Military of Iceland

From Academic Kids

When Iceland became a founding member of NATO in 1949, it did so on the explicit understanding that Iceland, which has never had a military, would not be expected to establish an indigenous force. Iceland's main contribution to the common defense effort has been the rent-free provision of the "agreed areas"--sites for military facilities. By far the largest and most important of these is the NATO Naval Air Station at Keflavík. Although this base is manned primarily by U.S. forces, it also has a permanently stationed Dutch P-3 aircraft and crew, as well as officers from Canada, Denmark, Norway, and the United Kingdom. Units from these and other NATO countries also are deployed temporarily to Keflavík, and they stage practice operations, mainly anti-submarine warfare patrols. Iceland and the United States regard the ongoing U.S. military presence since World War II as a cornerstone to bilateral foreign/security policy. Bilateral negotiations regarding implementation of a new "Agreed Minute" governing force structure and deployment for the defense of Iceland will be renewed in 2001.

In addition to providing the "agreed areas," the Government of Iceland contributes financially to NATO's international overhead costs and recently has taken a more active role in NATO deliberations and planning. Iceland hosted the NATO Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Reykjavík in June 1987 and participates in biennial NATO exercises entitled "Northern Viking" in Iceland; the next exercises were held in 2001. In 1997 Iceland hosted its first Partnership for Peace (PfP) exercise, "Cooperative Safeguard," which is the only multilateral PfP exercise so far in which Russia has participated. Another major PfP exercise was hosted in 2000.

Iceland has provided support to peacekeeping missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan running the airports in both territories respective capitals. In October 2004 three Icelanders were injured in a suicide bomb attack in Kabul. The incident led to tough questioning of the group's commander Colonel Halli Sigurdsson focusing on his conduct (the incident apparently occurred while he was on a shopping expedition in an off-limits area) and his exact status: the opposition has accused the government of creating an army by stealth. Icelandic peacekeepers were pictured heavily armed in national papers alongside captions such as "If this is not a soldier then what is?"

Military branches: no regular armed forces; Police, Icelandic Coast Guard; note - Iceland's defense is provided by the US-manned Icelandic Defense Force (IDF) headquartered at Keflavík

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 71,486 (2000 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 62,990 (2000 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $0

See also


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