Following a proposal from the Danish People’s Party (DF) to allow the Danish Armed Forces (Forsvaret) to take over border control duties from the police, the government has countered with a plan that will see the task instead fulfilled by the Danish Home Guard (Hjemmeværnet).
A spokesman for ruling party Venstre confirmed on Sunday that the government will introduce a proposal this week to put the volunteer military forces at Denmark’s border with Germany in order to relieve pressure on an overworked police force.
“The Home Guard consists of enthusiastic volunteers with experience from similar control tasks and the idea would be – if this becomes the solution – to complement and assist the police at the border,” Preben Bang Henriksen told Jyllands-Posten.
“We’re not talking about using them as an independent authority, they must work together with the police,” he added.
The Danish Home Guard, established after World War 2, consists of roughly 15,000 active volunteers and an additional 30,000 reserve troops. In addition to providing support to the Danish Armed Forces, the volunteers also assist in search-and-rescue missions and disaster response.
While Henriksen stressed that using the Home Guard at the borders was just one of several ideas being weighed by the government, Jyllands-Posten revealed on Sunday that the volunteer military force has in fact been carrying out duties at Denmark’s border with Germany for months.
The newspaper reported that the Home Guard has recently acquired two aircraft that have patrolled the airspace over the border with sophisticated infrared surveillance cameras.
Earlier this month, DF suggested that trained soldiers from the Danish Armed Forces should replace police officers at both border checks and potential terror targets. According to TV2, that plan had the support of the Social Democrats and the Liberal Alliance, assuring it of a the needed majority to pass parliament if the proposal were to go to a vote.
Spokesman Peter Skaarup told Jyllands-Posten that DF, the government’s largest support party, would back the plan to use the Danish Home Guard at the border instead.
“The Danish Home Guard is a really good partner for the police. So it’s a step in the right direction and we want to work on it with the government so that it becomes a part of the solution,” he said.
Denmark has been carrying out random checks at its border with Germany since January 4th. The measures were initially put in place as a temporary response to Swedish border controls but have since been extended five times. The latest extension will keep the controls in place until May 3rd, at which time the government will once again reconsider the measures.