Danish Military Pressed for Personnel After Record Wave of Resignations
None of the Danish Army's regiments can muster full strength as of now. At best, "only" every tenth soldier is missing. At worst, more than one in three is missing, endangering Denmark's defense plans and overseas commitment.
The Danish Armed Forces are suffering from an acute shortage of personnel after a year with record many resignations.
In 2022 alone, nearly 2,000 people left the Danish military, which in total has some 15,000 troops. This is the highest number since 2010, when statistics began to be tracked in this area.
Now, military trade unions are sounding the alarm that the "pain threshold" has been reached. The Danish army alone, for example, lacks more than a fifth of its full force. The situation looks even worse among constables or corporals. Here, more than every fourth place is empty.
"The fact that more people disappear only hurts even more. We have been shouting for a long time that we have to do something. Only we're not bleeding personnel in 2024, we are already doing that now," Tom Block, the chairman of the soldiers' trade union HKKF, told Danish media.
None of the Danish Army's regiments can muster full strength. At best, "only" every tenth soldier is missing. At worst, more than one in three are missing, Danish media reported, citing internal military sources.
The Danish Navy is plagued by the same problem on the personnel front. None of Denmark's five frigates can muster an entire crew. At its worst, more than one in four berths are empty. This means that the frigates are forced to take turns borrowing staff from each other in order to sail at all. For the ships to be able to sail in action at once, the Navy personnel must grow by approximately a fifth.
20 January 2023, 19:08 GMT
According to the trade unions, the personnel shortages aggravate the workload on the remaining soldiers and may in turn trigger furhter resignations.
"For some, it may become the last nail that makes them leave the Armed Forces, and therefore we have to take it seriously," Tom Block warned.
Associate professor in war studies at the Danish Defense Academy Peter Viggo Jakobsen likened the personnel problem to a "bomb" under current defense negotiations.
"If we fail to find a way in which we can recruit and retain the staff we need to carry out the numerous tasks the politicians want to solve, it is a waste of money to buy the new gear," Viggo Jakobsen told Danish media.
The lack of soldiers also implies difficulties for the Danish military committing personnel to overseas missions, in which Denmark has participated actively since the 1990s as a NATO member. These include Kosovo, Iraq
, Afghanistan, East Africa and most recently Estonia and Latvia. The latter operations are framed as "strengthening NATO's presence in the Baltics" and "deterring Russia". However, due to the personnel shortage, there will be no team of Danish soldiers to replace the current one in the Baltics this spring.
Earlier, Denmark's commitment to support Kiev severely undermined Copenhagen's state coffers, pushing the politicians to abolish a centuries-old Christian holiday
. Furthermore, the extensive military support to Kiev, including the decision to send Denmark’s entire inventory of Caesar self-propelled howitzers has been slammed by Copenhagen's own military experts as a punch to the Nordic nation’s defenses