The military of the Kingdom of Denmark are known officially as the Danish Defence. They are also called (in the Danish language) Forsvaret, which incidently is also the name of the Norwegian military. The Danish military consists of the Royal Danish Army (Hæren), Royal Danish Navy (Søværnet), the Royal Danish Air Force (Flyvevåbnet), and the Home Guard (Hjemmeværnet).
As a member of NATO, Denmark participates in the alliance's operations. The Danish military's role is to assist the alliance in addition to protecting the country, which includes the overseas territories of Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Greenland itself actually has several Danish military bases as well as some American ones.
The Danish military of today goes all the way back to 1614. Denmark would frequently find itself at war with it's neighbors, including Sweden, usually because of some territorial dispute. Notably it was involved in the Nordic, or Northern Wars. It also found itself immersed in the Napoleonic Wars, and though Denmark tried to stay neutral and trade with both sides, the issue of the country's allegiances was pressed, in particular by England, and the Denmark eventually made an alliance itself with the French side, leading to two humiliating defeats at the hand of the English fleet in respectively 1801 and 1807 where the majority of the Danish fleet, the pride of the nation, was either destroyed or seized by the English, and during the latter event, the capital, Copenhagen, was subjected to a shelling by the English fleet, in which has been considered to be the first historical instance of a terror bombing of civilian targets. Finally at the peace settlement in 1814, Denmark, being on the losing side, had to give up the entire territory of Norway, putting a permanent dent in the nation's ability to rally any kind of large army.
After the fall of Napoleon, Denmark fought in the Schleswig Wars. The background story of which is quite complex, but they are best described as two constitutional wars, arising from diplomatic and other issues about the complicated national relations of two duchies, Schleswig and Holstein, which had intricate relations both to the Danish crown and to the German Confederation. The First Schleswig War or Three Years' War, which lasted from 1848-1850, originally started as a civil war, where the Danish Army fought against a German-minded separatist movement, Denmark soon met its main enemy, the military powerhouse of Prussia, which came to the aid of the rebels and send the Danes into the defensive. But massive international diplomatic pressure eventually lead to Prussia pulling out of the war, after which the Danes overpowered the remaining rebels, and thereby won the war. However, Denmark was forced to sign a international peace treaty in 1852, drafted chiefly by Russia, England, and France, which meant that the Danish goverment was forced to restore a prewar Status Quo in the relations to Schleswig and Holstein, and the national question that had started the war therefore remained unsolved. In 1863, the Danish government tried once again to solve the issue, through a new constitution which was a wilful breach of the international treaty, but the government believed that the political climate in Europe was ripe for this attempt to move things forward and there would be sympathy for the Danish cause. This was a grave misjudgement. The Prussian government, and its Minister President Otto von Bismarck in particular, wanted a quick war for internal political reasons, and the other countries that had drafted the treaty of 1852 turned their back on Denmark for overstepping it. Prussia declared war in early 1864, and the Danish Army, which was both outnumbered and had inferior equipment, had to face them alone. Needless to say, Denmark suffered a couple of crushing defeats in the spring of 1864, and at the peace negotiations they had to give up Schleswig and Holstein. The outcome completely shocked Denmark out of any idea of using war as a political tool for at least a century. Notably, Denmark remained neutral in the First World War and attempted to do the same in the second.
Denmark's darkest hour came in April 1940 when Nazi Germany invaded the country. The invasion was meant to give the Germans a staging point for an invasion of Norway (which occurred the very next day). The Nazi onslaught overwhelmed Danish resistance so quickly that the Danish government did not even have enough time to officially declare war on Germany, and instead chose to officially declare surrender two hours into the invasion believing that resistance would only result in the futile loss of many Danish lives. Some isolated Danish units would continue to fight for another four hours though, either due to the general order of surrender being slow to pass down chain of command due to the confusion of the invasion or out of sheer stubbornness. But the little resistance that the Danish Army offered though was so relatively effective that it took the Germans by a bit of a surprise; where the Danes counted 16 men killed in action that day, the Germans could count 203.
