Ahenfo Radio Denmark
Troels Lund Poulsen

Two different statements in one day and a defense chief fired from his job

This evening, Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen (V) came up with three startling news at a press conference.

It is as if “surprised” is not even quite enough to describe the state of mind that marked the rapporteurs who this evening came out of a briefing with Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen (V).

– It is the first time in the 13 years that I have sat in the Danish Parliament that there is something that I cannot see through. And that is worrying, said the Danish People’s Party’s Alex Ahrendtsen, among others.

While a slightly surprised Lise Bech from the Danish Democrats signed off with:

– It has been a really crazy meeting, that is.

The minister came to the meeting with three different messages to the rapporteurs from the parties behind the defense agreement.

‘It’s been total chaos’
First, the fire support systems that the Defense has purchased from the Israeli military technology company Elbit will be delayed by about a year and may be up to a billion kroner more expensive, because when acquiring the systems “additional vehicles, personnel, ammunition were not taken into account and establishment”.

But that part was almost drowned in the two other pieces of news that the Minister of Defense could give: That he has fired Flemming Lentfer as Chief of Defense – and that the statement from the Defense Command, which deals with the process surrounding the frigate Iver Huitfeldt’s mission in the Red Sea on March 9, managed to be handed over to the Ministry of Defense not just once but twice today.

From DR’s defense correspondent, Mads Korsager, the reaction was also “hold on for a press conference”, after Troels Lund Poulsen met the press to talk about what he had just told the rapporteurs.

– It has been total chaos at the orientation meeting that you have sat in on, dear defense ministers, said Mads Korsager.

Two preliminary statements in one day

What has particularly caught the rapporteurs’ attention is the process surrounding the statement which the Minister of Defense requested yesterday with a day’s notice from the Defense Command, and which was on his desk this morning.

The statement was to describe the process surrounding who knew what about the errors that occurred on the Danish frigate Iver Huitfeldt in the Red Sea during a firefight on March 9 this year.

The defense media Olfi was able to say yesterday that the frigate already told the authorities in Denmark on 13 March about errors on board the ship, while Troels Lund Poulsen says that he only became aware of the information on Monday evening this week.

But the statement, which was ready on the minister’s table this morning, created disagreement about what happened at a meeting on 18 March between the Defense Command and the Ministry of Defence.

And then a new preliminary statement from the Defense was handed in today at 4.30 pm.

– The latest preliminary statement I have seen, it is different from the one from earlier in the day. And there has also been a different perception of what happened at that meeting on 18 March between the Defense Command and people here from the Ministry of Defence’s department, said the Minister of Defense at the press conference.

Can you deny that it is your own ministry that has gone wrong?

– At least I can state what I know in this case. And I haven’t tried to keep anything hidden from anyone. And what the medium Olfi was able to explain yesterday was new to me.

– I think that when you get two statements on the same day that contain different things, I now need to delve into them.

Now the report is that Lund Poulsen expects a final statement next week, which will then be discussed with the conciliation circle at that time.

‘I am deeply shaken’
Today’s progress with several different statements illustrates “with all clarity how crazy the situation we are in in purely defense politics is”, says Liberal Alliance’s defense spokesman, Carsten Bach.

– We are again with a statement about incorrect information, after which it turns out that the statement is also wrong and must be withdrawn.

– Now we are virtually without an explanation. I am deeply shaken, says Carsten Bach.

He believes that, on top of the process, there is a need to restore confidence that the information that comes from the Defense Command can be trusted.

– There is something reminiscent of an open war between the department and the command. And we simply have to go beyond that. We must have restored confidence that we can trust the advice we get from the command. It is not like that now.

Alex Ahrendtsen says:

– I am speechless. I am also confused. I’m having a hard time figuring out what happened.

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