Home Guard (Denmark)

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. However, 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 unisex Home Guard.

Danish Home Guard
Logo of "Hjemmeværnet"
Founded1 April 1949 (1949-04-01)
Country Denmark
Allegiance Kingdom of Denmark
Branch Army Home Guard
Navy Home Guard
Air Force Home Guard
Size15,600 active volunteers (2016)
30,000 reserve volunteers
550 employees
Part ofHome Guard Command
Stable belt
WebsiteOfficial website
General of The Home GuardMajor General Jens Garly
Ceremonial chiefMP Bjarne Laustsen (Soc. Dem.)

Its top authority is the General Command (HJK) which is managed directly by the Danish Ministry of Defence (FMN). Only in times of tension and war will the Danish Defence Command (VFK) assume command over the Home Guard.

The Danish Home Guard is jointly headed by Major General Jens Garly (since August 2017) and a political leader (The Commissioner) who is usually a member of the Danish Parliament. On November 1, 2013 MP Bjarne Laustsen (Social Democrats) became the political leader.[1]


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 defence 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 defence 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 defence 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 is still a part of total strength, but do not have weapons or equipment issued.

Additionally, a force element called Centre for Stabilisation Engagement (CSI) (Danish Home Guard’s international) has been created. Centre for Stabilisation Engagement is responsible for the Danish Home Guard’s international tasks and contributions to Denmark’s international stabilisation engagement. The Danish Home Guard’s contribution includes military capacity building, military support to civilian reconstruction, support to humanitarian efforts, and other international tasks, including security force protection.

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.


As of 2017, the Danish Home Guard consists of approximately 45,600 members, of whom approximately 15,600 are active. It is divided into three branches:

Army Home Guard

The Army Home Guard (Hærhjemmeværnet) is numerically the largest part of the Home Guard, and works closely with the regular army, police and the civil disaster management authorities.

Denmark is divided into two Regional commands, east and west, commanded by full-service colonels, and subdivided into 12 Army Home Guard Districts commanded by full-service officers.

Every municipality has at least one "army home guard company" commanded by a volunteer captain.


  • Regional District West
    • Army Home Guard District North Jutland (Aalborg)
    • Army Home Guard District Middle and West Jutland (Skive)
    • Army Home Guard District East Jutland (Aarhus)
    • Army Home Guard District Southeast Jutland (Vejle)
    • Army Home Guard District South Jutland and Schleswig (Søgaard)
    • Army Home Guard District Funen (Odense)
  • Regional District East
    • Army Home Guard District Copenhagen
    • Army Home Guard District South Zeeland and Lolland-Falster
    • Army Home Guard District Middle and West Zeeland
    • Army Home Guard District North Zeeland
    • Army Home Guard District Copenhagen's Western Area
    • Bornholm's Home Guard
    • Special Support and Reconnaissance Company

Police Home Guard

The Police Home Guard (Politihjemmeværnet) is a branch within the Army Home Guard and consists of 47 Police Home Guard companies, commanded by volunteer captains, often with a professional police career. The volunteers are, during operational service; given the authority to act on behalf of the police with a limited legal authority. Their tasks are, among others, traffic control at festivals, searching 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).

Infrastructure Home Guard

The Infrastructure Home Guard (Virksomhedshjemmeværnet) is a branch within the Army Home Guard and ensures that civilian companies and authorities continue operating during times of crisis or catastrophe. The Infrastructure Home Guard is divided into five branches:

  • Transportation
  • Communications
  • Power Supply
  • Water
  • Health

All but mainly employees within the five branches can participate in the nine Infrastructure Home Guard Companies situated all over Denmark.

The members of the companies assist in keeping their places of work intact and prevent sabotage with use of lethal force. In peacetime the companies typically assist in guarding important railway lines or power plants.

Within the Regional Commands are a number of Liaison Officers who are experts in matters concerning the five branches. Manpower from the regular Army Home Guard can then be used with the right guidance in various situations.

The Naval Home Guard (Marinehjemmeværnet) deals with securing naval installations, patrolling of the Danish territorial waters, and carries out Search and Rescue missions. It supports scientific research for Danish universities, it provides vessels for police and customs operations ashore, and supports exercise and training of other military units (navy, special operations forces etc.).

Danish Naval Home Guard is commanded by a full service naval captain (kommandør) and a staff of professional full-service personnel. The organisation was totally revised by Jan 1st 2017. The professional staff is supported by voluntary service staff personnel of experts, planning personnel, advisors, specialists and instructors.

37 coastal municipalities have "naval home guard flotillas" – (100–150 riflemen or a small vessel), commanded by volunteer naval lieutenants (kaptajnløjtnanter) .

Air Force Home Guard

The Air Force Home Guard (Flyverhjemmeværnet), supports the Danish air force, the police and other national authorities in their emergency management by securing airports, performing aerial environmental patrols of national waters.

  • The Air Force Home Guard is commanded by a full-service air force colonel. The commander is supported by a small staff of full-service personnel.
  • Municipalities with airfields or in the vicinity of airports have "air force home guard squadrons" – (100–150 riflemen), commanded by volunteer captains.

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 them were guarding and patrolling, but some of them were VIP drivers.

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 (in Danish)

HJV international operations

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