NATO's lack of military intelligence hampered Denmark's bombing campaign in Libya in 2011, according to a confidential report.
According to the report obtained by Politiken newspaper through a freedom of information request, the Danish Air Force had insufficient intelligence to guide its bombing campaign in Libya last year under NATO leadership.
The newspaper said that the report by the Air Force Tactical Command (FTK) criticised NATO’s lack of military intelligence that meant that Denmark could not accurately assess the level of collateral damage inflicted on the civilian population as a result of its bombing campaign. As a result, Denmark had to slow down its bombing campaign.
The problems arose after the Air Force was moved from American to NATO leadership on March 31 last year. Before the switchover, Denmark's missions were guided by the US, which had superior military intelligence.
FTK’s report said that NATO’s command structure was not ready to lead an operation such as Operation Unified Protector when the Libya operation began. “NATO did not have sufficient access to tactical information to support the operation,” it said.
Denmark contributed six F-16 fighter jets and about 110 staff to the mission against Libya from the Italian air base on the island of Sigonella. Over the next seven months, the Danish jets flew 600 missions and dropped 923 precision bombs.
Politiken said that NATO's problems with intelligence gathering are no secret and NATO’s secretary general, and Denmark’s former PM, Anders Fogh Rasmussen has publicly acknowledged the problem. It quoted Rasmussen saying in May when signing new contracts for drones: “We recognised that we need more of that capacity. We are now closing that hole.”
All 28 NATO countries have helped finance the five new drones that will cost over ten billion kroner, including needed support ground staff. Denmark initially refused to contribute to the programme, the Alliance Ground System, after pressure from the US.
Denmark's involvement in NATO arguably surpasses the country's small size. In the spring, Denmark spearheaded efforts to raise 100 million kroner to fund the Afghan security force following the withdrawal of allied ISAF forces by 2015.
The newspaper says that Denmark's current enthusiasm to participate in NATO missions may have be tempered in the future, however, due to the 2.7 billion kroner of cuts that the government is currently making to the defence budget.