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Denmark Military - 2024


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Military and security forces

Danish Armed Forces (Forsvaret): Royal Danish Army, Royal Danish Navy, Royal Danish Air Force, Danish Home Guard (Reserves) (2023)

note: the Danish military maintains a joint service Arctic Command with the mission of protecting the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Denmark in the Arctic Region, including the Faroe Islands and Greenland; the command also conducts maritime pollution prevention, environmental monitoring, fishery inspections, search and rescue, hydrographical surveys, and provides support to governmental science missions

Military expenditures

2% of GDP (2023 est.)
1.4% of GDP (2022)
1.3% of GDP (2021)
1.4% of GDP (2020)
1.3% of GDP (2019)

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 17,000 active-duty personnel (10,000 Army; 3,500 Navy; 3,500 Air Force) (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Danish military inventory is comprised of a mix of modern European, US, and domestically produced equipment; the US has been the largest supplier of military equipment to Denmark in recent years; the Danish defense industry is active in the production of naval vessels, defense electronics, and subcomponents of larger weapons systems, such as the US F-35 fighter aircraft (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscripts serve an initial training period that varies from 4 to 12 months depending on specialization; former conscripts are assigned to mobilization units; women eligible to volunteer for military service; in addition to full time employment, the Danish military offers reserve contracts in all three branches (2023)

note 1: women have been able serve in all military occupations, including combat arms, since 1988; as of 2022, they made up about 9% of the military's full-time personnel; in 2024, Denmark announced that it would extend military conscription to women in 2026

note 2: conscientious objectors can choose to instead serve 6 months in a non-military position, for example in Beredskabsstyrelsen (dealing with non-military disasters like fires, flood, pollution, etc.) or overseas foreign aid work

note 3: foreigners who have lived in Denmark for at least 1 year or in another EU country for 6 years may apply to join the armed forces, provided they are fluent in Danish 

note 4: Denmark has had compulsory military service since 1849

Military deployments

approximately 225 Estonia (NATO); approximately 800 Latvia (NATO) (2023)

note: in response to Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, some NATO countries, including Denmark, have sent additional troops and equipment to the battlegroups deployed in NATO territory in eastern Europe

Military - note

the Danish Armed Forces (Forsvaret) have a variety of missions, including enforcing the country’s sovereignty, monitoring Danish waters and airspace, search and rescue, environmental protection, host nation support for alliance partners, international peacekeeping, fulfilling Denmark’s commitments to NATO, and providing assistance to the police for border control, guard tasks, air surveillance, and during national disasters and other emergencies

NATO has been a cornerstone of Danish security and defense police since it joined in 1949 as one of the organization’s original members under the North Atlantic Treaty (also known as the Washington Treaty); the Forsvaret regularly exercises with NATO allies and participates in a number of NATO missions, including its Enhanced Forward Presence in Eastern Europe, air policing in the Baltics, naval operations in the Baltic Sea and North Atlantic, and an advisory mission in Iraq; the Forsvaret leads NATO’s Multinational Division – North (inaugurated 2019), a headquarters based in Latvia that supports the defense planning of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and the coordination of regional military activities, including NATO’s forward deployed forces; it also takes part in other international missions for Europe and the UN ranging from peacekeeping in Africa to protecting Europe's external borders by patrolling the Mediterranean Sea in support of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency; Denmark is a member of the EU and voted to join the EU’s Common Defense and Security Policy in a June 2022 referendum; the Forsvaret cooperates closely with the militaries of other Nordic countries through the Nordic Defense Cooperation (NORDEFCO; established 2009), which consists of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden in such areas as armaments, training and exercises, and operations; it also has a joint composite special operations command with Belgium and the Netherlands

the Defense Command is Denmark's overall military command authority for land, air, and naval operations, although the Army, Air Force, and Navy also have their own individual service commands; an Arctic Command protects the sovereignty of Denmark in the Arctic region, including the Faroe Islands and Greenland, and conducts maritime pollution prevention, environmental monitoring, fishery inspections, search and rescue, and hydrographical surveys, plus support to governmental science missions; there is also a joint service Special Operations Command, which includes the Sirius Dog Sled Patrol, an elite unit that patrols the most remote parts of northeast Greenland

established in 1614, the Royal Danish Army’s combat forces consist of two mechanized brigades; the Air Force (established in 1950) has two fighter squadrons comprised of more than 30 US-made F-16 aircraft, which are being replaced by US-origin F-35 stealth multirole fighter aircraft; the Navy was founded in the early 1500s, but Denmark has a long maritime tradition going back to the time of the Vikings; the modern Navy’s principal warships are nine frigates, three offshore patrol ships, and several other coastal patrol vessels of varying size and capabilities (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Denmark on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Denmark 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Denmark 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.