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Defence Cooperation between Denmark and the Baltic States

Denmark has actively cooperated with Estonia in the field of military defence since 1991.

One Defence Attaché in Vilnius accredited to all three Baltic States
The Danish Defence Attaché at the Danish Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania is accredited to all three Baltic States. The Defence Attaché is working towards maintaining as well as promoting the extensive bilateral cooperation between Denmark and the Baltic States within the area of defence. The current Defence Attaché is Colonel Niels Henrik Johansen, who has been managing the position since August 2018.

Danish contribution to NATO eFP in Estonia
At the NATO Warsaw Summit in June 2016, the members of NATO adopted the establishment of the permanent rotational enhanced Forward Presence (eFP). The agreement led to the establishment of four multinational battalions stationed in the three Baltic States and Poland. Throughout 2018, Denmark is contributing with approximately 200 of the approximately 1.000 soldiers in the UK-led eFP battlegroup in Tapa, Estonia.

NATO Baltic Air Policing
Since the Baltic States joined NATO in 2004, NATO has been conducting air policing over the Baltic air space. Denmark has been actively participating in the enforcement of the aerial sovereignty of the Baltic States by participating in six rotations so far, in 2004, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2018. The rotation in 2014 was conducted from Ämari Air Base in Estonia, while the remaining four have been conducted from Šiauliai in Lithuania. The current rotation, covering the first four months of 2018, is conducted from Lithuania and consists of four Danish F-16 aircraft and approximately 60 personnel.

Denmark commands NATO’s standing Baltic Sea Fleet
Throughout 2018, Denmark commands the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1). The geographical operational area of the fleet is not clearly defined; however, the SNMG1 is expected to operate primarily in the Baltic Sea as well as the northern and eastern parts of the Atlantic Ocean. The fleet will assume the role of supporting the NATO presence in the region, conduct training and exercises, etc. The command platform for the mission will be located on the Danish frigate Niels Juel during the first half of 2018 and from the support ship Esben Snare during the rest of the year.

Baltic brigades affiliated to Danish Division
Previously Denmark has had extensive bilateral cooperation with the Baltic States through the so-called brigade project, where the Danish Advisory and Training Staff (DATS), stationed in Riga from 2004-2010, contributed with military capacity building in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The training staff was hereafter withdrawn back to Denmark, but cooperation continued. This resulted in an infantry brigade from both Lithuania and Latvia and two Estonian infantry brigades being affiliated to the Danish Division. In addition hereto, Lithuania has two officers permanently affiliated with the headquarters of the Danish Division (DDIV) in Haderslev, Denmark. 

Danish contribution to NATO’s Force Integration Units in the Baltic States
At the NATO summit in Wales in 2014, it was decided to establish three NATO Force Integration Units (NFIU) in the Baltic States as part of NATO’s Readiness Action Plan. The purpose of these units is to facilitate the rapid and effective deployment of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) and additional high readiness and assurance elements in order to enhance Alliance responsiveness towards spontaneous threats. Denmark is contributing to the NFIUs of Estonia and Latvia with one staff NCO in Tallinn and one staff officer in Riga. Lithuania has exceptionally appointed a Danish Commander of the NFIU Vilnius.

Baltic contribution to the Danish contingent in Iraq
The Baltic States are all contributing to the Danish contingent of the US-led Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq. The Baltic States are each contributing with approximately 10 military instructors, who will train Iraqi security forces, but not perform any combat tasks. Before heading to Iraq, the Baltic instructors underwent a six-week preparation period in Denmark.

Danish-Baltic cooperation in Joint Expeditionary Force
On 30 November 2015, the Baltic countries signed an agreement on the formation of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF). JEF is a multinational, joint military force, which can be deployed globally to the full spectrum of operations. This includes evacuation, greater humanitarian crisis, capacity building, and peacekeeping missions to regular warfare. Besides the Baltic countries, the force consists of the UK, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland. The JEF should be perceived as a supplement to NATO and the principles for cooperation and potential dispatch are based on NATO standards, which allows the JEF to be integrated in a more comprehensive NATO force. The JEF became fully operational in 2017 as part of NATO’s quick response force (VJTF).

In the framework of the Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO), Denmark and the other Nordic countries have undertaken a close cooperation with regard to supporting the Baltic States in conducting defence reforms. In 2016, the Nordic Countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which will strengthen security in the Baltic region by making it easier to access each other’s air, sea and land territories with military capabilities.

NATO Assurance Measures: Danish-Baltic exercises
During the NATO Wales Summit of 2014, NATO adopted a number of assurance measures as part of NATO’s Readiness Action Plan. In the framework of this, Denmark and the Baltic States have participated in a number of Danish and Baltic-led exercises in the Baltic Sea Region. In the maritime field, Denmark has among other things participated in the Baltic-led Exercise Baltic Fortress and Exercise Open Spirit, both of which focused on Mine Counter Measures (MCM). Within the area of the Army, the Danish Division (DDIV) has held a number of different exercises, including Exercise Saber Knight, Exercise Red Knight and Exercise Errant Knight in the Baltic States with the purpose of practicing the planning and synchronisation of military operations in a multinational environment. Furthermore, Denmark has also participated in the Latvian-led Exercise Silver Arrow. Within the area of the Air Force, Denmark and the Baltic States participate in Exercise BALTOPS, which is a US-led Partnership for Peace exercise with focus on naval warfare.

Danish-Baltic Home Guard cooperation
The Danish Home Guard has cooperated extensively with the national defence volunteer forces of the three Baltic States since the 1990s and the Policy Guidance signed between Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 2015 underlined this cooperation. The scope of the Policy Guidance was to strengthen cooperation in areas such as capacity building, organisational development, education, training and exercises in both Denmark and the Baltic States.

Book: Mikkel Kirkebaek - Danish Volunteers in Estonian War of Independence (PDF)



Defence Attaché
Niels Henrik Johansen (residing in Vilnius)
Tel.: +370 5264 8768

Trainee (in Tallinn)
Christian Odgaard Hellstrøm