Leadership Education of Danish Officers for Extreme Situations


Leadership Education of Danish Officers for Extreme Situations[1]  


Henning Sørensen




1. Introduction


Three types of doctrines influence Danish military deployments abroad. In international politics, it is “military activism”, siding with the US when they intervene, and joining forces with UK. National doctrines depend on national values and political decisions such as the over-all doctrine of Rules of Engagement and the specific “samtænkningsstrategi” pursued in Afghanistan. Military doctrines such as “Auftragstaktik” and replacement education define the conduct of Danish soldiers abroad, as well.


FAK, the Royal Danish Defense College, and the three services design, manage, and certify the leadership programs and training.


The brigade and the regiment manage the mission training for all soldiers of the unit shortly before its deployment.


Systematic lesson learned came late in use in Denmark. Statistics and statements describe experiences. Danish lessons learned statistics include number of deployments since 1948 and of soldiers deployed and killed. Lessons learned statements are reports, studies, etc.    


The conclusion on Danish doctrines, programs, training and lessons learned are that they are unclear and disputed. Therefore, no new ideas for officers managing extreme situations are recommend. Instead, a structure for ideas to military leaders in extreme situations is proposed.




Henning Sørensen


ISF, Borremosen 13, 2800 Lyngby, Denmark




1.1 Leadership doctrine and Training in the Armed Forces


“The concept of doctrine includes the basic principles after which the armed forces conduct their activities to accomplish a goal. The doctrine is a guideline…adapted to the specific situation”[2] Kilholm (2017:1) Doctrines exist on three levels. An international, a national, and a military level. In Denmark, military doctrines further consist of six categories based on the size of the military unit: Corps, division, brigade, battalion, regiment, platoon, and group Kilholm (2017:3, fig. 1), while the NATO doctrines, ATP-3.2.1 only include the three highest levels.


The focus of the doctrines for all 28 NATO nations and each nation, separately, do differ: “Eastern European NATO countries see Russia to be the greatest threat and want a doctrine almost exclusive focusing on this issue. South European countries see migration to be the biggest threat and want doctrines with a strong focus on how to handle reasons for the migration” Kilholm (2017:5).




Denmark´s strategies determine her doctrines. Our strategies have shifted over time since WWII. In the Cold War period, Denmark pursued a symbolic virtual warlike security policy (although in a softer version during the 1980s). In the post-Cold War period up until 9/11-2001, Danish security policy manifested itself in the participation in military actions legitimized by international organizations such as the UN, NATO and the OSCE. After 2001, the foreign policy evolved even further and let us engage in sheer wars, in particular in Iraq and Afghanistan, sometimes without the acceptance of the UN Security Council Heurlin (2001: Chapter 8); Rynning (2003:24); Christensen & Petersen (2005:10).




Denmark´s international doctrine followed accordingly. First, as a “defensive, non-provocative actor” in the Cold War era, Heurlin (2001), then as a “civilian/military offensive actor” in the post-Cold War period, and since 9/11 as a “strategic offensive actor” Rynning (2003) or a policy of “military activism” Heurlin (2001: Chapter 8), Rynning (2003:11), Christensen & Petersen (2005:10), Sørensen (2008:241ff). The defence policy since 2001 rests on the argument that after 9/11, the Western world is at war against rogue states harbouring terrorists and developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or deploying terrorists to harm innocent citizens. As a “strategic offensive actor”, Denmark recognized the need for Danish soldiers to fight hostile forces internationally Rynning (2003:24) even at the cost of Danish soldiers returning home in body bags. In the two last periods, the Danish defence doctrines define two tasks: “Total defence” or homeland defence and “internationally deployable military capacities” as identified in the Defence Agreements of 2005-2009,[3] of 2010 – 2014[4], and of 2013-2017[5].




