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Hey, Big Spender! Denmark to Drastically Boost Its Defense Budget

Soldiers during a drill in DenmarkInternationalIndiaAfricaThe ambitious draft budget that envisages showering Denmark’s severely understaffed and overstretched military with gold follows a spending spree that involves several massive aid packages to Ukraine and pledges to reach NATO’s spending target already this year.Denmark’s acting Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen of the Liberals has presented a massive DKK 143Bln ($20Bln) defense budget over the next 10 years aimed to correct present shortcomings.The annual level of spending will rise from DKK 6.7Bln ($960Mln) this year to as much as DKK 19.2Bln (approximately $2.8Bln) in 2033.Among other things, the money will be spent on everything from personnel to buildings and materiel to boost Denmark’s defense. Though most of the money will be earmarked on what has been vaguely described as «new defense and security policy priorities», billions of kroner will be spent on developing the skills of the staff, improving IT and restoring numerous dilapidated buildings.As a justification for spending so much, and admitting how ambitious the plan is, Poulsen claimed that Denmark was at a «historic turning point in defense and security policy», where «peace can no longer be taken for granted». According to him, the idea behind the unprecedented spending spree is to create a «defense that is able to deliver on its obligations and is up to date».MilitaryDenmark Joins EU Military Cooperation as It Drops Historic Opt-Out24 May, 11:14 GMTPoulsen added that the Danish government has defined several benchmarks: strengthening the Danish Commonwealth, the surrounding areas and Ukraine (where Denmark has already become one of the top donors per capita), as well as participating in the world’s hot spots.Finally, the proposal will lead to major adjustments to conscription, which at present involves some 4,000 new recruits annually in a nation of less than 6 million and an active military of some 15,000.In a bid to alleviate skepticism, Poulsen promised that the proposal is «fully funded», with the extra money guaranteed by what he called «increased financial leeway», among other things from the controversial abolition of the Great Prayer Day — a historic and beloved holiday that dates back to the 17th century.

Back to Cold War Era?

There has lately been a lot of focus on both the strength and financial health of the Danish military and servicemen themselves have admitted to issues ranging from dramatic personnel flight to mold-infested buildings and dilapidated tents. Analysts have pointed out that decades of low spending from the end of the Cold War have undermined Denmark’s military capacity. Among other things, the Nordic country recently announced plans to rein in its overseas activity, such as in the Middle East, and instead focus on nearby areas such as the Baltic Sea. The ambitious plans are therefore seen as a return to the ethos of the Cold War era.MilitaryDenmark Aims for NATO Spending Target With Huge Ukraine Aid Package30 May, 08:00 GMTHowever, the list of what the Danish Armed Forces lack to enable it to perform the most urgent tasks is long and exceeds even the capacity of an increased war chest and a commentator on the national broadcaster said that the Danish military «can only find foreign submarines if they stick the periscope over the water or raise the flag».Nevertheless, the Danish government recently announced an additional $2.6Bln aid package to Kiev to boost its military spending to NATO’s target level of 2 percent. This measure has been seen by analysts as reassurance that Denmark is an ally, and possibly strengthens the image of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who is touted as a possible successor to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

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