Fregatten Niels Juel var i juni 2020 i Grønland for at operere under Arktisk Kommando og bidrage til suverænitetshævdelsen og overvågning af farvandet.

The Danish frigate Niels Juel was in Greenland in June 2020 to operate under Arctic Command and contribute to the assertion of sovereignty and monitoring of the waters. Photo: Iben Valery.

Developments related to defence and security policies

The Government wishes to secure stability, safety and security for everyone within and preserve the unity of the Kingdom of Denmark. Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland have a special responsibility in regards to defence and security in the Arctic and the North Atlantic.


The situation in the Arctic is rapidly changing. Global warming opens new sea routes and makes natural resources accessible. This increases economic and research activities while at the same time having security policy implications. As a result, many actors have increased their focus on the Arctic. Russia is increasing its activity and military build-up in the region. The current situation challenges the vision of the Government to maintain the Arctic as a stable and secure area. The Danish Defence is the entire Realm’s Defence. The strengthening of the Danish Defence’s presence in the Arctic and North Atlantic is therefore coordinated with the Faroe Islands and Greenland.


In February 2021 the Government (the Social Democratic Party) and Venstre (The Liberal Party), the Danish People’s Party, the Social Liberal Party, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Alliance entered into a framework agreement on the use of 1.5 bn. DKK for the Danish Defence in 2018-2023 on the strengthening of the capabilities of the Danish Defence in the Arctic and the North Atlantic.


The framework will significantly strengthen the capabilities of the Danish Defence to track and monitor the steadily increasing activities in the region. This will be done through investments in high-tech unmanned systems and capabilities. The strengthened capabilities in the Arctic and the North Atlantic will provide both military and civilian benefits by strengthening the capabilities of the Danish Defence to support civil society through search and rescue operations, emergency operations, environmental surveillance, fisheries control, monitoring of the climate, and research etc. A new Arctic basic military training will be established in cooperation with Naalakkersuisut (The Government of Greenland) to strengthen young Greenlandic citizens’ opportunity to take part in the emergency management in Greenland.


Read the framework agreement here


In 2016 a political agreement was also entered (The Agreement on the Arctic) on strengthening the capabilities of the Danish Defence in the Arctic. The Danish Defence Agreement 2018-2023 focuses on efforts that promote an increased involvement of Greenlandic citizens in the activities of the Danish Ministry of Defence in the Arctic.


The developments in the Arctic with climate change, better access, the increase of commercial and scientific activities in the Arctic together with the shifts in the security situation demand an increased engagement in the Arctic and the North Atlantic. A precondition to secure a sustainable and sensible development is a continued stable political situation in the Arctic.


As stated in the Kingdom of Denmark’s Strategy for the Arctic 2011-2020, the Kingdom is of the belief that the development and challenges in the Arctic must be managed on the basis of international legal principles to secure a peaceful and safe cooperation in the Arctic. The Kingdom of Denmark’s approach to security in the Arctic is thus based on the Ilulissat Declaration from 2008, where the Arctic States agreed to the orderly settlement of any disagreement in accordance with international law and based on dialogue and negotiations. Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine has, however, challenged this approach, but still the principles from the Ilulissat Declaration are maintained by the other like-minded Arctic states.


The tasks of the Danish Defence in the Arctic and the North Atlantic

The activities of the Danish Defence in, and around, the Faroe Islands and Greenland are commanded by the Joint Arctic Command. The Arctic Command has its headquarters in the capital of Greenland, Nuuk, situated in southwest Greenland. The Arctic Command also has a liaison in Tórshavn on the Faroe Islands. The Arctic Command has the operational command of the units of the Danish Defence stationed in the Faroe Islands and Greenland. These units include, inter alia, Arctic patrol vessels, aircraft, helicopters and the SIRIUS long range dog sledge patrol.


The primary task of the Danish Defence in, and around, the Faroe Islands and Greenland is primarily surveillance of the territorial waters and upholding sovereignty. In Greenland, the Danish Defence carries out a range of tasks in support of the civil society, such as search and rescue, maritime survey, surveillance of the ocean environment and pollution control in cooperation with the Greenlandic authorities.


Furthermore, a number of other tasks such as fisheries inspections, support to scientific expeditions and patrolling with ships and aircraft are also done.


The Danish Defence has personnel stationed at Station Nord, the northernmost military base in the world (Northeast Greenland), Royal Danish Air Force Detachment Greenland in Kangerlussuaq (West Greenland), A station at Mastersvig (East Greenland), logistic hub at Grønnedal (Southwest Greenland) and a liaison detachment at Thule Air Base (Northwest Greenland). Additionally, the SIRIUS long range dog sled patrol with approximately 12 soldiers enforces Danish sovereignty and police authority in the world’s largest national park, which covers nearly all of the northeast of Greenland. The dog sled patrol SIRIUS is stationed at Daneborg in East Greenland.


Furthermore, the Defence has established the concept of the Danish Arctic Response Force, which will be able to reinforce the current tasks of the Danish Defence in the Arctic as well as support to other authorities in Greenland. The Danish Arctic Response Force will at activation be composed of units and capabilities from across the Danish Ministry of Defence (for example aircraft, ships, units from the Emergency Management Agency etc.).


Find more information on the Joint Arctic Command, the Arctic Analysis, the Danish Defence Agreement 2018-2023, and the Danish Defence Intelligence Service risk assessments

Last updated February 19, 2021 - 10:25