Home Guard (Denmark)

Danish Home Guard

Logo of "Hjemmeværnet"
Founded 1 April 1949 (1949-04-01)
Country  Denmark
 Faroe Islands
Size 56,000 volunteers and 800 employees
Part of Home Guard Command
Stable belt
Chief of the Home Guard Major General Finn Winkler
Ceremonial chief MP Bjarne Laustsen (Soc. Dem.)

The Danish Home Guard (Danish: Hjemmeværnet) (HJV) is the fourth service of the Danish military, it was formerly concerned only with the defence of Danish territory, but since 2008, it has also supported the Danish military efforts in Afghanistan and Kosovo. Service is voluntary and unpaid, though members' loss of income from time taken off work, transport expenses and other basic expenses are compensated. Workshop and depot staff plus clerks and senior officers are all paid. The unarmed Women's Army Corps (Lottekorpset) was merged in 1989 with the then all-male Home Guard to form the present, armed Home Guard.

Its top authority is the Home Guard Command (HJK), which, unlike Army Operational Command (HOK), Admiral Danish Fleet (SOK) and Tactical Air Command (FTK), is managed directly by the Danish Ministry of Defence (FMN). Only in times of tension and war will the Danish Defence Command (FKO) assume command over the Home Guard.

The Danish Home Guard is jointly headed by Major General Finn Winkler (since May 2010) and a political leader who is usually a member of the Danish Parliament. On November 1, 2013 MP Bjarne Laustsen (Social Democrats) became the political leader.[1]


Danish Army Home Guard secures and verifies the identity of a subject during US Army National Guard exercise Golden Coyote

As of 2004, it consists of 58,640 active members, of whom 9,152 are women. It is divided into five branches:

Army Home Guard

The Army Home Guard (Hærhjemmeværnet) HHV is numerically the largest part of the Home Guard, and works closely with the regular army.

Denmark is divided into three Total Defence Regions TFR, led by professional full-service colonels, and subdivided into 15 Army Home Guard Districts HHD, led by professional full-service majors.

Every municipality has at least one "army home guard company" – HVK, led by an unpaid captain.

Danish Naval Home Guard vessel MHV906 Fænø

The Naval Home Guard (Marinehjemmeværnet) MHV deals with securing naval installations, patrolling of the Danish territorial waters, and aids in Search and Rescue missions.

Denmark is divided into Western and Eastern Naval Home Guard Districts MHD, led by professional full-service kommandørkaptajner (Commander senior grade), plus a detachment on Bornholm.

39 coastal municipalities have "naval home guard flotillas" – HVF (100–150 riflemen or a small vessel), led by unpaid kaptajnløjtnanter (naval lieutenant commanders).

Air Force Home Guard

The Air Force Home Guard (Flyverhjemmeværnet) FHV, deals with securing airports, aerial environmental patrols of national waters (oil spill observation) and reporting enemy air activity.

Police Home Guard

Police Home Guard guarding a public event

The Police Home Guard (Politihjemmeværnet) PO HJV consists of 47 Police Home Guard companies, led by professional police officers. The volunteers have slightly more legal authority than other citizens. Used for traffic control at festivals, searches for victims and guarding community installations. In peacetime they are never used where there are risks of direct confrontation with civilians (riot control or planned arrests). The companies are part of the Army Home Guard.

Infrastructure Home Guard

The Infrastructure Home Guard (Virksomhedshjemmeværnet) VHV ensures that civilian companies and authorities continue operating during times of crisis or catastrophe.


Created after World War II, the Danish Home Guard was inspired by the Danish Resistance Movement during the war. It was always implied (though never explicitly stated) that the primary objective was defence and guerrilla activity against a Soviet invasion.

When founded on June 11, 1945 in the city of Odense, the 250 representatives of resistance movements and those of the government, both had demands to the new Home Guard. The resistance movements were not interested in a people's army run by the government and the government was not interested in a people's army being independent and run solely by a military figure without parliament representation. Because of these bi-lateral demands, a simple solution to the problem was made. The Home Guard would have two chief executives: A Major General and a representative chosen by parliament.

Naturally, the organization would be funded by parliament, but organized directly under the Ministry of Defence, so that both sides had an overview of what the Home Guard was doing.

