With the likelihood of ice-free seas around the Arctic fast becoming a reality, the Danish Defence Commission is calling for greater Nordic military presence in Greenland. Any military action taken by Denmark will affect Greenland because defence is not one of the areas Greenland will assume responsibility for in June 2009 when it makes the transition to Self Rule.
The reason for concern stems from the probability that melting Arctic ice will open new navigation routes to international ships. This will require increased naval patrols and surveillance to ensure that territorial boundaries are protected. The potential wealth of natural resources under the Arctic Sea is another major cause of concern for Norway and Greenland.
According to the Copenhagen Post, the Danish People’s Party (DF) is at the forefront of calling for more Danish military presence in Greenland. “We need to have a more visible presence, such as through the use of fighter planes,” said DF defence spokesman Ib Poulsen to public service broadcaster DR.
Although joint Nordic military operation is being considered, Denmark is still responsible for Greenland’s role in any naval or air patrols. The three Danish inspection ships currently patrolling the coast of Greenland will soon be insufficient, claims Poulsen. “It would be hard to imagine that Denmark would need less than 48 new fighter planes,” Poulsen contends.