Since 2001, Denmark have repeatedly offered deployment capacities “at a US quality level and siding with this nation in its international missions and adopting the idea of “first in-first out”” Clemmesen (2017:4). Another international doctrine is for Danish soldiers to join British forces abroad as has been the case in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Thus, “the Danish government did transfer almost all control of the Danish soldiers to the British Brigade (in Afghanistan)” Rasmussen (2018:316f) and Jakobsen & Truelsen (2011). On the other hand, this doctrine had its limits: “Of course, the British (chiefs) gave orders…but…we followed our own TTPs (Tactics, Technics, and Procedures), - not the British ones” Rasmussen (2018:344f). However, in specific cases for instance to get faster and smoother “air support…the Danes changed their…doctrines …from the STANAC 3793 NATO-CAS procedures, as we trained at home in Denmark and to the TTP (procedures) developed by the US and the UK in Afghanistan” Rasmussen (2018:345). A third international doctrine for Denmark is her defense reservation towards participating in EU military activities. This reservation has at least been activated 26 times from 1993 to 2016 Folketingets (Danish parliament) EU-oplysning (2018).


National doctrines are, for instance, the overall Rules of Engagement, ROE, and the Danish doctrine of “civil military samtænkning” (“concerted planning and acting of civil and military activities in international operations”), or Comprehensive Approach, in short CA, used in Afghanistan.


ROEare a civilian control system on the armed forces and allow politicians to prioritize and serves as “commanders rules for the use of force” Martinez (2013:73). “ROE ensure the reasonable use of force in extreme situations and as a last resource. ROE are important because (i) they are a predetermined tool to help the operations´ objectives (ii) they provide a legal framework to legalize operations” Martinez (2013:71). “The ROE purpose is to ensure that the application of force is controlled by directing the degree of constraint or freedom permitted when conducting an assigned mission” NATO (2010:258). NATO has specified ROE to “the circumstances, conditions, degree and manner in which force…may be applied during a military operation” NATO (2003). Nevertheless, problems do occur. “…In Musa Qala, the Danes in the beginning followed the escalation-ladder described in their  “Rules of Engagement” of using warning fire, but successively …they did shoot to kill, at once” Rasmussen (2018:338, 346). This critical perception of ROE is found in a study of 541 soldiers from nine countries asked their opinion of ROE. Here, 47% of Danish soldiers – and far more than for the other contingents - found ROE “inadequate” and of them 73% for “restrictive reasons”, meaning that ROE harmed military effectiveness Martinez (2013: 77ff).      


The CA doctrine used by Danish soldiers in Afghanistan expects the simultaneous effort of waging war and delivering support, or at least make room for the NGOs to do so. To “win the hearts and minds” of the Afghan population in their local communities, Danish politicians decided that our soldiers drove in light vehicles and not in robust armored vehicles or tanks as otherwise requested by COL, Kim Kristensen, Chief of Danish soldiers in Helmand as early as in Oct 2007. The CA doctrine caused many killed Danish soldiers; see below 3.1 Lessons learned, and morale problems among Danish soldiers, as well. A study of 216 officers from seven nations: Bulgaria, Cameroun, Denmark, Finland, Italy, the Philippines, and Spain told their perception of among other things the “unit´s morale” during deployment abroad in asymmetric wars. Half of them had no morale problems. The other half did. However, major national differences appeared. 90% of all Danish officers admitted problems and identified “war”/extreme situations to be the reason while only 20 % of Spanish officers did so Sørensen (2018).    


Military doctrines rest on the premise that it and its derived technology and structure makes you win the next war and that the test of the military doctrine takes place at the battlefield. Historically, however, the correct translation of doctrines to operation planes and military campaigns have often proven difficult. Therefore, the formulation of most doctrines is vague as is the case with the Danish Defense Command´s overall leadership doctrine for officers from 2008. It identifies “three elements of the leadership basis of the Armed Forces: Conditions for solving the task,… a leadership philosophy, …and a leadership ethics” Forsvarets ledelsesgrundlag (2008:4) This doctrine is in words and substance far away from military leadership in extreme situations, in short the battlefield.


The military doctrine for the Army “…is developed by the FAK and the Army in common” Kilholm (2017:3).  They, too, agree upon a broad formulation consisting “of a physical (personnel, material, training, resilience), a conceptual (superiors doctrines, understanding, education), and a moral (motivation, moral, ethics) element” Kilholm (2017:5). Thus, both the defense and the army doctrine includes a physical, conceptual, and ethical element, however, still broadly and vaguely formulated. Therefore, some officers are skeptical towards the use of military doctrines such as Nørby (2017) who phases out the Air Force doctrine while others find them still useful such as Kilholm (2017) and Barfod (2017)[6].


