LATHAM, N.Y. - The New York National Guard and the Danish military command responsible for patrolling Greenland plan to conduct joint training, key leader discussions and exchanges in 2024 and 2025.
The immediate goal for the partnership, initialed during a meeting at New York National Guard headquarters outside Albany Nov. 7, is to conduct a combined training exercise in 2025 focused on disaster response, according to Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, adjutant general.
Greenland, the largest island in the world, is a self-governing Danish territory. The Joint Arctic Command-Denmark, headquartered in Nuuk, Greenland, commands Danish forces operating there.
The New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing, which operates the largest ski-equipped aircraft in the world, the LC-130 “skibird” variant of the Hercules transport, regularly flies missions in Greenland to resupply U.S. research stations on the island’s ice cap.
Shields said it makes sense for the New York National Guard to work with the Joint Arctic Command.
“The opportunity to expand our training and operational relationships with Denmark and Greenland, specifically as they relate to Arctic operations, is a significant step,” Shields said.
The statement of intent, signed by Shields and Maj. Gen. Søren Andersen, commander of the Danish Joint Arctic Command, sets out a framework for cooperation.
“We really appreciate the opportunity to come here, learn some more and start this effort,” Andersen said. “Denmark has a new 10-year defense agreement for operations in the Arctic. Together, with both the U.S. and Canada, there’s a lot going on. We see you as a great partner for us.
“We still need friends, and that is why we are here today. It is a win-win for you and for us,” Andersen said.
Before meeting with Shields and Maj. Gen. Denise Donnell, the commander of the New York Air National Guard, Andersen and Brig. Gen. Poul Primdahl, the Joint Arctic Command vice commander, toured Stratton Air National Guard Base, the home of the 109th Airlift Wing.
From Stratton outside Schenectady, the wing sends aircraft to Antarctica, Greenland and other Arctic locations.
Col. Christian Sander, the wing commander, briefed the Danish team on wing operations and walked them through one of the wing’s LC-130s.
Representatives from the New York Air Guard’s 174th Attack Wing, which flies the remotely piloted MQ-9 Reaper, the 106th Rescue Wing, the 105th Airlift Wing, which flies the C-17 Globemaster III, and the Eastern Air Defense Sector, which is a part of NORAD, also discussed their capabilities.
In December 2021 and September of this year, the 106th Rescue Wing conducted joint search and rescue training with the Joint Arctic Command in Greenland.
In March, the 105th Airlift Wing transported American and Canadian troops to the high Arctic during a joint exercise in Canada’s Nunavut Territory.
“Denmark is going to increase our investments in the Arctic and the North Atlantic area, and we still need good partners and want to cooperate with the 109th for the coming years, and I hope we can train together and support each other up there,” Andersen said.
At New York National Guard headquarters, Shields and Andersen discussed the capabilities of the Army National Guard and the Danish Home Guard.
“Our Home Guard is focused on defending our homeland,” Andersen said, “while you use your Army Guard to go abroad.”
The agreement with Denmark is the New York National Guard’s fourth foreign partnership. The New York National Guard has State Partnership Program relationships with the armed forces of the Republic of South Africa and Brazil. The New York Guard also has a bilateral relationship with Israel’s Home Front Command.