With mainland Denmark under the Nazi jackboot, the overseas Danish territories of the Faroe Islands and Greenland were secured by Britain and the United States respectively. An effective Danish resistance eventually formed during the war and forced the Nazis to clamp down harder on the country.
Greenlanders also participated in one of the strangest situations in the war. The Germans would repeatedly sneak small numbers of soldiers (sometimes even just individual soldiers) to set up secret weather stations on the island. This being the age before satellites the Germans needed information on weather conditions in the atlantic, and Greenland was the best place to put them. So the Greenlanders formed the Sledge Patrol that would work with U.S. forces to look for these stations. Several German weather stations were found and shut down. Shootouts would sometimes occur, and all total one German and one Dane were killed in Greenland during the war. It is the only case of ground combat against Nazi Germany to take place on the North American continent.
After the war, The Danish Army maintained the Sledge Patrol. Today, it is an elite unit that continues to operate in Greenland under the name Slædepatruljen Sirius (or Sirius Sledge Patrol).
After the liberation following Germany's surrender, Denmark became one of the founding members of NATO. Danish forces have participated in NATO operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. Denmark, nowadays, being a small country, focuses on the quality of their armed forces rather than the quantity. Even the average Danish soldier has relatively advanced education and training compared to their colleagues from other countries, and their special elite forces, the Jaeger Corps and the Frogmen Corps, have in particular been acknowledged as serious contenders to their American counterparts, the US Army Rangers and the Navy SEALs, in both skill, utility, and hardiness.
Royal Danish Army
The Army uses the Leopard 2A5DK battle tank, an upgraded version of the Leopard 2A6. It also uses IF Vs (Infantry fighting vehicles)such as the Swedish-built Combat Vehicle 90 and the Swiis-made Mowag Pirahna. It also uses the M113.
The Danish Army has several elite units, most notably the Guard Hussars and the Huntsmen Corps. The Hussars (Gardehusarregimentet) are a special calvary unit that can trace their roots all the way back to 1614. While the Huntsmen Corps (also called the Danish Jeagar Corps) are the Special Forces unit of the Army. As it's name implies it has it's roots in hunting and was originally started in 1785. They are trained in everything from counter-terrorism to hostage rescue.
Royal Danish Navy
Currently the Navy has 12 large ships, 4 medium sized, and 38 small sized. It is currently split into two squadrons.
The Navy also has it's own special forces units. The Sledge Patrol in Greenland (see above) operates under the Royal Navy. There is also the Frogmen Corps tasked with ship-boarding, sabotage and anti-terrorist operations.
Royal Danish Air Force
As the title of this page implies the Air Force used to use Saab 35 Drakens. However, the aircraft has been retired for sometime.
At present Denmark uses F-16s as it's primary fighter aircraft. Helicopters include the Westland Lynx and the Seahawk.
The largest of the military branches in terms of numbers, the Home Guard is in many ways the successor to the Danish resistance in World War II. It was formed right after the war, and it's original purpose was to guard against a possible Soviet invasion. It is by far the most independent of the branches in that it's members are all volunteers, are unpaid (they do get reimbursed for travel expenses and such though), and has a sworn duty to protect Danes from all enemies, even their own government. Thus, if the country were invaded again, the Home Guard is duty bound to keep up the fight regardless of what happens in Copenhagen.
In recent years the Home Guard has been deployed to some overseas operations, including Afghanistan.
The Danish Defence in fiction
- The 2015 film 9.April depicts a bicycle infantry company defending against the 1940 German invasion.
- The Danish Defence Army mod for Arma 2 adds them to the game. Their is also the Favslev map which takes place on a Danish military base.
- Rainbow Six Siege will feature a Jaeger Corps member as an attacking operator for the second Year Four update: Nøkk (attacker), who will use some sort of active camouflage device.
- World in Conflict: During the missions in Europe, the NATO transport units have Danish accents.
- Wargame Air Land Battle. Denmark is one of the playable countries on the N.A.T.O. side. They specialize in strong infantry units, as well as recon vehicles and good anti-helicopter defenses