Of course, common doctrines for all three services are problematic for their different type of functional environment. However, two military doctrines are common for all three services though most so for the Army: “Auftragstaktik” and “education replacement”. The “Auftragstaktik”-doctrine expect the officers to instruct their soldiers for which goal to obtain and then leave it to them to choose how to reach it. In contrast, officers using “Befehlstaktik” tell their soldiers what goal to reach, how, when and with whom. Danish officers go by the “Auftragstaktik”-doctrine and do so “due to the complex nature of the international operations (as) the former brutal discipline taught soldiers have been eroded and replaced by other leadership mechanisms as honor, national feeling, and comradeship. In short “from leadership to self-leadership”” Nørgaard & Holsting (2006: Chap. 3). 


The Danish military doctrine of “replacement education“ enables officers to “understand and function at least two levels up” over their present rank HRN010-001 (2015:chap 1) and HRN 810-001 (2012:Chap 5) “for what reason they are able to take over the leadership of a unit over one´s own level” Rasmussen (2017:9). This flexibility is relevant at the battlefield but may sometimes coincide with the a priori national and/or the NATO doctrines that relate doctrines to the specific type of the military unit due to its size.


To conclude, Danish international, national, and military doctrines are highly structured, yet vaguely formulated, have changed and been disputed and their military efficiency seldom tested. 




2. Leadership Programs and Design of leadership Training


The leadership education programs in Denmark at the officer schools are right now under major changes. From Jan 1, 2015 the three officer schools and the FAK integrated and a new officer education started. It reduced the length of the education from 47-65 months to only 28 months. The technical officer education was reduced the most, the army one the least. A preliminary evaluation of the new education by the chief of the Army Officer School rejects its “academisation” and defends its incorporation of NGOs to issue orders Veicherts (2018).


FAK manages the officer education programs at four levels based on rank. ”A diploma education for the platoon leader, a battalion course for the company commander…, a brigade course for the staff officer …, and the general staff course for the general staff officer. Each level has its own doctrine as is the case for all the countries Denmark identifies herself with” Kilholm (2017:7). A common ground for all four levels of education at FAK is the above mentioned Forsvarets ledelsesgrundlag (2008: Del 2) arguing that any “…military risk leadership…create presumptions for good mission accomplishment…(by) relating results, human relations, renewal, and stability”. So officers overcome extreme situations by combining tools as “relations, renewal, and stability”. If so, how to combine “renewal” and “stability”?          


The present leadership programs at FAK for officers in extreme situations in the second half of 2018 shows that of 47 courses offered only five relate to battlefield education[7]. One is “forsvarets indsættelser 2018-II” telling that “the starting point of the course is finished or present conflicts in which the armed forces have been or are engaged in…It takes ten days to pass the course including one day for the examination…or 140 hours of studying, in total” Forsvarets indsættelser 2018-II (2018:2, Content).


Clemmesen has criticized the education programs at FAK, for more reasons. One problem is that the FAK teachers are civilian academics and therefore lack military experience and knowledge so that “the professional elements of the higher officer education at FAK gradually has eroded and then disappeared” Clemmesen (2015c:1). Of course, in any battlefield course an experienced officer is a better teacher than a civilian one everything else alike. On the other hand, ”there is no reason to believe that military personnel learn differently from other people. It means that common principles are applicable for military educations, as well, and that the armed forces should listen to….educational progress. Military knowledge does not alone create good educations; they must be developed in a multidisciplinary cooperation” Puck (2016: Forkerte argumenter mod akkreditering).


However, two factors can explain the continued trend of civilization in the FAK programs. A major cut in the FAK budget of 30% in 2013 effecting the number, length and substance of the courses Wang (2013) and the establishment in 2014 of a new accreditation program making it possible for officers to get ETSC-points from FAK to use for their civilian career Nielsen (2016). Thus, the leadership programs at FAK are approaching the standards of civilian colleges. It goes for the admittance to FAK, as well, where no entrance test is needed in contrast to most other military colleges Clemmesen (2015c:31).


To conclude, the leadership programs at FAK are under change, scrutiny, debate, and approaching the programs at civil colleges.




