Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 406

Arctic Yearbook 2014 406 already been recommended by the 2008 defense commission (Defense Commission of 2008, 2009: 274 & 290). The recent defense agreement for 2013-2017 continues the emphasis on the Arctic. The Arctic is meant to be one of the new core theaters for Danish defense policy as the mission in Afghanistan is winding down. The agreement continues the broad investment in capabilities and it emphasizes the inclusion of the local population of Greenland in the Armed Forces’ activities. The Danish Armed Forces were criticized by the Danish Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (Rigsrevisionen), the Danish version of the GAO, for not supplying the necessary services in the Arctic (The Public Accounts Committee, 2013). The defense agreement responded by highlighting that the harsh geographical and climatic conditions in Greenland mean that the level of emergency preparedness cannot be comparable to the one found in Denmark. Furthermore, the agreement also established an inter-departmental working group, which is meant to provide a comprehensive strategic and operational analysis of the Armed Forces’ mission and capability requirements until 2030 The working group’s report will most likely be published ultimo 2014 or primo 2015 (Danish Parliament, 2012: 14–16 & 43–44; Vammen, 2014: 1). These specific initiatives reflect three tacit strategic goals: • Handle the new challenges that follow from Arctic climate change • Support regional interstate cooperation • Minimize tensions between Denmark and the Greenlandic government and population The defense planning process reflects the challenges that result from climate change and the need for political cooperation between the Arctic states. The omissions in these strategies are mirrored in defense planning: the Danish defense does not consider the possibility that Greenland might become independent and that Arctic capabilities may become redundant in its long-term defense planning. However, the Danish defense establishment is well-aware of the contentious nature of the Danish-Greenlandic relationship and it goes to great length to include the Greenlandic population in future initiatives. The following sections examine how the three tacit strategic goals are reflected in concrete defense planning. The Challenge of Climate Change The main challenge for the Danish Armed Forces is increased activities in Greenlandic waters, be it as increased sea traffic to and from Greenland, oil and gas exploitation off the Greenlandic coast, or increased fishing or tourism. The opening of new sea routes – the Northeast and Northwest Passages – will most likely not lead to a significant increase in traffic along the Greenlandic coast within a reasonable planning horizon. Although climate change may affect conditions on land, these land-based activities are beyond the purview of the Danish