Danish soldiers during a military exercise ‘ Saber Strike 2014 ‘ at the Rukla military base some 120 km. (75 miles) west of the capital Vilnius, Lithuania, Tuesday, June 17, 2014.InternationalIndiaAfricaThe sheer size and scope of the drill is eyebrow-raising for Denmark, which for decades since the end of the Cold War has been slimming down its military and devoting itself to assisting overseas missions such as in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thus this massive exercise is seen as a return to a state of preparedness for “large-scale warfighting”.The largest artillery drill on Danish soil since the Cold War has started in Oksbol on Jutland Peninsula with more than 500 soldiers from eight different countries.The soldiers will spend the four-day drill practicing firing rockets, grenades and mortars and will be accompanied by F-16 fighter jets in the air, warships in the water, and military vehicles in the countryside. The formal goal of the drill is to strengthen military cooperation between NATO member states.
"Across the participating NATO countries, we must show that we can coordinate the technology and soldier standards so that we can shoot with each other's guns, planes and ships and hit precisely what we need to," Danish Lieutenant-Colonel Kenneth Riishoj said in a statement.
Riishoj described NATO’s ability to fight together as “absolutely crucial for the alliance in the broadest sense”.”And at the soldier level, being able to communicate on the right radio and digital communication platforms is absolutely essential. And these exercises are crucial for us to maintain that ability,” Riishoj said.Although the drill has been planned for a long time, it has become even more relevant amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which many pundits, including Danish Radio’s military analyst Mads Korsager Nielsen has described as an “artillery war”.
"This means that it has once again become really important to be able to shoot a lot, quickly and accurately. So hence the artillery," Korsager Nielsen said.
The exercise is highly unusual for Denmark in its scale. For decades since the end of the Cold War, the Nordic country – along with its neighbors and European peers – has been slimming down its military, devoting itself to assisting roles in overseas missions such as in Iraq and Afghanistan.According to Korsager Nielsen, this era is now over, with the drill signifying Denmark’s – and by extention, NATO’s – readiness to “fight a war on a large scale”. Therefore, more large-scale drills such as this in Oksbol are to be expected in the future.MilitaryDanish Military Pressed for Personnel After Record Wave of Resignations28 February, 06:59 GMTEarlier this year, Denmark and the US were reported to be negotiating a new defense cooperation agreement which was confirmed by Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who added that the agreement should create “the possibility of a permanent US presence”.The enhanced cooperation with the US comes as the Danish armed forces suffer an increasing diminution in personnel with none of the regiments able to reach full strength. The shortages undermine both Denmark’s own defense and its commitment to NATO missions. For instance, there will be no replacement team of Danish soldiers in lieu of the current one hosted in the Baltics this spring.Danish state coffers and military preparedness have been undermined further by Copenhagen’s commitment to support Kiev in the Ukrainian conflict with arms, funds and training. Faced with a drastic lack of funding, Danish politicians even abolished the Great Prayer Day, a centuries-old Christian holiday, sparking widespread discontent.