2.2 Leadership Training Offered for extreme situations


Leadership training for extreme situations in conflict areas abroad takes place shortly before deployment at the regiment and the Brigade where officers train with their units. Until 2000, “mission oriented training lasted 10 days and took place at the regiment that provided the unit to be deployed” Rigsrevisionen (1998:11). The present status of training offered for extreme situation in the mission oriented training at the Brigade is uncertain. My approaches to the top level of the brigade for material and information have remained unanswered.   


At FAK, an effective leadership training took place from around 2004 to 2013[8]. It gave insight and self-reflection to each officer individually based on several conversations with three types of actors commenting his/hers conduct and behavior in defined warlike situations: Superior, peers, and privates (Barfod 2011). Here the officer received feedback before, during and after deployment and learning points for the future career. However, the above-mentioned cut in the FAK budget in 2013 stopped this training.


Another training element of the individual officer is “shared leadership” where one officer educate his/her colleague at the working place. By the reduction of the number of military establishments in Denmark, it is increasingly difficult for officers to get assignment to a regiment where to work with soldiers. Instead, they do office work at a desk in a staff. Fewer officers to lead soldiers reduces the number of Danish officers with ground or rank experience.


A third leadership training is scenario exercises. ”Mission education (before 2004) concentrated in depth on one scenario” Clemmesen (2008:157). Since then, more scenario educations are offered, but they are too narrow and simplistic Clemmesen (2015a). Therefore, he suggests only one or two – in depth - realistic “scenarios at FAK, including the (national) political-military interaction…and with our allies” Clemmesen (2015a: conclusion). Another bias of the present scenario education is the absence of former experienced officers graduated from FAK to participate in the development of such courses at FAK Clemmesen (2015c:33). It made him conclude: ”After the end of the deployments of (Danish military) units to the Balkan, Iraq, and Afghanistan, a mission framework for education and deployment no longer exist” Clemmesen (2016:2). It may be the case. At least, the Musa Qala study stated the need for more battlefield scenario education: “If the enemy in Helmand shall be neutralized it will demand further offensive operations and that Danish military units focus on the education in direct battlefield actions” Rasmussen (2018:340, note 103). However, some officers disagree with Clemmesen advocating the need for scenario training. In a conference in 2012, the then chief of FAK, Nils Wang, denounced the idea of more and better war-like scenario education for officers at the FAK as requested by GN A. Rokos, the then chief of the Army Operation Command Clemmesen (2017:46f) with the sinister result: “The former specific military professional education…was sacked” Clemmesen (2017:48). Moreover, the lack of sufficient and realistic scenario education influenced officers´ ability to ask for the right crew and gear: ”The first Army team for Iraq and Afghanistan and the Navy team for the Bay of Aden was deployed…sometimes without the proper crew and gear as needed seen from a professional point of view” Clemmesen (2015:160).


The three above-mentioned training examples with the intension of improving operative abilities among officers seem rather unsuccessful. One consequence is probably, that “key positions in operative staffs are difficult to fill…as younger officers see positions in higher staffs more prestigious and competence fulfilling than serving in an operative staff (a battalion, a brigade, or a division) BDE GN Lyhne (2018). The lack of training for extreme situation at FAK has most certainly reduced the previous high esteem of operation service.


To conclude, the leadership training in extreme situations is modest, if any. And some officers oppose more battlefield oriented scenario education. Compared to the newest US Army MOD Concept 1.5, the Danish leadership training for extreme situations lacks a focus on solving operational problems that strategic competitors like Russia and China present to the Armed Forces, ignores the requirement to develop joint solutions from the top-down, and does not provide incentives to drive experimentation and modernization Kimmons (2018:3). As an alarming result, younger Danish officers deselect operations service in favor of deskwork at a staff.




2.3 Leadership preparation for top-officers in extreme situations


Leadership preparation for top-officers will take place at FAK through the general staff program, but no such program has existed for more than a decade. Previously, it did: “We can and must educate future top officers in realistic war- and conflict scenarios (as we did) in 1992-93, at Staff course II” Clemmesen (2015: conclusion) and up til 2000, we had:  “courses for chiefs… lasted 1 – 14 days in UNPROFOR mission, later expanded” Rigsrevisionen (1998:11). Now, they take place if needed: The Musa Qala study describe the ad-hoc nature of a leadership preparation for chiefs. ”The former Danish Defense Chief Jesper Helsø….arranged the squadron chief to inform the top chiefs of the Defense… to create a “sense of urgency” at the top level” Rasmussen (2018: 347f).


