Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 409

409 Arctic Yearbook 2014   Avoid Conflict with Greenland Danish defense planning in the Arctic is also influenced by the somewhat contentious relationship between Denmark and Greenland. As mentioned before, the legitimacy of the Danish presence in Greenland is contested by some Greenlandic elite groups and segments of the Greenlandic population. The Danish authorities try to avoid offending Greenlandic sensibilities, while concurrently standing its ground on certain key matters. Certain strategic questions, many of which would be thought to be reasonable considerations of any state, are almost taboo. For instance, the consequences of Greenlandic independence are rarely taken into consideration in Danish defense planning, although one could argue that it would have an impact on operational planning. Many of the Arctic capabilities that Denmark is currently procuring will have limited usefulness if Greenland becomes independent. In simple terms, what is Denmark supposed to do with its Arctic capabilities, if Greenland becomes independent? The normal reaction is a mix of resigned moralism and belief that Greenland will never reach independence. On the one hand, Denmark is responsible, so one argument goes, for ensuring that an eventual transition to independence runs smoothly. Denmark must dispense of narrow national interests and invest in the capabilities regardless of the fact that they might become obsolete in the future. This line of thinking also contains an argument that sees responsibility as a way of ensuring the persistence of the Commonwealth. Perhaps Greenland will stay within the Commonwealth even if the conditions for independence arise, if Denmark acts responsible now and shows Greenland that it is not pursuing narrow national interests. On the other hand, many observers do not believe that the time will ever be ripe for Greenlandic independence. As mentioned above, independence requires that either a major energy resource deposit is found along the Greenlandic coastline or that the United States becomes willing to sponsor the Greenlandic state. The latter does not seem likely, even in the long term. No-one knows if enough exploitable oil and gas can be found in Greenland, but even if they were found, these resources could only become profitable in the long term (Jørgensen & RahbekClemmensen, 2009: 16). The Danish Armed Forces have made establishing a better relationship to the Greenlandic society a long-term goal. The Arctic Strategy and the 2013-2017 defense agreement both stipulate the need to involve the citizens of Greenland in the activities of the Armed Forces (Danish Parliament, 2012: 15; Government of Denmark et al., 2011: 21). Translating this wish into concrete initiatives has been rather difficult. A recent study has suggested various measures, such as the inclusion of Greenlanders in land patrolling activities in North-East Greenland, using Greenlandic volunteers and local knowledge in the activities of the Armed Forces, opening military education facilities in Greenland, and including Greenlandic companies in coast guard activities (Kristensen, Hoffmann, & Pedersen, 2013). These initiatives would probably improve the operational effectiveness of the Danish Armed Forces, albeit only marginally. From a purely operational perspective, they hardly merit the effort made to integrate Greenlandic society. Their benefits are primarily political. They serve to reduce tensions between Greenland and Denmark in general and the Armed Forces in particular. They   “Arctic-Vism” in Practice