HELSINKI — The Danish government is seeking to build cross-party support to send special forces troops to Syria and Iraq in support of US operations against ISIS. The government is also considering a proposal to deploy a new squadron of F-16s to either Iraq or Syria in the first half of 2016.
Initial contacts and communications between the government and the leaders of opposition parties suggest that the government backs a plan to put a special forces mission-ready unit totaling 30 to 50 special operations troops at the disposal of the international coalition.
While Denmark's liberal and conservative parties are generally supportive of the government's proposal, the Socialist People's Party (Socialistisk Folkeparti) is opposing any new measure that could see Danish troops engaged in ground-combat operations in either Syria or Iraq in the long term.
Any future deployment of Danish special ops troops would represent a significant up-scaling of Denmark's support to the US-led international coalition against ISIS.
Denmark contributed an F-16 squadron comprising seven aircraft and 90 military personnel to support the international coalition in October 2014.
Based in Kuwait, the squadron flew more than 547 recorded missions over northern Iraq. According to government figures, Danish F-16s dropped a total of 503 bombs and other ordnance on enemy targets before the unit was recalled to Denmark, and its home station at Skrydstrup Air Force Base in Jutland, in October 2015.
It is expected that a new Danish F-16 squadron may be dispatched to the Middle East, and fully operational, by the end of the first half of 2016.
"We are receiving multiple requests for troops and equipment for international operations. These pose resource challenges for the Danish military, and our resources are not limitless," said Peter Juel Jensen, the Venstre Party's (Liberals) spokesman on defense. Venstre heads-up Denmark's minority government, which took office in June 2015.