To conclude, no leadership preparation for top-officers exist right now, but are improvised, if found needed.




3. Conclusion


3.1 Lessons Learned: Danish Deployments Abroad 1948 to the Present


Lessons learned come in two forms, statistics and statements. The statistics here analyzed is the number of deployments in conflicts abroad from 1948 to the present, and of soldiers deployed and killed abroad. The lessons learned statements are reports, written evaluations, written briefings, new doctrines, programs and training provisions, etc.


The first statistic presented is the number of Danish military deployments abroad since 1948 to the present in table 1.




Table 1. Danish Military Deployments Abroad After Service, Time, Destination, and


              Conflict Intensity 1948-2016



                                                    Conflict type      

  Time of Deployment

 Low intensive


   High intensive



(up to 12


A 9. Eritrea 2000-01      A                                                           

A 12. Sudan 2005



N         5. The Gulf 1990-91                                      B

AF       8. Serbia  1999

AF      15. Libya 2011

A+AF 16. Mali 2013

N        17. Syria 2013-14, chemical weapons

A+AF 18. Iraq 2014

AF      19. Afghanistan 2015

A+AF 20. Iraq 2015

A+AF 21. Iraq + Syria 2016



A  1.   Israel, 1948            C

A  2.  Gaza 1956-67                                            

A  3.  Congo 1960-64

A  4.  Cyprus 1964-94

A 14.  Lebanon 2009-11


A         6. Balkan 1992-2003 (UNPROFOR, IFOR)    D

A         7.   Kosovo 1999-2009 (SFOR, KFOR)

A+AF 10.  Afghanistan 2003-(2014) (ISAF)

A        11.  Iraq 2003-(07) (DANCON)

N+AF 13.  Aden Bay 2009-2016 (pirates)





Table 1 divides the 21 engagements in short/long term and in low/high intensity conflicts, where 14 are high intensive and may place soldiers in extreme situations, seven are low intensity conflicts. In the first 55 years since 1948, Denmark was engaged in eight deployment, of which six were of a low intensity character. After 2003 and the following 15 years we did so in 13, mostly high-risk operations. The Army participated both in low and high intensity conflicts, the two blue and minor services in only high intensity ones as they are too powerful and too expensive to use in low intensity conflicts.


Table 1 structures the different types of INOPS for Denmark to join. After WWII, Denmark first deployed soldiers abroad in UN-led, long and low-intensity missions, box C. In this period, Danish soldiers seldom operated in extreme situations. From 1992 to around 2010, Denmark deployed soldiers in long term and high intensity military missions, box D. Since then, Danish soldiers have been/are deployed in high-intensity confrontations for a limited period, box B. Deployment 18, 20, and 21 in B include both the Air Force and Army. A specific lesson learned is the moves from box C, via D to B. After 55 years of deployment in low risk operations D, it and the end of the Cold War raised the risk appetite in Denmark to the level of “military activism” and made us move to C. Here Denmark had its most lethal missions/extreme situations abroad, i.e. deployment 9 (43 killed soldiers in Afghanistan) - see below - , and 10 (seven killed in Iraq). It made us shift to B and signaled the abandonment of “military activism” and the introduction of a new doctrine of joining the NATO Reaction Force to assist other NATO countries, for instance the Baltic nations neighbouring Russia[9]. Thus, the practical lessons learned in the last decade moved us “from deploy to prepare” missions[10].




