Troels Lund Poulsen: The state of the defense is the result of "a collective failure"


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Kasper Junge Wester
4 May 2023

It is a collective failure that has brought the Armed Forces into its current constitution, Acting Minister of Defense Troels Lund Poulsen and Chief of Defense Flemming Lentfer asserted at today's press conference. Photo: Kasper Wester/OLFI

There are many and expensive investments in all the basics before the Defense is back on its feet. This was acknowledged by Acting Minister of Defense Troels Lund Poulsen (V) and Chief of Defense Flemming Lentfer at today's press conference on the results of the so-called checkout inspection. That it has ended so badly is due to a collective failure, the minister let it be understood.​

38 billion kroner($5,6 billion) over the next ten years.
That is how high the price will be for getting the Defense on its feet and getting it adjusted and equipped for the current security policy situation and new reality in Europe in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"For many years, the security policy situation has worn down the Armed Forces. At the same time, we must recognize that we politicians have made decisions through several settlement periods based on assumptions that have turned out not to hold. This means that we are now faced with a major task of restoring the foundation of the Armed Forces before we build on top of it in the upcoming settlement.'

Read the pamphlet "Restoration of the Foundation of the Defense Forces" here.
Of the total of 38 billion for recovery is DKK 27 billion($3,98 billion). set aside for "managing accumulated challenges in the operation of the Armed Forces", which means that they constitute the real backlog from the previous settlement periods. On the equipment side, this means, among other things, that money is set aside to do something about out-of-date infantry$1,6 billion) fighting vehicles, wheeled vehicles and air-warning radars. The Defense's buildings also need a loving hand, and here the ministry points to garage facilities, accommodation facilities and sewerage as important outstanding issues.

The remaining 11 billion( are "investments in the area of personnel and materiel" which have been found necessary in the recognition of the renewed threat picture, but which are not directly linked to previous settlements, acting Minister of Defense Troels Lund Poulsen (V) explained at Thursday's press conference in the Ministry of Defence.

An unpleasant press conference to hold​

The 38 billion will be included in the budget for the upcoming defense settlement, which means that a considerable part of the total amount that accrues to the Armed Forces over the next decade has effectively already been earmarked. The fact that it has ended up so badly that it is necessary to invest huge amounts of billions in the Defense's "foundation" before one can start talking about a real strengthening is shared by changing defense leaderships and conciliation circles.

"It is a collective failure that has brought us to the situation we are in now," said Troels Lund Poulsen during the press conference, where he generally expressed great annoyance at the situation.

"It's a very serious situation, and it's not a press conference I hope to hold again during my time in Danish politics."
The article continues below the graphic...
20230503 checkout inspection
Graphics: Ministry of Defence

In the Norwegian Armed Forces, you are also more than ready to correct things and look forward, Chief of Defense Flemming Lentfer stated:
"The Armed Forces look forward to getting started on restoring the foundations of the Armed Forces. It is the foundation that today has major and minor cracks, in fact within all the areas that characterize daily life in the Armed Forces. The challenges are well known – we lack soldiers, many buildings are either not up-to-date or dilapidated, and the same actually also applies to some of the equipment,'

Will set up an expert committee​

One of the reasons for the massive backlog is a lack of political control over how the funds have been used. In order to avoid an expensive repetition in the future, the SVM government proposes that the conciliation circle set up an expert committee, which must come up with recommendations on how to ensure stronger and more transparent financial management.

The committee must also take a closer look at possible models for the Ministry of Defence's organisation, and finally they must come up with recommendations on "how to create opportunities for reprioritisation and streamlining during the settlement period".

It is not yet clear who will sit on the expert committee, but the government recommends that it be established in connection with the settlement negotiations, and that it come up with its recommendations by 2025.


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