For some very simple reasons, the Danish Home Guard would ultimately owe its loyalty to the will of the people, and not the government. The reason for this was, that if a situation like that of World War II was ever to occur again, whether in peace or wartime, the Home Guard would be a guarantee brought by the people, for the people, that the organization do all in its power to protect the individual citizen from crimes against humanity. Among these would be persecution due to political and religious stands, direct oppression and genocide. It would above all ensure that democracy, or people's rule, would be enforced. The Home Guard was well respected among the public as many members were former resistance fighters; people who fought for and had an interest in the individual person, their families, friends and loved ones.

With the creation of the Home Guard, the founding members swore to protect the Danish people against all enemies, both foreign and domestic, this referring to the Danish government during the occupation that supported Nazi Germany by handing over Danish citizens to the Gestapo. Despite this, members who had a seat in the government during the occupation claim in their defense that such actions were performed to protect the rest of the people from further war crimes.

The Home Guard would be a military wing aiding the defense of Denmark from foreign aggressors and also a constant reminder for politicians who would be tempted by their political powers and influence that they cannot do whatever they please.

With the fall of the Soviet Union, the Home Guard, with its costly training and equipment, was by many Danes perceived as a useless expense, and an obsolete organization, referring to people's attention that for the past four decades had been drawn outside of Denmark to an enemy that constantly swayed at the back of everyone's mind. Very little attention had therefore been accredited the Home Guard as an organization providing a stabilizing factor between the people's will and government power.

In response to the people's view on the Home Guard, the Danish government entrusted the organization with additional responsibilities in 2004. It should be trained for defense of Danish territory in wartimes but also be able to take on tasks to help civilians during disasters of most kinds, thereby rebalancing the expenses many had thought of as unnecessary. All this was against the values of the Home Guard.

In recent years, changes within the Danish political system, which owes some of its structure to Montesquieu's separation of powers, has brought new times for the Home Guard. On its English webpage, the organization states that: "The overall mission for the Home Guard is to reinforce and to support the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force in fulfilling their missions".

With the Home Guard being included in the government's Defence Act along with the Home Guard's own public commercials drawing emphasis on emergency relief, as opposed to being an armed counter-weight ensuring that any Danish government, now or in the future, stays in place, a debate can be initiated of whether or not this organization now voluntarily owes its loyalty to the government rather than the people.

Recently, the Home Guard has made certain changes that mean some departure from the popular roots of yesteryear. The Home Guard is still an all-volunteer force, and will continue to be, but developments have made it necessary to split the force into two basic parts (The active force and the reserve). To be eligible for active status, one must serve at least 24 documented hours in a calendar year. In addition, other criteria need to be met in order to retain your weapon. The reserve force are still a part of total strength, but do not have weapons or equipment issued.

Additionally, a force element called Hjemmeværnets Indsatsstyrke – HIS (loosely: Home Guard Readiness Force) has been created. In order to be eligible for this force, the volunteer needs to achieve or maintain a high level of skill in his or her chosen speciality AND be available at short notice, currently a three-tier system of 1, 3 or 5 hours notice, respectively. Current HIS specialities include SSR, scoutplatoons, Combat Medicine and Motorized Infantry. Others exist but notable contrary as previously claimed Protection Teams are not Homeguard units at all but ad-hoc units from all ranges of the military that have individually applied and passed the PT training. These are put together for each months long mission.

As a direct effect of force shortages in connection with Denmark's international commitments since 2001, an increasing number of qualified Home Guard personnel are being sent abroad on an equal basis with the Army, Navy and Air Force, most notably as Protection Teams under the auspices of Jægerkorpset, and also as guard platoons in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Plans also exist to send Home Guard combat medics abroad.

The Home Guard in civil society

The Home Guard often gives so-called ordinary help to other authorities, especially the police. It's especially Police Home Guard companies that aid in directing traffic, but also help for searching for missing persons and objects, and guarding crime scenes and such.

During COP15 in 2009, 1200 soldiers from the Home Guard aided the police in Copenhagen. Most of these with guarding and patrolling, but also with driving around VIPs.

Members of a police company are also trained to give so called special help to the police, which means tasks that are likely to involve the use of force against civilians (all kinds of police work). This help is to be negotiated between the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Justice.

See also


  1. Oct. 22 2013 (Danish)

HJV international operations

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Danish Home Guard.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 9/4/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.