The number of Danish soldiers involved in INOPS confirm the shift in doctrine, as well. In the Cold War period, the deployment issue for Denmark was the other way around. Soldiers from the UK and the US should come to our reinforcement in case of a USSR/Warsaw attack. In 1990, it changed. The Danish navy vessel, Olfert Fischer, participated in the war against Iraq and by 1992, the number of Danish soldiers abroad rose to 1,400 mostly in the Balkan wars SFI (2012:8f). In 1993, this figure doubled to 2,700 after which it gradually fall to around 1,700 in 1998. From 1999 to 2005, 3,000 soldiers were abroad, in particular in Iraq. From 2006 to 2009, the number of deployments grew by 50% to around 4,500, mostly for Afghanistan, as Denmark stopped its military presence in Iraq by 2007. The Defence Agreement of 2004[11] suggested to double this figure and the Defence agreement of 2012 more modestly proposed “the Danish Defense to maintain…its capacity for international operations in the future agreement period (2014-2017)” Aftale… (2012:6). Actually, it dropped. To day, fewer than 700 Danish soldiers serve abroad, 100+ in Afghanistan.   




The third statistical lessons learned is the number of killed Danish soldiers abroad. The result of the CA doctrine, mentioned above, was devastating: 43 Danish soldiers were killed, 25 by IEDs, as shown below in table 2 Sørensen (2017).




Table 2. Killed Soldiers in Afghanistan by Nation and per mio. Citizens. 2003 – 2017. %










Killed soldiers








Citizens in mio.








Killed soldiers/mio citizens










Table 2 shows number of killed soldiers in Afghanistan for six nations by a mio. citizens. Denmark suffered relatively the most of all Western nations. In particular, in the period 2008-2009, while the UK did so in 2009-2010, and the US in 2010-2011. The Taliban tactics seem to fight one nation after the other (Sørensen 2017). Only minor criticism has met the lethal CA doctrine used by Danish soldiers in Afghanistan even if the concept as such “…is an empty concept… (and) shall not evaluate whether it reaches each goals or not in a conflict area ..but serve as a concept for the State department, Danish Red Cross and People´s Church emergency Aid… (to) individually get advantages by accepting the concept Bitmann & Schaar (2012:92). “The initiative of CA has not yet had any operational effect or came into reality” Bitmann & Schaar (2012:97).  


The lessons learned statements are reports, doctrines, experience programs and provisions, etc. For many years, the Danish Armed Forces ignored systematic lessons learned, as only a few practical experiences/deployments existed to learn from, cfr. table 1 and as officially admitted: “Before 2007, the Army gathered primarily experiences from the participations in INOPS, by reports, mission visits, and debriefing” Hærstaben (2016:5). Or formulated more critically: ”After the Cold War period…no war organization existed  for the (Army) officer to prepare him-/herself in which to operate (as)… only a few officers got the opportunity to learn and develop their profession in order to build on personal experiences. ... just twenty years after the Cold War period, the Army officer corps lost the previous 150 years of professional focus” Clemmesen (2016:2). Therefore,”Danish lessons learned experiences from international operations were first from 2007 systematically gathered and analyzed through NATO´s Lessons Learned” (Rasmussen 2018:316). Since 2007, Denmark pursues the NATO Lessons Learned structure. It divides experiences into eight categories: Doctrines, organization, training, material, leadership, personnel, facilities and interoperation ability (DOTMLPFI) Hærstaben (2016:4). An over-all and official lesson learned for the Army is “…for the unit to stay flexible and be able to fight in the full task-and-conflict spectrum” Hærstaben (2016:6). Today, the FAK offers a “military learning and experience management” course to improve the lessons learned by modern military systems.    


From a scientific point of view, “many (lessons learned) documents…in the archives of the Danish defense are still classified” Rasmussen (2018:318) and therefore not accessible for this article. Still, we have the Army´s lessons learned report for INOPS in Helmand, Afghanistan 2006-2014 Hærstaben (2016) “…concluding that the often changed patterns of operations, tasks, and complexity in Afghanistan challenged both the national Army support structure and demanded massively the reorganization readiness and flexibility of the deployed units.” (Rasmussen 2018:315). However, the many killed Danish soldiers due to the CA doctrine, is ignored here and reduced to a lessons learned of “…how (to) implement (CA) in the different phases of the mission, so that it as early as possible can be an integrated part of the fight” Hærstaben (2016:7). Thus, this lesson learned statement deliberately neglect the request of COL Kristensen of 2007 for heavier armament to protect our soldiers in Helmand Sørensen (2017). Some professional military criticism may be included in the official report when asking: “Is the CA possible?” without any answer? Hærstaben (2016:13, Encl. 2). No matter the interpretation of this formulation, it does not honor the sacrifices of the many killed Danish soldiers, their families and friends or help future soldiers in INOPS better to understand the conditions and consequences of political doctrine for the warfare.


