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Research Report

Keep It Cool!: Four Scenarios for the Danish Armed Forces in Greenland in 2030

Henrik Jedig Jørgensen
Jon Rahbek-Clemmensen
Copyright Date: May. 1, 2009
Pages: 60
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Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 5-8)

    Many areas in Greenland are undergoing change. Global climate change is one area that plays a role – as does the demand for resources – and both are significant for Greenland’s opportunities. The changes also influence human behaviour – specifically including where, how, why and how much people frequent the country. This could mean that the changes will also lead to new traffic patterns, and because the changes in Greenland are central to the traffic patterns, the tasks of the armed forces are also influenced by them.

    The purpose of this report is to describe which task-related challenges the armed...

  2. (pp. 9-12)

    Because of Greenland’s enormous territory and inhospitable climate the activities of the armed forces in the country are carried out under completely different circumstances than elsewhere. At its greatest extent, Greenland’s territory comprises mainland Greenland (with an area of 2,166,086 square kilometres)³ and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which extends 200 nautical miles from Greenland’s coast, with the exception of the areas regulated by agreements with states that have overlapping EEZs (e.g. Canada). Average monthly temperature varies between +10° Celsius in the summer in the south to -30° Celsius in the winter in the north.⁴ Most of Greenland’s territorial waters...

  3. (pp. 13-21)

    The tasks of the armed forced are inextricably bound up with internal economic developments and with the external perspective of change where new enemies and new threats can arise. To be able to anticipate the challenges of the future in 2009, it is necessary to understand what powers the process towards the future today. In other words, it is necessary to set up a model for security policy and economic development.

    Economic development can be outlined with the help of a purpose-adapted version of Solow’s growth model which views a society’s level of production as a function of the efficiency...

  4. (pp. 22-24)

    The first scenario – Scenic lay-by – tells the story of a Greenland that bears a great deal of the burden of regional development in the Arctic, but has missed out on the economic benefits of this. Based on the factor analysis in chapter 3, which indicates that no resources of any considerable extent have yet been found or exploited, and the assessment that Russia has no interest in militarisation of the Arctic, this scenario is considered probable.

    In 2030, all of the doomsday prophecies regarding a possible militarisation of the Arctic are long forgotten. All of the Arctic states...

  5. (pp. 25-27)

    The Klondike scenario describes a peaceful Arctic where Greenland has undergone rapid economic development based on exploitation of major deposits of natural resources. Based on the factor analysis in chapter 3, economic development opportunities in Greenland as a consequence of the exploitation of raw materials is considered probable and, as the assessment is that Russia has no interest in militarisation of the Arctic, the overall scenario appears probable.

    As in scenario 1, the Arctic in this scenario is a sea of peace with the surrounding states focusing on reaping the benefits of natural resources and transport routes rather than on...

  6. (pp. 28-31)

    The third scenario – Rich, but scared – takes its point of departure in a Greenland that possesses rich natural resources and has plenty of opportunities to exploit them, but tension between the military powers in the area gives this development a negative character. Climate change and resource allocation in this scenario have an influence on the tasks of the armed forces, but this is completely overshadowed by the military situation. As described in chapter 3 – due to the level of Russia’s capability and Arctic interests – this scenario is considered highly improbable.

    In 2030, relations between Russia and...

  7. (pp. 32-33)

    The final scenario – Military base – is similar to scenario 3 in many respects although Greenland has not experienced major economic growth in this scenario. Society is burdened by tension between the major powers and by a dramatic increase in civil navigations. As was the case with scenario 3, this scenario is also considered highly improbable.

    In 2030, the search for natural resources has proved to be fruitless and Greenland is still very much dependent on fishing and the block grant from Denmark. However, the ice-free waters have been made use of by various commercial interests, and transport, cruise...

  8. (pp. 34-41)

    In the previous chapters, we came up with a framework of four ideas for the future of Danish armed forces in Greenland. But this framework of ideas only becomes meaningful if we use them to generate the best possible preconditions for the future by taking steps in the present. In this way – by taking small steps today – we might be able to avoid having to deal with major problems in 2030.

    Although the four scenarios provide a fair picture of the directions developments could take up to 2030, it is by no means certain that the future will...

  9. (pp. 42-43)

    This report shows that it is highly likely that there will be more civil and military activity in Greenland in the period up to 2030. It is probable that Greenland will undergo economic development that will impose a heavier burden on the armed forces, primarily as a consequence of an increase in maritime traffic. On the other hand, it is highly improbable that the Arctic will be militarised in the coming years. Should militarisation arise, however, it will probably be based on a conflict between Russia and NATO. Both of these trends imply a risk that the armed forces will...