Military experts concerned about Denmark’s NATO future

The former defence minister warns about potential military spending cuts

Knud Bartels – the former head of the Danish military who recently retired as the chairman of the NATO Military Committee – has warned in a letter to Carl Holst, the defence minister, that Denmark’s position and reputation in the international military alliance could suffer if the country doesn’t step up its military spending.

READ MORE: Danes sign on to NATO Alliance initiatives

The letter, to which Berlingske got access, cautions Holst that cuts to military spending could jeopardise Denmark’s position as a leading member of the alliance. Henrik Breitenbauch, the head of the centre for military studies at the University of Copenhagen, agrees with the contention.

“The Danish logic has for many years been about what we contribute to international operations like in Afghanistan and now the fight against Islamic State in Iraq,” he said.

“That has given Denmark the status of model pupil in the eyes of NATO and the US, but now the measuring stick has moved. The threat from Russia is in focus and the US and NATO now put more weight on how much money we spend on defence, and that challenges our role as model pupil.”

According to Bartel, the member countries of NATO are concerned that Denmark’s upcoming purchase of fighter jets will threaten spending in other areas of the defence budget.

Holst told the newspaper that he is “listening with great interest to all points of view”, but declined to comment specifically on the implications of the fighter jet acquisition.