On top of that, the Musa Qala study reveals that “the interviewed (persons) have quite opposite opinions of the lessons learned…about the educational level of the reconnaissance squadron” Rasmussen (2018:147). The best lessons learned according to the Musa Qala study ”… for ”the common soldier” (is) a fast, direct, and personal transfer of lessons learned to be integrated at once, has greater value than the written “End-of-Tour reports“” Rasmussen (2018:147).


To conclude, lessons learned in statements are more vague and disputed than in statistics. Statements can more easily conceal dramatic events and at the same time, disclose uncertainty of what is actually the correct lesson learned?




3.2 New Ideas to Improve Military Leadership Training


The insufficient and disputed Danish doctrines, programs, training and lessons learned for officers in extreme situations make no room for new ideas. We have a long way to go[12]. Instead, I propose a structure for new ideas: First, define the extreme situation by its complexity, unpredictability, and lethal character, etc. Second, include lessons learned from both successes and failures in previous extreme situations. Third, relate the idea to where in the process it belongs, “before”, “during, and “after” any rescue attempt. Fourth, define the actors in the military leadership and their mental and material resources. Fifth, specify the factors needed for the actor to manage the extreme situation, cfr. table 3.




Table 3. Structure for Ideas for Improved Leadership training





















With the structure shown in table 3, it is possible more precisely to have a conversation on how to improve military leadership training for extreme situations. If so, you may still be confused, but hopefully on a higher level.  


Henning Sørensen




4. Literature


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CA   Comprehensive approach. Concerted planning and action of civil and military activities INOPS 


DOTMLPFI   Doctrines, organization, training, material, leadership, personnel, facilities and interoperation ability


IED Improvised explosive devices


INOPS International Operations


FAK Forsvarsakademiet, (Royal Danish Defence College)


ROE Rules of Engagement


TTP Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures


WMD Weapons of Mass Destruction






Jakob Rømer Barfod, Café Amalie Nov 13, 2018, 11.30 AM


[1] Thanks to Jakob Rømer Barfod, FAK, for an interview and material, Kristian Soelberg, FAK, and Lars Skjoldan, VFK

[2] My translations. HS

[3] Aftale…2005–2009(2004:1): ”Changes in the international security environment require the Danish Defence to strengthen its capacities in two central areas: 1) International deployable military capacities and 2) the ability to counter terror acts and their consequences”

[4] Aftale… 2010-2014 (2009:2f)

[5] Aftale… 2013-2017 (2012:1):”The defence shall still have the capacity to deploy abroad more and greater contributions”…(and to)… “improve the defence in two respects: The international deployment capacities and the ability to countermeasure terror actions and their effects”…”the Defence are continuously organized to contribute with rearmed and well-educated units for all types of international missions”

[6]Barfod (2017:15, note 24): ”To support NATO-operations common concepts, doctrines …are negotiated, when national forces are made available for NATO-operations

[7] Bataljonskursus  2016-1, Air operation cours 2019-1, forsvarets indsættelser 2018-II, Component campaign planning, and maritim emergency management

[8] “lederskab med operativ effect” (Leadership with an operative effect) Barfod (2011)

[9] Forsvarsavisen (2016) 2.2016:4-6. Interview with the then Minister of Defence, Peter Christensen, “…we shall extend the Danish military to contribute more to NATO´s fast Reaction Force (for the Baltic region).” 

[10] CS-Bladet (No. 2.2014, p 24: “Hærens nye opgaver” (“The New Tasks of the Army”)

[11]Aftale…2005 – 2009 (2004:Conclusion, 5): “The Danish Armed Forces transforms to deliver operative capacities and to release resources that enable Danish Defence to mobilize and deploy forces promptly and flexibly in international operations and to maintain deployed capacities that are the equivalent of some 2,000 personnel (1,500 from the Army and 500 from the Navy and the Air Force)”. However, the Danish Armed Forces could not meet these political expectations.

[12] Rigsrevisionen (2018) have questioned the state of the Danish military as described by the Armed Forces as incorrectly and criticized the lack of men and material to fulfil the missions defined by the AF