The Danish military "lacks soldiers like never before," according to a top commander
The Danish military's second-in-command has warned that the country is "years" away from having a combat-capable army, according to comments he made this week to the government-owned TV 2 broadcaster.
Brigadier General Henrik Lyhne said Denmark's military is facing what he referred to as its worst staffing issue in decades - a factor which he said will complicate efforts to meet Copenhagen's NATO obligations. He added that low wages and below-par personnel housing have contributed to an exodus from the armed forces. This, in turn, has led to problems in Denmark supplying troops to the US-led military bloc's eastern flank in Latvia.
"This is an emergency call," Lynhe said in an interview broadcast on Monday. "The situation is extremely critical, especially because we lack soldiers like never before. I have been in the armed forces for 40 years, and it has never looked so bad."
He added that approximately 20-25% of positions in the Danish military are currently vacant, and that even if "more money is injected soon" it would take years to restore it to previous standards.
A key issue, Lyhne said, is the unpreparedness of Denmark's 1st Brigade, known as the 'Army's First', which is around 1,000 soldiers short of its expected complement of 4,000, according to an internal memo from the Ministry of Defense.
According to TV 2, which reported on the memo, the document states that Denmark is meeting just three of NATO's 17 strength objectives. This relates to various military hardware goals, such as delivering short-range air defense systems to the army. This has led to rebukes from NATO staff as well as the UK and the US, according to TV 2's reporting of the ministry memo.
NATO determined in a 2020 evaluation of Denmark's military that there was already a "critical deficit" in its military which would likely render it "practically useless in a sharp conflict."
In response to Lyhne's comments, Danish acting defense minister Troels Lund Poulsen told TV 2 this week that the country's military situation was "critical." Danish military analyst Jens Wenzel Kristofferson questioned, also to TV 2, if Denmark can consider itself a "core ally" to NATO when it lags so far behind in military requirements.