Greenland Military


The defense of Greenland is essential for NATO. It is regulated in a 1951 agreement between Denmark and the United States. Military territory is Greenland part of Denmark with a Danish commander. Operationally, it is part of NATO’s Atlantic Command (SACLANT).

In addition to two now-defunct US bases (Thule Air Force Base and Søndre Strømfjord) (2008), seven large radar stations are grouped on the island, primarily to provide the US defense with warning in robotic and aerial attacks over the Arctic Ocean. As with Denmark in the rest, nuclear weapons must not be found on the island during peacetime. The United States has 136 people from the Air Force stationed in Greenland.

Greenland Military


In 1968, an accident occurred when an aircraft with hydrogen bombs on board landed on the sea ice off the Thule base. The Danish workers and inughuit who helped with the clean-up had to struggle with Danish experts and authorities for several years to accept that their symptoms of visibility could be due to the radiation hazard.

It was not until 1996 that the Danish government awarded the Association of Thule Workers and Inughuit Compensation of DKK 50,000 per year. person for “burning and pain” in connection with the cleanup.

Nuclear weapons storage

In 1995, the Danish government had to confirm that Prime Minister HC Hansen – despite a decision in the parliament that Denmark was a nuclear-free zone – had, in an exchange of letters with the United States, accepted that nuclear weapons be deployed on the Thule base.

As «patch on the wound», the Danish state agreed to pay 270 million kroner. to Greenland. The money was earmarked for the establishment of a civilian airport in Qaanaaq, which is expected to be completed in October 2001. (The people of Qaanaaq currently have to travel via Thule Air Base to get to other cities in Greenland, as well as obtain a residence permit for both Greenlanders as foreigners traveling in transit via the base).

New defense agreement

Greenland has for several years insisted on a renegotiation of the defense agreement and a reduction in the base area. Negotiations between the US and Denmark/Greenland are expected to begin in the spring of 2000.

New missile defense

At present, the US defense is planning to establish a new missile defense system. at Thule. Experts have expressed concern that a new missile system will boost the US-Russia military balance and bring Europe into a kind of hostage role. The case could also bring the Danish government into a dilemma; as early as 1987, the parliament adopted an agenda which said that the Thule base should not be used for purposes which were contrary to the ABM Treaty between the United States and the then Soviet Union.

Prime Minister Jonathan Motzfeldt has stated that Greenland does not want to become the focal point of a cold war again, and that a new US defense system on the base, among other things. must be subject to acceptance by Russia.

History. – Since 1 May 1979 Greenland has obtained a large autonomy on the basis of a statute approved by the Danish Parliament in 1978 and ratified by the Greenlanders through a referendum in January 1979. The statute provides for the establishment of a parliament (Landsting) and of a local government (Landsstyre), with competence to legislate on all matters, with the exception of defense, foreign affairs and monetary policy; Greenland continues to be represented in Copenhagen by two delegates elected to the Danish Parliament. The political elections for the Landsting, held in April 1979, marked the victory of the Social Democratic Party (Siumut) over the Center Party (Atasut). A single-color government, chaired by the Social Democrat J. Motzfeld, led the country until the elections of 1983. In February 1982, a referendum was held on whether or not Greenland would remain in the EEC, in which votes in favor of withdrawal largely prevailed. A subsequent agreement (1984) sanctioned the exit from the EEC starting from 1 January 1985. In the meantime, the electoral consultation of 1983 had registered a decline in the Social Democratic Party which had nevertheless managed to form a new government thanks to the support of the Eskimo party left, Inuit Ataqatigiit. Internal disputes within the majority led to early elections which, held in 1984, led to the reconstitution of the previous coalition. A new consultation in 1987 recorded an increase in the left represented by the Inuit Ataqatigiit and led to the confirmation of the coalition. A substantial political instability continued to characterize the situation in the country and led in December 1990 to the resignation of the government and to new early elections, which, held in March 1991, recorded an overall stability of the governing parties. In fact, the Siumut, while losing consensus, kept the number of its representatives unchanged and the Inuit Ataqatigiit won another seat. The main opposition party suffered a substantial loss of votes to the advantage of the center party, which entered parliament for the first time with two seats. In April 1991 a new coalition government formed by the Siumut and the Inuit Ataqatigiit and chaired by LE Johansen was launched.