Agreement on barrack closures in place

In final talks on which barracks to close, defence minister peppered with questions about Afghan interpreters

The political parties reached an agreement today on which military barracks to close in order to help find 2.7 billion kroner of savings in the annual defence budget. During the final negotiations, however, the issue was temporarily delayed while those involved grilled the defence minister, Nick Hækkerup (Socialdemokraterne), on the controversy brewing surrounding the military's use of Afghan interpreters.

The short list of barracks slated for closure were the Bülows Barracks in Fredericia, Almegård on Bornholm, and barracks in Sønderborg, Haderslev and either Høvelte or Vordingborg.

A statement on the defence department's website said that agreement has been reached on completely shutting down the Sønderborg and Bülows barracks and partially closing the barracks in Vordingborg. The bases in Haderslev, Almegård and Høvelte appear to have survived the axe this time.

Those involved in the decision-making process had said that a decision would not be made until Hækkerup explained why he had apparently given false information about the military’s use of Afghan interpreters from Helmand. In defending Denmark's decision to not grant asylum to Afghan interpreters, Hækkerup had said that local interpreters had not been used and that Denmark instead employed interpreters from other, safer parts of Afghanistan. But information released Sunday seemed to contradict that assertion.

"When we are gathered today, it is a natural time to get an explanation on [the interpreters] case," Venstre defence spokesman Troels Lund Poulsen told Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

Despite the inquiries into the Afghanistan issue, the political parties reached an agreement on which barracks to close. 

Once the agreement is finalised, the old Bülows Barracks in Fredericia will be closed. The barracks provides 625 jobs, which the local newspaper Budstikken says will be transferred to the town’s other barracks, Ryes, in the northern part of town.

The Sønderborg barracks, home to the Army NCO School and 150 jobs, will shut down. The school will be transferred to Varde.

The barracks in Haderslev, Høvelte in north Zealand and Almegårds Barracks on Bornholm survived the round of cuts.