Denmark, a key NATO member, is set to welcome permanent US troops on its land, a significant development in global defense ties. Previously, the Pituffik base in Greenland, governed by Denmark, was the only location hosting American military presence.
US-Denmark Defense Cooperation Agreement
In February 2022, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen made an announcement that marked a new chapter in US-Denmark defense relations. This proposed cooperation allows American military forces to temporarily or permanently station in the Danish bases of Karup, Skrydstrup, and Aalborg.
Motivation for the Agreement
The decision was influenced by recent worldwide events and the role of the US and NATO in ensuring Denmark's security. The revision of Denmark's defense policy has been largely driven by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Denmark’s Position in International Defense Cooperation
Denmark is now the fourth nation to enter such an agreement, following Norway, Sweden and Finland. This places Denmark firmly in the group of nations fully committed to a collective defense approach.
Legalities and Approval Process
Before taking effect, the Danish parliament (Folketing) must ratify the agreement. The legal status of the deployed American troops is expected to be a major point of discussion during the parliamentary debates.
Prime Minister Frederiksen has made it clear that the American authorities will be held responsible for prosecuting any crimes committed by their troops, even if they occur outside of the base or while off-duty.
Changes to Defense Policy
In a major policy shift, Denmark has relinquished the defense exemption clause it originally obtained in the Maastricht treaty of 1992. This decision follows numerous unsuccessful referendums regarding the issue, further demonstrating Denmark's commitment to its newfound defense direction.