmark, while four-month conscription is mandatory for men, women have a choice.
Denmark's Armed Forces have recently seen staff leave for several reasons. Earlier this month, the government said it wants to spend 38 billion kroner ($5.5 billion) over the next decade to modernize military facilities, renovate shabby and dilapidated buildings, increase the number of soldiers and upgrade outdated computer systems. That amount was part of the 143 billion-kroner plan presented on Tuesday.
In recent years, Denmark's Armed Forces have focused of missions abroad rather than on territorial defense, Søby Kristensen noted, adding that on top of that came demands to save money that meant that "they deprioritized anything that was not associated" with foreign assignments.